Google+ Beathearts: The Beat Generation Series #1: Buscrates (US)


The Beat Generation Series #1: Buscrates (US)

In our quest to discover new soulful underground music we come across many up and coming producers from all around the world. We thought is was about time to put the spotlight on a few of them that we think are about to blow up. We call it The Beat Generation Series.

The Beat Generation Series #1: Buscrates 16-bit Ensemble (US)

First up is Orlando Marshall a.k.a. Buscrates 16-bit Ensemble. With an alias as dope as his beats, Buscrates is a DJ/producer hailing from Pittsburgh's East End. What first caught our attention was his stunning refix of french nusoul singer Meemee Nelzy's Comme Un Lotus. For the last year or so there have been edits, remixes and beats popping up from all over the place from the man. Funky, deep, futuristic soul, just the way we like it. We got in touch with Buscrates to learn more about his inspirations and music making.


We first heard of you about a year ago through your amazing remix of Meemee Nelzy’s Comme un Lotus. Our first thought was “great to hear that the French scene are on top of things again!” then only to discover that the fresh new French sound originated from Pittsburgh. How did you hook up with her?

Thanks man, I appreciate that! That's still probably my favorite remix I've done so far. She reached out to me on Twitter, and I gladly obliged. It ended up being on Moovmnt's top 5 remixes of 2011. Thank you Meemee!

Any other relations to France? We recently covered a collective of French producers Don Da None and Zerolex who are putting out mind blowing productions at the moment.

Other than Meemee, my homie Dela has been rockin it for a minute. That's actually how I first heard of her, through him.

We gotta give you props for your name: Buscrates 16-bit ensemble. How did you come up with that?

That name came from the sampler I was using for years: the Akai MPC2000XL. It processes the samples in 16-bit, and at the time I wasn't playing any instruments or involved in a band or anything, so I referred to all the sounds and samples I was using as an ensemble, and combined the two. BusCrates came from the days of hauling records to gigs on public transit. It's quite literal!

Just to sort things out: Buscrates 16-bit Ensemble is you as a solo artist right? Tell us about your other constellation East Liberty Quarters.

Yep, Buscrates is just me solo. East Liberty Quarters is a three-man crew. Myself, Geeman/Grand Ear and Nice Rec.

Inspired by early 80s boogie funk records we're all primarily beat makers, but we wanted to take it a step further and actually make records in a somewhat similar vein as the records we all admire but put our own twist on it. So we went out and got some real analog boards and drum machines and learned to create from scratch. This has also helped take our beat making to another level.

We primarily record and play as a trio, but our last few live gigs included guitarist Zack Curl (of Smooth Tutors), and the last show we had him and his drummer Matt Brinson.

Beatmakers and drummers is a great source of inspiration for us. People like Karriem Riggins, Chris Dave, Madlib, Questlove, Kenny Dope and of course Dilla's music was a major reason to start writing about soulful underground music. Are you a drummer as well? When/how did you start making beats?

They're all amazing and inspiring artists. Kenny Dope did a remix to a track Nice Rec and I did for Miles Bonny and Bobby Blunt. I just saw a video of Chris Dave playing some Fela stuff and it was mind-blowing. I can play a few basic rhythms on a drum kit, but I'm no Bernard Purdie! Haha!

Miles Bonny & Bobby Blunt - Tonight's the night (Kenny dope remix)

I started making beats sometime in 2000 after a few years learning and discovering samples from Geeman. Back in the early-mid 90s I used to roll with him to different record spots, and he'd be up all hours of the night on his sampler chopping up records. He saw that I had a pretty good ear for beats and encouraged me to make the move of getting a sampler. My first was the Ensoniq EPS, after that I've had an EPS 16+, an Akai MPC60II, but throughout most of the last 10 years the Akai MPC2000XL that was my main piece of equipment.

Like we said we first got to know you through your brilliant remixes. Was that how you got started releasing music?

I started to drop music around the end of the MySpace era about 2006-early 2008 I would post some beats and occasional remixes here and there. Early on I didn't have a computer, so any remix from before then was me playing a track and running the acapella straight off the wax. That's how I did that Kev Brown remix in 2004. I was happy to see that I still had this laying around somewhere, as I've pretty much lost all those old beats on those crappy zip disks I was using!

