1. Take a second to introduce yourself to the readers who may not be familiar with Stompboxx Music.
First of all, thank you for the opportunity fam! Stompboxx Music Group, LLC is basically myself (msimp) & SharpSoundz. We met somewhere around ’04 while both playing in a local church together in Abilene, TX. On the side, both of us made tracks and were always throwing around techniques and ideas together so teaming up just made sense. We officially launched the production team Stompboxx Music in 2010. It’s been a nice ride these last 2 yrs. We’ve had the opportunity to work & build with some artists both label-affiliated and indie; Crooked I, Kurupt, Mr. Dubie, Willie Northpole (DTP) from a label standpoint. Also, an incredible amount of Indie talent such as Roosh Williams, Knesecary, Tory Lanez, Killa Kyleon, Doughbeezy, Add+, and a pleauthra of others. We don’t like to name-drop. Our motto is less talking, more beats. -msimp
(Sharp) Thanks Alkota for this opportunity, Mike and I have been doing music together for a long time now. I can say he’s the only producer that I’ve ever worked with this closely. There were opportunities here and there to work with other producers, but never any real musical chemistry. Mike and I feed off each other’s creativity, from creating beats to creating the name for our brand, Stompboxx Music. Just for the record, Mike is the calm, collect chill one, I’m the talkative, say-what’s-on-my-mind, crazy one. However, we definitely balance each other out musically and we remain professional. Not only do we call ourselves production/business partners, I can honestly say that he’s one of my closet friends in the world. Production duo’s normally don’t last too long, but we’ve managed to keep going by doing one thing, and that’s being honest with each other when it involves potential business moves, beat critiques, or a simple “I didn’t like what you said about my beat”. Mike mentioned a few indies we’ve worked with, we’ve also worked with Grammy-Nominated writer Jeff Nortey, Young-X with Midsouth Music and Tawn P.
Alkota: I frequently see questions from up and coming producers (beatmakers) on various production forums (futureproducers.com, illmuzik.com, gearslutz.com, etc.) that want to know if having a Soundclick Page is worth the time, money, and effort to promote and sell their beats. We’ve all heard the success stories and I personally know producers who do well selling beats on Soundclick. That being said, Stompboxx Music has an exceptional Soundclick Page and presence.
2. How and why did you guys choose Soundclick as the platform to sell your music? Can you share your Soundclick experiences and offer the new jacks some advice on being successful with Soundclick?
Thank you sir! We’ve worked hard to optimize the functionality of the site. The main reason we decided to go with Soundclick was due to two things…our location and the market already available on Soundclick. When we would tell people we were in Abilene, TX, the first thing they would say was, “Huh? Where is that?” So, after years of playing in church and also working with local artists, we had amassed somewhere around 150-200 beats combined. We felt that we needed a larger audience than the city currently had so we naturally looked online. Soundclick was the obvious choice, boasting of over 4 million accounts.
Our experience has been a good one thus far. We had a strategy early on and stuck with it. Basically it was to create a name & brand and then use it to serve our grassroots community. So, initially early on we paid to play. It wasn’t uncommon for us to spend upwards of $2K monthly on Soundclick in 2010 & 2011. Yes, that is correct, we spent money ON Soundclick. No play adders or chart manipulation, Lol. That conversation can go on for days! Scared money doesn’t make money, right? Promoting was just as important as the sound we were putting out. Now, the time we put in promoting on their platform has afforded us virtually the same opportunities we’ve had early on. This has allowed us to begin to locate talent and work with them exclusively. We have a TON of music that is not on Soundclick and won’t ever see it. Soundclick has been a blessing. Some people knock it, some don’t. At the end of the day, it’s about the music. We like to think we’re responsible for jump-starting a few careers and providing the musical landscape for a lot of stories which otherwise might not be heard. We’re just trying to cure “writers-block.” That’s fulfilling. We won’t stop at Soundclick, but it definitely has helped us in our infancy years.
