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"Interview: Shane McConnell (b. 1994)
Conducted by Amanda Sewell
Pourhouse Café, Bloomington, IN
13 September 2012

AJS: How do you use sampling in your music? How does copyright affect how and what you sample?

SM: Sampling is so many different things, in terms of how you can use a sample. There’s a genre of music called mashups. There’s Girl Talk, there’s the White Panda, there’s Mashup-Germany, etc.- where they’ll actually take every bit of that song from samples. I’m more interested in that because when I think of art, I think of going back to the very beginning. Every piece of art is actually created based on something they’ve heard from somebody else. Using sampling in that context, you’re taking somebody else’s work and making it your own. I’m so against copyright infringement cases because whatever kind of musician you are, you’re actually stealing music. You play the piano.. Why? Because you heard somebody play the piano. Why did they do it? It goes all the way back to that first person who played the piano.

AJS: In the late 1980s, early 1990s, you have a drum loop taken from the drum break of a funk record. Some groups, like De La Soul or a Tribe Called Quest, would have a drum loop from one record, bass from another, maybe horns or keyboards from another and layer those all together so they’re part of the loop. Do you do any sampling like that?

SM: Yes. Every song I make is made up of little samples, when you really break it down. I make the drum loops myself, using a kick sampled from whatever kind of song. If I hear a song with a good drummer, and I like the sounds the drums are making, I can actually go into it and just sample it out. I’ll take just that one drum loop that I’ve sampled, and I’ll take the kick drum, the snare drum, hi-hat, etc.and sample out the different instruments individually. Then I can actually sequence them and make a drum loop like I’m actually playing the drums. If you sample correctly, you cannot tell the difference between sampling and a live drum set. That’s a very useful technique because you can completely cancel out the need for a live drum set, spending $600 on that, when you can just have your computer program and your samples to sequence them like you’re actually playing the drums.

AJS: Do you have a library of kicks and a library of snares and so on?

SM: I have probably fifteen thousand samples. I’m not exaggerating. [laughs]

AJS: No, I believe you. Where do you get them? Are you listening to 1970s funk? Are you taking them from other hip-hop records? Do you have the 9th Wonder drum kit?

SM: It really depends on what genre I’m trying to create in that song and what genre I’m interested in during that time period in my music creation. I’ll take any number of artists and just go through their albums and listen to anything I can use. Anything. If I’m listening to a song and an idea comes into my head of what I can do with that specific style, my brain goes haywire. I instantly start doing that with my songs I want to create. Over time, those samples that I’ve taken out start to build up. If I’m in a funk where I don’t feel like sampling and the laziness is just overtaking me, I’ll go online and look up sample kits. I can actually go into those artists I find inspiration, and I can find sample kits that other people have sampled out from that artist. I can use samples that way, too. Those two different methods of how I get my samples just build up and build up and build up. Now I don’t need to get any more samples, but I do anyway.

AJS: So when you hear a really sweet kick, do you immediately come up with a plan for it?

SM: It’s that creation [process] going to work. That’s all creation is: taking someone else’s work but adding your own flavor to it.
AJS: What kind of programs or software do you use when you’re making music?

SM: It changes.

AJS: A full list is fine. [laughs]

SM: A full list, okay. I use Ableton, FL Studio, Reason, and Cubase.

AJS: How did you learn how to use this equipment and these programs?

SM: I never had a teacher or a tutor, like you’d have for piano lessons. I was just trying to learn it all by myself. I ended up just going to YouTube and finding different tutorials based on what I was trying to learn at that particular time. I would usually come across a problem that I was having in making a song sound the way I wanted to, and I would just go to YouTube and type in “how to ____.” I’d look at the video—I’d have to watch it a few times now and again—but nine out of ten times, it solved my problem and I was able to move forward in my music. The awesome part is that I never forget those skills. Once I use the lesson that first time, it just sticks with me.They continually build upon my base of knowledge—all those little YouTube videos.

AJS: How did you learn how to use this equipment and these programs?

SM: I never had a teacher or a tutor, like you’d have for piano lessons. I was just trying to learn it all by myself. I ended up just going to YouTube and finding different tutorials based on what I was trying to learn at that particular time. I would usually come across a problem that I was having in making a song sound the way I wanted to, and I would just go to YouTube and type in “how to do this.” I’d look at the video—I’d have to watch it a few times now and again—but nine out of ten times, it solved my problem and I was able to move forward in my music. The awesome part is that I never forget those skills. Once I use the lesson that first time, it just sticks with me.They continually build upon my base of knowledge—all those little YouTube videos."

I make music. The question is.. why don't you?

- Shane McConnell

MixFactoryUSA Shane McConnell, Bloomington, United States

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