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Interview: Arts the Beatdoctor

Posted by Joe Lazar on March 19, 2007

Holland beatmaker, Arts the Beatdoctor, took some time out to talk to me about his mysterious alias and the different sounds found on his debut album Transitions.

Headless Ponch: Where did you come up with your doctor alias?

Arts the Beatdoctor: An unfortunate event forced me to quit my beat-dentist work, at which point I decided that beatdoctor was cool as well.

HP: How far do you take it? Do you get so in the zone sometimes that you only think of yourself as your alias?

ATBD: When other people take it as far as too believe the alias, that’s as far as I would want to take it.

HP: What was your first professional hip hop experience?

ATBD: The first release I featured on was the Diamonds R 4ever project by Lord Cyrus, featuring among others, MF Grimm and Boba Fatt. Cy organised it as a fundraiser for his sick daughter. So I think it is safe to say that the project was the most doctor-related project I have done so far (laughs).

HP: How did you land the job?

ATBD: It’s still a mystery to me how Cy hooked up with me though, I just got an email one morning if I wanted to help him out on this project.

HP: Your music has many aspects of Wu-Tang, and specifically the production style as RZA. You do the same wrong thing at the right time sort of thing that RZA always does. I was reading that you would take saxophone or trumpet solos and detune them purposely.

ATBD: Yeah sure. I love fooling around with audio material. The track “Laughs Drinks Jokes Tricks” has very low tuned sax and trumpet notes on it, which i recorded on an old beat, then sent through a distorted guitar amp, and then put on the new beat. The album is full of stuff like that, that probably only I will notice, or maybe if you listen to it a hell of a lot of times. I made some links between tracks too, in the whole “Transitions” vibe.

HP: Do you cite RZA as an influence?

ATBD: Well, no, but I don’t cite many people as influences. As far as influences go, I think only DJ Shadow had a direct influence on me. At the time Endtroducing hit the stores, I was just starting out with music, making songs on the guitar, playing some keys. I had no idea you could be so musical using just samples – or even that using samples was a way of making music! That album opened my eyes I guess. After that I sort of took my own course, not checking too much other music. No dissrespect to RZA of course, he’s great.

HP: Who do you count as influences?

ATBD: Amon Tobin and Bonobo. Both on NinjaTune, both great. Amon Tobin has the best drums on the planet. I was just recently put on Bonobo, and he’s great as well. Nice basslines!


HP: Jazz sounds very incorporated with your music. Does jazz come second nature to you, just as hip hop does?

ATBD: I think jazz is even more close to me than hip hop is. Maybe not the songs, I tend to listen more to recent music (hip hop, downtempo, drum ‘n bass), but soundwise – jazz is my thing.

HP: Holland usually isn’t brought up with the giants of hip hop locations. Do you find it harder to breakthrough coming from a foreign country? What do you do to try to attract outside countries to your music?

ATBD: It should be! Even without wanting to emphasize on acts that I know personally – I think at least half of the music that amazed me last year is from holland. We’ve got Pete Philly, La Melodia, and some new and upcoming names like Sir OJ (from Slumgullion) and guys like Sense, STW, FS Green. Holland is about to be booming!

To me, I am of course not from a foreign country (laughs). Since I started out though, it was clear to me I had to go over the border. There’s just not too big of a market for the music I make – Hiphop is pretty big here, but I am considered pretty leftfield – if I am considered at all. Japan has been very nice, my album really took off there, and I hope to do some stuff in the States. Not because I am too big for Holland, but perhaps because I am too small for Holland!

HP: Are you aggressive with advertising your music?

ATBD: Actually, I haven’t been that aggressive. No media bombing, no thousand plus MySpace friends. I just went for what I thought was possible, and that was a record deal. After that, the rest kind of came naturally. I have to thank P-Vine in Japan for that too – I guess they promoted me pretty good there!

HP: Transitions is your debut album. How long did the project take?

ATBD: If you take in account every piece of music that is on there – the oldest fractions probably are from around 2002-2003. I took my time, after setting up a basic beat, I usually take about 6 months to perfect the arrangement, and after that I reset all my mixing work and start over with the mix. It’s not the fastest way to work, but this was my love-for-music project – I didn’t have to make it before deadlines or watch the budget – every decisions was mine to make.

HP: What was the recording process like?

ATBD: Like mentioned earlier, I like to fool around with some beats, record vocals and instruments on that, take the audio, fool around with it, throw it over another beat, stuff like that. Most of the instruments you hear are instrumentalist improvising, and then taken somewhere else by me.

We had a lot of fun doing “The Anthem”. Quintessence and I worked on that for weeks, and when I brought Pete in, he was so fresh that his input just made it better. The vocal part at the end of the track was born of Pete imitating all the instruments when he was waiting to start recording. I was like “wait – can you do that again?”

HP: Do you regret anything about the record?

ATBD: I regret nothing!

HP: Will Transitions ever see a US release?

ATBD: I surely hope so. If a US music label is interested, they can contact Unexpected Records for a license deal.

HP: Since you tie in other music with hip hop as the core, would you ever think about dipping your feet in other genres?

ATBD: I’m not planning on going anywhere else completely with the Arts sound (although I have countless side projects in all kinds of genres). If it has the Arts the Beatdoctor stamp on it, it means it was made by me, without any people telling me what they want from it. The sound on the album is just what comes out when I do, what I do naturally.


Transitions review

[MP3] “The Anthem (featuring Pete Philly)”

[MP3] “Fragments”

Buy Transitions at Amazon


One Response to “Interview: Arts the Beatdoctor”

  1. Snipe said

    I just think this album is so good. I’m not into the dark-style melodies, but this album has such creativity that scapes the scope of melody, I think Arts the Beatdoctor did a great job putting so many elements together, so he definitely has my respects. Nice interview!

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