Last year we talked to Yam Who? (Andy Williams) where he walked us through the organic process of reworking a track. What's your take on the remixing process? How do you go about reworking a track?

Props to Yam Who! Big fan of that Herbie dub he did [Star in your eyes]. Before I do a remix, I usually sit and listen to the original version to see what I could do to put my own spin on it. For example, when I did the Vesta Williams remix, I wanted the bass on to be a thicker than the one on the original version, which was made in 1986 at a time when most of the new synths and stuff they used were a bit thin on the low end. Moog power to the rescue!

What does the creative process behind an original Buscrates track look like? Is it a jam session where you pull out the best parts or more straight forward song writing?

I can't really say that there's a method to the madness. Whether I'm digging through and listening to records, slicing up a random drum break or sitting at my boards (or some combination of the three), I just let it happen and follow whichever direction it takes me.

Who were your musical heroes when growing up?

So many! Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Roy Ayers, Michael Jackson, and George Clinton were played often in my house when I was a kid and I am thankful for it. My parents always made sure I was surrounded by good, quality music. It starts early on!

Are there any musical genres and styles you’re curious to discover?

I want to get more into Dub. Lee Perry, Augustus Pablo, Ras Michael, stuff like that. More late 60s/early 70s psych and experimental rock stuff. There's this band called The United States Of America, they only put out one record in '68. Still hunting for an original copy of that. They were very big on electronic sounds early in the game. One of my favorite bands, Stereolab, was probably influenced by that sound.

Any dream collaborations?

On the hip-hop side, definitely Homeboy Sandman. Large Pro. I would love to have Roy Ayers sprinkle some vibes over one of my jams, too.

Another great producer we also discovered last year was Manchester based Mecca:83 (Evan Jones). You collaborated on his track Midnight Kids. How did you hook up with him?

Evan hit me up on Facebook one day and wanted me to add some stuff to a track called Detroit Twilight. That's Mecca:83, me and Emanative. This one was first. We did Midnight Kids along with Kan Sano after that.

Are you planning more joint productions with Mecca:83 going forward?

No doubt, that's my homie! We'll be on more jams I'm sure.

The last couple of years crews like The Robert Glasper Experiment, BadBadNotGood, El Michel's Affair and Will sessions have literally blown up with their live sessions. We haven't been fortunate enough catch Buscrates 16-bit ensemble live yet but we have high expectations. What is your live set-up DJ-set? Jam sessions? Invited guests?

Other than East Liberty Quarters shows and my own DJ gigs, I haven't really put together a solo live show, but that is definitely something to consider working out in the near future. I did something along the lines with a guitarist named Luke Starcher (who also plays in Smooth Tutors). He played his guitar and Microkorg, and I was using an MPC2000XL with a Roland Juno-1 synthesizer. Pretty fun experimental set.

What can we expect from the Buscrates studios in 2012?

A 2nd EP from East Liberty Quarters, a track [called Horizons] on a Tall Black Guy compilation on Bastard Jazz, a track on Terry Tester's Horses & Diamonds EP - all on vinyl! I'm also wrapping up a project with Sam Champ (collectively we're called Extra Medium) that's due out sometime this Summer/Fall. There may be a 7" vinyl release from that as well. I also have a solo project in the works, but I'm still figuring out all the details for it. Stay tuned!

Finally, which other up and coming producer do you think deserves more attention?

Denmark's own Terry Tester of The Works ( Dude's got crazy beats! He has put in a lot of work over the last decade or so. Glad to see him dropping some more wax. Check for his Horses & Diamonds EP, which is due out this coming Friday, May 23 [on Mixed Ape Music] .


As a bonus and to kick off the Beat Generation series, Orlando offered us an exclusive track from the Buscrates 16-bit vaults!

Buscrates on the Beathearts exclusive download:

I chopped some drums I found on a Polish record I dug up at some thrift store for a quarter, and the rest was just spontaneous creation.

I've held that one back for a while but felt like it should finally be heard. I called myself saving it for a project, but I got sidetracked and involved in all this other stuff so I eventually scrapped the idea. Once these other projects I'm involved with come to fruition, I'll definitely be starting something else of my own!

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