I have been making Hip Hop beats and instrumentals off and on for 24 years. My music and production is featured in the "Birdwalking Podcast." My beats encompass various eras of Hip Hop and embodies elements of Jazz, Pop, Trip-Hop, Funk, Psychedelic, Blues, Soul, and Classic Rock.
I primarily offer Hip-Hop instrumentals with exclusive or non exclusive licensing. I can also mix your tracked out vocals to beats at negotiated rates. I started out in 1995 as a Hip-Hop DJ, then an MC (Emcee). In 2003, I provided soundbites for the BJ Shea Experiece on 100.7 the Buzz. In 2010, my music was selected on ReverbNation and featured on a Northwest Hip-Hop compilation that was part of a champaign against drunk driving. Currently I am the producer and sound engineer for a local (Seattle) podcast that features my original music as the score; 'The Birdwalking Podcast' with host Natalie and Brandon. I specialize in chopping samples and augmenting them to combine with my original compositions, at times I use samples to make original sounds and extract the samples to make a completely original piece. The result is a unique sound that blends the original elements of Hip-Hop (old school and golden era) with a modern sound that uses synthetic instrumentation and 16th note high hats. My sound lends well to Trip-Hop and Golden Era boom bap and blends sound elements of east coast and west coast styles of the 90's with the modern and spacious sound of today.
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Interview with Abe Noreman
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Blaire Rose Project. I created a full song from vocals that were made while just playing around and free-styling.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I am working on the Birdwalking Podcast, Blaire Rose Project, and finding new artist looking to use instrumentals.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Not at this time. I am new to SoundBetter.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Analog- that warm vibrant sound.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: Sometimes it can take a lot more time that I would like to take but I promise I will go out of my way to make the song how you want it to sound. It's your song!
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The process and hearing a song all the way to completion.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: I haven't had enough customers yet to answer this question.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Since I do sampling people think I am stealing, and that I am not creative, and lack skill. I feel that sampling is a creative process and the "chopping" of samples allows me to rearrange the sample in a way that is completely different. Parts a played in a completely different order and effects and pitch bending is abstract art like a collage of sounds from different sources to create something completely new and unique, to the point that you can no longer tell where the sample is from. I think that is very creative. When music theory is applied and new instrumentation is added, it is a unique piece of music. I wish that sampling was not considered theft in the modern age of music.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Who is your favorite artist(s)? What kind of sound are you going for? Do you mind if I use samples?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: My advice would be to singers. Please keep in mind that my music is deeply rooted in hip-hop so please keep that in mind when I send a beat. Be prepared to think of different ways to approach the track vocally that might be a little different from the more traditional way.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Laptop, M-Audio Keyrig, Headphones, a crate of records, and a turntable.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I have been making Hip-Hop for 24 years. I started at 15 or 16 years old with turntables, a sampler, and a keyboard. Since then it's been an off and on relationship with music. It has taken me many years to find my lane and where I want to be in music. I have wanted to make beats for emcees and making beats is a fun release for me, it so ingrained that I know it is what I am here to do.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Modernized Boom Bap- While I have a few different approaches to making a beat I like the old golden era hip-hop approach of "Crate Digging" (crate digging is a hip hop term for when one goes to an record store to look for old records to sample) I like to crate dig and find samples (That's the old boom bap). I make a beat and chop the samples, then compose and play my baseline to the beat and sample, then add instrumentation to the sample, then remove the sample leaving only my instrumentation. I blend synths into the music and the track without the sample is a freshly composed piece with often time more bridges and segues in the music versus only having the limits of the loop or the chopped piece of music.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: B-Real of Cypress Hill. Ultimately, B-Real and the early Cypress Hill sound had a huge influence on how I like to make beats. I love the dark undertones and the hippy underground sound that Cypress Hill has (Especially the late nineties sound from the album Temples of Boom and Cypress 4). I feel I could nail that sound and B-Real's lyricism and high nasal voice would be the perfect match for my trip-hop/hip-hop sound.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: When mixing I test the reverb on my drums first and minimize the amount of reverb since I don't want too much reverb on my drums. Whichever reverb I decide to use is the same reverb I will use on all instruments and different levels (on some instruments no reverb will be used, sometimes reverb is completely removed from drums in the end) the reverb gives the instruments from my DAW an organic sound. I like all music to sound like it is recorded in the same room since natural reverb is a result of the space/room that is being recorded in. (e.g a beat with a lot of orchestral instruments will use a hall reverb to give the feel of a orchestra concert hall the string instruments will have more reverb than the drum, depending on the sound I am going for the drums usually have the smallest amount of reverb)
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Hip-Hop, Trip-Hop, and Pop.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Chopping up and augmenting samples and turning them into unique and original compositions.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: I bring an element of hip-hop to most all of my work. If you want a track with a little "Boom Bap" (The term "boom bap" is an onomatopoeia that represents the sounds used for the bass (kick) drum and snare drum, respectively. The style is usually recognized by a main drum loop that uses a hard-hitting, acoustic bass drum sample on the downbeats, a snappy acoustic snare drum sample on the upbeats, and an "in your face" audio mix emphasizing the drum loop, and the kick-snare combination in particular-wikipedia)
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: When working with an artist I try to get a feel for what they want to create. I listen to their favorite artist, I will listen to reference tracks and really soak up the sound and style that the artist is going for. Then I usually start making compositions that I think would work for the artist I am working with. I start my composition playing all the parts of the song, the chorus section the bridge, the main verses. After I that I sequence the music to flow from the intro, to the verse, to the choruses, bridge, and ending. Then I will do mix-down and master the music. Once an instrumental is fully completed. I will remove all the levels and mixing and filters added to the track to track out the music. This way the instrumental can be mixed to the vocals once the vocals are recorded. Then I will edit the vocals to the music and do a final mix and master.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My studio is located in the basement of my house. It is really very basic. I have a Scarlett condenser mic with a pop screen. I section off a part of the basement as a vocal booth and used collected egg crates as sound proofing. There is a one direct microphone. In the sound booth I have seating. A scarlett external sound card used to plug the microphones into my DAW. I have a set of monitors and several sets of headphones for monitoring and mixing. M-Audio keyrig used for most compositions and an acoustic guitar. I do not have any large mixing boards as everything is worked in my DAW's on my laptop which allows for flexibility. I am able to make my studio mobile and change locations with ease. I can compose music from the comfort of my living room. I use the studio space for mixing, mastering, and recording.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I am very much inspired by DJ Premier and Hank Shocklee of the Bomb Squad. I like how they use sampling and chopping of samples in their music.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Currently and most common is recording "The Birdwalking Podcast" which the podcast host come to my studio and record. After recording I enhance the vocals with volume leveling (Bringing low volume up and compressing vocals that are too high. I arrange parts of the show in ways to help the listener stay engaged, add my music as the score for the intro's and segues, create sound skits for audio visualization (e.g I recorded myself talking on a cell phone while driving, then added the effects of getting in car wreck for a show about drivers). Recently, an artist sent their raw vocals to me to "play" with. I composed an instrumental from scratch based on the chords used in the demo that was sent. Then quantize the vocals to the beat. I chopped the vocals into segments to play the vocals back to the beat for the chorus. (Chopped to assigned keys on a midi piano) The result was amazing and is earmarked to be on the artist next project. I have do the final mix and mastering in both the music project and the podcast.