Wednesday, 17 July 2013

B AMES interview

One of my favourite producers out right now, I interviewed B Ames for the Boing Boing feature, but only got to use a couple of quotes, so here if the full interview. If you don't know hir awesome r&b/haus/vogue productions and remixes, get your ass and ears over to hir Soundcloud.


Most people don't even know this world exists. How would you describe it to someone who has never seen or heard of "ballroom" culture?

I’ve been sitting here trying to think about how to describe it. But I don’t think you accurately can. It’s something you have to experience yourself. I wish I could.

How did you first discover and get involved in this scene?

Through one of my friends. I was doing music at the time and they asked me to make a vogue beat chanting their name. I didn’t know what that was so they directed me to youtube and showed me voguing clips and that’s where it all started really.

When did you get into production and who are your main inspirations as a producer? What set-up do you use to produce your tracks and remixes?
I got into it when I was about 13, 14. But even when I was younger I would try to record my own radio shows with my dual deck cassette tape player! I always had an ear for music, and writing and singing, but it was when I got my first computer was when I got into the production side for real. Teaching myself how to add sounds, layering tracks etc. Some of my main inspirations as a producer.. good question. I think one of my biggest and earliest influences is Freddie Jerkins and Darkchild. I grew up listening to “modern” gospel music like Kierra Sheard and Mary Mary and they usually worked with them. So I would study the music, every single sound. The 808s.. counting how many different hit hats where used etc. So they have to be one of my biggest inspirations.  Then I started branching out and getting into the work of Prince, Masters at Work. There are so many more but it would be too long. I started off using Magix Music Maker when I was younger and still do, but then later on I grew started using Ableton which I have yet to full master.

How would you say your production style differs from other ballroom producers?
Well, I didn’t start off doing vogue house music. Which is one thing. I didn’t even think I’d get into it. I started off doing music which I could say is technically pop, but not really, and recording my own original songs. I would try to mimic other sounds to learn and teach myself and create my own. It branches from a lot of different sounds. I incorporate a lot of that into my vogue house tracks. I like to sample or add sounds that I think a mainstream audience will appreciate as well, while staying true to the ballroom / underground sound.

You do a lot of bespoke remixes for performers and dancers - what's the most common thing you get asked to do for a performance track?
The most common thing is always a voguing break or to make it with a vogue feel house feel.  That’s the number one thing I get asked.

Could you explain to our readers some of the terms used in ballroom?
  • Cunt” is used  when you are just “feeling it” feeling your best.  Or if something looks or sounds great/amazing. Which is virtually the same as “Ovah
  • Drop” is when the producers name is placed in a song. Or some signature sound that shows that that beat maker or artist made the track or are featured in it.
  • A “ha” is another form a vogue beat. There are a couple definitions for it, but one of the most common forms of it is when you transform a mainstream song, a youtube clip, maybe a commercial, tv show, vocals, and add it (sample it) or turn it into a vogue beat/track
  • Runway” is a category in the ballroom scene showing off your best runway walking ability. There are separate tracks usually used for this.
  • A “Read” is when you basically call someone or something out. Or talk about someone or something. “Coming” for someone. It’s kind of hard to explain without being from or in scene. The film “Paris is Burning” explains it all!

Outside of music, what's a big influence on you personally?
RuPaul.  The music, the look, the art and even in the business aspect. He has been one of the most influential people in my life other than my family and friends. Just from him being who she is and being the first to do what he does on such a level.

Voguing has been appropriated by the mainstream once before (most notably by Madonna) - do you see this happening again? 
Yes! I do! It already has been. Especially through the music. Half of the mainstream pop artists that are out now seem to have things used from the scene, to the dances to the looks and other elements. It’s just a matter of time until it really hits again, in a bigger way. You can see the signs in pop culture of it emerging again. It’s always been there, people are just catching on to the new form of it.

There have been a few artists lately using some of the language and imagery of ballroom culture in a more mainstream context.  What are your thoughts on that?
At first, I felt as though it wasn’t right. Because a lot of times it’s taken and flipped and used in the way that it isn’t supposed to be meant. I think a lot of people in the scene may feel like that. But then I thought about it, if people take the time to use the terms and use them, it obviously means that the scene has had a bigger impact than people may see. I think thinking like that limits the scene from spreading (when people have an issue with the mainstream using ballroom terms). I do understand though. People want things to stay to themselves, have something to hold on to, referring to the scene. So it’s understandable why people would have a problem with it. But hey, if they want to use it, use it. I look at it is a tribute.
Check out more of B Ames' productions on Soundcloud.

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