#Dabeeside Exclusive: Artist Spotlight with A. Sheppard
What’s good people, it’s your boy Trav Dave and I’m back with my artist spotlight interviews. My man Ant Sheppard recently release an instrumental album flipping classic samples adding his own twist and turns to loops and baselines. Fresh out of New Castle, Delaware I got a chance to chop it with the producer to see what goes into making his tracks. Check it out here.
Q. What is your weapon of choice when producing music?
A. Right now, most of what I make is done in a combination of Native Instruments Maschine and Logic Pro. I use a turntable and vinyl when sampling. I’ll grab records from Goodwill the majority of the time. Maschine is what I use the most. I’d build tracks in that and if I want to do more intricate drops, changeups, or even have a little better mixing experience, I’ll drop stems into Logic. When I’m on the go, I have the Teenage Engineering OP-1 which looks like a toy but is a powerhouse for beat making since it can generate synth sounds, a sample from inputs and a built-in FM tuner and sequence. It’s actually a very fun little machine.
Q. What is your process when making a beat? Do you start with the sample or do you go with a drum pattern?
A. My process varies depending on what I’m doing. If I feel like sampling, I’m gonna start with chopping up the sample and build on that. Sometimes I want to start with a breakbeat and build my own melodies and chords around that. Other times, I’ll just find sounds that I’m feeling (drums, effects, synths, etc.) and come up with a melody, chord progression or drum pattern that I think is interesting. Most of what I did on this particular project was digging for samples, chopping them up and layering my own basslines and drums. For this project, I also used a good amount of vintage breakbeats. I’ll chop up the breaks a lot of times too to make it familiar but not exactly like what you’ve heard before.
Q. The whole project is dope. My favorite beats are Beat 162, Ms. S and second wind. Personally, I want to know the thought process when you were making Beat 162?
A. Man, to be completely honest, nothing went into the thought process of making that beat haha. I just liked the sample I grabbed and started chopping segments and putting them back together. I mean, I definitely wanted to keep it gully and raw throughout, which is the reason for the breakbeat drums. The thing you’ll probably notice is the two different patterns that go back and forth. That’s something I do a lot to break up the monotony in these sample based beats. And often when I do it, my ear takes me to the more melodic parts of the original song. It’s a good balance of hard hitting type stabs and melodic grooves that convey different feelings. Throw my bass on it and it moves a certain way that I liked. I want for my music to give you a feeling. It should make you feel something, even before an artist puts vocals on it. I want what I do to say something on its own.
Q. 2 part question. Do you have artists in mind when you are making beats and who would you want to produce a whole album for?
A. I rarely have any artist in mind when I’m making beats. I feel like it stifles my creativity to try and create something particular. I’m actually not even good at having a style or doing the same thing twice. Everything I make is based on what I think is the best possible way I can make it. That’s why I don’t have a particular process. It all goes based on my feeling at that time and what’s going to sound the best to me. As far as producing a whole album, I’d love to do something front to back with the Griselda Records guys, namely Benny. I feel like he’s the unsung hero over there in that camp. Conway is my favorite new rapper right now, so that would be ill. I think I’m a good candidate to do whole projects because I can give a wide variety of sounds to keep it fresh.
Q. Can you tell the difference between MPC produced beat and Fruity Loops produced a track?
A. Nope. At this point, it doesn’t even matter. Your tool of choice is what works best for you. I started out in Fruity Loops after seeing what 9th Wonder was doing with it. After that, I worked in Reason for a while and then went to Maschine. Maschine is the perfect balance for me.
Q. Top 5 producers of all time?
A. Q-Tip, Dilla, No ID, Pete Rock, The Neptunes… This can change at any moment, but Kamaal, Dilla, and The Neptunes will always be in my top lists.
Thank you for taking the time to do this artist spotlight. Please tell the people how they can get in contact with you and hear your music.
I appreciate the interest in talking to me and am really grateful for the opportunity to speak on this platform. Thank you, my brother! I’m on twitter @ant_sheppard, IG @antsheppard, soundcloud.com/a_sheppard and my “Castle” project can be streamed on all major music streaming services. Thanks again and let me know if my shit sucks when you hear it! Peace and love from the Love Love Crew.