SAMIYAM is the Ann Arbor native turned LA beatsmith whose choppy yet fluid beats bang like a cloudy ride through a level of Earthbound. Partly due to a choice ear for equipment and compression, and partly due to the influence and colab of electic/brokenbeat/trip hop pioneer Flying Lotus, SAMIYAM has captured the SoCal scene of progressive producers and in turn gained devoted fans worldwide without so much as a label release. Regardless, SAMIYAM is focused on getting the beats out there–after gathering enough donut-esque bangers, he started slinging his first disc on CD-R appropriately titled, “Rap Beats Vol. 1”. The disc, packaged with his own unique sketches on top of magazine cut outs, holds a lot of heat and is sure to make fans of all genres nod till the neck is sore. With the help of FlyLo’s new label/dream team Brainfeeder, the 23 beats are on iTunes. Cop it by clicking the picture to the right or head over to his myspace.
Cosign got a chance to catch up with Sam on the tele, and chatted about what he’s been up to and whats new in the genre. Check for an exclusive MP3 off “Rap Beats Vol. 1” afterwards.
So first, an equipment question for the producer heads. I’ve heard that the SP 303 is your sampler of choice. I was wondering if you prefer it over the MPC and how you got started with it?
Its funny why you say that I’m into it “over the MPC” because I actually did have a MPC before. I guess I had it for the same reason you would ask about it, because its so talked about. You know, “this guy used it, that guy used it”. It was the first machine I used and it was just too much, you know too many functions on there. Its great because I could always learn new shit you could do on it but also I was only using like half of the functions on that thing. So I picked up the 303 for its effects and found it had a sequencer on it and just started making shit on it and I liked the way it worked. Its pretty simple and its got great effects.
Yeah. Do you have any favorite albums that you know were solely produced on the 303?
I heard Madlib made all the beats on Madvillian on the 303 but besides that I haven’t heard many albums that were just on the 303… have you?
Just that and the Quasimoto albums pretty much. Any other equipment that you favor? Any analog shit?
Hmm… I don’t think anything I use is really analog, its pretty much all digital and supposed to sound like analog shit. I make a lot of sound on the Novation Bass Station but I don’t know if I’d recommend anyone to buy it. Haha, but its definitely a cool sounding synth
I was reading online that you attended the Red Bull Conference in Toronto. Whats the Red Bull conference about and what’d you guys do up there?
Theres really everything. When you go to the Red Bull Music Academy the main point of it is just two weeks where you’re surrounded by a bunch of young people from all over the world that are there for one common interest. Some kids were there to learn how to make beats and some DJs who wanted to learn more of the production side. The main thing I liked about it was just meeting a few people and just being around all that creativity and all these people who love music.
Sounds great. Is it invitational or open?
They take applications every year and I think they accept like 60 people. Yeah, theres two terms with 30 people each. I think the applications for next time are supposed to be going in pretty soon.
I heard the new FlyAmSam beat on the Ghostly/Adult Swim compilation and know they play some Flying Lotus on Adult Swim. I was wondering if you’ve gotten any play time over there?
Nope, I haven’t had anything on there. Thats the first beat of mine that had to do with Adult Swim. It was definitely dope for it to be on there because thats like the only shit I watch on TV. Its awesome, that Tim and Eric show is like the best shit on TV.
So you moved out to LA recently?
Yeah, like 7 or 8 months ago. Its been really hot.
So, when Lotus was first out in LA he was interning at Stones Throw, have they been listening to any of your beats?
Nah, I’ve met some people over at Stones Throw but I haven’t talked with them about doing anything.
Is there anything you’re listening to right now that you’d recommend?
Have you heard the new Portishead? I would recommend people listen to that and then buy it when it comes out. Its kind of scary that everybody I know has a copy of it already, but thats a fucking amazing album. I don’t keep up that much on new stuff though. For the most part I’m just listening to records if I want to hear some music, but that Portishead shit is amazing.
What about movies?
Wow, haha I dont really watch that many movies. I just bought Home Alone yesterday, I’m excited about that.
So what are you working on right now? Any upcoming projects or shows?
Well right now I’m going to be doing a few shows but I need to figure out everything I have booked so I can put it up on Myspace. I’m still selling this CD, Rap Beats Vol. 1 which is 23 unreleased beats and I’m making the cover art for every single CD thats sold. I’m cutting shit out of magazines and adding drawings to peoples faces. Thats going to be out on iTunes May 6, so definitely hit that up. Then, I’ve got a 10″ coming out with Poo-Bah Records and another project coming out with Hyperdub. Are you familiar with them?
Nah, I’ll check it out– Hyperdub.
Also I did a Daedelus remix coming out on Ninja Tune, I’m not sure when thats out though. I’ve been working on a few things trying to stay busy out here. We’re going to London this summer too, actually, fuck, like next month. Thats going to be with Lotus, Ras G, Kode 9 and some other cats. I think Rustie on it too. Its called the Brainfeeder Festival.
Wow, thats ill. I’ve been hearing about Brainfeeder– whats that all about?
