I’ve been musical since I was a kid. I played the flute, the saxophone, I was in orchestra, band – all of that. I grew up in hip-hop culture and was always dancing, freestyle rapping and going to shows. I was into everything. When I went to college, I ‘borrowed’ my dad’s record collection and got turntables as soon as I had money.
When I dropped out and moved back home to Pasadena, I connected with Ras G and Black Monk, who ran the Poo-Bah record shop. They taught me how to use an Akai MPC sampling machine – the old techniques of sampling from vinyl records, chopping and flipping. I’d make beats at the house of one of my friends, who had a lot of equipment, and one day he gave me his Akai MPC 1000. It’s a legendary machine used by producers from the golden era of hip hop.
The albums that my friends released at that time are considered LA underground hip-hop classics – my voice has featured on a few. I considered that path, but decided to keep the music to myself and share the design with the world. I kept the drum machine in my locker at design school, so I could make beats when I was pulling all-nighters. It still serves a major purpose in my practice, helping me to express ideas and feelings I’m trying to put into the pieces.
I make music almost every day, and I take it with me everywhere. Every milestone I can think of has a group of songs to go with it, and that machine made them. I have so many problems with it now, so I’ve added others to the mix, but it’s still my weapon of choice – even if I have to get it fixed a hundred times. designbyini.com