My advice for producers looking into Soundclick is don’t reinvent the wheel. There are some proven things on there that work. Find out what those are and do that. Then, have patience and stay diligent. Use SC to create a niche and a following -msimp
(Sharp) Mike is giving the nice version of how Stompboxx got started! Basically we were already doing music together working with a few local artists. We were making the biggest mistake a producer can do now and days, and that’s solely produce for one artist. When you put yourself in that situation as a producer, you only go as far as that artist goes. When that artist stops moving, you stop moving. If you do a beat for that one artist and he or she doesn’t like it, then it sits on your hard drive. Your hard drive becomes a tomb for your work basically. Collectively Mike and I probably have well over 400 instrumentals that sat for years because we had the wrong mentality. I was about to turn 30 years old and I approached Mike with an idea to join forces without any artist influence and push our production together instead of pushing just one solo artist. We chose Soundclick by default as the platform simply because that was a common market for selling beats, and we really never knew how the public would receive our work, but we figured we’d go for it anyways.
If I can offer a producer advice for Soundclick, STOP USING LEX LUGER’S RISERS!!! Don’t be afraid to grow into your own. We are one of the few producers on Soundclick that’s not trap heavy, and Soundclick is full of trap.
Alkota: Youd have to be really stupid not to notice that Stompboxx Music is more than just a production team. You guys have done really well branding yourselves! We live in a unique time where it seems like everyone is a beat maker, producer, engineer, filmmaker, etc. It can be a struggle to break through the noise and get noticed. I believe that creating your own brand can make or break you as an artist or producer.
3. Can you elaborate on why creating your own brand is more important than ever?
Yes, thank you again. Stompboxx is the BoxxHead gentlemen on the front of our web page! It’s symbolic for us being behind the music. We’ve never been the type to boast or brag about what we do, so we wanted our brand to represent that…logo and all. Branding is very important. These days since you can be written off for so many little things, it’s important to make a good first impression. Hopefully when visiting www.stompboxx.com, you get the impression that one; were professional. Two; we care about our presentation. This hopefully assures you of a superior product. We’ve been behind the curve with things like video and editing, namely because we’re DIY type of people. I personally don’t like waiting and depending on people to do things for me that I can learn to do myself. So, we invested in a camera, adobe products and Youtube University to learn video editing. Now we shoot and edit our own joints. Late pass? -msimp
(Sharp) (I can honestly say I take credit for coming up with the idea to become a production duo, but Mike took Stompboxx to the level it is now of branding). Here it is I’m thinking beats and Mike is talking T-shirts. I’m talking about compression and Mike is talking drum kits. I believe now that branding is extremely important. Branding involves great customer service, turn-around. 10 years from now we’ll be selling Stompboxx toothbrushes, ink pens and pre-paid credit cards. LOL.
4. Beyond the Internet grind, are you guys in the streets and studios pushing Stompboxx production?
Honestly, that’s more of the direction Sharp & I are going. A more personalized experience with the Stompboxx crew. We’re getting out, doing showcases/battles, catching artists’ shows, and networking outside the lab. It’s tough as we’re both married and have kids (well Sharp has kids, I have one, hahahahaha). Secondly, we live in two different cities. Im in Austin and Sharp is in STL. Family always comes first. As long as the home front is taken care of, we try to get out and network as much as possible. Both of our wives are very supportive of what we do so that makes it super-easy to continue to pursue our dreams. Mostly up to this point it has been virtually Internet relationships, however. The World Wide Web is an excellent resource. -msimp
(Sharp) Like what Mike said, we’re getting there with placements. We have a few irons in the fire right now, hoping that they’ll turn out good. But even without placements, Stompboxx will keep moving; we started with nothing more than a “can do” attitude and some instrumentals. We’ll never limit ourselves to one person’s hustle again. It’s all on Stompboxx….Steven and Mike!