Nice, everyone in London should check that out. Do you feel that your kind of sound is blowing up more in Europe than it is in the states? Its got a culture in Cali, but I feel like in Europe people are paying a lot more attention.
Yeah definitely. It doesn’t really hurt my feelings too much that people down the street from me don’t know or care who I am. I kind of like it like that. Its cool though, kids in Europe definitely have an open ear for stuff like this. Like with this CD I’ve been selling, its just amazing to see how many of the orders are coming in from the UK. There might even be more UK orders than American orders. The kids are into it, I get way more e-mails asking “when is there gunna be an album out?” from European cats.
Nah, I haven’t talked to him about that. I would imagine its going pretty well though… thats going to be fucking crazy. Isn’t Rustie on some of those shows?
Yeah, that should be great. Would you say those kind of prolific producers are picking up on that sound more and more?
I mean, people are kind of interested in hearing, I don’t want to say something new, because none of us are doing something that groundbreaking, but just some different shit, you know? I guess a lot of the stuff we do is pretty much hip hop, but I’m not like reading a rule book or anything. I think kids are getting something a little bit different. Theres definitely more and more interest though.
I know you look up to Dilla as an influence. Are there any other producers right now or in the past who you look up to musically?
I mean, Qunicy Jones is probably one of the dudes who influenced me way back in the day before I thought about trying to make beats. I was really into the Michael Jackson shit. But I dunno, I don’t really keep up on that much new shit but I know a lot people are doing some really dope stuff now. You know, you got Lotus and them. You know Ras G, right?
Yeah, he’s ill. Well one more question. I hit up the Lotus game and was wondering how far you’ve gotten on it and/or how faded you have to be to beat it?
Haha, I dunno. We spend way much more time playing like Call of Duty 4 at his house than playing the fuckin “Flying Lotus game”.
Haha, thank you very much good to talk to you.
You too man, peace.
|| words by Justin Staple ||
Heres a review from Cokemachineglow.com:
“Samiyam’s lineage is blatantly obvious upon first listen, so I won’t spill much ink over Dilla comparisons, or place him in context with the million and one other Dilla-ites who have flocked to LA on some sort of pilgrimage to join in an indie producer movement that has bred results both nauseatingly derivative and genuinely enticing.
What does warrant mentioning is that Samiyam is superior to most of those other LA beatmakers, due in part to his markedly more variable production style. Rap Beats observes Samiyam as an ADD-riddled toddler treating his record collection like a box of new crayons, snatching a brief sequence of strings and toying with it for all of 60 seconds, then discarding it for a menacing organ or amiable horns. It’s the right and logical approach for his repetitive compositions, which would surely grow tedious if stretched to any great length. Rap Beats is, at its core, more of an exhibition of talent than anything resembling a cohesive statement, which I would surmise is its exact purpose. That the album never strays from a singular purpose—laying out prowess as focused on variety as it is quality—makes it a pretty easy pill to swallow.
Samiyam’s frantic pace, on the whole, yields some solidly interesting chunks and the collection impresses more than falters: the playful interplay between keys and an acoustic on “Rooftop” delights and “Sideways” performs better than the sum of its parts as Sam stretches a harp and sloppy cymbals to favorable effect; even the lesser tracks merely border on bleak, never veering into egregious cliché.
But what truly anchors the album is its handful of direly urgent gems. “Super Chronzio Bros. 2” is Infamous-era (1995) Havoc filtered through bad trip brutality and NES murder victims. This 8-bit bullshit has been peddled to death by a laundry list of would-be Warp signees, but Samiyam avoids the novelty, the nostalgia-dependent approach that often renders his peers’ work so lifeless, spacing warped blips within a fleshed-out structure of sound rather than sampling Castlevania and throwing some drums underneath it. This monster is the $400 sandwich of your dreams (or nightmares, depending), stacked to the sky with burbling percussion, inebriated clicks, and chrome-plated handclaps beneath layers of sinister hiss and morose, manipulated conversations. Samiyam is setting fire to toxins, evaporation circulating them throughout the uncomfortably small room he’s constructed. The slightly lesser closer “Untitled” pushes, drunk, an organ down a flight of stairs and watches it transform into an equally sinister accordion saved by Kevlar-piercing snares and maniacal undertones.
Hanging these two standouts next to each other, it’s still a bit unclear as to what Samiyam’s greatest asset is, exactly. “Super Chronzio Bros. 2” drips of judiciousness boasting labored concision, but the album’s final track revels in simplicity, smacking of guttural veracity. Then, upon examining the remaining beats here, it becomes apparent that Sam may still be figuring out such quandaries for himself, occasionally misstepping to varying degrees throughout—MIDI mistakes (the vapid “One love”) and the occasional poor sample choice (the lethargic “Wrap up”) mar an otherwise intriguing glut.
On that inconsistent front, Samiyam’s enticing entry mostly succeeds in circulating a buzz, acting as a sandbox in which he gosh-durn toys with a whole slew of sounds and brandishes his considerable skills. If Samiyam’s debut foray into beatmaking serves as the proverbial springboard from which he launches more nuanced, cohesive efforts, he could continue to stand out amongst the crowded LA hip-hop scene for some time to come.”