Who or what inspired you to start making your own music? How did production start for you?
I’ve always been a pretty imaginative person. I remember watching cartoons and films, or listening to music and going to try to make my own versions of those art forms in my head. I think that was the beginning of my sense of wonder with the art of creating things. With regards to music production, I had this friend whose house I’d go to, to play computer games. Interestingly, he had Fruity Loops 4 on the same computer and we’d play around with it when we got bored of playing games. I’d often go home so intrigued with the idea that you could create your own sounds/music right in your room, especially without having any music training. From then on, I was determined to get better with the software, and it was one of the first software I installed when I got my first computer. That’s how the long journey of music production started for me.
Do you remember what age you were when you started playing around with Fruity Loops?
I was 13 at the time, and the year was 2003, same year version 4 was released.
What genres of music influenced you in the beginning and which producers stood out to you?
I grew up listening to mostly my dad’s music, and this comprised classical and gospel music. I wasn’t actively trying to recreate the music I already knew. I was just too fascinated with the idea of making your own music to care about others, quite honestly. However, I would often go to some of the demo projects on the software for inspiration and DeadMau5 really caught my attention, just by dint of how good he was with the DAW.
Apart from Fruity Loops, which other DAWs did you try out and what made you stick with FL?
The only other DAW I tried out was Reason. It was a very brief spell because it felt and looked quite complicated and seemed to have a steeper learning curve than Fruity Loops did. By and large, I stuck with FL because there was at least one other person I knew who used it and I could pick up any tricks he learned while figuring out what the heck I was supposed to do with the many knobs and buttons that faced me.
Approximately how long after you started did you get good enough with FL to create a decent beat?
I didn’t get good enough until 2010, when I finally made a beat that landed me my first ever placement on an actual music project. I produced the intro and outro tracks for Ian Jazzi‘s In Stereo Vol. 1 project and my moniker was Jae Milla at the time LOL
So what inspired the switch to EDWVN?
I got tired of the moniker when I realized lots of people didn’t know my real name; people knew and had heard of Jae Milla, but they didn’t know Edwin. That bothered me. Massively! I was in a mild state of crisis when the realization dawned on me. As a result I decided to switch to my government (first) name, Edwin. In trying to find an appropriate handle on Twitter, I decided to stylize it with a ‘V’ instead of an ‘I’ for uniqueness
Drums, Melody or Bassline…which one would u say comes much more easily to you when you produce? And take us through your typical creative workflow if you have one.
It’s easily melody first for me. I currently have over a hundred voice notes of melodies for beats that I’m yet to lay down. I have a heavy appreciation for melody and I’m often humming something along to music I’m listening to; or even by myself. Usually when I have the time and have a beat idea, I lay down the melody and then spend a good amount of time obsessing over how the melody should sound. I find myself iterating through as many plugins and sound design techniques to perfect the sound before moving on to other ideas I have for the beat. Depending on how developed the idea is in my head, I leave it as is and revisit it some time later, or I carry through and finish it.
Speaking of plugins, can you run us through your all-time favorite or go-to VSTs?
My favourite VSTs at the moment are Lounge Lizard and Sylenth1; Lounge Lizard because I absolutely love the electric piano and its various incarnations and Lounge Lizard provides just that. Sylenth1 because it gives room for an almost infinite range of sounds (that I love) with its sound design capabilities.
Composing, Arranging, Mixing or Mastering…which part of the production process do you love most and which ones do you find the most tedious?
Composing and Arranging are definitely my favorite parts of the production process and they’re tedious in their own right, in the sense that they require a good amount of brainpower to create something that’s really good. I can’t really speak to or on mixing and mastering because I have almost no knowledge in those two. I’m looking to rack up knowledge in those parts of the process, moving forward.
How would you categorize the kind of music you love to make now?
Now that’s a hard one. I’ve always strayed away from categorizing my music, not because of some snot-nosed, high-minded ideals, but simply because I don’t know what to call it. I find that it often sounds different from the stuff I like to listen to, though the influence/inspiration comes from there. I’ve resorted to coming up with my own tags on SoundCloud when I upload my music. The one I’m most proud of is ‘Wavy Space Jazz’ haha
As a producer, how do you choose the artists you collaborate with?
I’m definitely a people-before-their-credentials person. I just made that up haha. It’s just to say that I’m more comfortable establishing some kind of personal or human connection with the artist, before there’s talk of work. It’s an almost intuitive process for me, but one thing I unconsciously look out for is a genuine desire for community and creative collaboration that brings value to every party involved in the process. It doesn’t always happen that way and as often as I’d like, but those are the circumstances I work best under.
Do you finish beats and send them out to people you think would make magic with it or do you prefer to create in the studio with the artist.
I’ve mostly made beats by myself and sent them off to people to (as you rightly said) make magic with, but I’m very open to creating beats with artists in the studio. For starters, I’ve been around for recording sessions to listen and give some feedback/direction, and it’s been a pretty cool experience for me. I think under the right circumstances, that could churn out some really magical work.
We know it’s hard to pick a favorite out of your body of work but can you give us 1 or 2 tracks you’ve made that you are still highly impressed by and in some way cannot believe you managed to pull of?
Man it’s such a tall list! But off the top of my head, I’d say Experiment 001-10202016, which is up on SoundCloud and one yet-to-be released collaboration that I want to be a surprise.
What was that pivotal moment in your journey as a producer that made you feel like “yo I could be on to something here”
This was in late 2014, when I got one of my beats included as part of the soundtrack for Street Etiquette’s short, Slumflower. It was released in 2015 and got accepted into Cannes Film Festival’s short film section. That was definitely a big moment for me and gave me a huge confidence boost.
Describe your current production setup and if you had a million dollars to build your dream studio what would we find in there?
My current production setup is just myself and my laptop computer and nothing else. If had a million dollars: I won’t bullshit you and say I’m technically adept to know what setup I’ll come up with, but I’ll look to get the best a million dollars can get me.
What do you do aside music at the moment and would you ever consider making music full time?
I’m in school, studying graphic design at Radford Uni. I’m also a part of the nKENTEn collective that’s responsible for the Decaf podcast and Decaf Live event. I definitely intend to keep making music for as long as I can, but until I can make a decent living off it, enough to cover myself and those I love, I wouldn’t consider it my mainstay.
Can you give us names of 5 producers you rate at the moment and why
In no particular order DOTSE, Kuvie, Odunsi, Stwo, and SOHN. I like that each of these producers has a unique style to their craft and that they are more interested in taking what the popular/conventional sounds are and reinterpreting them in their own way.
Finally, any advice for people looking to get into music production?
I think there’s enough talk about working hard and how young producers should keep doing what they do, which is good advice, so I won’t belabor the point. In adding to that though, I’ll say that an important component to growing your craft is being vulnerable enough to share your work, even the bad ones, and also being vulnerable enough to seek counsel and criticism for your work. It’s a good way to help perfect your craft, I think. I reckon there will definitely be people along the way who are knowledgeable enough to share bits of advice that will aid in the growth process and you will do well to pay attention to those nuggets.