Beak Nasty is a Hip Hop duo with an intriguing formation and depth creative focus through a hint of turntablism, sampling, live drumming instrumentation, production/sound design, DJing and looping. Blending in a live and electronic display, they will only continue to originate as they further hone their skills and learn through one another. Communicating in a way that profoundly brings a fluid perspective into their existence, Beak Nasty ignites a musical taste that reveals a chill, old-school Hip Hop vibe dosed in funky, psychedelia vibes with developing classic techniques and ideas stemming in our digital age – a rare experimentation.
Taking you to a moment where everything is still, both foxy dope and beak nasty reflect, blend and freshen you up as they conjoin. They tell it all; from their formation of a rare sound to allowing the development of an organic friendship in which they primarily hold mutual respect for one another. With new sounds underway and progression of live shows expanding, you’re in for a treat. Enjoy as they share powerful words through musical experiences that originate from early age inspirations. Flashback to meeting both Ryland and Phil in the palm tree fused city that is Florida two years ago on a floating Spring evening which led to the development of a friendship at Phil’s birthday celebration, a discovery of a sound that really captured and would later share “Spilling the Void” with Street Ritual.
A chat with Beak Nasty
What’s your story? How did you two form to create Beak Nasty?
Ryland: I started putting out beats and producing/DJing for rappers in Minneapolis under the name Beaker in high school, then eventually changed the name to Beak Nasty coincidentally like two weeks before I met Phil. Phil started drumming for me instantly after we met and after a couple years of playing every show we possibly could together we decided that “Beak Nasty” was definitely both of us, not just me featuring Phil. We discovered right away that we both have backgrounds playing in rock bands growing up and our musical tastes are very similar yet different enough to where we’re always showing each other new shit. I think that’s a huge reason why we stay inspired to make music together.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Ryland: I had this elderly neighbor named Bill in my hometown in Wisconsin whose life mantra was “Do something every day that lasts.” Dude was a G, and I think about that line all the time.
Foxy Dope: I forget who exactly told me this, but something I’ve been living by for a while is, “You never know who you’re talking to.” I think good networking skills are just as important as being skilled at your craft. Also It’s important to be kind to people. Everyone deserves to be listened to with an open mind. That random person could be one of your idols.
Tell us about your gear. Any tools you recommend and why?
Foxy Dope: Since I’m primarily an instrumentalist, I have a good amount of hardware, but not even close to as much as I want. My space ship consists of a Roland TD-11 electronic drum kit, a MicroKorg (my first analog synth), a Roland HPD-15 HandSonic percussion synth, and a Korg Kaossilator Pro+ loop station/wave synth. I run the kit, the HandSonic, and the MicroKorg into a small mixer and run that into my Kaossilator. This allows me to record every part of the track on the fly and augment the sounds with user FX. Ryland has been teaching me how to produce and scratch for a year or two, but I’m still very new to both. Without the Kaossilator I would not be able to play Foxy Dope sets, so for anyone out there who plays a variety of instruments that isn’t a seasoned producer, I highly recommend grabbing one of those. Loops have opened up doors for my creativity.
Ryland: I bought my first Technic 1200 turntable when I was 16 specifically for production purposes and it’s still my favorite tool for both producing and DJing. I purchase all the random vinyl I can find and whenever I want some inspiration I just put on a new record and listen to it. I usually end up taking some samples but sometimes literally just listening to something you would never seek out on your own terms will inspire a song. I produce our tracks in Logic and most of the sound design is done in Reaktor, Absynth, Massive, and Logic plug ins (which I think are tight af). Phil is more of the gearhead of the group currently l but I use all the stuff he mentioned as well thanks to him putting me onto it.
‘Spilling the Void’ is out to the world. Big ups! What’s the overall message behind this release?
Ryland: The term “Spilling the Void” is open to interpretation, but for me it’s an oxymoron referring to the idea that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. Kind of along similar lines as “ignorance is bliss”. Every time I thought we had finished a song on this EP, I realized that the act of finishing that song had taught me new techniques or given me new ideas for the other songs on the EP creating a seemingly endless cycle of fixing things in the tracks. This process has always existed for me, but this is the first time I’ve been fully aware of it and really let it play it’s course and just keep fixing the tracks until I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I’m soo stoked with the result and feel like it’s the most polished music we’ve ever created.
What helps to keep you motivated and focused?
Beak Nasty: The feeling of playing a dope show in front of a crowd who is as into the music as we are on stage is the best feeling in the world. Literally nothing can even compare, and I’ve been chasing that feeling for as long as I can remember. All the work that goes into practicing and making music is paid back tenfold the second we’re on stage in our zone. Definitely the #1 motivating factor behind it all.
