Name: Aeon (pronounced A-Yon)
From: Philadelphia, PA
Tracks you’ve heard: Tanya Morgan’s “Rock The Bells,” “She’s Gone” Von Pea’s “Boombox” and more…
Albums: Betamax (instrumental)
Quotable: “I made the strange mistake of picking a name that nobody knows how to pronounce. That’s been an enjoyable experience.”
NODFACTOR: When did you start making beats?
AEON: My official foray into beats was in 2002. I wanted to be an MC not too long after I first heard Slum Villages Fantastic Vol, 2. In that period of time a lot of good albums were coming out and I was into the Rawkus stuff, The Roots of course and Common’s Like Water For Chocolate. I needed my own beats to do it if I wanted to rap. [But] I started getting excited about actual production. One thing lead to another. I heard samples and I was listening to a lot of jazz and things coagulated that way.
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What were the first things your started making beats on?
I started out on FL Studio. I heard 9th was using it and I jumped into that. And I was using Cubase a little bit.
So did you buy that first copy of FL or did you steal it like everyone else?
Of course I stole it. [laughs] Especially not knowing that was something I definitely wanted to do. I used FL for about 30 % of the Betamax project. Primarily what I’m using is Apple Logic to sequence and Battery for my sampling and chopping.
How would you describe your sound?
I would say it’s mellow laid back, kind of …I don’t like using the word soulful but…with the types of chord progressions I use and the samples people would call it soulful. And heavy boom bap. I like big drums with not too crazy patterns.
What was the first beat you placed that people heard?
I did a song for Tanya Morgan called “Walk My Way.” MySpace and XM had a contest back in 2007 and that song won the contest. Tanya Morgan got to fly out to perform the song in front of a bunch of people. That was the first song I did that made noise.
How did you meet Tanya Morgan?
Me and Von go way back to about 2001. We all kind of congregated around each other electronically on Okayplayer.com. I’m not even sure how we became friends but I started making beats and playing them for them. But we were cool before then. I met Don a few years later. Again it wasn’t really a music thing, just being cool.
Who else have you done beats for besides Tanya Morgan?
I did a remix to “Katana” for Panacea. I’ve produced for everybody in Lessondary, they’re all like family. A lot of my stuff has been with Tanya and for their solo projects. I did most of Von Pea’s solo.
How do you approach your beats? Do you have Von or Don in mind when you do it?
For me it’s just making the beat. I’ll sit down and feel a sample out, get an idea for how I want the drums to go. What I have been doing more recently is constructing stuff for people. That has been an interesting experience. [Thinking about] What have they done before, tempos…but in the past it’s been off the cuff. I’m trying to explore crafting stuff for a specific artist.
My recent favorite is “Rock The Bells” from the You And What Army. And that beat was on your Betamax instrumental album. How did you make that?
I was listening to a sample and the thing was that I was preparing to jump on a Red Bull beat showcase in Philly. A friend of mine is one of the ambassadors for Red Bull and he was like “You gotta jump in.” So I ran home and had a day to make some beats. I threw that record on and sampled that part. I wanted to do something that sounded like DJ Premier. That sample sounded like something he would use. I chopped up the bells first…
On some “Crooklyn Dodgers” shit…
Yeah. It’s not perfect, it’s still my own sound but I wanted to do something a little darker than my usual stuff that would have everybody’s head snapping. The juxtaposition of the bells and the drums, that back and forth energy is what I was trying to accentuate.
I’ve never been able to get my drums sounding like that thick in FL…
You know what, I’m a big compression and EQ dude. I’ll compress the kick and the snare and leave the hat separate. I’ll also lower the bit-rate of the drums to make them a little dirtier. I’ll take static from an actual record and compress it together, pump up the EQ so they sound clean, but it’ll have a knock. I’ll spend a very long time on my drums. Coming from the 90s and listening to Tribe and Premier the drum sounds have [to be right].
You put out the Betamax project in March 2011. How is it different doing an instrumental project vs making beats for people?
It’s a lot more free. When you’re doing stuff for artists you have to make sure you’re following the bar structure. But for instrumental albums you don’t have to track stuff out …It’s also bad in a way because it has to become a song on its own. You can’t have a simple two-bar loop. It was definitely a dope experience.
My other fav of yours is the beat for “She’s Gone..” from Brooklnati. How did you make that?
I bought this album for like 99 cents at a basement sale, came home and whatever I sampled. It’s pretty much a loop. I didn’t chop it up a whole lot. I had to piece it together to make a 4-bar loop, because it was like 3 bars. Once I lay the loop down a lot of times the drums speak for themselves. I’ll put a bunch of drums on some pads and play them over the sample and I remember letting it loop. I just added the bass line in there and when Tanya Morgan decided to use the beat they asked me to put a little key line over it to give Phonte a reference. That was a really simple beat to make because the sample jumped out..
Yeah that drum fill was nice…
That’s all in the sample. I had to slow it down to give it a bigger feel. I do that a lot. I play with pitches of samples to give a different feel. My range is the 84 to 89 BPMs.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to make beats or biggest mistake you’ve made in the studio?
I’ve had some mistakes but nothing too crazy. My worst mistake was I was using a computer that I built in 2004. I was using that until 2009. I made it all out of eBay parts and in 2009 I lost so many sessions. A lot of stuff from Donwill’s solo and Von Pea’s solo was two-tracked off MP3s because I didn’t back up anything. That was a really depressing time for me because I didn’t have access to any of my music. I’d stopped making beats for almost a year.
Have you tried any of the beatmaking apps for the iPad?
I started using this app called Beatmaker on the iPad. This next project I’m putting out I made completely on Beatmaker. It’s so seamless and simple. It’s not easy to get a sample in, but I use DropBox and you can drop your un-chopped sampled right into Beatmaker. I can chop stuff up in like half a minute and put it right on the pad. One sample will cut the next sample off. It’s made for how I want to make beats. I ride for that app til the end of time. It’s official man. It sounds just like anything I could have made in Logic. For chopping up samples it can’t be touched on the iPad. Anything you heard on the sound cloud page is made in Beatmaker. It ain’t no slouch.
Follow Aeon on Twitter @aeon12rnds