Alkota: I was turned onto Stompboxx Music via Propellerheads Software, the developers of Reason. They endorsed one of your beatmaking videos and posted it to their Twitter and Facebook Accounts with some viral results. The thing Ive notice about Propellerheads Software is their brand loyalty. Reason users are some of the most loyal customers and have stuck with Reason throughout the years despite the “lack of features” that other DAW’s offer (VST Support, Midi Out, Built In Sampling)
5. Why does Stompboxx use Reason as their primary production tool?
Ahhh! Reason. Where to begin? Personally, I use it because it works. It’s the perfect platform for producers, in my opinion. I fell in love with Reason they day I found out I could basically have my entire Roland Fantom as an instrument inside it via Refill. This was life changing as it completely revamped my workflow. No more tracking beats out track, by track, by track. Wasting countless hours syncing midi into Protools from the Fantom and the MPC 2KXL. BTW, the 2KXL is a phenomenal piece of gear by the way that Im considering buying again as a collectors item! It just eliminated a lot of the workflow issues from hardware that every producer hates. Then, the routing??? That changed the game.
The fan base that the Propellerhead community has is superb. The reason (no pun) for this is simple; they listen. They listen to the needs of their customer and then deliver. I personally have learned a lot just watching this company maneuver. Everything from the marketing, the beta testing, and the forums-it’s all legit. You can get on their forums right now and see a thread about suggested features that the consumer wants. You will then see actual employees of Propellerhead responding to a lot of these comments and suggestions. It’s just organic. -msimp
(Sharp) I was a hardcore Roland Fantom guy, until Mike literally twisted my arm to try out Reason 3.0 and I was hooked after that. I’m now with Reason 6.0, about to upgrade to 6.5. Reason is user-friendly and extremely stable. I am loyal to Reason simply because the set-up fits my workflow very much. I’ve never had a system crash or anything, the sound is phenomenal and I feel like you have more mixing headroom in Reason. I love the fact that Propellerheads endorsed our video, that was a BIG milestone for Stompboxx. I wish Propellerhead would include built in sample chopping, but there’s ways around it so it’s not a game changer….so officially for the record, Stompboxx Music endorses Propellerhead software.
**wink, wink at Propellerhead Software* msimp
Alkota: Propellerhead Software recently announced Rack Extensions for Reason 6.5. This is their proprietary plugin system and a more efficient alternative to VST’s. The floodgates have been opened to developers to start creating new synths, dynamics plugins, instruments, and much more.
6. What are you excited about for Rack Extensions? And what ways do you see Rack Extensions changing your creative workflow?
As the more technical one of Stompboxx, I am really excited about RE. I am more specifically excited about the amount of REs that will enhance your sound. I’ve already heard of the 1176 emulation device being implemented. This here is a Reason head’s dream. I have countless combinator emulations of older hardware equivalents (big thanks to the guys on the PUF (Propellerhead User Forum), but this technology is basically plugin’s for Reason. The battle for plugin support, VST support, and midi out support within the platform has gone on for ages. This is definitely a step in the right direction. Now only if we could see an integrated sample-chopping plugin or Recycle dedicated RE, we would be winning. Reason, to me, is just a few audio functions away from being the end all be all DAW. Reason has been great standalone, but now adding these features, it has been put in a league of it’s own. –msimp
(Sharp) I can’t wait to see what new synths are developed. I’m a huge fan of EQ’s and compressors. I’d love to see a frequency analyzer, tons of eq emulations and more mastering plug-ins. I believe mixing “in the box” can be very useful if you use it right. Reason already has the mixing headroom. Like Mike said, Reason is the best stand alone production software period.
