I hit up Evan Awake the other day to ask him some questions and he kindly agreed. WIB’s put all of his previous stuff up here and he seems pretty popular amongst the readership but for those who dont know, he’s a real talented producer who specialises in mashups but also sometimes does his own beats and recently put out a mix; check out our previous posts on him here or drop in on his Youtube channel.
Anyway, you can read the interview after the jump. If you haven’t listened to his stuff before, make sure you do, you wont be disappointed. Hip hop at its purest.
Evan Awake: Youtube
Q: So, tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from and what’s your musical background?
A: My name is Evan Awake and I’m a 19 years old producer from Germany. I mainly produce mashups but if I find time to do more I also make beats or work on other projects.
Q: When and why did you start getting into hip hop and who was your first major influence? Since then, who’s influenced you?
A: It started in 2004 I guess. One day there suddenly was a bootleg of RJD2’s “Since We Last Spoke” in my room. It was a gift from someone I didn’t know. I listened to it for weeks and loved the tracks. Then in 2006 the anime Samurai Champloo aired on television for a few nights and I was introduced to Nujabes, Shing02 etc. These artists had an immense influence on my musical point of view. Since then Hip Hop was essential to me.
Q: Why did you decide to start making hip hop tracks? Did you start out making your own beats first before making mashups or was it the other way round?
A: I didn’t have a reason to be honest. Doing creative things was always fun for me so I thought it would be nice to mix some music together and I stuck with it. Beat production came much later.
Q: What was it about mashups that made it so attractive to you? Do you ever get comments from artists about how you flip their work?
You know it’s so much fun to combine music that was actually never meant to be. There are so many possibilities and you have the chance to create really unique music. I also have the chance to support unknown, talented musicians. And yes, sometimes the artists write to me to say that they are thankful and liked the results. That always makes me happy especially because I don’t expect them to hear the mixes.
Q: What process do you go through when making a mash up (do you hear a beat and find an acapella to fit it for example)?
I always look for acapellas first. After that I do hours over hours of musical research. That part is the most difficult because it’s hard to find a good compliment. I’d really like to have the ability to hear a beat and know which acapella to mix with. Would be handy for sure haha.
Q: I guess the hardest thing about mixing an acapella with a new beat (and what is probably the most impressive thing about your mash ups especially considering that stand alone instrumentals are generally not made for an MC so the balance between beat and vocal is a fine one) is making the MC’s flow sound like it’s on the original. Is it tough? What other problems does it present?
With more and more experience it becomes easier to let the mashups sound more and more like originals. Matching the flow is all part of the process so I can’t tell how difficult it actually is but I can say that matching singing with instrumentals is much harder than just rap.
Q: Has the process of making mashups influenced the way you make your own music?
They develop separately I think, like siblings. When you make your own music you focus on different aspects in production. And I can use musical elements in my own music that wouldn’t work otherwise. To have made mashups first helps a lot though.
Q: Why do you use Youtube as a platform for your music rather than Soundcloud, Bandcamp and the other more popular mediums? Do you plan to start using more social media to promote your music?
A: I like YouTube very much because I can interact directly with the community. People can tell me what they like or dislike and what could be improved. They can rate, favorite and share the videos with others if they want and I can also represent myself through a channel. It’s all very comfortable. And yes, I already thought about using more things like Facebook and whatnot. But I don’t like it and people already do great jobs sharing the mixes with others.
Q: Each song you upload has a picture to go with it. How important are the pictures to the individual tracks, and what made you do them in the first place?
A: Well, I appreciate art a lot and I want to to give artists the acknowledgment they deserve and at the same time the listeners should enjoy the music in the most enjoyable way.
Q: A few weeks ago you finally released your first beat tape in collaboration with UK Producer Breezewax. Why did it to so long from when you started making music to finally releasing a beat tape? Was it a lack of confidence in your own work, waiting until the time was right or something else all together?
A: Yeah, could have been all together. But I’m glad I released the beat tape with Breezewax now. A very talented producer and friendly person by the way. Originally I never planned on making my own music maybe that’s why it took so long haha.
Q: What do you answer to criticism that you dont make your own beats but rather ‘steal’ from other producers?
A: The focus should not be on me but always on the artists I use the music from. I mean what I do is just a small part of the overall musical experience. So I like to stay in the background. No good music without good artists.
Q: Now you have a taste for it can we expect even more original Evan Awake tracks soon, maybe even an Evan Awake EP? What other plans do you have in the near future?
A: If people like what I do I wouldn’t have a problem with doing a bit more. At the moment I’m working on a mixtape, which I already released Side A from. Side B is currently in production. And of course there are lots of mashups to come in the next months.
Q: You’re clearly well versed in your knowledge of hip hop so I’d be foolish not to ask, where do you see hip hop going? Will we ever hear Evan Awake on the radio or is mainstream hip hop going to carry on its decline?
A: I hope there will always be real Hip Hop artists to open eyes. You probably won’t hear my music on radio or on television but as long as people search and dig they will find.
Q: And finally, what do you want to achieve in and with your music?
A: I want people to enjoy the music and evoke special feelings and thoughts. That’s all :)
Thx to Evan for taking the time for this interview.