Get To Know: Room E

Back in 2011, a beat tape/album was released by an unknown producer named Room E out of San Diego. Penguin Child was full of warm synths and skillfully chopped samples and turned out to be one of the year’s best. After sending the album to North Lodon DIY label Proper Songs, the label decided to pick up Room E and re-release the album. It is set for a May 14 release, but several songs can be previewed and the album can be pre-ordered. We spoke with Room E about a number of topics, including the San Diego hip hop scene, his studio and live set ups and his influences in the electronic music world. The San Diego producer was more than amiable and gave us some great insights into his production process, musical history and more. Find the full interview after the jump and look out for the proper release of Penguin Child on May 14.

Find Room E at:

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Soundcloud

Bandcamp

Astral Plane: First off, can you introduce yourself to our readers a little bit. Who are you? Where are you from? Etc.Room E: My name is Room E, I’m a producer living in San Diego, originally from the SF Bay Area.  I started DJing when I was in high school, about ten years ago.  Around the same time I started making tracks on my computer with Fruity Loops (of course).  At the time, I was basically all samples–very Premier/RZA sounding stuff.  I saved up and got an MPC, which was my main tool for a long time.   It wasn’t until later, in college, when I started picking up instruments and working with other people.

AP: When did you start making music under the Room E moniker?

Room E: This was around 2010.  I’d used other names before, but hadn’t really put out any projects or anything.

AP: Are you associated with any other artists, crews, labels, etc.?

Room E: I just recently signed with Proper Songs, which is a little label based in the UK.  They’ll be putting out my album, “Penguin Child” in May.

In terms of beats, I’ve never been the type of guy who runs with a crew.  When I started making tracks I didn’t know anybody else who was doing it.  I still only know a few producers from the local scene, and it’s not like we hang out or anything.

I collaborate quite a bit with a local band here in San Diego, A Scribe Amidst the Lions. The band’s drummer, Mike Hams, is all over the Penguin Child album.

Also, I’ve been working on an album with a local rap group, Parker & the Numberman.  Very raw sounding stuff, should be out later this year.

AP: The San Diego hip hop scene hasn’t received nearly as much attention as its neighbors to the North. Is there a reason for this? Who are your favorite San Diego hip hop artists?

Room E: It’s a really small scene. I think that being this close to Los Angeles makes it hard for San Diego to really find it’s own sound. There seems to be more artists than fans. Also, there’s only maybe 3 venues around town that do hip hop shows, so there isn’t much opportunity for building a community.

Like I said before, though, I’ve never really been part of a community or music collective. It’s really been just me in the studio at home, so most of my influences come from listening to records and stuff I find online.Working with Parker & the Numberman has plugged me into the local scene a little bit, so I’ve been finding out about more artists. In terms of San Diego producers, I really like Alpha Method (who did a great remix for me), Neat Beats, elan, Sleeve, and a few others. From what I’ve seen the local beat scene doesn’t mix with the hip hop scene too much, which is a shame.

AP: How do you go about creating a song? What’s your production process look like?

Room E: It varies song to song, but I typically start with a small idea, and then embellish it until it feels full. My music is built around samples, synths, and live instruments. Any one of those three things can be the initial spark to sets things in motion. From there it’s just a process of adding and taking away. Recently I’ve been leaning more towards samples, particularly for this Parker & the Numberman album. But that can change any day.

AP: How did you hook up with Proper Songs? Is Penguin Child finished?

Room E:The album is finished, and in fact I had self-released it earlier this year.  In the process of sending it out to blogs, I came across the Proper Songs website.  I sent them an email, and got a reply from the label head saying that he really liked it.  He offered to release the album through his label and that was it.  The album has been remastered and will be coming out in May.

It’s a small label, so I’m not expecting things to blow up, but musically I’m very happy to be aligned with the rest of the Proper Songs catalog.  It’s the perfect home for the album, and will hopefully be the spot for future solo releases.

AP: Where in the electronic music world do you take influence from?

Room E: My influences run the gamut of music.  It seems that the real “influence” happens subconsciously.

Recently I’ve really enjoyed digging back through the history of electronic music–early, pre-Kraftwerk/Pink Floyd.  People like Raymond Scott and Delia Derbyshire.  It’s primitive, but still very soulful stuff. In terms of more recent stuff, there’s so much happening, it’s hard to keep up.  Flying Lotus, of course, and all the Brainfeeder stuff.  I love Four Tet, and all those tracks he’s doing with Burial.  Anything Jamie xx does, Gold Panda, Caribou, etc.  It’s a great time to be doing things.

I’m always looking around for different things, whether old or new, different tempos and sounds.  And personally I’m always trying to learn about different instruments and techniques.  But despite all that, I think my brain is still wired for hip hop, simple things that loop and repeat.

AP: What does your live set up look like? Any plans for a tour?

Room E: My live set-up is a stripped down version of my home studio:  laptop, two midi controllers, and a kaossilator synth that I play little melodies on.  I only started performing live a little over a year ago, but people seem to like it.Recently I’ve been thinking about trying to bring a band with me on stage, but I don’t really want to do that until I can play bigger spots.I want to get out and tour, but so far that hasn’t really come together.  I’m having a hard time getting people to return my emails.  Hopefully someone will see this and make it happen.There’s talk of possibly getting out to the UK this fall, but nothing definite yet.  We’ll see.

AP: Yeah a live band would be great. I could see you doing something akin to Tycho. Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers? Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us.

Room E:  Penguin Child album release in May via Proper Songs. Parker & the Numberman album, “SM57”, later this year. They did an album with this group Broken Dreams that I have a couple beats on too.  That’s out in June. Lots of good stuff coming up.

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