7. Do you guys use any other DAW’s such as Pro Tools, Logic, or Live when making beats?
Reason. All Reason. We’ve recently both converted to an all Reason rig coming from a ProTools background. Of course, the loss of plugins was at the forefront of concern initially. After hearing/seeing the power of the SSL modeled desk in R6, the switch was a no brainer. –msimp
(Sharp) I’ve studied Mixing and Mastering at Berklee College of Music. There we used ProTools all the time. It was hard coming from ProTools simply because I learned a lot about it. But Reason is gives the same effect with a much simpler workflow. The only reason I’d go back to Pro Tools is because of the mastering plugins I still have, however, I’m so sold on reason, I have no further use of Pro Tools.
Alkota: I see people shying away from Reason because of the “Reason Sound”, which is code word for lack of mixing skills. Music made with Reason can sound “flat” if you don’t Compress, EQ, and Mix your beats properly. But that can be said for any DAW or production tool.
8. How do you guys mix your beats to overcome the “Reason Sound”?
Well, I agree with you. Everything has a “sound.” Whether it’s colored or flat, it’s still a sound. I think alot people were frustrated with Reason’s sound because we like to get in and get straight to work. Reason is what you make it. That’s the beauty of it. Sharp and I use the program similarly, but he’ll send me a template he’s working on and it looks terrible! But, it works for his sound! What more could you want in a DAW? DJ Khalil is one of my favorite producer’s and the things he’s done in Reason are beyond me. Huge drums and straight grit! The dude is genius! I say that to say this, I am not trying to overcome Reason’s sound. I think it’s incredible because it only outputs what I give it. The sound we’ve come up with is basically a combination of combinators and different compressors that we’ve just stuck with. Huge shout out to people like Selig, Peff, and James Bernard on the PUF (I’ve tweaked a TON of their templates). With our mixing, the object is simple…let it breathe and let it bang! Mixing is an everyday learning process, but we’re constantly trying to find ways to give instruments space. The track and idea you’re going for may vary, but the theory is relatively the same. Let it breathe. A lot of our music is simplified (meaning not a ton of instruments). We try to compensate in the complexity of the mix, however. Subtleties if you will. –msimp
(Sharp) I get away from the “Reason Sound” but just looking at it as “Sound” period. If there’s EQ needed, apply it. If there’s compression needed, then apply it. No matter the platform I use, I always have my reference material and if my sound doesn’t compete, then it’s not right…”Let it breathe!! Let it bang!!”. I can’t stress enough of using current referencing material. The best secret in mixing that we use is trust your ears.
Alkota: Lets move away from Reason for a minute and focus on drums…
9. Whats your secret to your great sounding drums!?
Drums, drums, drums! Thanks for saying they sound great too! To be honest, I think the secret is to listen & mimic what u like that inspires you. Then, make it your own. I grew up on Timbaland and that whole era. I can’t think of much else I listened to during the late 90’s so naturally that has a part in my sound. Most people loved Tim for his drum patterns, but I studied things like his drum selection against certain instruments. I studied his engineer, Jimmy Douglas. To me, Jimmy D is the reason we’ve all come to respect what Tim does. Same thing with Dre. His mixes are impeccable. So with drums, it’s about creating space and letting them breathe. Good samples will always yield better results, but sometimes you have to get creative. Make your sounds. Everyone one has that “tune” in his or her head. Just work hard to get it out and you’ll win-that and never give out your secrets. -msimp
(Sharp) Mike is being conservative…LOL. Yeah we mix the heck out of our drums. We use basic EQ techniques, boosting and cutting when needed. There’s nothing sweeter to me than having a bass and a kick eq’d and compressed just right. We do pride ourselves in using unconventional drums….eq’ing and layering them just right. There’ve been times when I’ve used about 3 snares and 3 different claps at the same time formed to make one snare/clap combo. Like I said previously, don’t be afraid to be you when creating your drums or beats.
10. Do you guys create more live/sample free joints or sample based beats?
We’re kind of both. I personally do more sampling than Sharp. It’s just something that I enjoy. Piecing together a record that was chopped 130 times is a challenge. Plus, listening to other records makes you better. But, at heart we’re sample free producers. That’s how we got our start so we’re definitely more comfortable in that lane.
