Brooklyn-based producer Alex Brady Epton, better known as XXXChange, released “Bounce,” a new EP on T&A Records, earlier this week. If the teaser is any evidence, XXXChange is still bringing the moombahton flavor with a healthy dose of B-more flavor.
That B-more influence is fitting considering XXXChange studied jazz drumming at Baltimore’s Peabody Institute. Leaving his conservative music days behind, the jazz musician turned remixer began computing technology into his music. Upton believes that by placing music on a digital platform, he can link to it visually allowing him to easily see if a beat is being stretched or turned backwards. Music softwares, such as Pro Tools, function as digital workstations that allow the producer to move through styles and generate beats more quickly.
Upton made a name for himself as part of grimy super-duo Spank Rock, and has produced for Kele, Win Win, Amanda Blank, and Kid Sister, as well as remixed tracks for gobs of huge names, from Björk to that guy from Radiohead. So, basically, he’s a cold killer when it comes to making butt-shaking beats. As part of Motherboard’s Electric Independence series, he let us into his Fort Greene apartment to check out his arsenal of production equipment, describe the creation process in detail, and even give us a look into his umbrella-acoustic treated space.
What exactly goes into building a track? Upton begins by whipping up the melodic elements and baseline first without any drums. Unlike most producers, he believes that they are secondary and lets the drums build on the rest of the track (instead of vice versa). While he describes his new beats as “psychedelic and dance-y” with a bit of song structure, he let us in on a few of his (and Dr.Dre’s) bass-making secrets. Among Upton’s secrets is the inclusion of a rare EMS VCS3 monosynth vocoder that dates back to ’69.
It’s a great glimpse into making of awesome party music, and shows that XXXChange’s production process is just as zany as the final product sounds.