Teebs is someone not to be left out. After releasing his first album on Brainfeeder he has been traveling the world, playing shows, making music and painting. The California born painter and musician has his own place in the beat scene. He draws his inspiration from art, which he creates himself. Not having received professional musical training he proceeded to craft his own sound inspired by what he just like to listen to. An invitation to the Brainfeeder family a while ago followed by a longer stay, living together with Samiyam and Flying Lotus let him find the power to craft his album, Ardour. Valentin Menedetter met up with him in Vienna.
You are affiliated with Brainfeeder; a very influential label as far as the beat scene is concerned. You released an album on it as well; called Ardour.
When did you actually start making music, how did you get into the whole thing?
Teebs: It started from a skateboarding accident that led me to being stuck in the house for a while and I had the programs, actually my brother bought the programs and they were just there so I just started working with them out of boredom. Found out that it was amazing, the feeling you know.
Have you had any professional music training before?
Teebs: No; not at all.
What about music in your house, has there been an influence from your parents side?
Teebs: Yeah, now that I look into it after putting a record out and looking a little back into my sound and what my parents listen to, I can hear it. They always played a lot of Reggae and Soca and all kinds of tunes that were in this realm of music, sounds from Africa. I can see somehow why my sound is the way it is, and now I see pieces of it that flew in. And now it’s there.
I was listening to your album before the interview and it struck me that your sound is very dense. You create a lot of density in the sense of arrangement and use of sounds. What signals for you that a song is ready to be put out?
»Now it’s like, I come home, wake up – probably working on some art wait till it dries, walls drying, work on music. When I get a headache I go back and work on some art again, cause this is probably dry by now and then I can see what I can do with it – with fresh eyes. I just go back and forth.«Teebs
Teebs: It’s kinda hard to say, I can work a beat until it’s dead and disgusting and it just sounds like noise for an hour, for me it’s like, if you imagine having a tape recorder and you press the fast forward button and the tape says, Man named John – this is his life, age 1 through 99. And then you press fast forward and it’s like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and then you just press stop and it’s 32 and that’s when the song is done. It’s like a freeze frame of the sound at age 32 and you give that to people and that’s how I look at my process. I just work on something and build and build and breakdown until I feel; okay that’s it, boom you’re done. It could have gone further, you could have pulled back. I like to look at it like that.
I mentioned that you are a part of the Brainfeeder family, what does Brainfeeder as a label but also as an art collective mean to you?
Teebs: It just feels like openness, pure artistic creativity, freedom. Very independent creative process; as a producer or painter or however you are connected to the label you feel like you are on your own and it’s up to you to age and prove your sound and ideas. It has this freedom to it but yet this drive behind it that makes you just want to do the most incredible thing, what you as a human being can do. It’s really beautiful.
How much has Flying Lotus inspired you, personally and also label related?
Teebs: He definitely inspired me a lot, different things like being focused. He’s a very pleasant dude to be honest. It’s really cool hanging out with him sometimes, there’s so many funny similarities we have. Inspiration wise, being focused – was something that definitely inspired me when I was living with him. Every day I was hearing lots of crazy tunes being played out, I be waking up, like kinda late looking out at the sun, hearing crazy music, and then I thought this is incredible. I should probably go down and paint right now.
Apart from being a musician you also paint. What does a day of yours look like?
Teebs: If it’s a non working day and you would have asked in December; I’d get up and I would immediately turn on my Xbox with my eyes still crusty and start playing games. Then I’d probably drive to LA because I was living in Chino at this point. It’s a 30-minute drive, then I’d probably be painting someone’s studio or something I did. In December I was painting Alpha Pup studios on the walls. I’d do that six to eight hours eat Burritos and then go home, Xbox and that was it. And that was probably December. Now it’s like, I come home, wake up – probably working on some art wait till it dries, walls drying, work on music. When I get a headache I go back and work on some art again, cause this is probably dry by now and then I can see what I can do with it – with fresh eyes. I just go back and forth.
It’s like a mutual inspiration.
Teebs: Yeah they help each other out – I feel like if I only had one I’d fall apart and crumble.
What music that is out there excites you at the moment?
Teebs: That’s a good question; I really love House stuff. House seems like a generic term I guess but it has so many avenues and different kind of styles. That’s dope. I get music from my friends the Brainfeeder guys send me stuff – new stuff. That’s inspiring cause those guys are crazy, just friends and House, that’s where I’m at right now (laughs). Madlib! A lot of it, I’m back on this old Lib shit – I found this CD I had when I was twelve and I put it back in and it was a beat tape that wasn’t released. Just loop that, I’ve been looping that like crazy. That’s where I’m at I guess, I forgot about that.