When you think of Atlanta’s music scene, trap is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But don’t be fooled there’s much more at play in the city, just ask DJ and producer Black Forces.
A relatively new name for most over this side of the pond, on home turf he’s an integral part of Atlanta’s fertile underground dance music scene, both solo and as one half of Cyberia. Both projects serve as an outlet to channel his own self-expression, as well as providing him with a platform to educate and inform a wider audience about Black lives, through politically conscious lyricism and hard hitting beats.
Following contributions to cassette label Harsh Riddims’ compilations and a few self-released outings, last month saw the release of his debut EP on Mike Simonetti’s 2MR imprint, which is a collection of gritty, raw house tracks recorded over just one week.
To give you an introduction into the sonic world of Black Forces and his message to the world, he delivers a mix of unreleased original material that represents both his present mood and where he sees his sound going in the future. This sits alongside an interview about his creative approach to production.
Buy Black Forces on 2MR.
Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?
Pretty sure it was watching the music video for Blue(Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65.
Did you have a particularly musical upbringing?
My father is a musician and I made my first beat with him when I was 4. My mother has a good ear, and a lot of my favorite memories from childhood are tied to music in some way.
What led you into music production?
I wanted to be able to make the things I was hearing on the radio.
Are there any producers or artists who have inspired your production?
Daft Punk, Kanye West, The Neptunes, Nujabes, Goldie, Adonis, Larry Heard, DJ Mehdi, Justice, Dilla, Fat Jon, Organized Noize, Outkast, Aaliyah…the list could go on forever.
Are there any particular rituals you go through before you head into the studio?
Do you come in with a destination in mind before starting a jam?
Sometimes I know exactly what I want to make, other times I just know that I need to create something.
Are you the type of producer to work on a track until it’s perfect, or are you more of an impulsive creator, happy with first takes and sketches?
When I’m making tracks I tend to jump between separate projects tweaking things until they get to where I want them too. I don’t usually make a full song in one go. Gotta rest the ears.
Can you talk us through how you might construct a track?
Generally I’ll pick a single sound and build the entire track around that, with other sounds responding to the initial rhythm or melody that I laid out. Then when it comes to arranging I tend to lay all the pieces out, mix and add effects.
How much of your material is sample based and how much is original?
At this point I would say roughly half and half. depending on the alias lol.
What’s the most important bits of kit that make a Black Forces track?
My Voice (now), heavy feeling and a strong kick drum.
This mix is comprised of 100% original Black Forces material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?
I feel like this mix, more than anything represents how I feel right now, and where I plan to take the sound going forward.
The track “Jalen” is especially important to me, it’s a dedication to my friend who passed last year, she was instrumental in helping build the confidence to take the steps to turn Black Forces into a real thing. Still trying to figure out how I should drop it.
‘6 Million’ and ‘Solid Ground’ are big inspired by Goldie. ‘Patterns’ is fun cause I flipped a Thundercat song and Get Out by Jojo. I played Jah Rhythm at our (Cyberia) rave in February, right before corona hit. The energy in that warehouse was insane.
Congratulations on the release of your self-titled EP for 2MR, can you take us through the production process of one of the tracks?
Thank you! The entire project was recorded over a week so the process was more or less the same for all of them. I start in maschine, lay the general beat out, export the wav files to FL studio and arrange from there. I intentionally wanted a very raw and gritty sound for this so the mixing was more so about having the vocals fit in. From there I would just kind of freestyle and write down the lines that I liked, some tracks were easier than others. For example, a lot of the lyrics in “The Omen” were just repurposed lines from the movie Touki Bouki (watch it!)
Anything on the horizon for you? Any releases we should know about?
New Cyberia tape coming real soon on our label black dance. Black forces EP 2 being recorded as I type this 🙂
Buy Black Forces on 2MR.