By David Peter Simon | May 20th, 2012
With technology nowadays, everyone is creative. To a certain extent, everyone is an artist. And that’s cool. But not everyone is willing to hustle.
Say hello to a hustler.
TeV95 is a Miami-bred, Brooklyn-based creative director and producer who prides himself on independent talent. He currently runs 95Labs, a multimedia production company based in New York City, but is better known for his concept albums, Crime Loops, a collage of beats, edits, and loops that explores sampling and editing to expose the clusterfuck that is intellectual property rights law.
I got to sit down with TeV95 near his studio at Brooklyn Fireproof to hear his story and chat about “indie” music.
So what’s your story? How’d you end up a creative director and producer out in Bushwick?
To make a long story short, I stayed out in Brooklyn once when I was younger, when the Towers were still up, and I loved it.
Then, on a whim a few years back, I sold my car and said “Fuck it, let’s go.” I was working down in Miami but you can’t avoid the things you want to do.
There’s a lot more to it, but in a nutshell it’s something I’ve just always wanted to do.
How’d you get started in hip hop?
I got started when I bought my first CDs back in 91, I think it was Black Sheep’s “Wolf’s in A Sheep’s Clothing” and Public Enemy’s “Enemy Strikes Back.”
I mean, I’ve always liked music – I had a piano in my house, got into Nirvana in the 90s, played in the school band, got into break dancing, graffiti. I guess I’ve always repped the elements, but it wasn’t till later that i got into making shit.
What role has living in Brooklyn had on your music?
Bushwick’s a great place man. We do shit out here. I mean, I think NYC makes you think a lot. I think this city has a lot of creative energy in the air, there’s other people that bring that and we feed on it. There’s competition of course, but the energy’s right.
How’d you fall into being a producer?
I’ve always been more of a producer than “an artist” I guess. When I was younger, everyone would rap and I would rap too – but I never released records like that. So I’ve recorded stuff like that but there’s a point where you ask yourself – what do you do better? Not everyone should be a rapper just cause you want it. I felt I was better at producing beats and developing talent.
Of course, I release instrumental music – downtempo – so in that sense I’m a solo artist.
What sort of equipment do you use?
The MPC2000 for mad years. I did most of my Crime Loops albums on that. Recently, I switched to Native Instruments Machine. That shit is dope. It’s like an MCP on steroids. Of course synths, samples, drum machine, etc. and everything is recorded into Pro Tools.
Where do find your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the way I felt when I first listened to good music…
Wait a second, what’s good music? :)
Good music is stuff from when you’re a kid, you know, listening to Michael [Jackson].
Good music gives you a certain feeling. You start listening to it and it makes you think a lot. For example, I was a big Wu Tang fan. That hip hop gives you a certain feeling. It inspires you a certain way. It’s a feeling that still inspires me today. More than ever in fact.
You’re releasing your music via cassette – is it just for the hip novelty or is there something more to it?
I guess to a certain extent you can call it a novelty item because most people don’t have a cassette player. But people refer to instrumental hip hop as beat tapes and I thought of it as literally. You know, I’ll literally put it on a tape, how it’s supposed to be.
It’s cool I guess. People trip out on it, they like it. I know most people don’t play it on a cassete player… but still.
Can you tell us a little about the concept behind Crime Loops?
Chopping loops is something that’s really a primitive hip hop thing. It’s something I love to do in my production, but I realized when you try to shop beats as a producer and sell them to labels, commercial labels aren’t interested in sample-based work because of legal issues. It’s more valuable to get original work, so the sample-based stuff never gets placed.
So I saw this big problem, realized it’s a big fucking mess with copyright. It’s a creative block for a lot of artists – for people who are remixing things.
You know that Nas quote, “No ideas are original”? I felt like I was in that position. Crime Loops, as if to say my sample-based music is some kind of a crime. I wanted people to think about that.
Crime Loops 3. I was reluctant to do it at first because I don’t want to box myself into just “Crime Loops _” but people know that work and everyone wanted another one.
While I started off as a producer, I’ve become more than that now – I’ve become a company. 95Labs produces music and videos now. Where we’re headed is to becoming a full fledged multimedia company. Hopefully we’ll have other mediums, maybe even software based too. I have other ideas, but that’s where I want to go now – interactive. Viewers aren’t passive anymore and they want to be involved – they want “more.”
Of course, there’s no limits. There’s never any limits. Limits are made up things.