Music and technology have been at the core of Thavius Beck's universe for decades. The Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and educator cut his teeth on LA's beats scene after moving there from his home of Minneapolis at the age of 16. It was here that Beck formed part of Global Phlowtations, a collective for whom he produced and recorded tracks for, occasionally lending his own rhymes, whilst also crafting music solo under his Adlib alias.
This marked the beginning of an illustrious career in music, and over the following 20 or so years he stayed in the Californian city he added multiple strings to his bow. Alongside several solo outings for the likes of Big Dada Recordings, Mush and Plug Research, he collaborated with artists like Saul Williams, Nas and Nine Inch Nails, as well as releasing music under the moniker Labwaste with producer Subtitle.
Now settled in Brooklyn and training the next gen of producers in his role as an Ableton Live educator, Beck had let his own releases take a backseat for a few years — that was until U-Trax boss DJ White Delight came knocking at his door. After sending over a huge batch of unreleased beats from the last 20 years, Beck and White Delight set about releasing them as an EP (Lovesick) and an LP (Cosmic Noise); a celebration of Beck's innate ability at crafting rhythmic bass experiments and dark, emotive melodies.
Off the back of this mammoth release project, we invited Beck to take care of this week's Ransom Note mix: a collection of his own original unreleased material...
Please introduce yourself… Who are you, where are you and what are you
I am Thavius Beck, an electronic musician, educator, parent, and hairy geek. I am currently in my basement, which is currently in Brooklyn, NY. Currently.
What does your music sound like? Can you draw what you think it sounds like for us (an image from the old internet is acceptable)?
It probably makes more sense to just listen to it than to look at an image and imagine what that translates to. This was the image open in the other tab as I typed this.. This is my music running towards you getting ready to beat you over the head with victorious bass (but in a good way).
Where was the mix recorded?
In my basement. Everything happens in my basement.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
Anywhere you can freely enjoy your *thing* of choice (mine would be a lovely spliff), with headphones or speakers that aren't afraid of low end frequencies.
What should we be wearing?
Uh, clothes? Unless you're someplace where you don't need to... An epidermis?
What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format?
To record a live mix? Well, the best sound system I have had the pleasure of playing on is the Pure Filth sound system, so that system (and Sam XL has to run is own rig - shout out to big Sam!) maxed out in an outdoor setting (something like Red Rocks Ampitheatre in Arizona) with a healthy breeze and a ton of people just dancing like crazy and enjoying the music. That would be one of many ideal settings...
Which track in the mix is your current favourite?
I like them all... I made them all... but there are a few that stand out. But no one would know the names if I said them so I guess just check it all out... haha!
What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?
I'm not really sure if I could even name a specific mix off the top of my head... I could sooner tell you the name of a mix made by one of my clients or students.
If you could go back to back with any DJ from throughout history, who would it be and why?
I'm not really a DJ so this is a funny question to me... The only DJ I'd be trying to go back and forth with would be a producer like DJ Paul. That would be pretty fun actually.
What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?
My first “DJ” set up was an old hi-fi system with a turntable and dual cassette deck that had a fader for the panning control (left/right)... I would try to scratch on old records when I was maybe 7 or 8 by using that panning fader like a crossfader. Only one of the speakers worked for some reason, so I just pretended like I had one turntable and a crossfader.
What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?
Initially grabbing people's attention is important, so I'd say the first track... If the first song isn't good, they may never get to the last one.
What were the first and last records you bought?
The first record I bought I believe was “Itching for a Scratch” by Force M.D.'s when I was probably five. I haven't been record shopping in a while since the world got cooties, but the last record that I got that blew me away was Sounds of Sisso, which is on a label called Nyege Nyege Tapes out of Uganda. That album is nuts.
If this mix was an edible thing, what would it taste like?
If it was an animal what would it be?
A Lion of course.
One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything?
That same Sounds of Sisso record I mentioned earlier.
How did the collaboration with U-Trax come about?
Serendipity... I am not exactly sure what prompted Rich (aka DJ White Delight) to initially reach out to me, but it all started with an email from him, which came out of the blue to me. I read the email and got the sense that this seemed like a potentially good person, and I hadn't really been releasing music for a couple years up to that point, so I figured why not see what this dude is talking about? Haha! After that we had a number of really good emails and video chats after that about music and much more, and it just felt like the right situation at the right time with someone who seems to really appreciate my work.
What can you tell us about your EP Lovesick & LP Cosmic Noise?
Well I guess the main thing that is most interesting to me is that I didn't sequence either project, meaning I didn't choose the order of the songs (or the specific songs that would end up on the EP versus the LP). To me it was really cool to hear these tracks that I've gotten so familiar with presented in a totally unexpected way... So with that said, I think the LP especially has a totally different flow to my previous albums, so it's really refreshing for me, and hopefully will showcase a lot of different aspects of my weirdo production style(s) to curious listeners.
Upcoming in the world of Thavius Beck...
More music... More teaching... More learning... Enjoy these crazy ass beats!
Follow Thavius Beck. Photo credit: Monifa Skerritt.
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