The Producer Puzzle: A Q&A with Shag


Ben Garside, the young beatmaker of those jazz-splashed, hip hop & soul creations I’ve been returning to all year long, just dropped his last tape of the year, 1992, and as always, I’m intrigued.What fascinates me about Ben’s tracks is his ability it reinvent, and in the process revive an interest in sounds. Stitched together sentiments from preceding golden eras melt through endless summer days spent playing video games in your parent’s basement, and yet it feels more like the present than ever. Melding the past into the future grooves of tomorrow has never sounded sweeter.

With any artist I’m digging, I always want the back story and almost insist on knowing more. I reached out to Ben after he dropped his Beats About People tape in June, and what came of our emails and gchats I’ve turned into a pieced together puzzle of an interview about the 20 year old producer-to-watch, known as Shag. Check it out below, (and wish him a happy belated Birthday while you’re at it).

What are your favorite sounds to sample?

I really try to sample as many things as possible. Soul is a good staple sound, but I try to find stuff that hasn’t been done to death. I’m also really into Jazz, but sometimes I prefer listening over sampling because the time signatures can be kinda tough to work with. I like to sample Video Games too because I’m a huge nerd. Lately I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different stuff.

What/How did you feel when you listened to Beats About People when it was done?

I felt hungry for more to be honest. This isn’t one of my favorite albums, though I like the way it came out a lot. Some of the “people” the songs are about are kind of weird to think about so it’s actually sort of a bittersweet release.

Where does the jazz and soul influence in your music come from?

Honestly, I have no idea. Neither of my parents really listened to Jazz or Soul around me when I was small. They were 70’s teenagers, so I grew up around a lot of folk music and psych rock. I guess I just WANTED to have the soul influence and kind of forced it upon myself. No explanation honestly.

If you had to describe your music as a food or dish, what would you pick and why?

Chop Suey. It’s pieces of anything and everything thrown into one big pot and shaken around until edible… er listenable.

Love your track, ‘Sexy Ways’ on the Potholes Compilation. It’s different from your older tunes. Is that the direction you are looking to head with your next release?

I’m really trying to kind of showcase everything I can do on my next EP. Like 2 tracks from each style I think I have if that makes sense. Some non-sampled beats, some sampled stuff, soul, jazz, etc. A few bassier, heavy tracks. Just want to include everything. I’m gonna be spending quite a bit of time on it.


I love Vinyl. Vinyl’s cool. I think I’m gonna go to the record store today actually. I have a small collection going right now; maybe ~150 records, but I’d like to have walls full someday. It’s such a wealth of information. Seriously each record is like a page in a history book to me. It’s awesome to go back and see what the standards in music were 30 years ago; or to hear that problems people have in their everyday personal lives are the same and are just crooned differently over the tracks. It’s amazing to me.

What artists are you listening to right now?

Well, right now specifically I’m listening to Nag Champa by Common.

Lately though…

Lot’s, lot’s, lot’s.

Glocca Morra, Azelia Banks, DibIa$e, New Nas, New Aesop Rock, Algernon Cadwallader, Deerhunter… I could go on for a while.

Finish this sentence: Music is..

Evolution. I’m starting to get older and it’s crazy to see how much music has changed with me. It makes me so excited to see what happens in the future.

Listen to everything on Shag’s Bandcamp, and then listen again. 2013 is lookin’ shiny.

  1. thenewblack posted this