Welcome to another volume of our Q & A series. For this volume we switch from the visual arts to more auditory expression. We sat down with the talented Hip Hop producer “That Purple Bastard.” His sound is his own. Psychedelic, but still is able to catch the ear of your hip hop purist. The culture is changing and artists like this are needed to help keep it evolving. This ever expanding genre seems to be in a type of rebirth. New styles and new blood are making ¡fresh! sounds that change the
aesthetic of the hip hop we’re used to. In this first set of volumes I’m intentionally speaking with artist who have roots in Houston. Besides the obvious reason (we’re based out of Houston), there is a more significant reason I’m doing this. Like this country often called “a nation of immigrants,” more of the influential players in the culture tend to be migrating away from their places of origin. I don’t even wanna speculate into their reasons, but I can guess…lol… The reason is different for every artist in every genre I’m sure, but the out come is the same. That outcome is evolution that can’t be achieved by staying stagnant. That Purple Bastard is no exception. With a diverse catalog of beats and colabo’s his style is doing just that, but enough of me let’s get to business.
Check it out….
$ocity – How did you come up with the name “That Purple Bastard?”
TPB – “That Purple Bastard” was the name of the first solo album I ever released and was intended to be a one-off in that I was only gonna use it for that project specifically. Shortly after releasing that album I linked up with a rapper called Ensane who I had met through work and we started working on an album together. Well it ended up during the process of recording that record Ensane would shout me out while we would be recording tracks and he would always say “Purple Bastard” or “Purple Bastard Productions” at the beginning or end of a song. So it just kind of stuck after that. The name itself was a take-off on the story “That Yellow Bastard” from Frank Miller’s graphic novel Sin City. There wasn’t anything specific about the story that made me choose it, I just kind of liked the cadence of the title and I just switched it up to “Purple” to reflect my more psychedelic influences.
$ocity – Your from houston. Have you worked with many Houston artist? If so who?
TPB – Yeah I’ve done stuff with a lot of Houston underground guys. My biggest co-collaborators have been Ensane, D-Risha, Dirty & Nasty, & Renzo, but I’ve also done one-offs for a lot of other artists here and there.
$ocity – How would you describe your sound?
TBP – That’s always something that’s been hard for me to pin down. I believe it shifts a lot for me depending on how I’m feeling or what I’m really into at a given time. If I’m to trace a common thread throughout my work I’d say there’s always a thread of psychedelia and experimentation juxtaposed against some mundane element. Generally this is manifested as a writhing sample or melody up against a relatively normal sounding beat, but not always. I suppose if I were to poeticize it I would say that most of my art is about the struggle of the soul against the physical world.
$ocity – Who were your biggest influences?
TBP – There have been a lot but two of my biggest will always be DJ Screw and Lee “Scratch” Perry. They both started with pretty normal music as their foundation but were able to turn these raw materials into something really magical and culturally transformative. I suppose that’s what most great artists do, but as someone coming from a DJ/producer background myself, I’m always interested in that second level of abstraction where you get the combined magic/power of the original recorded music multiplied by whatever crazy realms the DJ/producer decided to take it to after that.
$ocity – Who do you have in your listening rotation these days?
TBP – Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of old Memphis underground rap/beat tape stuff- DJ Paul & DJ Squeeky tapes mostly. The last album I released with D-Risha (“GIALLO” which we released under the group name 6 Demon Bag) was a homage to that stuff so I’ve kinda been on it even more since doing that record.
$ocity – Would you say Houston or LA had the bigger influence on your style?
TBP – Houston definitely. I lived there for a vast majority of my life so it shaped pretty much everything about me including my production style/taste. I will say that out here (LA) I feel that music is more producer-centric so your average producer is encouraged to push the envelope more and take more creative chances and that has been a real breath of fresh air coming from Houston. I felt like I was always fighting an uphill battle in the Houston scene with my sound so it was weird coming out here and just having people accept me from the jump.
$ocity – Any new artists that you’re digging?
TBP – Yeah, I always check for a lot of the beat scene guys I’ve met since being out here because they make some crazy original music. Underground guys like Repeated Measures, Gypsy Mamba, and the guys from Team Supreme are always coming out with some crazy stuff that I would have never thought to make. I follow some really interesting producers & music curators on Soundcloud so a lot of times I’ll just go on there and listen to my stream for inspiration.
$ocity – What’s the biggest challenge you face as a producer trying to get people on your wave?
TBP – I think for one thing it’s really hard to develop a singular musical identity, especially for someone like me who enjoys changing it up creatively so often. One of the most important things for branding yourself is consistency, but if you listen to my past projects they may sound like night and day even if they were only released 6 months apart. What I tend to get is people gravitating towards single projects I’ve done rather than following me consistently as an artist and that can be really frustrating at times. I mean you can’t blame people for liking what they like, but at the same time it makes it really difficult to build any type of following as an artist.