Foxy Dope: Not to repeat what Rylz said, but there’s nothing I’ve experienced like playing a poppin’ show. The energy flowing through me during a performance is electric. When I look out at crowd of smiling faces and dancing bodies everything makes sense. All of the time, preparation, money spent, miles traveled, and hours spent awake come to fruition when I see people really enjoying themselves while I’m doing what I love most.
Ryland, in what ways would you say that being both a turntablist and producer helps to further fuel your creativity? How do both mediums resonante?
When I started making beats in high school, I didn’t really know much about electronic music or DJing but my brothers had exposed me to a lot of tight hip hop so I naturally gravitated towards that style. All I had was Garageband on my Dad’s laptop and I couldn’t figure out how to make any cool sounds with the synths on there really so I decided I needed to get a turntable and sample records. The first like 15 beats I made were all samples from records and me playing guitar and shit.
The turntable I got was mainly just for production when I ordered it but when I got a Serato box in order to be able to scratch whatever I wanted into my tracks, it opened the door learn how to DJ and I spent the next year or so learning to scratch over mixes before I saved up enough for a second turntable and that’s when I was able to dive into beat matching/juggling etc. So producing is what got me into turntablism, and turntablism is what got me into DJing.
As far as how it fuels my creativity nowadays, I can’t even imagine DJing without scratching along to certain parts and being able to manipulate the songs with my hands as fluidly as vinyl allows. I’ll get bored so fast in front of a pair of CDJ’s. And even if I end up doing the Ableton style controller thing someday, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to not at least have one turntable up there.
When I started DJing I mainly studied people like Qbert and DJ Abilities who are super focused on scratching and showmanship and I still love that stuff, but lately I’ve been really into old 90’s hip hop mixes. Specifically these cats Stretch and Bobbito who put out live vinyl mixes on the radio every week for years and focus more on endlessly finding new music and some super tasteful beat juggling here and there. Something Phil and I talk about a lot is how strange it is that since the technology to DJ has gotten better and more accessible, the standard of skills you have to meet to be able to be respected as a DJ has totally slipped away. Literally just listening to these old vinyl mixes where they never drop the same record twice and mix each track flawlessly and creatively every time has taught me so much about the craft and made me realize how much were all slacking (myself included).
Foxy Dope, tell us about your history as a drummer and being a loopmaster as well. In what ways do you see your artistry further expanding?
The first time my grandfather put me on a drum set I was about five years old. He was an impressive jazz drummer and my best friend. I owe him everything for sparking that flame that is now my life. I was eight when he passed away and inherited his kit. I started taking private lessons and shortly after starting middle school. I was a part of Jazz band, Symphonic band, percussion ensembles, and just about every other group I could join, as well as starting multiple bands of my own outside of school. Before I started high school I began taking lessons from the percussion teacher, Jed Davis, to get a head start on marching band. My freshman year I made it onto the drum line as a snare drummer and became captivated in learning as much as I can about rhythm and how to play all types of percussion instruments. By the time I was a junior, I made drum captain and later that year won a state championship. I continued my studies in college at Florida Atlantic University but dropped out shortly after to pursue my true passion for live music. I’ve studied instruments from many different cultures around the world, all of which contributed to my skills and style now, but I always wanted to take music my own direction.
The last band I formed was a Hardcore/Death Metal band which I left shortly after I started going to electronic shows and raves. I started throwing my own parties, booking outside stages at larger events, and playing drums over top DJs which eventually led me to Minneapolis where I met Ryland. When we moved to CO, I moved in with a friend who had a Kaossilator, and I instantly fell in love. Since I’ve acquired one of my own, I’ve been low-key obsessed. Always being the drummer in a band meant I was always in the back and had to write with multiple people. Learning how to work with loops has given me the freedom to make something that’s all mine which was very liberating. All that points to me becoming a more skilled producer so I can have my own releases, and contribute more in the studio on Beak Nasty tunes as well.
Who’s been your ultimate inspiration, musically speaking?
Foxy Dope: This is an incredibly hard question to answer because I’ve had a ton of influences, but at this point it’s a toss up between Pretty Lights and Tipper. PL changed everything. The perfect mix of organic, funky, live sounds with an experimental, psychedelic, glitch twist. I have to give it up to the Don, Dave Tipper though. His insane production quality and almost alien like concoction of rhythms and melodies have permanently tickled my ears.
Ryland: Pretty Lights completely changed the way I look at music and is still my favorite shit hands down. The way he manipulates samples and uses sound design is unmatched and his live shows are inspiring af. …in my humble opinion 😛
If you could describe the Beak Nasty live experience in one word, what would it be? How do you see the live experience evolving?
