Controller7 – Auf eigenen Beinen
Geht es um die am meisten unterschätzten Produzenten des Underground-HipHop, dann wird auch über Controller7 gesprochen. Sein Album „Crosseyed Dislexics“ war einer der ersten Anticon-Releases, seine Produktionen für Sole (zB.: Furthermore, Dismantling of Sole´s Ego, Predictions oder Crisis), Sage Francis (Specialist, Agony in her Body) oder die Deep Puddle Dynamics (Rainmen Remix) sind absolute Fan-Favoriten, und sowohl sein zweites Album „Left Handed Straw“ als auch seine EPs auf dem kanadischen Bully-Label werden unter Liebhabern von instrumentalem HipHop hoch gehandelt. Tommy McMahon, so sein „echter“ Name, blieb trotzdem ein Phantom – Platten mit seinen Produktionen oder Solo-Werke veröffentlichte er nur äußerst selten und so lebt sein Name bis heute vor Allem von dem Ruhm, den er sich unter den Rappern, für die er produziert, und den DJs, denen er die Platten unter den Händen weg-gediggt hat, verdiente.
DEAD: Asking anybody that is interested in some kind of „weird“ or „abstract“ HipHop about their favorite producers, your name will come up quite fast. Do you feel flattered or misunderstood?
Controller7: I feel flattered. Not flattered that I am considered weird or abstract, but flattered that people mention my name as any type of favorite producer. I don’t necessarily consider all of my music to be weird or abstract, but that is kind of the scene I came up in, so it’s understandable. I don’t think that is the best way to describe my music, but it wouldn’t offend me if people called it abstract.
DEAD: Your work as a producer has always been very much appreciated for your use of quite „typical HipHop-sounding“ samples, while your songs mostly had a very distinctive sound that made them also appealing for listeners that are tired of HipHop – What´s your vision of art, your approach to a dope song?
With everything I work on, my main goal is to make something that will not bore me. I don’t do certain tricks for art´s sake or try to stay within the confines of a genre or sound.
I just want anyone who hears it to think it’s a good song.
Controller7: With everything I work on, my main goal is to make something that will not bore me. I’ve gotten complaints that some of my songs (especially on „Left Handed Straw“) are too short, but in my opinion they are just the right length. I’d rather hear a short song that I like (and can play again) than a long song that just repeats what happened a minute before. When I made the two EPs on Bully, I tried to make each song work as an individual song with an enjoyable pace and structure. My main goal is for someone to hear the song and like it for what they hear, not because of what it is. I don’t do certain tricks for art´s sake or try to stay within the confines of a genre or sound. I just want anyone who hears it to think it’s a good song.
DEAD:What defines a good sample for you? Does a sample – or the recording you took it from – need to be rare?
Controller7: A good sample is something that catches my ear. There are no specific guidelines. It doesn’t have to be rare, but it helps make your music more your own. You don’t want „oh yeah, _____ sampled that already.“ I try to look for stuff that is obscure, but if something catches your ear and it gives you an idea then you go for it, regardless of how rare it is.
DEAD: Isn´t this search for the rarest record fueled by some kind of elitist notion? Do you also dig records for the sake of digging, are you more of a collector or just searching for musical inspiration?
Controller7: The whole rare record thing can get a bit nerdy and elitist at times, but I can understand the feeling of wanting to discover something unknown or tracking down a holy grail. Sometimes I buy records only for the purpose of sampling. I may never actually listen to the whole album, but that might be because it’s a turd with one cool song on it.
DEAD: Alot of distributers and record companies are closing down, people who put their hearts into other people´s music are frustrated and quit working on their former passion. Some artists also stopped working for anything outside their 4 walls – How can one stay sane, trying to live off or at least with music today?
Controller7: It’s pretty hard to make money off of music these days. Mp3s have no real value to them, so it’s easy to grab them and forget about them. I think artists will have to release material in special packaging and put some effort into it to give the fans something that is worth owning. Too many people made CDRs in slim cases with a photocopy cover. To me, it’s kind of like saying „I didn’t put much effort into this, so you don’t need to care about it.“ For myself, I am just going to try and work on music I enjoy. The music biz has never been an easy place to make money.
DEAD: 500 000 downloads or 500 copies vinyl – which weighs more?
Controller7: These days, the downloads would give you more clout and probably open up some doors, but I’d rather have the vinyl in the long run. At least someone would have it tucked away in their collection. I’d rather be vinyl in someone’s collection than a random mp3 on a terabyte hard drive. If it were 500,000 paid downloads I’d take that over the vinyl, because it would be about $350,000 as compared to the $1500 you might make off of the vinyl. Cha-ching.
DEAD: What are the projects you´re working on right now?
Controller7: I did two songs with Third Sight for their new LP. I’m working on another collection of beats kind of like „Left Handed Straw“. I am also working on a different collection of beats and remixes that I’m going to release in a really small quantity. I’ll press both of those up myself. I’ll do vinyl and silk screen the covers myself. I put a lot of work into them and I think people appreciate the extra effort. I’m also going to do another EP for Bully and then release a CD of all of the three EPs. I’ve got some mixes in the works too. I’ve got a lot of stuff planned.
DEAD: Who stole the soul?
Controller7: I don’t know, but they better give it back.http://www.myspace.com/controller7
Published in DEAD Magazine Issue IV
Text: Jens Essmann