$ocity – What made you pursue being a producer?
TBP – I didn’t grow up learning music or any instruments or anything like that and got into it relatively late when I was like 18 or 19. I started off making little beats on programs like Acid Pro and MTV Music Generator for PS1 but I didn’t really get heavy into it until I started DJing in college. It was a really slow evolution for me and I didn’t really even start putting myself out there till I went to HCC to learn audio engineering. It was there I really started networking with people who were trying to do the same thing as me and I began to learn the more practical side of it.
$ocity – I know you‘ve done some beat battles, even won a few. Do you think that that is a good avenue for a producer to go for exposure?
TBP – I have mixed feelings about it. I think there are a lot of beat battles (and other “talent-searches”) out there that are really a hustle and way to scam money off of artists. If you have to pay more than $20 or so to be in the competition, then it’s probably a scam. I think the list of producers who actually “got-on” as a result of winning a beat battle is extremely short, but a lot of these competitions will oversell the networking opportunities they provide with “industry execs” to make an artist feel like they’re getting a real shot at long term success just by participating. That being said, I feel that the beat battle I won after I first moved out here (which had no entrance fee) gave me a lot of traction and buzz here in the local scene and led to some great opportunities. So really if you are considering signing up for one of these you have to look really closely at the language they use in order to determine intent. If it sounds really official and seems like they’re trying hard to sell you on it, I would steer clear. If it sounds like something fun and lighthearted and they’re not charging a huge fee, then go for it.
$ocity – I’ve heard a few of your beats. I like your sound, its very diverse and definitely original. Do you think there is still room for originality in the mainstream? Seems like a lot of homogenized beats coming out lately.
TBP – I think there is room for originality but the percentage of original sounding artists getting on in the mainstream is extremely small, probably like 1% or something like that. I think with hip hop specifically it is even more problematic because you have so many people coming in with a hustler mentality where their intent is just to make money off of whatever is commercially viable versus just making good art. That’s not to say that good or even great art isn’t sometimes a byproduct of that, but it also means that there is an unnecessary glut of crappy factory loop-based music to slosh through before finding something worthwhile. I think one of the biggest ironies about trying to “get on” as a producer (or rapper for that matter) strictly as a hustle is that there are literally so many people trying to do it that if your goal is to make money/make a career, you will almost certainly get a bigger return on investment for your time doing literally anything else- be it going to college, working in fast food, selling drugs, etc.
$ocity – In hip hop there’s alot of competition, but there’s a lot of community also. What do you think?
TBP – I think hip hop as an art form has always thrived on paradoxes, and that’s just one of them. It’s all about the glorification of one’s self/ego, but you will always need a community/audience to listen to you talk about how awesome you are or else what’s the point?
$ocity – These days it seems like everyone is making beats or rapping. Seems like it would be hard to stand out. In your experience do you have trouble building a name for yourself with this flood of producers in the industry.
TBP – I addressed a lot of this in questions 11 and 8, but to expand on that, yeah, it’s damn near impossible. I think hard work will always be a factor in anything you do, but the scariest thing about this industry is how much it has to do with luck and being at the right place at the right time. Being related to or having a close family friend in the biz really seems to help, so if you’ve got that you’re halfway there (lol)!
$ocity – As much as I hate categorizing artist amongst genres, I have to ask…. How would you categorize your sound?
TBP – Probably “Psychedelic Hip Hop” would be a wide enough net to catch most of what I do, though it isn’t always psychedelic or hip hop.
$ocity – I’m still partial to the MPC and the Korg MS2000 What are your favorite programs and/or equipment to use?
TBP – I used to use a lot more hardware when I lived in Houston, but since I live in a much smaller space here in LA, I produce almost exclusively “in the box”. I use a combo of Reason and Ableton Live and a few midi controllers.
$ocity – It seems like a lot if producers are scared to experiment. Is experimentation a big part of why your sound is so original?
TBP – I like to think so. Music for me is still a process of childlike discovery so if I want to figure something out in that realm I tend to just try stuff I think might work instead of going and looking up a specific process on YouTube. In that process of trying to figure something out I usually end up stumbling on a totally different sound that is often more interesting than the one I sought out in the first place. It’s a very abstract way of working, but it keeps things interesting for me.
$ocity – Who are your top 5 producers?
TBP – DJ Screw, “Scratch” Perry, Mannie Fresh, DJ Paul, Shlohmo
$ocity – There seems to be this need to separate styles of hip hop into different genres. Do you think it’s more create sub genres or to expand on what it is to be Hip Hop?
TBP – I think sub-genres can be helpful in that they can help people find a specific type of music that they are looking for as opposed to sifting through other stuff that may fall under the now huge umbrella of hip hop that they’re not really at all interested in.
$ocity – Any advice for other artist.
TBP – Just be true to yourself and honest with yourself about your intentions getting into it.