Ryland: …scrumtralescent. And yeah definitely, I think eventually coming up with a set of all original music where more live elements are added/accentuated would be a really cool direction to take this. I also like to try to blur the lines between DJing and performing and am always trying to think of creative ways to mix songs together and learning old techniques that seem to have been lost in the digital age.
Foxy Dope: Funkadelic! Once we have enough material and find the right team of artists and musicians, Beak Nasty will be much bigger than just Rylz and I. We’re always thinking of new features and have recently been talking of adding a custom visual element ;]
You guys were just announced as one of the support acts with Sunsquabi. What are you most excited about this tour?
Foxy Dope: Besides the fact that they shred every set I’ve been to, those guys are some of the realest. The guitarist Kevin also plays under the name Casual Commander for his solo stuff and we’ve played a few shows with him. We booked him for the first show we threw in Boulder with the homies Vinja and kLL sMTH. Had him on with us and our homie DeCarlo Jackson on trumpet and that was one of the best sets we’ve played. Not to mention being apart of a tour with some of my favorites: Exmag, Opiuo, and Manic Focus. I’m funkin stoked!
Ryland: Not only are Sunsquabi some of my favorite musicians, they’re also just fun as shit to kick it with so I’m super excited to get to spend some more time with them and hopefully throw down on stage with them a bit! And of course always looking forward to running into homies and making new ones.
What are some of your goals for 2018?
Foxy Dope: The main goals for Foxy Dope are to completely upgrade my media and put out my first solo release. I need better branding and online presence, plus the tunes to back it. I can’t wait until my music is available without only having to see a show. As far as Beak Nasty goals go, It’s all about uncharted territories. I hope to help set up an East coast and West coast tour since we’ve never toured either. Now that we’re on Street Ritual (BIG SHOUTS), I can’t wait to see what we can do with the new joining of forces. Also, we have a ton of unreleased material so most likely some dope releases in 2018 😉
What’s the creative process like?
Ryland: I usually start by going through my vinyl or looking through recordings I have made over the years with homies and finding random sample(s). Even if it’s just some weird background noise for texture or a part I don’t end up using in the end, I find that it makes starting a track more of a deliberate process rather than just shooting into the wind and seeing what happens (which I also totally do sometimes). Then I usually program in some simple drums and try to create the most banging possible part of the track first and add the other parts around that. Most of the tracks are like 90% done in the first day or two of working on it, then the last 10% takes anywhere from a week to 7 years (and counting…). Sometimes I’ll work on a track so much I just can’t be creative with it anymore, then I’ll set it down and forget about it and find it years later and be like oh shit I gotta finish this one!! I number all my tracks too and have been since the day I started producing so it’s cool to be able to look back at times I learned specific techniques or was working with certain people a lot. I’m somewhere around number 450 right now and have put out like 15% of those tracks so I’m constantly rediscovering old tracks. Making music is kind of a constant battle for me between deciding to make new tracks, or finish old ones.
Foxy Dope: Ryland does the majority of the production because he’s a Bau5. It was hard to start collaborating at first because he works light years faster than I do, but after trial and error we found it most effective to record me playing a drum beat, bassline, or melody a few times over and chop up the best clips. Ryland keeps the cleanest recordings and sauces them up.
Who do you see yourselves collaborating with?
Ryland: I really want to work with some of my favorite rappers like Del the Funkee Homosapien, Chali 2na, Gift of Gab… the list goes on. Always sick to collaborate with instrumentalists too, but more than anything I just wanna collaborate with like minded individuals who we vibe with and like to have fun with the music.
Foxy Dope: It’s hard to say who we will be collaborating with. Those projects aren’t usually planned, which is part of the magic. Now that we are part of Street Ritual we’ll be playing more shows with a lot of the artists on that roster, some of which I admire a lot. Would be really cool to collab with LabRat or Detox Unit.
You guys live here in Denver too. What do you like to do when not making or playing music?
Ryland: Between making music and working my ass off to pay off the debt pursuing a career in music has put me in, I feel like I basically never get to do anything other than that… But in a perfect world, I’d be doing a lot of disc golfing, camping, hiking, and just anything outdoors. Definitely love going to shows and partyin it up afterwards or hittin festivals regardless of if were playing. A huge life goal is to travel the world which hopefully music will allow us to do someday.
Foxy Dope: Like Rylz said, it’s hard to get away from work, and then it’s straight back to practicing and writing. I recently started getting back into skateboarding which was a huge part of my life when I was younger. I’m also constantly at shows every week. I love meeting new people that are involved in music or just love it as much as I do.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Ryland: Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to talk to us!! Peace, love, and chill funk. 😉