ES-K is one of the hardest working beat makers that I know of to date. This cat’s output is crazy. His work ethic is shown and speaks for itself when you take a listen to his latest foray of instrumental projects entitled Spontaneous Grooves. ES-K’s Spontaneous Grooves is a collection of 12 releases made within a span of 12 months – each beat made in one sitting. He is now on the 11th month / release of the Spontaneous Grooves collection. Even so, ES-K is not one to sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity.
When asked what his name means, ES-K says “Es-K stands for Essential Knowledge – not meaning like I know a lot, but like “forget the bullshit” .. if that makes sense lol… some dude who knows only the basic chords on the guitar may be way better guitar player than the dude who studied his whole life and knows everything but has no soul…”
On that note I’d say stay on the look out for ES-K as he is certainly one to watch.
How’d you start beatmaking?
To be honest, I got into beat making because I could make a whole “song” by myself. I started playing cello in elementary school, which eventually led to bass in junior high. That, combined with the fact that both my parents houses always had music playing, set me off in the right direction. By the time I was 12 or so, my friends and I would start bands and play music together which was a lot of fun – the only downside was that you had to all get together, practice, etc.. I could chill and play my bass by myself, but what about if I wanted some banging drums? That’s how I got into making “beats” back when I was around 15 or 16.. Now I’m 24 and still loving every minute of it.
Have you produced for any well known artists?
To date, I’ve done some minor work for C-Rayz Walz (You can see me in the credits of his latest) and I’ve mixed songs for my good friend Fish Grease featuring Redman and Keith Murray (Fish’s brother).
Who are your influences?
Growing up I listened to a wide variety of music. At my dads it’d be jazz, blues, funk, soul, even hiphop sometimes (first time I heard Buckshot Lefonque AND Jazzmatazz vol 1). Then at my moms at got a little more contemporary stuff and some heavy stuff like Fiona Apple, Morcheeba, Enya, etc. I really started getting into hiphop at around the age of 10 or 11 when songs from “Hello Nasty” started coming on the radio. I asked my mom if she could get me the CD and she came home with The Beastie Boys “Root Down EP” instead, which if i remember correctly is 6 extremely explicit versions of the song “Root Down”.. it was perfect though, got me right into the grittier Beastie Boys style – and needless to say I still remember all the words. And that beat for the original Root Down track is STILL one of my favorite beats…
As far as specific producers who influence me go – Pete Rock is my all time favorite beat maker (if I had to pick). Also a big fan of Hi-Tek, Nottz, Erick Sermon, Dilla, etc etc.. As far as less known producers who inspire me – gotta shout out Dope Dee and Criso, Manu Beats, Chromadadata, Central Parks, Kappneffect, Asethic, Dirtybird B, Nym, Maw, Upright, Defizit, and DJ Hellfire and the Cold Busted fam… to name a few, haha. Could keep goin with that list…
Tools of the trade?
Started like many others – “Fruity Loops” and Reason untill I was about 17 when I got my first MPC1000 (I’ve owned 3). To this day, the most FUN I’ve had has probably been with the 1k and JJOS. Just the 1k, 1 turntable, a mixer, monitors, yamaha mo6 and a fostex digital recorder. So simple, so fun. Long story short, I lost ALL that stuff and had to move back to Reason and a midi controller. Did the first half of Spontaneous Grooves(episodes 1-5 at least) on Reason.
When Native Instruments released the new Maschine MKII I copped the MKI on sale for a steal.
I gotta say, I do love the software and I love the sound / workflow of Maschine… WIth that said, why oh whyyy does the MKI controller have to feel like such a toy!! It’s ok though, I’m not really upset, and i didn’t pay much more than I would for a nice MIDI controller, but still.. Thats one frustrating thing about the Maschine. Even the MPC1k feels like a tank compared to the first Maschine. I’m gonna make another switch soon for fun, but I want something heavier and more solid feeling.
My studio is very small right now – Maschine MKI, M-Audio 25 key midi controller, Reason 6.5 and Reaper.
What would be your advise for aspiring beatmakers?
Everyones different – but here’s the best advice I can give.
- Make a lot of music.
- Don’t over think what you’re doing.
- Look at each beat as “practice”.
- Learn how to let go of a beat or give up on it.
- Listen to a lot of music.
- Share music with people who will actually critique it.
- Understand that not everyone will hear it like you do.
- Don’t be delusional – Remember how many fish are swimming in the sea. Do it because you LOVE IT… if you dont you’re wasting your time.
If you had to tell an aspiring beat maker what to buy on a modest budget to get started what would you tell him?
The equipment really doesn’t matter THAT much. I know it changes things and effects things, trust me… I love gear, love using different things.. and different pieces of gear have the pros and cons.. but when it comes down to it, if you’re a beat maker – get good at making beats with whatever you have. You don’t have to start with 10 software programs and a drum machine and keyboard and all that jazz. Instead, learn things one step at a time and let your sound/style naturally evolve (Instead of overwhelming yourself with a bunch of gear).
For a low budget beat making start I’d say either go with MPC1000 and JJOS (the 1k is priced real nice on ebay now) or the Maschine route if you don’t mind software. Both have good work flow, not to expensive, and they’re pretty fun to make music on.
I do believe you have one of the highest outputs of beats of any producer that I know, whats your workflow and beat making process like?
I think it kinda goes back to what I was saying earlier about not getting too attached to the beats and being able to let them go.
It goes something like this… I’ll be listening to songs trying to find something to flip. The second I hear something I like I’ll bring it back and start recording bits and pieces of the entire track. Then I quickly clean up my chops and start playing around with em.. Poly usually at 1 (or mono).. and I come up with a loop. Then I go through and add layers, color, bells and whistles etc, drops, all that stuff.. and all of a sudden I’m done! Thats the “Spontaneous Grooves” method I’m doing right now at least. All the beats are made in one sitting, and I never go back to something to re-work it.
What do you think your most used features or effects is in Maschine?
Tape Saturation (subtly) and Transient Master. Transient Master is sooooo useful, I don’t know how I ever lived without it. Great for making things punchy OR softer, etc. Wonderful tool if you’re into sampling.
Is there a piece of gear that you want that you haven’t been able to get your hands on yet?
Like most beat makers I’ve always wanted to get my hands on an SP1200 and/or a MPC3000/60II… Besides that though I’ve been eying the Ren heavily because of how much nicer the controller is than Maschine.
If you could be sponsored by any gear / software manufacturer who would it be?
I’m a long time Reason user, so being sponsored by Propellerhead would be cool. Native Instruments sponsor would be dope too, maybe they could show me the MKII is more solid ahah.
What projects are your currently working on?
Currently I release most of my music through Cold Busted. I’m almost done with the Spontaneous Grooves series. I’m doing 12 releases over the course of a year and each beat is made in only one sitting. Been loving it, but can’t wait to be done! It’s hard to work full time, make music all the time, and have a life.
One of the things I’m most excited about right now is a dedication I’m doing to one of my best friends who passed away with two of my favorite MCs of all time – AG of D.I.T.C. and General Steele. I have both verses and I’m just working on turning the song into something real special. Expect another piece of wax!!
Another cool project in the works in an EP called “Primavera” with M-Dot and Chaundon. Conceptual and different… Something fresh!
Lots of cool instrumental stuff coming too – beat tape with Dope Dee, and another instrumental album with musicians other than myself. (click here for my first collab with other musicians)
Whats in the plans for the future for ES-K?
More music!!!!!!! I hope to keeping stepping it up, and keep working with people who inspire me. Thanks a lot of the interview man, can’t wait to finish that track!
Keep up with ESK