Starting in 2010, “The Lam” was the first name I ever produced under when I felt a spark to produce. At the time I was still learning the basics of my craft and gravitated towards producing rap instrumentals using piano. Influenced by the aesthetics of Dr. Dre, Nujabes and J Dilla, I sought to link hip hop with other genres using theme and subject matter. The result was a splendid trial-and-error adventure of good ideas and bad mixing.
Juicy ’75 (Dr. Dre x Maison Francaise)
This is a mashup between one of my favorite rap songs, Juicy by Notorious B.I.G. and a dance tune by Maison Francaise called 1975. It was an experiment in live mashing using digital turntables and Traktor.
Still the Winner (Dr. Dre x DeVotchKa)
If you’ve ever seen the film Little Miss Sunshine, then chances are you fell in love with the title song The Winner Is by DeVotchKa. The film and the song is a triumphant celebration of overcoming the past.
I always listened to the gangster rap anthem Still D.R.E by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg in the same way. Beneath the catchy hook are two people who came a long way to be where they are now. Both songs are a musical victory lap and naturally belonged together.
As a bonus to that feeling of victory, I was contacted by DeVotchKa’s manager shortly after I released the song and it was the first time I ever felt truly validated as a musician.
Good Morning (feat. The Wercs)
After some early success with the music-curating blog world, I collaborated with two talented rappers from San Diego, The Wercs. I loved the positivity they projected and I can’t help but smile when I listen to this again.
Build Me Someone Like You (Adele x The Cinematic Orchestra)
As I buried myself in hip hop instrumentals, I found little room for emotional depth between the bass and the snare. To refresh myself, I wrote a purely acoustic mashup between Someone Like You by Adele and To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra. At the time, Adele was just rising to fame and I loved the haunting vulnerability in her voice. I found great parallels between her and Patrick Watson’s lyrics – they were both talking about how devastating and crushing it feels to realize it’s too late. I wrote this to sound like the entrance of a wedding that would never happen.
That’s All He Wrote (Notorious B.I.G x Joe Harnell)
Suicidal Thoughts by Notorious B.I.G. is hands-down one of the most depressing rap songs I’ve ever heard. Joe Harnell’s Lonely Man Theme from The Incredible Hulk is one of the most depressing melodies I’ve ever heard so the pairing was only natural.
Stick Up Kids (Wu Tang Clanx Nina Simone)
Ugh, unfortunately this song has been taken down off of Soundcloud due to “copyright infringement.” I can’t believe it, its been online for 3 years and now it gets taken down. I’ll work to fix this soon.
This song is a big first for me in so many ways – my first instrumental, my most listened to and downloaded track, my first mashup and my most ambitious idea at the time. Nina Simone and the Wu Tang Clan are giants in their own musical realms and I never thought that C.R.E.A.M and Feeling Good could ever go together. This was a challenge for me and I worked tirelessly on this for a month during finals in university.
When I dropped the song, it exploded and got picked up by so many music blogs. The excitement of waking up to see your song downloaded a hundred times, thousands of listens overnight, receiving messages from Latvian radio stations to play my song on the radio – I felt connected with the world for the first time and it inspired me to keep producing. I learned one of the greatest lessons of my life: music is the language of us all.
Listening back on this, it makes me laugh every because there are so many mistakes:
- The bass drum is off a beat because I didn’t know how to quantize rhythm
- The bassline is completely unmastered and overpowers everything
- The acapella is so badly chopped I accidentally axed an entire punchline and all he says is “blaugh!”
- The bells are unmixed (no idea how to mix) so they’re extremely shrill
- The sax patch is so unrealistic sounds, it sounds like a car horn solo
Despite all this and more, I look at this as one of my biggest accomplishments.
For Christmas in 2010, I bought myself a MIDI keyboard, which started it all for me. The first thing I ever recorded was this – a stream of consciousness composition that I played while watching the snow outside. This is the first song I ever put online.