DJ E-Clyps - Inside The Track
DJ E-Clyps has been building a solid name for himself on the house music scene with a slew of quality releases which culminated with his recent album ‘Tell The World I’m Here’ on Blacklight Music. The album itself features a plethora of styles, but all have that special E-Clyps bump that has caught the attention of such luminaries as Todd Terry, Seth Troxler, Kenny Dope, Mark Knight, Low Steppa and Todd Edwards.
His latest release is the sublime ‘Masterpiece’ featuring Anya V on vocals. This is a truly smooth slice of soulful goodness, with rugged Afro style drums that keep pushing the track forward and a real lesson in how to use autotune on vocals. We sat down with the man with the plan to find out more about this release, as we went Inside The Track with DJ E-Clyps.
Congratulations on your new ‘Masterpiece’ release featuring Anya V. How is it being received in your sets and how are other club DJs responding to the release?
First, allow me to thank you guys for this opportunity. Really honored to be a part and to even be considered for this interview is a blessing within itself. As far as the record goes, the feedback on it has been really good. DJs wouldn’t even get past the 30 second mark before they got to asking “when is THIS coming out?” All I knew was it was a different kind of record for me than what people are used to, so as much as I was pleased with the final mixes, you just never know how others will receive it until you just throw it out there. But it works well in the clubs, it has that sexy element with some essential house vibes that gives you an odd mixture that just kind of works, ya know?
2) Tell us more about track itself. What was the main inspiration behind it and what prompted the musical direction on this?
The main inspiration of the track to be honest was the vocal. Blaque from AMF3 and I have been friends for years originating from when we used to work together in Atlanta when I did hip-hop/rap. He found out I was doing house now, so he reached out and said he had a vocalist I should check out and that was Anya V. She’s a great artist and songwriter, and musically we clicked pretty fast as far as a musical direction. We just got straight to work. ‘Masterpiece’ was a song she wrote originally as an R&B type record and laid some sketch vocals to show me the concept of what she was thinking. Cool thing was, the vocals she laid down were so dope to me that we never went to do new takes, to me they were dope as they were. I felt it would be the perfect house record because of the lyrics and the tone/emotion of the vocals. I felt it could be a really dope record as long as we kept it simple and vocal-centric. The entire track was built around the vocal. Hardest part was the drums because I didn’t want to go straight house like I’m known for, so I tossed my first drum idea out and went for more of an afro style to give it more groove and swing as it just seemed to fit the vocal better. The synth line I added just to break the track up on the hook so it didn’t get repetitive, just enough to break things up a bit.
3) Production wise, what is it about ‘Masterpiece’ that makes it work?
Honestly? The simplicity makes it work. Just enough drums to keep a strong groove, just enough keys to provide a melody, in which the voice sits dead center to bring the focus. One thing that I always strive for in a vocal record is to always keep the vocalist the focus. If the record is featuring a vocalist, then feature the vocalist!! Don’t drown them in a ton of other music to highlight your production. If you produce it right, it should all mesh together as one cohesive sound and you’ll still get your point across and people will still ask “who produced it?” If all people seem to notice is your production, then to me you made the track about yourself and truly defeat the purpose of even having another artist on the record.
4) What is the one machine, program, sound, drum machine, technique that characterizes your sound?
The UAD SSL Buss Compressor in combo with the Slate Digital VMR & VCC plugs. I’ve used the original console and then tried a lot of plugin versions, but UAD nailed it better than anyone. A lot of the other emulations either do too much or squash it. The UAD version is pretty slick. As long as you apply it right and make sure your levels are on point, it just makes the drums crack. The Slate Digital VCC, VMR, and Tape plugins are essential too, because the console emulations give it width and punch which helps other things sit in the mix properly, with that vintage ‘dirt’ a lot of people miss from analog consoles. When I first started producing, the ones who taught me made me learn analog first, digital second, so I’m familiar with both, and the Slate and UAD stuff is a good mix of classic and modern, like my sound.
5) What is the one piece of kit that you simply cannot do without?
I don’t really have one. Depending on the track, that determines what it is. But I will say Battery was a game changer, especially since I do so much production on the road. My fave was the MPCs. I was attached to them, especially the 3000 and the 2500. So when a friend introduced me to NI Battery and Logic a few years back when putting together a road-friendly setup, I was hooked. I think a lot of people sleep on what Battery can do. The ability to tune drums, change velocity and swing of a drum sample, re-sampling and altering it all in the box before you even hit the channel, then they added the MPC and SP1200 Interpolations. I love Battery, that’s my joint.
6) Any advice for your fans on how to make it in today’s fast paced game?
I would honestly say: always be a student. Be willing to learn and evolve musically and inwardly as a person, and know that no question is a stupid question within reason except the ones you don’t ask. Aim to be consistent. Be known for making consistently good records, not just throwing out a ton of them and hoping you get lucky. Also I’d say study the business of music, a lot. It’s not the stuff you know that gets you jerked, it’s the stuff you don’t know. If you approach this game from a reactionary position, you make getting ahead harder because you’ll always be playing catch up, and with it being as fast-paced as it is, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Keep people around you who are willing to tell you what you need to hear and not just what you want to hear. I’ve seen a lot of producers just start blasting out tracks that never should’ve been released in a rush to be heard or discovered rather than wait and truly hone their craft and sound.