Emshi is young, keen on details, and focused on the quality, as well as the quantity, of everything that he produces. We’ve already talked about him on these pages. From audio production to visuals, round-trip. A lover of the Dillian sound, and of the music as a whole, directly from the renown Turin’s beat-making school, his approach to music is maniacal, the fruit of constant and continuous research. Far from today’s mainstream drift, and from its spotlight, his creative output is noteworthy and lives up to an international proscenium. Fresh from a tasty release like his latest mini-EP Half Of a Good Relationship , released last week, we met the producer from Nichelino to bring you a donut or two… Happy reading!
The first beat sold/placed?
On the Italian scene, the first beat, released on vinyl, I gave to Esa. The song was called Lingo Fico and is the track number 7 contained in King Sofa – The second act. When the President sent me a Whatsapp message to make me hear the preview of the piece I was very surprised, but the biggest reaction was when he called me to tell me that he would film the official video clip with me. I keep a good memory of that evening, above all because, after filming in Milan, I went to sleep at the home of a girl I liked so much. Among other things, I no longer have the white t-shirt I was wearing in the video (I forgot it at home). Then I produced Waves, the most ballad track of the MWS EP, and French-toast for Subtex, a very dope mc from Brooklyn. Guys that piece is a bomb … “ caloric “!
How long did it take to Emshi to produce something that he was proud of?
Those who know me know that I am very strict with myself and never inclined to be too satisfied with the things I do. However, in me two opposite souls coexist when I create and compose: I enjoy myself at first, and in the next second, a voice from the inside says: “well, but you can always do better”. I think the biggest feedback I can get is when, if I play my beats in front of an audience I don’t know, someone stops me after the performance, to tell me how they feel towards the music I make. Thanks!
Your favourite production set-up?
I don’t like samplers very much because they limit my creative process. Dargen D’Amico in A god apart (a poet and a little no) says “…any good idea expires after three minutes”. Here, to fix one I need a solution “on the fly” like Ableton. Not all my productions necessarily involve vinyl sampling. Very often, I play a round of chords on the piano (or on the guitar) and I play it treating it exactly like a sample (chop, pitch, and programming). The remix of La Effe is an example. However, my favourite set-up is the following (arranged almost in chronological order)
– Numark PT01 turntable
– Ableton Live 9.7
– Novation Launchkey
– Ableton Push2 (has a beautiful grip)
– Microbrute (light blue limited edition)
– Roland Sp 404 SX
The best “digging advice” you’ve ever received?
The most interesting advice I received is from my dear friend Deal The Beatkrusher. Every time I go along with him doing the shopping I always learn something new (… and he knows a lot about digging, indeed). Although we have slightly different taste in music, I think the most useful tip is to recognize drum breaks by watching the vinyl grooves; where the plot is less dense there is a good chance of finding one. A great saving in terms of time, especially if you are preparing for a beat making competition like the Beats4Life event.
The producer, in the last 3 months, that made you say: “Oh, shit, I have to get back to the lab.”?
I’m always in the lab on the machines! I listen to very little Hip Hop, and this has turned out, in many circumstances, to be a kind of panacea for my creative expansion. I have a musical background very far from the boom-bap. During adolescence, I played post-rock, noise, and indie-rock, but having grown up in Nichelino (in the province of Turin) it was impossible not to run into hip hop crews and realities like Gate Keepaz, Maury B and Next Diffusion.
After this premise, I answer the question by telling you that when I heard Dua Lipa’s New Rules I was in the studio with a friend of mine, Paolito dei Duplici, and we were both shocked by the creative “stereo-circular” entry of sub 808 at 0:35 am sec. LA min, FA and G major that are repeated for the duration of the song without you being aware of it. And then, honestly, I would freak Dua Lipa with pleasure, too…(nah, don’t write this, hahaha)…
Mahalia’s Sober, produced by The Math Time Joy, was another song I heard repeatedly last summer, wondering if I’d ever seen my famous white shirt again. The aspect that surprised me most in this song is the very minimal synth that enters at 1:01 min. Come on, it looked like I’d played it after sparking a little one up in Leicester. Then I liked very much Someone That You Love by Jarreau Vandal with the beautiful voice of Olivia Nelson. The micro drop at 2:17 min is really cool. It is impossible to remain still without dancing.
The most recent is Khali Uchis’ After The Storm with Tyler, The Creator, and Bootsy Collins. Fuck, that song produced by Canadians BADBADNOTGOOD is a senseless hallucinogenic journey that reminds me of the first time I took a painkiller on an empty stomach. Don’t do it at home, I ended up in another dimension. But don’t worry, I managed to go back and tell you about it. Then I like Little Simz, but I mean her own! Only women, in short…
The worst production mistake you ever made?
Ahahahaha, in my opinion, I still do so many, but I prefer to call them more poetically “ experiments ” or more vulgarly “bullshit“. Seriously, besides exporting complete beats and erasing deliberately the projects (I don’t even know why), I think the worst mistake is not being able to give the right dynamics to the beats. Even if it’s a little pre-mix, it makes me a little nervous to see the waveform look like a Lego brick. It may be that as a child, despite being colourful, I never particularly loved them. It is also true that you learn by your own mistakes!
But, if we look closer to it, I have to admit that many sound engineers, with whom I usually collaborate and confront, such as Taglierino, Federico Sias and Matteo Nolli, have noticed improvements compared to the beats that I used to send them a few years ago. Isn’t that something?
An essential mixing tip?
Let’s get down to it badly. I keep the monitors in the upper right corner at about 1.3 m from my head. Don’t ask me why, but over the years I’ve had my ear! Will this be my secret? Still, I became pretty good at finding the right balance during the mix phase. They say that the mixing does 90% of the work.
Going into detail, I reveal to you that I keep some parts of the drum in mono like the kick, the snare, and the toms, while the hi-hat, cymbals, and snaps I put them in stereo. Then I pan out these elements taking into account their arrangement in a real drum set. At the centre of the case, the hi-hat and the snare drum are slightly panned to the left and the tympanum and the ride to the right.
I sample different sounds from vinyl at -12db and I almost never keep ’em central in the mix. The bass I put strictly in mono and sometimes impose a sidechain to help the kickdrum come out better. The leads with which I make my riffs are kept on the opposite side of the sample. Then I check with the iPhone headphones to better adjust the volumes and panning.
Finally, I put an effect chain on the master and cross my fingers! I state, however, that, I have all my official works treated in the master stage by those who are competent in the field and do it by trade. I care about my music and I want it to always sound good, especially when it doesn’t come out in free-download.