South of San Francisco, lays a somewhat quaint, often overlooked region of California’s Bay Area, known as ‘The Peninsula‘. In itself, it’s a totally different area than ‘The City’, as Californian’s call it, and it’s been that way for over 150 years since the line was officially drawn in 1856. It’s a part of the fabled tech-hub known as ‘Silicon Valley’. You know, the place that birthed Apple. and Facebook. and Google. And Yahoo. Not to mention the thousands of others. With the tech boom came the immigration, and into the area poured countless entrepreneurs from all over the world, forming a melting pot of people and places, meeting with ideas and innovation. This is where it takes place, and Onewerd‘s music is just that: A melting pot of people, places, ideas and innovation, rolled into one. Juuuust the right balance of many different styles and influences, with his own unique twist to it.
Currently in the process of rolling out his 2nd new project of 2015, Onewerd is prepping an instrumental EP titled Axiomatic, and has released two new singles ‘Burn It Up’ and ‘Dig The Groove’. We caught up with the producer/emcee to discuss gear, creating things, his collaborative record with JB Nimble, live music and where you might catch him hanging out before his April tour alongside Brooklyn’s JB Nimble. The duo released The Waiting Room LP in February.
Study Music : Let’s start with Onewerd the artist, then we’ll move into the person off-stage and outside the studio. What gear did you use in the studio for the making of Axiomatic?
Onewerd : This is my favorite question! Most of the project was written and arranged in Ableton….A big part of my work flow has been collecting a sample library that I can transfer from one CPU to another, which helps to speed up creative decisions and have a familiar palette of sounds to draw from. Some of it is based on sounds I’ve sampled from gear I have…an Access Virus, Korg MS2000, Roland JP 8000 and some [additional] outboard processing. I don’t necessarily think outboard gear is superior to plugins and software, but it’s inspiring just to use a certain piece of gear sometimes, and that makes it worth it for me.
SM : What was the creative process like for the making of Axiomatic?
Onewerd : When we first spoke about this project, I was definitely inspired to create something that drew from primarily Hip Hop roots. I knew I wanted to sample traditional Funk, Rock and Blues sources, so I pretty much started with digging into [my] sample libraries and looking for some tasty choices. I wanted to put my own electronic/bass-oriented spin on things, so there was a fair bit of programming and sound-design that went into the process as well.
SM : You also just released the collaborative album with JB Nimble, ‘The Waiting Room’. You’re rhyming as well as handling production duties on the entire album. How does the process differ between creating the instrumental stuff and producing stuff that will have vocals?
Onewerd : This is also my favorite question! When I started making beats, it was strictly for the purpose of having something to rap on. A combination of factors gradually led me to producing more involved instrumental work and remixes, which started to get in the way of my rap beats. I’m starting to feel comfortable with a balance between the styles, and having a more specific set of intentions and goals when I’m producing a track. [Doing] the project with JB Nimble was particularly dope, because I was a big fan of his album The Jester’s Dance. It gave me a pretty specific reference point to start from, and it was fun as hell to try to add my own twist to beats that I thought would fit his style!
SM : You seem to take inspiration from a lot of different genres and styles. What artists have inspired you over the years?
Onewerd : My biggest influences as far as production and rapping are probably the anticon collective, Living Legends, Rhymesayers, Quannum Projects and Def Jux… Pretty much a shameless ‘indie rap’ nerd…
SM : When you’re not working on your own music, what have you been listening to recently?
Onewerd : G Jones, Hail Mary Mallon, Hellfyre Club, Mr. Carmack, and Om Unit [have been] on pretty heavy rotation lately. The ‘Soundcloud community’, so to speak, has probably been the biggest influence on my musical tastes in recent years. It pretty much ripped the lid off of my [previous] influences and has given me a window into a ridiculous mix of styles.
SM : You’re based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Let’s run down some of your favorite places around the pond.
Onewerd : Favorite Bay spots?
SM : You got a favorite restaurant or place to grab a bite to eat?
Onewerd : I’m a Peninsula head, so shout out to Rave Burger in downtown San Mateo!!! Dope local business, the homie hooks up the ill Jalapeno burgers…bruh…
SM : How bout for drinks?
Onewerd : I don’t really drink anymore, but I spend a fair bit of time rapping in bars, so there’s that…
Where do you tend to go for records & music?
Onewerd :: Amoeba, player! [ed. note: quoting The Grouch’s ‘Bay to LA’ lyric, in reference to the San Francisco, Berkeley & Los Angeles record stores, ranked #1 in North America by Rolling Stone Magazine]
SM : Where are some of your favorite spots to catch live music at?
Onewerd : Shoot, if [live music] is there, I’m down…Shout out to the Honey Hive Gallery out in the Sunset! [a ‘borough’ of San Francisco]. They’ve been holding it down for a lot of independent artists, Daniel Berliner [the curator of the venue & gallery] is doing something cool out there… Also, 50 Mason (Downtown San Francisco), The Legionnaire (Downtown Oakland), El Rio (SF), Milk Bar (Haight St. – SF), Hotel Utah (SoMa – SF), Elbo Room (Mission District – SF)…too many to name…
SM : Any favorite spots for art in the city or general SF bay area?
Onewerd : The Mission, and the Duboce Tunnel (RIP). Walls, trucks and alleys…
Onewerd’s Axiomatic EP will continue to roll out over the coming weeks leading to ‘The Waiting Room’ Tour. Cities and dates can be found up top in the Events & Tours section.