Since’93 is one of the hardest working and sonically diverse producers out of Chicago right now. Although he works with many other artists, ‘93 has produced music mainly for Rich Robbins, FreeThe3rd, and A.C. the Ruler.
In our interview we discussed where he is coming from, where is he going, his theories on music production, synesthesia, among others.
You can check out Since’93’s (soundcloud, more specifically, you should check out Rich Robbins’ new album “Red Butterfly” which he produced almost all of the music for. The album is fantastic. You can also check Since’93’s Instagram or Bandcamp where he produces beats live.
L: Why don’t you start by walking us through your musical history.
93: Yes. The first instrument I ever picked up was the violin. I was probably five years old. I didn’t play for very long, and I switched to playing alto saxophone in middle school and then moved to baritone. I was also playing a little bit of bass guitar in a band with some of my friends in middle school. I never really got good at playing bass, but I was pretty good at saxophone. I stopped playing after 8th grade, we didn’t really have a high school band.
I started making beats my sophomore year when I was like 16. I’ve always just been into music. My Dad plays the guitar and so does my Mom.
L: How has your musical taste developed as you’ve gotten older?
93: When I was young I was really into punk type stuff like Blink-182 and Sum 41 and some pop music like Avril Lavigne and Backstreet Boys. I started to discover hip-hop in 7th grade with music from Atmosphere and Classified.
L: Lol yeah I remember Classified, it’s an interesting reference.
93: Then my cousin showed me Murs and as a result I got put on to 9th Wonder, my friend Kyle put me onto Gang Starr. After that the rabbit hole just kept expanding I guess.
L: I really like the Murs album where it’s black and white and just his face. I can’t remember the name right now.
93: Oh yeah that’s “Murray’s Revenge” that was like the first album that I heard that changed my life. 9th Wonder produced the whole album. He’s a huge inspiration to me.
L: How would you describe your music if you had to?
93: Bouncy, Texturous, hopefully vivid, and versatile.
L: It’s interesting to me that the first three terms you use are visual terms to describe something that’s sonic.
93: Oh yeah well I’m synesthetic so music is a very visual experience for me.
L: How would you describe that?
93: It’s kind of like, you know back in the day you could listen to music on Windows Media Player and you could pull up the visualizer. It’s kind of like that, all sounds that I hear have different colors, textures, and shapes.
L: That’s really interesting. You went to college in Wisconsin right? What’s the hip-hop scene like in Madison?
93: Madison is very interesting actually. In Madison the hip-hop scene is very segregated between the student population and the local population. By that I mean there are the creative people who come from out of state who are going to university, and there is a whole sound and network for those who are students. And a whole other sound from people who are from Madison. It’s rare that the two will come together or have shows together.
L: That’s unfortunate.
93: It is. At first I was like yeah it’s kind of a bummer, but now that I’ve had more time to reflect on it, it makes sense. The sounds are so different, I kind of understand why people who live in Madison might not want to collaborate with transient students.
L: Would you ever meet somebody as a musician that you liked, and whose music you liked, but not decide to work with them? What is the criteria you use to evaluate it?
’93: I mean I would love to work with anybody. I guess when it comes to fellow beat-makers I’m more willing to just be a fan and enjoy their creation and not try to collaborate. It’s more of a personal experience for me. I have collabed with some other producers, and we’ve had some great times, but just with my workflow it might be more productive to work with a musician, who was mastered a specific instrument and use their stuff in my production.
L: Would you say you’re more collaborative than competitive?
’93: I would like to be, but I’m also very competitive. It’s kind of a funny question because to be honest the competitive nature makes me want to collaborate with people who I feel are my competition. For example, there is an artist in Chicago named Saba.
L: Oh dude that new Saba album is so good.
’93: Right, and that’s an example of my point. The producers who made that are two guys from Chicago, and I get jealous when I listen to that album. I wish that I made those beats, so that makes me want to collaborate with them and get in their minds, but at the same time collaborating would change the end product. That’s a situation where I would have to step aside and not let my competitiveness get in the way.
L: So artists have different sounds, and visions for what they are trying to accomplish. How do you approach trying to produce a song for one musician versus another?
’93: I try to understand their sound, and then give them some of my shit that they can rock with. For example, MC’s all have different flows. The three artists that I’m closest to all have different ways of hitting the pocket. So for example, one of my closest artists FreeThe3rd I can make a beat for him that’s a good fit because I know how he raps, so it’s a mixture of knowing how they work and what their taste is like.
L: What would you say is your all-time favorite piece of music?
’93: “Axis: Bold as Love” by Jimi Hendrix.
L: What have you been listening to most recently?
’93: Saba “Care for Me” but I am not listening to it too much because I don’t want to wear it out.
L: Do you wear music wear out?
’93: I definitely have, that’s why I’m just trying to pace myself. Like with Saba and J Cole.
L: Where do you think you find inspiration other than through music?
’93: Experiences especially with the synesthesia. I went to Israel in January and I had this amazing experience at a hostel right on the beach, and then when I got back to Chicago I made a beat to try to re-create that feeling.
L: Take us through the process of making a song.
’93: So usually start with some sounds either to record, I’ll dig up some record to find a sample, or I’ll start with random synths and keyboards and shit and create a melody. I make a beat it usually just starts as a loop and then I’ll develop on that so it has more of a structure and can become a song or an instrumental. Then if the artist is with me, he’ll start freestyling or writing and once they are ready we record and get all of the layers and everything. Then I spend a couple of days mixing and polishing everything up.
L: How do you decide when to release something?
’93: Most of the stuff doesn’t see the light of day, which is unfortunate because even if it’s not amazing I still think it should be out in some way. I try to drop a couple of beat tapes every year. I’ll go into the hard drive and be like, “ok these beats go together thematically,” so then that’s a release. Or sometimes I’ll just make a little remix, or if the beat is going to the artist we’ll just try to collect music we’ve made over a couple of months and decide how it all fits together and if we want it to be like an album, and if so what else could it be? If it wants to be an ep etc. So it’s interesting, Rich’s album “Red Butterfly” comes out on May 8th and it’s a collection of music that we worked on for about two years. We’ve gone through a lot of music. We have an entire album worth of music that fits together thematically, but it’s not even on the album.
L: What do you like to do when you’re not making music?
’93: I like to eat and watch movies, get outside, go skateboarding, or just drive around.
L: What are you working on next?
’93: Now that Rich’s album is finished. Working on A.C. The Ruler’s album. I forget the name of it. He wants to release that in July. It’s almost done. I produced the entire thing, which is really exciting. Working on my producer album that’s been in the works for a couple of years. That doesn’t have a deadline. I have a bunch of projects that I want to do. I have a beat tape that I Want to do on Instagram that is just a lot of videos.
L: In the future do you see yourself working with more artists, or refining it down and staying with the people that you have been making music with?
’93: Well so I have my three or four artists Rich Robbins, Freethe3rd, and A.C. The Ruler those guys are my rocks, they are my best friends. In terms of working with other artists, I’m totally open to it. I’m trying to keep my hands in everybody’s pockets you know, “making a couple of beats for you, making a couple of beats for you, and so on”. I’m always just meeting people.
L: Do you perform a lot, are you ever on stage?
’93: Yeah I DJ for Rich Robbins, I DJ for A.C. as well. DJing is a lot of fun, I was really nervous when I first started doing it, but now that I have gotten the hang of it, it’s so much fun. It’s cool. It goes by so quick. You put in a lot of preparation, but when you go on stage it’s just a blast.
L: What makes you the happiest?
’93: Making a really fucking cool beat.