The first time I heard Breezewax, it sent me into a pretty long hip-hop binge. Not knowing much of the style at the time, I was surprised to find out how unknown he seems to be with respect to other instrumental-ish artists that share a common vibe with him. His music, all available at a “pay what you want” fee on Bandcamp, spans different rhythms and moods, all tied together with a sense of forgotten familiarity and comfort. I recently had a great conversation with Breezewax about his work over email. Spin “Walk With Me” from Prima Vista below, and read what he has to say.
Your music seems to be bringing together different fields of music into the same realm, often jazzy and orchestral melodies sampled above hip-hop and downtempo rhythms. How much of bringing these estranged styles together comes naturally to you?
-Well, artists have been blending jazz and hip hop since the late 80s, so I guess, with an appreciation of both genres, I initially wanted to build on those foundations. But I enjoy listening to many diverse genres, so as I progressed I quite naturally drew on other kinds of music from my library. I particularly love orchestras, strings, you know, grand cinematic music and I thought that there’s a lot that can be done with hip hop rhythms, full drums etc to make it that much more dramatic and emotive.
How do you view sampling in terms of instrumentation?
-I view sampling very liberally, as you’d excpect from someone who crosses over the hip hop genre. There are many of course who see it as stealing, but if they listened to what artists like Pete Rock, J Dilla and Premier have been able to achieve in totally reimagining an original piece of work or putting different sounds together, I think they’d appreciate how much talent it takes to sample well. Of course you will get those tracks that are just looped, something I’m guilty of as well, but it’s what you do with it/how you build on it that counts. There’ll be some tracks where people would be really surprised, if they knew what I’d sampled, at how a small little sound can be manipulated to become a new sound or instrument in its own right.
How do you decide what music to sample?
I’d say 90% of the time my music begins with a track I like and a few notes or sounds from that track that touch or move me, that I’d like to sample. Basically I’ll chop those sounds up or put it together a certain way and then begin to add everything else to it – try to do justice to it as well as I can.The other 10% will be started off by drum rhythms or maybe a bass line then I’ll think about what would sound good with it.
For you, is there some kind of emotion that links your work together, a feeling you’re trying to get across?
-No one song is ever the same. Every track will have its own story or feeling to it.
Outside of music, what do you think influences your style the most?
-I like the nature and landscapes, I love travelling and experiencing new cultures so that all plays a large part. Just your feelings, the things in your life and state of mind as well I guess.
Many of your releases are splits with other artists. This practice is something that was very common before the internet moved music distribution to where it is now, I hardly see anyone doing this anymore. Why release music in this way? What is your thinking behind it, and how do you hook up with the artists your share releases with?
-One of the great things about having the internet when I’ve been learning my craft is that I’ve been able to meet and learn from some really talented guys. I met P.SUS a few years back when people still used myspace and was an instant fan. I’d basically been releasing a steady stream of EPs by myself for years and so thought it’d be great to do something different with another artist I liked, so that’s how ‘Solace In Sound‘ came about really. I met Evan Awake through the YouTube community – I was in quite a productive period, and almost immediately after the Distant Rhythms EP I got in contact with Evan asking if he wanted to do a collab album for the summer which ended up being ‘Prima Vista‘. I count myself as very lucky to be able to work with all these talented guys and I think our listeners really enjoy seeing artists they like come together.
What is your motivation behind releasing music at the “pay what you want” fee?
-The name your own price thing is a really nice option by bandcamp. Anyone who wants to download for free can do so and anyone who’d like to give something can do too. For me anything that comes in helps fund equipment or tools for making music or it goes towards a charitable cause that I care about. Solstice was an album where ALL our proceeds went to charities though.
How do you feel about how the internet has changed the role and nature of music in the past decade?
For me the internet has been my freedom. Firstly for allowing me to discover numerous artists and secondly for allowing me to reach so many people and share my music with them. Without it I wouldn’t have come as far as I have that’s for sure. There are, and have been a lot of arguments about downloading, piracy etc but there are some people like myself who will support the music they like, who’ll still buy a CD for their collection even if you do download music.
How does one create wax from breeze?
-Two table spoons of imagination, a dash of heart.. and a whole lotta love.
What do you have planned coming up for the project?
-In the next few weeks a free remix tape ‘Impressions volume 2’ will be released. Then later this year my second full length album ‘Native Sun’ will be out on Cult Classic Records. I’m very excited about that one – been waiting for a while.
Make sure to head over to Breezewax’s Bandcamp. Stream some songs, download an album or two, throw him some cash. His music may be laid back, but it seems like he naturally moves pretty quickly, and you’re not going to want to sleep on any step in his evolution.