1. Take a moment to introduce yourself to the readers who may not be familiar with Memorecks.
Yea. I'm 22. I'm from the suburbs above Toronto, Canada. Had many low key placements throughout my time making beats. Over the past couple years I've worked closely with my boy Solid Mas from Toronto on a few hip-hop mixtapes. Most recently I had a track on Ghettosocks' (Halifax) Treat of The Day album, which got nominated for a juno (canadian music award). I've released 2 free instrumental albums on my website, Camcorder and Downtime. I'm currently working on another instrumental project, as well as a hip-hop/indie-pop type sound for my group NGFL with Jason Chau. Also working on a post-apocolyptic dub electronic kinda project with this female singer. Lots in the oven.
Alkota: You have developed a notable YouTube following by doing some awesome live sets / live beat making videos.
2. How did the video series idea come about?
It began with me posting MPC videos I took with my digital camera. After getting a bunch of views and comments I began to take YouTube a bit more seriously. I purchased an HD camcorder and a tripod and started putting in a bit more effort into the videos. I would build up sets in Ableton like I did for Deepwaters or Passing By, and set up knobs and sliders to tweak effects on the go. That was cool but it looks boring when you're just triggering clips and tweaking knobs. That's when I started doing live MPC/MPD sets. And I mean 100% live... no quantizing and nothing is pre-sequenced. That progressed into doing sets using 2 sets of pads with 2 hands. I made a bunch of videos in my backyard for Backyard Beatdowns; the change in setting was dope. I'm thinking of doing more videos in places other than my basement. Makes for a better video.
YouTube has been an alright source of income since I got my AdSense set-up, but it's not really about the money. The exposure alone has definitly got me higher up in recognition and circulation. Some of my videos have more hits then I ever would've thought, and I get messages everyday from people all over the world. I don't actively promote myself either, that's the cool thing. A lot of my videos are just circulated by themselves without me having to post them a billion times everywhere. When you search MPD or MPC I'm all over that shit.
Alkota: From watching your videos we can see that you are big on Akai's products, specifically the MPC1000 & their MPD MIDI Controllers.
3. Is there a reason you prefer Akai's products over the competition (Maschine, etc.)?
Like every other internet producer who started off on Fruity Loops, I was fascinated with the MPC and thought that it was the key to making the kind of beats I really wanted to make. Because of that I've always had this instinctual attachment to the Akai stuff. There also wasn't any other competition back then.. Maschine came out quite recently.
As far as workflow goes.. the actual MPC provides a certain focus that you don't get when using a computer. You are stuck to this one small rectangular screen and don't have facebook or email or anything to distract you. Chopping samples is much more natural.. you feel more connected with it. So for sampling it's dope. When it comes to mixing and adding in other instruments it gets to be a bit of a pain. These days I usually use Ableton Live with an APC40 and an MPD26. The APC gives me control over Ableton without using the keyboard and mouse and the pads give me the MPC feel. Ableton can sample and host VST's and sequence and mix and everything, so you can have a complete product at the end. If you are using the MPC you eventually have to track it into your program to have it mixed and mastered. I don't use the MPC regularly anymore.
4. Have you received any sort of official endorsements from Akai?
Nothing but tweets from their social media team. They've been good for posting my videos. It's definitely good to have that association and any actual endorsement would be obviously welcomed.
5. Is making beats and music a hobby or a full time gig?
I've always had a job of some sort. Lately I've been working somewhat full-time at a music store (actually just quit) while doing freelance recording and production on the side. I think I'm going to go for music full-time. Downfalls of this are obviously income consistency. I can try and find gigs recording and producing for whoever but often the music you want to work on doesn't provide immediate income. You are investing in the long-term, trying to build up your catalogue for publishing and royalties and all that good stuff. Getting money up-front for stuff but in the music industry it's all about the back end. Especially on projects that are going for radio and actually have distribution.
6. Aside from making your own videos and rapping over your beats, has Memorecks production been featured on any notable albums or projects?
Noteable is a subjective term. Some of my first projects were with Solid Mas, who actually introduced me to most of the people I know in the music scene. We recorded a mixtape series called The Show Off and are working on finishing up another project, actually featuring a lot of his own production. Jason Chau would be another collaborator. Used to go by Lee Harvey and I met him thru Solid Mas. Me and Jason have recorded countless rap tracks but eventually abandoned that for a poppier hip-hop rock kind of thing. It's called NGFL (Nice Guys Finish Last) and it's actually pretty dope. Definitely pushing my boundaries when it comes to production and arranging. My beats have been used in skate and snowboard videos as well.
7. What other production tools are you using besides Ableton Live and Akai Midi controllers?
I'm running Ableton Live on an iMac with an APC40 and an MPD26 right now. I have a Moog Slim Phatty synth module and a Yamaha DX7 synth that I have hooked up as well. Those two pieces I definitely try to incorporate into most tracks, they give a good warmth and flavour that I don't have any VST's for.
Alkota: I've recently switched to entirely digging digitally for samples to save time, money, and gain better access to material to chop.
8. When it comes to sampling and digging do you limit yourself to sampling off of vinyl? Or do you also dig digitally?
I try not to sample as much, as I'm trying to own all of my publishing and rights. But when I do.. It's a toss up now. I went through a big blog phase where I'd download everything I could. I have a 100gb folder of samples I've gotten online and I've been through most of it. It seems to easy just to go to some random folder and pick something that sounds dope. I have a nice record shelf and recently have been picking up more records. So when I do sample I tend to go for vinyl now. It has a different sound and the hiss and crackle is always nice.
9. Do you mix and master your own beats? Or do you work with an engineer?
I mix using waves and psp plugins on Rokit 8 speakers (they're alright). I've mixed all of my own beats and projects so far. I give them a bit of a master, but it's nothing to what a real mastering engineer could do. I tend to use a lot of tape saturation and buss compression on my beats. Sidechain compression gives that duck/breath effect and that's always a go-to. I've spent years trying to get my mixes better and even went to school for 2 years for engineering. I'm somewhat confident in my mixes but I'm always getting better.
10. Where do you get your drums from and how do you get them to knock so hard?
I have a collection of one-shot kicks, snares and hi hats that I've downloaded/bought over the years. I've filtered them out to a few kits that I use regularly that already have a good knock/sound to them. Sample selection is important. Don't pick a whack sample and expect to mix it in good later on. Pick something that sounds like what you want and you won't have to do much. I bit-crush and tape saturate my drums tho. PSP MixSaturator2 and Decimort are key plugins for that.
11. What projects are you working on for the second half of 2012?
The NGFL project with Jason is pretty much done. Now I have to do some work on my own beats for an instrumental ep/lp. That's something I'm still working on. I want to focus on building up a solid live set so I can play out more. Look out for more live video sets and shows and whatnot.
12. For artists, labels, and brands looking to work with Memorecks, whats the best way to contact you?
You can contact me directly for now through email memorecks (at) gmail (dot) com.
Home page: http://www.memorecks.ca
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/memorecksmusic
13. Any last shoutouts? Thoughts on the Music Industry, Hip Hop, and Beat Making in general?
I think the whole electronic music movement is cool. It's interesting to see so many sub-genres splinter off and maintain and unique sound. As for Hip-hop and beatmaking I feel I'm generally trying to avoid that. I'm not focusing too hard on selling beats or getting placements with rappers at the moment. Instead I'm trying to build up the Memorecks brand with a sound I could bring on the road and have an interesting set to perform. If that doesn't work out I have other projects I'm working on that could potentially goto radio or get placed somewhere. That's where its at. But in general I find thinking about all of that too much stops my creativity. Sometimes its important to just create without any intention.