photograph by Czartography
On Monday, Baltimore’s break out producer SOOHAN dropped his new album Volume Twohan– a highly anticipated follow up to Made In Baltimore. World music and 808 gangsta riddims collide once again on Volume Twohan to create a truly awesome collection of tracks. I got the chance to talk with SOOHAN about the new album and because we’re All The Machines, I transcribed the conversation into an interview you can read right here:
Conscious Kalling: Let’s start with the basics: What do you want the listener to get out of Volume Twohan? What kind of experience do you want them to have with it?
Soohan: Twohan is just a continuation of the sound I was trying to produce in Made in Baltimore. Definitely first and foremost wanted to get a few songs with the Tribal 808 feeling, which is what I am most proud of and drawn to. The first half of the album has this feeling. Then the second half is all mostly experimental stuff. Id like my releases to be a nice balance of dance floor accessibility and at home listen-ability, which I think is extremely important nowadays being a producer. As a DJ, yes, I want to make lots of bangers, but people don’t always want to listen to that at home. So I tried to provide them with a balance of danceable and listenable.
CK: Mind giving some insight into your process? You seem to pull samples from such a random array of sources and yet it somehow all works together so well. What do you look for when looking for samples and how do you fit them all together?
S: All of my songs start out as one sample that I usually find on the iTunes store. Then I use Mixed in Key to determine what key they are in and start messing around with other samples in the same key. Then eventually one of my songs comes out of it. That way you can see that this pop song is in the same key as this movie score or this didgeridoo piece. Its a fun way to make music because its more driven by experimenting than anything.
CK: We’ve heard 808s mixed with world fusion before, but never quite like this. You do it with such attitude and it results in tracks that are consistently dance floor bangers. What inspired you to mix world samples with the Baltimore club music vibe?
photograph by TLC Baltimore
S: As far as the world music, I have always just really liked music from all over the world. Also, I hadn’t really heard anything like what I am making, so I am just trying to provide music that has the gangster 808 feeling, but also makes you feel like you are in some sort of tribal ritual or something. Its very west coast and very burning man. I feel like for the scene that I am in now, it caters perfectly to their desires. Lots of people tell me my music is exactly what they are looking for. I think this is because the music I make is exactly what I am looking for as well. More organic, less crazy digital sounds, and more actual music. There is a whole world of music out there. That’s why I like to dig some of it up and make it my own.
CK: Can you talk about your relationship to the conscious bass music scene? From an outsiders perspective, Baltimore and spiritual bass music seem like polar opposites.
S: I am more interested in the ritual of dancing to music outside than I am just blasting bangers. I would really like to provide a sense of spirituality through some of the sounds that I choose (like in “Clouds of Dankness” from Twohan). I feel very strongly about the power of music especially when it is played outdoors at festivals. This is an opportunity to engage in the ritual of being on the land and using music to conjure the ” great spirit” or whatever. This is where I would like to go with my music.
CK: Everything you make is so undeniably dance floor moving, but sometimes I also catch myself laughing out loud when I listen to your tracks (in the best way). Is there an intentional humor in your music?
S: Well yes, there is humor in the music. In the new album I have one point where I mix DMX with the movie score from Wall-e. This is the perfect example. I guess I am just trying to catch people off guard and sometimes provide them with a slight mindfuck of nostalgia and culture. Makes for a more interesting listening experience. I think moments like this ultimately show how samples can be such powerful tools in making music.
photograph by TLC Baltimore
CK: It seems to me like Made In Baltimore was a huge breakout success for you. How has that momentum changed your life and your world? Has it also influenced the music you’ve written for Volume Twohan?
S: The momentum has been crazy. Made in Baltimore got 260,000 on SoundCloud. So my life has become a dream come true over the past few months. Knowing that I have a solid fan base online changes everything. Lets me be myself and explore my own art more, hence Twohan. A combination of both what they might expect from me, but also deviating form their expectations. I am SO excited to see how Twohan does. Yesterday in its first day, it got 6000 plays. So I would say its going pretty well hahaha. Like I said this is a dream come true. It doesn’t turn into automatic fortune though. I have had some opportunities come out of my music, but I am by no means anywhere close to having music be my main source of income. For now, all I care about is the online listens; hoping to have at least half a million by this time next year. Then I think some more opportunities will come. Right now it’s just the connection between me and the listeners. This is all I am focused on at the moment, not headlining festivals. I know that this summer people will be pulling up to the festivals blasting SOOHAN, so that makes me feel like I am ahead of the curve. Looks like I have my work cut out for me to keep them interested.
CK: What’s next for you? Tours, festival gigs, or future releases? Anything you’re listeners should be looking out for?
S: Only a few smaller festivals this summer. My success came after most of these big fests were booked. Things will pick up soon though. Eyes on the prize.