The Making of the Sam Shoemaker “Do It For Me” Remix EP

“Do It For Me” is a hard hitting, dubstep-infused rap anthem by Sam Shoemaker and Trap Jesus (aka Luke Rain). Shoemaker’s lyrics are brash and unapologetic, even bordering on disrespectful, but remain playful and fun with punchlines throughout. The new EP features heavy hitting tunes by Producer Dojo Ninjas and Senseis: Knobreaks, RIP KENNY, slowform, and Munchii. Luke Rain curated this EP and I enjoyed catching up with him on how this all came to be.

Luke, congratulations on the release of the Sam Shoemaker “Do It For Me” Remix EP. Tell us the story behind the original song. 

“I want to make something disrespectful.” 

That’s what Sam said when he showed up at my studio one summer day in 2018, I probably laughed. As Trap Jesus, I’m all about the love, but as Sam told me the feelings and motivations behind the sentiment I found it really easy to get on board. I love Sam’s mind, because when he goes ignorant, he’s really going super intelligent, and if he’s gonna talk shit he’s gonna know the shit he’s talking about. So I said let’s do this, opened Reason and titled the session “disrespectful.”

The first beat I started had some sort of reggae vibe. It was cool and all, but within like 15 minutes we both knew it wasn’t the one. That’s a good lesson, you can let it go if it’s not the right beat, ESPECIALLY when you have the artist in studio. As the producer you have to take your ego out of it and be cool with shelving a beat that the writer isn’t feeling. The next beat was the one that made the record, that dubstep turned hip hop anthem sound sparked Sam’s pen and all of a sudden we were off to the races. Shouts to the homie Jay Battle aka Qreepz in Seattle for doing a killer job recording, mixing and mastering the track. We dropped it on new year’s day 2019, the first of 11 releases we collabed on last year.

How did this remix competition come about, and how has it evolved along the way? 

The song had been out for a couple months, and to the segment of Sam’s fans that, like me, also love EDM, this was their new favorite. Sam kept hearing from multiple angles that we should do a remix for the record that actually dove all the way into the dubstep sound. He brought the idea to me, I brought the idea to Sean Naughton (Spiderhound), and we hosted an open call remix competition through the Producer Dojo website. 

I was really pleased that we got 16 entries back, and Sam and I went on FaceBook live stream to have a listening party. It was really fun, lots of the remixers were there watching live with us. We narrowed down the list to 6 that we thought had potential, but there were a clear 4 on top of the pile. It turned out that those four were all from the Dojo, which wasn’t really surprising since they have all had direct training at the best production school around! 

Originally, since this was an open call competition, I thought the release process would be quick and simple: Pick the top few remixes, give them a little of my Sensei feedback, toss them together on a SoundCloud EP and move on. But, since the top 4 were all in the class of 808, the project caught the attention of ill.Gates himself, and he volunteered to work with the Ninjas and turn this into a full blown Producer Dojo release EP!

What new skills have you acquired as a direct result of your work on this EP release?

As a DJ I had already been spinning these records from an early stage in my Luke Rain sets. But then we got the true sonic master ill.Gates giving feedback. He dug way deeper into the technical aspects that, frankly, I didn’t know how to hear at the time, let alone convey. I got the privilege to be a fly on the wall during all these rounds of feedback, getting to listen back to the previous draft and be like “oh, now I can hear that issue” or “wow, it does really sound better with that tweak.” So my ear training greatly improved, my ability to hear the subtle sonic differences in texture, balance, width, depth, etc, that really take a record from good to great. 

The other main lesson was patience. Like I said, I thought it would be a quick process, but from the time we picked the top four to the release date was something like 10 months. There were multiple rounds of feedback for each song, all happening while all of us were simultaneously working on other projects for Dojo, so that took some time. Then, once we had the audio finalized, there was still artwork, paperwork, and getting it to distribution with enough time to make sure everything is perfect by the time release day rolls around. But wow, was it worth it. This is a project I’m super proud of and can stand behind for the rest of my career, and so can all the artists involved.

Do you have any special shout outs or nods of recognition for the remixers on the EP?

All four of the ninjas, really. Let’s start with Knobreaks. I wasn’t really familiar with his stuff before the remix competition, but he really blew me away with what he did. I was certainly aware of his skills after that! I really appreciate how he both stayed super true to the format of the original record while still making it completely his own. He was able to have verses that were super hard while still leaving space for Sam’s vocal to shine, then he replaced the choruses with drops dripping in awesome sauce. I love how those big bass leads play with the big melodies, such a great contrast. He put a lot of effort into this one and earned the leadoff spot on the project. Great job, Brian!

Next, RIP Kenny. We’re both from Seattle (we met at my first ever ill.Gates show), and both Senseis at the Dojo, so I was super psyched when I found out he was a part of the project. I love his style, it’s so authentic to him as a person. He is a long time guitar player and he always infuses that guitar sound into his tunes in a way that’s so innovative, the way he writes great chords and licks and then resamples them to create something that is definitely dubstep but clearly not what most other producers are doing. Thanks, Evan, you rock!

Then slowform. She’s been one of my students at the Dojo so it was really special for me to have her on this EP. I’ve had the opportunity to watch her grow and come into her own over the past couple years. She has such a cool, deep dubstep sound that she stays true to, yet still finds ways to keep exploring and expanding that lane. Plus we got the chance to hang at Shambhala last year and it turns out her personality is as dope as her music is. So glad to count Kaitie as a friend!

Finally Munchii. This song straight up melts my face. I love spinning it in my Luke Rain sets, it always gets the crowd headbanging when I drop it. Also this song probably evolved the most from the original contest entry. Somewhere on my hard drive there’s some secret versions that sound super different than the one you hear on the EP. He took the great feedback he got and really ran with it, then went above and beyond, finding ways to really take it to the max. I love how he stretched the vocal and gave it a whole new bounce and a trippy texture, and his riddim drops are lit AF for sure. I especially love the extra vocal samples he put in the second drop: “Stop the music. NOPE!” Gets me every time! Great work, Li!

What are the next steps for you and Sam Shoemaker? Are there any collaborations planned for the near future?

We’ve got a few tracks in the works right now, nothing with a release date I can share just yet. I know Sam really likes slowform’s production style so I’m connecting the dots on that end because I really want to hear more of what they do together, I think, and they agree, that their styles will mesh great on more songs in the future. 

Sam is also working heavily right now with artist/producer/engineer Bingx, and they have a couple songs that just dropped this year, Flex and When You Fall, that are hits for sure. It’s really cool, Bingx was the first artist I got a placement with a few years ago, and our collab In My Prayers is still the most successful song I’ve been a part of (3.3 million spins on Spotify alone!) so it’s incredible to see two of my favorite artists teaming up like this. I even got to sit in on the writing camp they had during a snowstorm in January. I can tell you to definitely follow Sam on streaming so you can be the first to hear the string of jams they have on the way.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? 

Music takes time, so start today. Got an idea for a song, an EP, a remix, a show, or a competition? Maybe a YouTube channel or a podcast? Start it now! We are all locked down and quarantined at the moment, for better or worse. It’s up to you to make the best of it! How many of you said you wanted to be a full time musician? I know I did. Now I get to be. Not how I imagined it happening, but the universe works in funny ways. Take this as an opportunity and begin work on that project you never had time for. 

Check out the Do It For Me Remix EP here.

And, of course, TRAP JESUS LOVES YOU!