I’ve always been impressed with Vibe Street‘s work. Whether he was putting together a remix just burning with good vibes, kicking out some funky bass, or laying down some smooth beats, he’s always working with something nice. After a lot of anticipation, and a breathtaking first single, “Something More”, the now Colorado, then Connecticut, producer’s debut album has finally dropped. The record is packed with twelve tracks featuring a variety of sounds including hip-hop, electro soul, glitch-hop, but most importantly, bluegrass. Rich with a particular fully folk feel, the album truly has roots of its own.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Vibe Street following his performance at Snowball Festival 2014. He speaks on his origins and experiences, production styles, inspiration, process and more. Check out the full interview below and grab the full album on a stream and download after.
F: So you’re currently based out of Colorado. Have you always lived there; if not, where else have you been living?
VS: I have actually only lived in Colorado since December of last year – so just over 4 months now. I am originally from Connecticut and spent 4 years at school in Boston. I moved back home to CT for a year after graduating, and then moved out to Wisconsin (everyone asks why – I wanted to get away from the North East and live somewhere that the cost of living would allow me to focus a good deal of time on music). Come November, 2013, I could no longer resist the awesomeness that seemed to exist in Colorado so I packed everything up and drove out here to stay.
F: How have these different places brought inspiration to your music?
VS: It wasn’t until halfway through my education at Tufts University in Boston that I even started making music. I had gone to Bonnaroo for my 2nd straight year (2010) and was introduced to Bassnectar. I returned home from that trip and googled “how do I make beats on my computer”? I started to teach myself the very basics of production in Ableton Live, and delved into the world of interesting electronic music, slowly training myself to learn from the music as I listened. This was all while taking on a rigorous course load and finishing my degrees in philosophy and entrepreneurial business.
The more I learned, the more I also realized how deep the rabbit hole was and how much I needed to learn in order to actually make anything worthwhile. At the start of 2012 I decided that when I graduated I would move back home to CT and take the Master Producer Course at Dubspot Music Academy in NYC, where I met a lot of inspiring people and most importantly fine-tuned my understanding of mixing. This was also around the time I released my first song “Purple Stuff”, and was covered by my first music blog (FUNKADEPLHIA!)
I then moved out to Wisconsin where I was able to get some performance experience, playing alongside Artifakts on the main stage at Infrasound 2013. I also got to be involved in the pre-party for Pretty Lights Red Rocks show and played an after party that weekend as well. It was during these shows when I noticed the different type of reaction the people had to my Railroad Earth remix, and I decided to focus my energy towards this “Grass-hop/Future-folk” style. I started the album in Wisconsin and finished it in my first few months in Denver, just in time for my Snowball set. Cannot say enough about Denver, though, the music scene along with the weather, mountains and people are truly inspiring and motivating creatively.
F: Do you have any sort of background with music, either other musicians in the family, music lessons growing up, or anything else of the sort?
I played guitar until I was 13 but I quit because I didn’t enjoy practicing. Didn’t do anything else musically until I opened up Ableton just over 3 years ago. Had to learn every aspect from scratch, but at least I was able to learn it in a way that was relevant to what I was trying to accomplish.
F: Do you play any instruments yourself?
VS: I really want to learn to play the harmonica well enough to have it on stage with me. If only there were more hours in the day.
F: Have you always been mostly interested in electronic music, or can you think of a time when you switched from instrumental and band music to an electronic focus?
VS: I was always into rap, and it wasn’t until I got into more instrumental/electronic hip-hop that I realized I was way more excited about the beats than I was the lyrics, even tho the lyrics were all I used to pay attention to. I was hooked on the idea of hiphop beats with all the intrigue and attitude of a great rap song, but without the rapper – just using funky melodies and vocal chops to make the music interesting.
F: Who are some artists that have been big inspirations to you, both inside and outside of electronic music?
VS: Well, Nectar introduced me to the scene, so gotta give him credit. But what really hooked me was Pretty Lights and Michal Menert, with a little Opiuo, Griz, Gramatik and a touch of Emancipator… and then bands like STS9, String Cheese, and Railroad Earth really opened my mind to creating something new and different.
F: In the past you’ve released a lot of single tracks and remixes, with this being your first full album. How was the process of putting together a cohesive piece different than when you’re just working on these individual tracks?
VS: I really felt like I was ready for an album when I had a collection of songs that all sounded cohesive production-wise and also represented a meaningful period in my life. “The Road To Something Perfect” was started after I packed up my car and headed out to Wisconsin to simply see what life would bring, and then continued as I kept on that journey to Colorado. I finally felt like the production was tight enough on all of the tracks to release them together.
F: Were there any particular elements you were trying to keep consistently present in the record?
VS: I wanted every track to have some relation to bluegrass/folk/jam, because that is what I feel like really sets this apart from everything else I have heard. Whether it’s just a vocal sample or mandolin track, I wanted to give each track at least a hint of that flavor while still keeping each one unique.
F: Did you have any particular goals you wanted to achieve when working on the album?
VS: Not really…it started as an EP, but I wasn’t satisfied with 3 of the 6 tracks so I just kept working and build upon the 3 I really loved. By the time I really thought about what I wanted to do with it I had 9 or 10 tracks with a couple more in the works and figured why not make it all a debut full-length album. Then it was just listening to each track over and over again to make sure I was satisfied with all the tiny details. I mixed and mastered everything myself – so this album was produced start to finish in my basement.
F: There’s a lot of audible instrumentation on the album, was this coming from sampling or original studio recordings?
VS: As of right now, all samples. I used pieces from bluegrass CDs from all eras and a handful of other genres. I am very excited to start working with some live instrumentation in the future, though.
F: Thanks so much, I really love the record and am looking forward to more Vibe Street releases in the future. Anything else you would like to say?
Nothing more than thank you for the support as always! Funkadelphia has been with me from the very beginning. I see my music and this project as a grass roots movement, spreading across the country and hopefully the world one happy fan at a time. Thank you all for the contribution and I cannot wait to see where everything ends up!
Vibe Street – The Road to Something Perfect — FREE Download!!
Funkadelphia Picks: “Moonlight Feels”, “Something More”, “Till I’m Gone” & “Always Beautiful”