“Give me your address, so I can send you my new cd,” immediately replied Joey Beats when I approached him for this interview.
Perhaps one of the most underrated current producers, Rhode Island’s Joey Beats isn’t only humble and approachable, but is also extremely skillful at what he does. The production half of the Non-Prophets’ Sage Francis being the rapping half…Joe is constantly focused on his growth as a beatsmith. “I pretty much loathe all of my past work,” said the Rhode Island native, “Why? Because I’m an amateur and I need to get better. Point blank period.”
With a small but respectable body of work, Joey Beats’ latest endeavor is a remix project of sorts, which offers his rendition of Indie Rock tunes. Why would a Hip Hop producer whose idol is Pete Rock branch out and rework songs from bands like Deerhoof, Neutral Milk Hotel and Pinback? “I got sick of sampling the same shit. When everyone went Library, I went Latin [and made the Non-Prophets record],” says the ever emergent producer. “Then everyone went Latin, so I went Brazilian. Then everyone went Brazilian. I got fed up and decided to take a dramatic turn. In the end, I ended up sticking with Indie and made Indie Rock Blues. Now everyone is post punk and, luckily for me, I got some other shit. It never ends though.”
Whatever his future ambitions are, one can already see the obvious growth with each subsequent release. With a new remix collaboration with Cunninlinguists just finished, a release with Bully Records in the coming year and a growing fanbase that anxiously awaits an instrumental full length, Joey Beats answered random questions I threw at him.
With genuine insight, humor and humility, here’s are his responses:
Q: Can you start of by identifying yourself for people who are unfamiliar with you and your music?
“I got by the unfortunate moniker Joey Beats. I am a producer. Some may know me through the work I’ve done with Sage Francis to form the duo Non-Prophets. We’re exploring careers as soloists. My latest solo project is called “Indie Rock Blues”. In short, it’s a bunch of Indie Rock remixes I did and compiled in an unpaused mix. Danceable melancholy for the depressed.”
Q: Let’s get into your past a bit. What made you get into music production? How did you get started?
“The first time I heard Pete Rock back in 1991 I wondered how he did it. I didn’t get the chance to start making stuff until about 7 years later in college. I worked at the radio station where they had production equipment and 30,000 promo records.”
Q: Obviously the approach to making an instrumental track differs from making one for rhyming. But which process do you prefer as a beatmaker? Which is more fun/fulfilling?
“Now? Making instrumental music. On the real, forget emcees. Divas, all of them…haha.”
Q: How many hours a day do you devote to making beats? Is it a daily thing or a spur- of- the-moment thing?
“I work in chunks. When I have a specific direction or project in mind I focus intensely, dive in head first, and can work pretty fast. For example, half of the beats for the Non-Prophets record were made in a two- month span. Of recent I haven’t been working on stuff as much as usual because of the release of Indie Rock Blues. I do everything on my own -right down to assembling each and every cd. My workdays have been consumed with doing individual orders of Indie Rock Blues. As long as I stay distracted with that, I’ll be happy.”
Q: What was the last song you heard that absolutely blew you away? Why?
” Deerhoof – Gold on Black. It’s an older song of theirs but I just caught them live last night and they played it. I always liked the track but couldn’t appreciate it in full until I saw it live. They did a variation on it and it floored me. The drummer is a friggin’ maniac. I need to do what he does, but do so on the 404.”
Q: Who are some rappers/singers/producers that it’d be an honor for you to work with?
” I stopped asking myself this question a long time ago. Whomever I mention Dangermouse will probably make end up making a record with. So…whomever Dangermouse is working with, hahaha. ”
Q: What’s it like being in the studio with Sage?
” I don’t know what it’s like being in the studio with Sage. Normally, I mix down the beat with the engineer (Chris Warren) and then Sage comes in for the next session to lay down the vocals. It’s a formula that works best for us. As for the times before that, I can’t call it. I wasn’t experienced enough back then to have an opinion on it now.”
Q: How was the touring experience? Any thoughts about a Joey Beats tour?
” I loved it. I had a great time. At the same time, I was under a lot of illusions. However, I hope to be on the road soon again promoting solo work. Although next time it won’t be all fun and games. I look forward to that. I will probably have to incur a lot more responsibility than I had to before. In that sense it will be more rewarding.”
Q: Will we see more projects of this nature from you from now on?
” Yes. I will continue to make uncompromising music that people cannot categorize and, as a result, will not sell.”
Q: Can we expect a purely instrumental album from you anytime soon?
” Yes. I don’t know when it will be ready. Once it rivals the big two, I guess. In the meantime, you can check for some true instrumentals of mine to be released on Bully records in the coming year.”
Q: How did the collaboration with Cunninlinguists come about? Are you pleased with the end result?
“YES!!! I’m very pleased. A Piece Of Strange is a fantastic record and I’m very honored to be considered a small part of it with the remix I did. Kno emailed me and asked if I would like to do a remix. I was flattered at first. But then when I heard the album, I was sold. Buy it.”
Q: You’ve been pressing on for a minute now. Any last comments for followers of your music who’ve paid attention to your production since The Non-Prophets record “Bounce” was released in ’99?
” You will hear and see more from me in 2006. I have a split 7″ coming out on Shake It Records with the one and only Maker. There will be a 7″ for “Indie Rock Blues” very soon. The B-side will feature a new remix not on the original release. I have another 12″ dropping this year; one of the tracks is a song I did with an emcee named Blak (from One Drop). Last but not least, I plan on finishing an EP for Bully Records which will also be available online as an E-label release. I have some other tentative things in the works but I won’t go into all that now. In the meantime, everyone should download my new cd Indie Rock Blues on any of the file sharing programs. If you like it and would like to own a copy with the actual booklet, you can purchase a copy directly from me off my webpage, www.joeybeats.com.”
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