Going Modular with Corry Banks

#Modbap. Ever heard of it? I hadn't before coming across Corry Bank's profile. Corry is the originator of this new sub-genre as a result of his experiments a few years ago in modular synthesis with Boom Bap. 

I wanted to know more after hearing this outcome so I had to track down the man behind the brand BeatPPL & BBoyTechReport.com. We discussed the brand, his approach to sound design with modular synths, and his favorite pieces of gear.

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Describe the BeatPPL brand in one sentence.

BeatPPL is a brand by beatmakers for beatmakers.
and/or
We don't beat people, we are BeatPPL!

You have a unique angle in regards to your approach to making hip hop beats. Do you sample at all? If no, is it a conscious decision to create beats without the use of samples?
Thanks! Yeah I do sample sometimes but over time I’ve grown to listen to what I’d typically sample to try and deconstruct it. I want to understand what they made it with and how they made it so I can try to recreate similar original vibes and sounds to mangle. Also, I sort of get bored of sampling and chopping records that's why I got more into synthesis. But every now and again like to flip samples. It’s sort of like recalibrating.

I love east coast hiphop. I love boombap. I also respect the culture and I know that hiphop has always used tools meant for other things and made them into hiphop tools, so to speak. So, I try to approach it from that angle. I really make a conscious effort to ask myself how would my heros approach this sort of technology.

The sample pack distributor/designer market has become saturated with sub-par product so it is refreshing to see a brand like BeatPPL creating unique and original sample packs. What’s your take on the current landscape? And what is your thought process before releasing new product?

Great question! I started making beats when there was like 1 or 2 sample pack stores online. By the time I started BBoytechReport.com, I was aware of a few but most notably probably were MPC Tutor’s MPCSamples.com and the Drum Broker’s hiphopdrumsamples.com. They both offer high quality sample packs. So I partnered with them to review their packs and I started to archive articles on my site with recommendations for the dopest packs out there. From the very beginning I knew I’d eventually put out my own packs but I wanted to do unique packs that sort of carved out a certain niche within a niche.

I think the sample pack market is a sign of the paradigm shift from music as the product to the tools used to make music becoming the more dominant product in some respects. That’s why you see so many producer endorsed / created packs. Everyone makes music now days thanks to the gift and the curse of technological advances. So, the machine still needs to be fed. It’s just that the diet has changed a bit.

As for my thought process before releasing a new product? I just deal with experimentation and thematic creative moments. Chicken Kit came about as I was exploring modular effects, drum sounds and drum patterns. That’s often how it comes about. Just exploration of my drum machines, synths and modular system. Then I let it live. Chicken Kit reminded me of chickens clucking and wings fluttering in the form of fresh drums. So I went in on that concept. Same happened with a new kit called Drenched (out soon).

I don't mind thinking outside of the box.

  • Explain your creative process when it comes to sound design? Do you separate beatmaking from sound designing or do the two get intertwined?
  • The lines are often blurred. It’s always been a part of my production to get all tweaky with whatever parameters I have available to me. I like my drums a certain way so I know how to get them there. So I may have a time where I work on a project and create a dope set of drums. Then I will use those drums for several projects or sessions. They usually become sample packs. I make so much from scratch and tweak and process things so much that any of my projects can typically be poached for sample packs.

  • What would you recommend for a synthesis newbie wanting to pick up their first module? And why?
  • I’d recommend a semi modular unit like Mother 32 or MicroBrute in terms of hardware. But to learn synthesis software is an excellent place to start. There are so many great synths on both ios and pc/mac.

    Modular synthesis in software form has come a long long way in the last couple of years. There are free options like VCV Rack. Native Instruments Reaktor 6 blocks and Soft Tube modular are both dope modular environments. Also, there is Arturia’s Modular V that models vintage Moog modular from the 60s/70s. Moog also has a dope iOS app called Model 15 that emulate modular synthesis very well.

    I’d recommend any of those to folks that are thinking about it so as to not waste money on hardware before you know what you like and dislike. This helps you figure your synth self out before swimming with the sharks.

  • What has been your favourite piece of gear to review and why?
  • MPC X and Digitakt. I just love grooveboxes. These two are at totally different ends of the spectrum so it was fun to explore their differences and demonstrate how they can both be used rather well in a boombap context.

  • What sound do you love? What sound do you hate?
  • I love a Minimoog synth bass with the ladder filter applied at lower settings so it has that Ummah / Q-Tip / Dilla appeal that just feels like underground 90’s hiphop and soul.

    Any sound that I hate, I just run it through my modular system until I like it lol.

  • The BeatPPL podcast is pretty dope and you’re very active on YouTube. Do you see this piece of BeatPPL taking on more of a life of its own as time progresses?
  • Thanks Fam. Yeah I totally see it taking on a life of its own at some point. As long as my squad and I along with our community of supporters, beatmakers and synthesists continue to nurture and support it. I created it because there wasn't enough of our voices (hiphop and boombap perspective) out there to speak music tech to the beatmaker community. So it's nice to see the support that it gets.

  • The one beat that makes you say “Damn, I wish I would’ve made this!”....
  • Damn near anything from ATCQ’s Midnight Marauders.

  • We are halfway through 2017, what are some of your goals to be accomplished by the year’s end?
  • I just want to see my sample packs distributed to wider audiences. Still got a bit of time to drop a modular boom bap (MODBAP) project too.

  • I recently saw a clip of a producer speaking about starting a union (similar to a writer’s guild, etc.) for producers/beatmakers. It was interesting reading the comment section as those who chimed in either loves or strongly dislikes the idea. What are your thoughts?
  • I think it's easier said than done. I love the idea of it and I’d probably support it too. But I find that so many of us don't really put time into understanding how to handle business at a foundational level  so it's tough to imagine a union coming about. Conversely, I guess that would be one of the reasons there may be a need for a union.  

    The role of beatmaker has evolved since the inception of its sharp increase in popularity in the 90’s. Do you think placements are still important in today’s landscape?
    Why not?! If you can get money that way why not?! But on the flip side, it’s all dependent on the person making the music. Opportunities are there to be had but it's up to the individual to make the moves to achieve goals like getting placements. Overall, I think it’s tough to say what's important or not important today because I know that one man's throw away hobby is another man's gold mine. What I can say is that I know folks that make a living on placements and licensing. I also know that getting placements without understanding ownership and licensing etc could potentially be as bad as having never gotten the placement in the first place.

  • We love finding new talent. Are there any beatmakers you’d like to shine some light on while we got you? Any unknowns that you feel should be known?
  • Yup! I don’t know if you know these cats or not but they are mad inspiring and they put in work daily. Bus Crates, Kenny Keys, Tall Black Guy, The Present Elders, Upright, DSTL (D. Steele), VoltageCTRLR (Shiro Fujioka) just to name a few.

  • And last but not least, who are your top three wishlist artists (artists or beatmakers you would like to work with)?
  • If I could work with any artists… my wishlist would include Jay Electronica, Pharaohe Monch, Camp Lo and Mos Def. And probably somebody like Erykah Badu.

     

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