There's been a change of the guard in the beat scene. Although some of us are still stuck in the beats and sounds of the '90s, many have gone on to bring us a new sound. Canadian producer Elaquent is one of those artists who has earned his place at the table. His instrumentals take you to somewhere away from the stress, away from the anxiety that 2016 has given us. I sat down with Elaquent and we talked about his creative process and vision for his latest record Worst Case Scenario and what's next for the prolific producer.
Blavity: For those who aren't hip, who exactly is Elaquent?
Elaquent: I'm just an average joe from Canada trying to do above average things in the world of instrumental hip-hop and R&B. So far so good...
Blavity: Before we jump into your latest, let's go back a bit. When exactly did you start getting into music? When did you start experimenting with making beats?
Elaquent: I took piano lessons as a kid, which I suppose set the stage...started making beats at 13...but it wasn't until I was in my early 20s I started taking my craft seriously. But before all of that, I was a hip-hop fan since I was 5. Pretty much the main thing in my household growing up.
Blavity: Making “beats” I think is putting what you make lightly. Because your music isn't always just a loop or in a specific structure, I feel like you're making pretty calculated art here. How do you approach your projects?
Elaquent: Every project is a little different in the approach, but it always starts with a question; what story do I want to tell? It's hard to tell a story in an album with minimal vocals, but I believe the concept ultimately drives the vibe. From there, it's just brainstorming ideas, writing them down, once a concept and idea is set, I go digging for the right sounds, synths, all that, and then it's off to the races.
Blavity: I have to admit when I heard Worst Case Scenario was the title of your project I thought nothing of it…..then the election happened. What's the meaning behind the title and why did you jinx us?
Elaquent: The meaning was meant to talk about being introspective and understanding my mortality once turning 30; basically having no regrets about what I've done if I never advance any further in my career and being prepared for whatever comes, good or bad. The election was a wild coincidence, which certainly added more meaning...but that's the beautiful thing about music. Songs, titles, lyrics, can mean lots of different things to lots of different people, and if the title feels applicable to someone in a way I didn't intend, I think that's a good thing. In a way, I suppose that the USA got the worst case scenario of election results...not that Hillary was much better...but everybody upset with the outcome gotta be prepared for the worst and be ready to face any and all challenges, that's the heart of what the album — and life, to me — is about.
Blavity: You're one of my favorite artists because you've accomplished quite a bit in your career, toured the world, released multiple projects. What has this experience making art & traveling done for you and done for your music?
Elaquent: It's what keeps me going man. Traveling in particular is special. As grueling as it can be, going to new places, meeting new people and undertaking new challenges is really stimulating to me, and I think it makes you a better person, rather than being in a bubble. Art is a powerful thing, its made me friends with so many people who don't even speak the same language. That's a special effect.
Blavity: What do you usually make music on?
Elaquent: Same setup since day one. Fl studio on a MacBook, mpd, iPad, sp404 and any cool sounds I can find.
Blavity: Another thing I notice is even your guest appearances are very thought out, you aren't just bringing rappers to smash every beat, you're focused on the sounds. Why is that?
Elaquent: One day I'll do an album full of features, but until then, I'm picky. And lots of time goes into who I reach out to, going back to the concept of the record. Ultimately it has to make sense. I never understood some of the collabs I see. when I see somebody like A$AP Rocky for example, doing a song with Selena Gomez or someone like that, I struggle to fathom why they would collab other than maximizing fanbases. The song might be really good, but if it doesn't fit the vision of the record, I don't like do it, but that's just me.
Blavity: When people are done listening to Worst Case Scenario what should they take away? How should they feel?
Elaquent: Hopefully they feel inspired to make art or do something in their lives that they're passionate about, even if it's perceived as dumb. That's the objective for every record. Or maybe they feel calmer afterwards, that's fine too. Ultimately, I make music to make people feel good, if I got someone to vibe out and smile, mission accomplished.
Blavity: Everyone's making music now, whether beats, whether raps or singing, everyone's trying to “make it.” What advice would you give artists trying to be where you're at?
Elaquent: I always say be patient. For every artist who pops off overnight, there's another 10,000 of us who gotta grind and struggle. I tell people all the time, don't sweat the numbers...your number of SoundCloud followers, Twitter followers, views, likes, none of that matters until you master your craft. Good music will eventually be heard.
Blavity: I could be mistaken but I think I read that this might be your last project for a while and if that's the case, what exactly is next for Elaquent?
Elaquent: Instrumental projects, I mean. I'll be always working on things on the low, but next year and beyond, I wanna get back into doing more collaborative works and other endeavors. So beyond an instrumental project I'm already committed to, I want to take a break from the typical Elaquent grind and try a few new things. But then again that's easy to say now, we'll see what happens a few months down the line.
You can download and check out Elaquent's newest release and the rest of his discography HERE.
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