It’s already the middle of spring break but the holiday feels far from over, especially thanks to some prime vacation music coming out of San Francisco. Independent Bay Area producer James Nolasco as Airlocke takes us on a picturesque cruise with his sophomore EP Dusk till Dawn, released Tuesday, March 25. A compilation of chill instrumentals, the brand new dozen tracks offer every vibe from get-up sunrise music to the type of jam romantic souls serenade each other with at sunset.
With most of the instrumentals just shy of two minutes, each plays like a little snippet of buried-away memories being rediscovered. And many emulate his love of music from the 60s and 70s; Airlocke clearly finds inspiration from that era. With his beats, too, he rejuvenates the classics, but adds a modern twist, turning them into something special, as well as something that brings the hidden longings of his listeners to light.
This spring break, Airlocke told us more about Dusk till Dawn, and filled us in on his background as a musician and beat-maker.
Tell us how Dusk till Dawn came into shape. How long did it take you to write and produce the beat tape?
I dropped my first beat tape, Under the Sun, at the end of December and knew I wanted to put out a smaller collection of instrumentals at the start of spring. I released the first single, “Ms. Angel Eyes,” back in November and knew I wanted to put that on this project. I started work on this at the beginning of February.
Is there a concept to your Dusk till Dawn? If yes, what is it and how would you compare it to your first beat tape?
I just wanted to put out a compilation of what I feel are my most beautiful beats. What made this different from my first beat tape is that it was more of concept. My beat tape was generally a simple collection of beats that I made in 2013, but with Dusk till Dawn I wanted each beat to be something special, something that you can bump in your car when you’re watching the sunset or when you’re hanging out with your significant other or even something you can play at the start of the day.
How about your writing process? Did just randomly come up with the beats or were you inspired by an idea first before making them?
I’m constantly making beats, at least 10-plus a week, so I guess they all came about randomly. I picked out all the dreamy euphoric ones and went from there by picking out my favorites. My next compilation is going to be of more boombap instrumentals.
What do you like best about your work as an independent producer?
My music is sample-based. I’ve always been a fan of music from the 60s and the 70s. I love all the technical instrumentation in some of these records i dig up. You’re not gonna hear that kind of music these days I feel. That’s why I love making beats, because I can flip the best parts of my favorite rare songs and turn it into my own, with a modern twist. I always add something of my own whether it be bass guitar or piano.
How did you get started? What drew you to beat-making in the first place?
I’ve been producing my own music for almost 10 years now. I picked up the piano at 12, bass guitar at 13 and then guitar at 14. I used to record my own songs I had written with a computer headset microphone and put them together on Garageband. I didn’t start getting into beat making until just a year and a half ago. I just enjoyed making that kind of music a lot more than just alternative rock. Right now I’m just going to community college over here in San Bruno and working part time. I make beats with all my spare time.
Do you ever consider producing professionally?
Yes, most definitely. I’ve just been trying to get my foot in the door. Last August I produced a single for Singer Arima Ederra that was played on some radio stations even on Nigeria’s Soul station. In the future I’ll also have a couple songs with a well-known rap collective from the east coast. I’m hoping Dusk till Dawn takes me to the next level.
Who do you get inspirations from?
J Dilla and 9th Wonder are really the ones who got me into hip hop beat production. The way they would flip samples really inspired me to create music similar-to. But lately I’ve been really inspired by Knxwledge and L’orange. Soundcloud has a bunch of producers who are making some real good music. Soulection artists are also pretty inspiring too, like IAMNOBODI, ESTA, SANGO et cetera. Dusk till Dawn is now available for instant download via Bandcamp.
Article by Ning De-Eknamkul