Another key producer in the evolution of boom bap’s aesthetic, especially in the early parts of the 00s with his releases as Prefuse 73 on Warp, Scott Herren talks about accidents and how these fed into his work as Prefuse 73. We lifted that accident quote for the mix alongside others from the same interview including a reference to faking things on the MPC, the text for which I’ve pasted below. The accidents bit is at the end of this short Youtube preview.
You can view the full Scott Herren video interview on New Music Box.
Here’s the text for the rest of the quote we lifted for the mix:
Electronic music wasn’t really, like, my forte. I was sort of faking what I was hearing on MPCs, you know, this clickeity-clack electronic music, but I was adding way more melody, I was playing live instruments. Even if it was something abstract like Oval, just something with really rich tones. My introduction to modern classical music is as entry-level as Steve Reich. I took the path, because Reich sort of set up the whole rhythm pattern, and that’s sort of what aligned everything [for me]. That’s what got me out of the cluttered mess of when I started, of things just going everywhere, and that project was called Delarosa and Asora. And that gave birth to this thing called Prefuse 73, which has lasted for a decade on Warp Records.
Oh and also the text for the accident quote which needs to be read in its entire context really:
It’s something I learned from Tyondai Braxton, and from his dad. He’s like, “the music that you make, make sure that it’s your music and that you own it,” to quote him. But I thought about it, and it was just profound. You made it. You weren’t mimicking anybody, and a lot of times those happy accidents happen, and it becomes yours and it can develop into something. Which is really cool with a lot of bands, not just Prefuse. You just figure out a path, and it kind of opens up a doorway, these accidents. And that’s what, definitely, Prefuse has been based on. It’s been rooted in hip-hop timeline-wise, but always based on accidents. And always based on these sounds that are a mesh between what would be typically considered hip-hop sounds, and then on the other end what could be typically considered some Christian Fennesz-type processing.
Actually true to my intention of using this blog as a notepad for research I’m going to paste the other quotes from the interview I find relevant to the ideas behind A Boom Bap Continuum.
I like his reference to early Prefuse as a response to mainstream and indie hip hop crossovers. Also his mentions of template music is spot on, something that I’ve been saying and trying to articulate for a while. Boom Bap in the 90s developed into a template, pioneered by guys like Premier, and that became the de-facto boom bap sound of the late 90s and early 00s, leading to backpacker hip hop and the likes. Then after 06 with the death of Jay Dee and rise of L.A’s collective and artists like Low End, Fly Lo et al another template cemented around what beats should be. It’s a never ending cycle and the producers who try to break free of these templates are always the most interesting. For me the early to mid 00s era when producers like Prefuse, Dabrye, Push Button Objects, Machinedrum, Danny Breaks, El-P and more were working in this grey area outside of what hip hop supposedly was still is a golden era of sorts for boom bap’s evolution. There were no rules even if people wanted to pigeonhole stuff into IDM or trip hop or glitch hop, and it seems that a lot of these guys thought they just were making hip hop.
Every album has had a definitive preconceived concept that I’ve gone for. Like, the first Prefuse record [Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives, 2001] was more loose, you know, naive; sloppy. Nothing was based on production; it was all based on what I could take from hearing that moment in time of mainstream hip-hop doing the whole indie hip-hop transfer/crossover thing, which was cool and really exciting. Even with mainstream hip-hop having a crossover like the Neptunes coming into the whole scene, and what OutKast was doing at the time, it was all really inspiring.
I had to fight a strong reaction during that time, because there were a lot of people who thought that I was desecrating hip-hop. And that was far from the point; I was trying to celebrate it and bring it to the next level. I was just like, “Hey man, we’re kind of in this lockdown.” Like, it was all out of this stereotypical, what people call backpacker hip-hop. Or it’s this Dirty South 16th-note, 32nd-note patterns that are all the same. Template music, I call it. And then I got further into time signatures, and that’s when I just kind of lost my shit. It wasn’t anything vindictive, it was exploration. I wanted to progress from record to record. And you had people who were for it or against it.
I wasn’t out to be as abstract as people were setting me out to be. My first record came from a really simplified place. And it was taken out of context, like, “Oh, it’s so completely fucked up, and it’s abstract, and it belongs instantly to this category.” And it’s like, no. And I would have to fight. I was just so much younger, and so much more willing to see a bad review and be like, “Hey motherfucker, what’d you say? You got it all wrong!” It was so embarrassing. It’s still embarrassing sometimes, if I ever get in the mood to give up feedback to a critic or something. But especially when you’re just starting out and you’re taking everything so damn seriously—not as if you’re not taking your music seriously now; it’s more like your ego doesn’t know how to equate to the music and how to differ it from criticism without it making you totally heated and out of your mind. And I used to go out of my mind a lot on really stupid things concerning music, shows, getting paid.
This ending quote sums up what I feel about boom bap’s evolution in terms of looking forward
I guess just because I respect the idea of people taking a chance with their music, and taking a chance against what is preconceived of them. And then just taking a complete detour maybe, or just coming with something completely beautiful and out of this world. Those are the things that I live for with past and present music: the whole idea of just change, and just progression, so things don’t stay stagnant; it’s pretty simple.
Oh and tucked right at the end, he talks about Dimlite!
Then there’s this guy Dimitri. He records as Dimlite. And he’s another one of those guys that is completely unsigned, one of the most talented people in the world, and I don’t know what his problem is. It’s just not coming out, and it’s as good as all the stuff I just mentioned. He’s just a brain that—[indicates an exceptionally large cranial capacity]—it’s overwhelming.