This week, we are very excited to welcome New York based producer Ewonee for the last episode of the 1st season of the Soulquest Lab. With a very distinct sonic identity, Ewonee's beats often feature deep bass lines, very hard drums, gritty textures and beautiful synths and chords. From beautifully chopped samples to analog inspired grooves, we had the chance to ask him a few questions and know more about his worldview, his new tape ''Cheel'', as well as the process through which he creates his ethereal music.
First off, thank you so much for giving us your time. We’ve been listening to your music for quite some time and it’s been very inspiring. It’s truly a blessing to be able to do this. How are you man?
I'm well maintaining the best I can in this still getting used to being around people haha. Finalizing everything for the album later this month and getting ready for my homeboys wedding later this month, I'm a groomsman should be tight haha.
You seem to be inspired by a wide range of artists and types of music. Some of your music is more atmospheric, some beats are smoother and some of your music sound very raw and gritty (in a very positive way). Who were the artists who first sparked your interest in hip-hop and who would you say inspires you the most nowadays?
When it comes to artist I always tell people I was into a grip of European producers when I was first getting an idea of what I liked and wanted to make. Dudes like FS Green, Hayzee, Full Crate then I got into all of the older producers a little later, but my parents are low key hip-hop heads so they had me listening to a lot of stuff early and schooling me to how it went on early on and all that. They hipped me to groups like The Treacherous Three, rappers like Lovebug Starski, Biz Markie the legend. I was lucky in that sense shout out to them for real. And when it comes to inspiration now a lot of that comes from the accomplishments of my homies in this, and honestly just music it self. It's like a big a** puzzle.
You obviously come from a school of sample based producers, Jay Dee and Madlib have obviously inspired your work but you also compose your own stuff. What would you say is the percentage of beats you start around samples opposed to pure compositions?
Absolutely shout out the legends in this, but when it comes to sample stuff as opposed to from scratch stuff I would say I make a pretty even amount of both. Some days it's just samples and drums, others might be sample with added elements or just from scratch stuff. It all depends on how I feel or If I feel like digging.
What is your sample digging process ? Tape, wax, YouTube ?
Samples come from everywhere. I was just at breakfast with my shazam out. I still do dig a good amount. I'm lucky to have some good record stores by me. Youtube definitely comes in the clutch for the rares.
When it comes to the keys, were you classically trained or did you just learn from scratch ?
I've never took a lesson from a teacher for piano, I used to play saxophone as young one but never really stuck to it learned how to semi read music then, but I been playing piano for a couple years now youtube and books helped a bit but once I started learning a bit more theory it helped a lot more. Once I learned how to build scales and identify the chord I was playing things started to come to me a little easier but thats really why I like music cause once you feel like you got a good piece of the puzzle solved you then realize you don't. I feel like that realization happens at any skill level too.
In terms of recording and production, what’s your creative process like ? Can you tell us a little bit about your workflow ? Any special tools or routines that help you stay creative ?
My workflow varies a grip but I'm a drums first guy always. From scratch stuff I might record me playing the drums loop it and start some ideas from there or just get some good one shots together and lay down a pattern then get to playing. I use Logic 9 for compositional stuff and Ableton for sampling, I'm not upgrading either. Those are my joints. For sampling I used to dig a bunch then hoard samples and get to them when I felt like it but lately I just been finding stuff and getting right to it, it's been different.
We love it when your beat videos pop up on our Instagram feed. Is it a good way for you have a direct interaction with your community ?
Thank y'all for that, yeah I'm not gone lie I saw how dope Stlndrms videos were looking on instagram and got really inspired peace to him. It's a great way to share joints and keep up with your people who dig your stuff.
You’ve also been working with many different rappers (YL, Fly Anakin, YUNGMORPHEUS etc) What would you say the differences between working with rappers and releasing instrumental stuff are?
Peace to all my rap homies making it happen. Blessed to know a bunch of really talented artist on the come up. It's really not too different from making instrumental stuff, you just have keep the artist in mind and what they would sound good over. Vibe of the beat and tempo are important for that.
Speaking of collaboration, is there a rapper/producer that you’d particularly love to work with ?
I would be down to work with Lord Apex he's nice, I wanna get some more work in with my guy Pink Siifu. I'm tryna work with more singers though for sure.
We’ve spent quite some time listening to your older release on soundcloud and noticed that, like a lot of artists, you stopped posting on your account. Can you tell us about how Soundcloud influenced you as an artist and what the transition to streaming platforms was like?
Soundcloud was like a great time man I often think about why I don't post stuff on there anymore then go on and remember why haha. It was such a breeding ground for talent when it first became popular, the streaming services could never be like that but things change.
You’ve recently announced a new project ‘’Cheel’, dropping on the 30th of July. You also mentioned that it’s ‘’An ode to those who overthink’’. As over thinkers (and fans of your music) we’re very excited about this release. Can you tell us a little bit more about it.
Absolutely "Cheel" is honestly the culmination of a few years of stuff and couple albums of ideas. After not really knowing which kind of direction I wanted to go in with my next project I used that thought to make an album about not really over thinking putting it together haha. It's really an album I've always wanted to make sound wise as well I have a few raw beat tapes out but nothing that rides and really feels like this one. I'm excited for y'all to hear it my first solo album on vinyl too.
What’s your favorite part of making music ?
My favorite part of making music is definitely listening back to certain joints being like I made that ? I also really enjoy hearing peoples personal stories with certain songs or albums. The healing power of music also something that interest me too. The brain and music have a special relationship.
Thank you so much for your time and for answering out questions man. Anything special you’d like to add ?
Peace y'all of course I'm happy to talk. I just want to say peace to all my peoples in this and peace to moms and pops. And go get my new joint that comes out on the 30th. That vinyl is looking very pretty. Much love ya'll and thanks for the platform.