(Sharp) Yeah Mike is the sampler, I prefer to play more piano, chord progressions and jazz chords. I get in my moods where I want to sample but it’s normally just a phrase. For me, I’ll hear a melody or a chord progression in my head, something that’ll strike your soul every time you hear it, something that you’d want to hear even without a beat played behind it and build from there. I’m an 80’s baby, so I try to incorporate some of the vibe from the 80’s in some of my instrumentals I create for Stompboxx.
11. What projects and ventures does Stompboxx Music have in store for the second half of 2012?
Well, currently we are hard at work on our 3rd installment of our beat-tape series (dropping very soon). These have allowed us to be as creative and still serve the ears that support us. Plus, just to say we have instrumental releases is dope! We’re also working on Roosh Williams’ project, some records with Knesecary, and other artists that are definitely making noise in Texas. You know, blooming where you’re planted. We’ve been afforded the opportunity to be in an iStandard showcase so that’s on the schedule. Our TV licensing is going strong and we’re always sending records to the A/R’s that have shown interest in us and believe in our brand of music. -msimp
(Sharp) Mike summed it up! However we’re hoping for more as we speak. We’re looking to work with professional musicians as well. We’re well aware that there’s always room for growth and sometimes that means getting a bass player to play live over a piano riff that you had someone create for you. So we’re definitely open to working with professional musicians to take their expertise and put that Stompboxx sound on it.
Alkota: I know you guys are doing music for the love, art, and passion and of course the income on the side is nice.
12. Do you see yourselves doing music as a full time career one day?
Yes, this is the goal. There are numerous ways to earn money in this industry. God willing, our transition to full-time musicians is very near. The journey thus far has been invaluable though! –msimp
(Sharp) Our dream is always to work Stompboxx full-time. But money aside our dream is to do what we love full time…make music. It just takes money to do that so we do what we have to do. But I know here pretty soon, we’ll be doing this full time. It’s just our destiny.
13. How do you balance your everyday lives and making music? And what does the Stompboxx duo do when you’re not making beats?
Balance, for me, is in this order: God, family and then music. Hard not to rearrange the order most days, but I try. Outside of that, I coach my son’s sports teams and I’m a gear-head all day. Hitting pawnshops is a passion of mine! –msimp
(Sharp) Of Wow, balance…do we do that…LOL!! It’s more like juggling for me. I’m active duty Air Force, been active duty for 13 years, my wife is active duty (11 years). I have three kids at home, one of which is a teenager, a 7 year old daughter, and a 4 year old boy. I’m also a full-time student. So needless to say I’m moving non-stop. I figure I have eternity to rest whenever I die….so while I’m alive, I’m a go till I can’t go no more!!
14. Any last thoughts or shout outs?
Yuh! Shout out to Alkota! Thanks again for the opportunity! Also, shoutout to everyone we’ve had the good pleasure to work with. We do it for yall! Anyone pursuing a dream, props to you. msimp
(Sharp) Alkota…you are THE man!! Thanks for the opportunity, we got a surprise for you on our beat tape. I’d like to shout out to all those who supported me from back in the day, ya’ll know who you are. I also like to thank those who said Stompboxx couldn’t do it….because we did it, ya’ll know who you are as well. And my Mama, Barabara Sharp for putting me on punishment for 3 months when I was 15, because for those 3 months, all I had was a keyboard and that was my beginning into making beats.
15. For artists, labels, and brands interested in your production… whats the best way to get in touch with Stompboxx Music?
www.stompboxx.com is the site. All of our info is there. Get at us on Twitter: @TheStompboxx, Facebook: facebook.com/stompboxxmusic Youtube: youtube.com/stompboxxmusic, our via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re a manager or a marketing guru, be sure to get at us with your credentials.