Monday, May 6, 2013

Holm. - 365 Beat Project

A while ago I featured Boston- producer Holm. aka J Thatcher May, who had this really crazybrilliant, (stress on crazy) 365 Beat Project going on. So for a year May would produce a tune each day. Now you probably see why my emphasis is on the crazy part. But like I’ve said before, I am deeply impressed by the overall quality of May’s beats, and I just had to find out more about the project.

“I was always digging a ton of photographers who were doing 365 projects; it seems to be a pretty common project in the photo world. So I thought why not do this with music?”, May explains. With over 200 tunes out there already, I could imagine all sorts of feelings and emotions encountered during this period.

When I was growing up, all of middle school and early high school, all I listened to was Post-Rock and Ambient music. Artists like Eluvium, This Will Destroy You, The Mercury Program, and Explosions in the Sky (note: EITS is the writer’s happy melancholic music!) being some of my favorites. So I learned then that instrumental music can be extremely emotional. You can hear the emotion in those bands. So basically I always strived to put that emotion in my music, no matter if it lacks vocals most of the time. I could write you the story behind about 95 percent of my songs. Most are based on how I was feeling at the time. Some are happy, some are lonely, some are disappointed, some are stoked. It’s all ups and downs. Just like life.

In all creative stuff or should I say things that you have to do, there’s that little demon writer’s block haunting every now and then. That combined with technical unforeseen problems, you have got yourself the ingredients for  a mental breakdown.

Therefore, for May to overcome these issues and be consistent in regards of quality is pretty admirable. I guess there’s that thing called love and passion for something, which helps most of the time. “It’s a good feeling when you feel terrible and you hit that point in a song you make, when you're just like damn, this feels GOOD. That's why most of us do this music stuff.” 

An average of three hours a day (six at most) spent on producing a track sometimes way pass dawn, the project has without a doubt been tough on May: “It’s taken over my life a bit, hurt my health in some ways (little sleep), but it’s music so I’m having fun and really bettering myself as an artist”. May states if he had weeks to work on his tunes, he’d put three hours a day on each tune and they would be more detailed and complex- all around better. However, he admits that limited time forces him really to progress. “I’ve made many improvements. I can’t listen to the first 100 or so beats in the project, they’re terrible. Well, there’s a gem here and there, but I’ve just grown with technique. Trust me, I still have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m a little better at being clueless now.”

Regarding style, May has been all over the place. From jazz to funk, soul to indie. Straight samples, no samples at all. With vocals, without vocals. “I wish I made one style, then people would know what to expect from me and I feel like I’d please more fans. But I can’t do that to myself, I would get bored and in the end music should be a selfish thing for the artist, only make what makes you happy.” Hearing a producer or an artist and being all inspired works somewhat halfway for him: “[…] I get tired of it, or inspired by something else and in a night I'll do a total 180 to whatever I was making. It’s annoying really.”

When it comes to production itself, May tells that all of his music is computer-based, although he records a lot of guitar and makes it into tunes. He’s also keen on recording and using anything he could: “I love finding some terrible keyboard somewhere and seeing what I can make with something most people would think is garbage.” 

For me it’s not only exciting to hear what May has produced during those hours when people on the right side of Atlantic are wide awake, but also to see what cover art he’s picked for the specific track. “There really isn’t much about the pictures, I wish I had some in depth reason as to why I use them, but honestly I just go on Tumblr (note: a really popular and addictive blogging platform) and find some cool photos or paintings or sculptures or whatever! I recently started making my own art, and by that I mean just throwing Holm. on stuff, not really art, just font work. But it’s fun to mess around with.” 

With about 150 days to go, May just hopes he could make some good songs, as his work lately has not been pleasing for him. “I've had a lot of those moments where I'm making something and it’s 2 am and I have to get up for school in 4 hours so I'll say whatever, just put it out. And then the next morning it’s just a WHY? situation.” In fact for the remaining days, May plans on doing a lot more remixes, which he has not done much and vocal tunes when he has the time.

As for other projects stay tuned for a collaborative EP with Shelf Nunny entitled STY//GLD. The release date: “Due out whenever we get it done. In the works.”
So, if you still haven’t heard a single beat this man has put out, you ought to. Meanwhile, my brains and fingers need a break. Thank you J. May for the interview!

Just a few thank you's and shout outs. Thank you to anyone who's checked the project and felt something from one of my songs. As much as I do this for myself, I do this for the people who enjoy it as well. 
And thank you to my family at Sleepy Beach Records who give me that feedback, advice, and support. Mist Glider, Aeropsia, Shelf Nunny and Tree and the rest of the Sleepy Beach crew. And my immediate family too for constantly letting me bug them with my music, thank you sista's. – Holm.

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