This week we’re bringing it back to a hot track from SWS fam, Cristen Isreal (a.k.a. C.R.I.S.T.E.N), for a special #ThrowbackTuneTuesday. ” [reelraw]” is a jazzy, chill hip hop beat proudly released a year ago. Cristen uses FL Studio paired with analog hardware such as the Roland SP-404SX as well as the Roland SP-404A to create his own unique sound designs and beats.
Cristen spoke with such passion during our interview that I concluded it be best to let him tell his story as well as explain his thought process while creating this banger from his point of view.
“I’ve been making beats for 12 years, now. It’s been a very long journey and it is a continual learning experience.” – Cristen
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music?
“… an experimental arrangement of sounds. … I enjoy placing sounds together that make me feel a particular way. My emotions play a big part in my arrangements, as well. I find that when I am in distress, when I’m sad or angry, even—placement of samples, drums and their volume play a huge role with it, too. They are often in disarray when a lot of negative (depending on your outlook of emotions) emotions come into play. Oftentimes, I make beats as a positive and therapeutic way of dealing with my emotions to think and act, clearly. When I am at peace when making a beat, sometimes the sample will be tighter, arranged better, etc. However, the real blessing and silver lining in it all, is that I am managing my feelings in a creative way that could help another listener out there in a way that I may never even realize.
What was the message/feel/emotions you wanted to come across to listeners when you were in the process of producing this banger?
“During the process of creating “[reelraw]”, I felt sad. Very sad. After the death of my mother in 2018, it was a difficult time to press through. I was a college student at UNCG at the time and in all truth, school was kicking my butt that fall. It was a dark time in my life and while praying and seeking counselling from my pastor, I had music to turn to. Prior to creating this, I made a lot of beats that were all over the place and emotionally, I was a mess, in all honesty. As I sat down to produce this piece, it took me longer than most beats I made and it took me a total of 2 weeks to finish. During that time frame, I learned how to cry, seek help and not to let my emotions override my well-being. In dealing with feelings on depression, taking the time to piece each intricate sound together taught me discipline and emotional management. As some days were tougher than others, fortunately, I had “[reelraw]” to work on to channel what was then heavy on my heart and mind, into a beautiful work of art. In selecting the sample, I looked for a sample that could be interpreted as “happy” and “sad” at the same time—to place me into a mindset of being “neutral”, sonically. I felt as if I wanted to get as much out of me as possible and to let the world hear what I had been feeling. FL Studio became much more than a DAW at the time, but rather a canvas to paint a representation of my pain. It helped, too. While I still have some sad days, whether it be dealing with depressive thoughts, rejection, etc. — I’ve become more aware of my feelings, which as a creative, is highly important to encompass in its’ entirety. Coming out of it, after the process, I managed to be able to smile and listen to the work that I’ve processed from my heart and now, a year later, I’ve been able to use those feelings to push myself to do more within life and to chase after that which I want. The same goes for any listener who has heard/will hear this beat.“
Do you have any upcoming projects?
I do have a few upcoming projects, in various forms! Musically, I am releasing a cassette under FUZZOSCOPE, entitled “Emotions” during late summer/early fall of 2019. Emotions will be a physical manifestation of a lot of my feelings during the creative process. I’ve been through a lot, lately—things I’ve never even talked about to others—and I feel as if this particular project gives me an opportunity to speak to my audience in a way that conveys the unspoken, physically into a message that will resonate with them, emotionally and spiritually. I am also working on releasing and officially my own clothing line, [dntquit] in winter of 2019. It is a brand that derived from a 62-track album that I created during a very hard time in my life, where I had dealt with the pain of seeing my mother go through in her battle with cancer. The clothing line, itself is a dedication in honor of my late mother, who passed last year. She did not give up and fought until the very end and as a testament to my own musical career and in my own life, I wish to live by that example by never giving up. I wish to inspire those who are touched by my brand to keep pushing towards whatever they see fit to seek after in life by not quitting. Finally, I am working on planning an internet YouTube series in which each month, a beat maker will set up in my own apartment and do live beat sets—Boiler Room styled—but with a unique twist! I plan to have the series launched and online by 2020, alongside the [dntquit] clothing line.
Free Stream “[reelraw]” below!