Interview with Thavius Beck

Musician and producer Thavius Beck has worked with the likes of Nas, Saul Williams, The Mars Volta and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails over the years, in addition to putting out several albums of his own solo material. Though he primarily falls into the Hip-Hop genre, his music incorporates various influences and runs the gamut of electronic music.

His most recent project was producing Mush Records label-mate and MC extraordinaire K-the-I???’s new album “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” and the two are currently in Europe on a month long tour to support the new release. On February 23 the pair will kick off the US leg of their tour with three stops in WNC, starting with a show at Western Carolina University where they will be joined by three local acts, Kinjac, Everflaw and A Bliss Abyss. Thavius Beck will also be giving an Electronic Music Production Workshop to students on February 24, hosted by WCAT Radio and Student Media.

Before Thavius Beck comes to WCU, I had the chance to ask him some questions first hand about working with K-the-I???, his soon-to-be-released next solo album and his studio set-up.

Michael O’Shea: So how did you end up producing K-the-I???’s latest album? I know he was living in Cambridge beforehand, so how did you guys know each other?

Thavius Beck: We actually met at SXSW in 2007. We were both part of the Mush showcase and Big Jus (who I was in a van with driving down there) told me about him. He kept mentioning how he had this big booming voice, so I was curious about him. After the showcase we met and talked a bit, and I realized that he was someone that I could definitely work with. Initially the plan was for him to remix a song of mine and I’d remix a song of his and do a split 7″, but eventually Robert Curcio (the guy who runs Mush) suggested that I produce an entire album for Kiki [K-the-I???]. At that point, Kiki flew to LA, and the rest is history.

MO: How was it working on the album? How long did that whole process take?

TB: Working on the album was extremely easy, honestly. It took about two months for us to start from scratch and record and mix the entire thing. I gave Kiki a bunch of beats, he would write to them, and we would hook up on the weekends when I was free and record as much as possible. Then during the week I would tweak the songs and mess with the arrangements. It was a very stress-free process.

MO: Tell me about your upcoming album. When is that set for release? Any radical departures from your previous work?

TB: My new album is called “Dialogue” and it will hopefully be out by this summer, maybe June. This album will be a pretty big departure from my other solo albums because I am not only producing it but rhyming on the whole thing. I think it is easily my best album to date. I’m very excited to get some feedback once it’s released.

MO: What does your studio set-up look like? And what’s your live set-up?

TB: My studio setup is essentially the same as my live set up. I like to keep everything compact, so I use my laptop and produce everything on Ableton Live, and sometimes I slave Reason to Ableton and use it for synths. I also have several midi controllers, my favorites being the BCR 2000 and Novation Nocturn (which is what I use for my live sets). This allows me to take all of my work with me, whether its on tour on to the studio.

MO: How did you end up getting M-Audio sponsorship?

TB: Giovanni Marks (aka Subtitle) and I were introduced to the people who are working on Torq (a virtual DJ type program like Serato Scratch Live) by Daddy Kev. We played them some of the stuff we were working on for Labwaste (my group with Giovanni Marks) and kept talking about working together in some way. Ultimately I just kept pestering them until they gave me the paperwork that led to sponsorship… ha! Like they say, the squeaky wheel gets the oil, or in this case, the endorsement.

Thavius Beck will be coming to WCU to give a workshop on electronic music production on Advising Day, Tuesday, February 24 at 2:00 pm in the Student Media Center (Old Student Union). Sponsored by WCAT and Student Media, the event will include demonstrations of various production software, tips and tricks from a practicing producer and a Q&A session. Immediately following, there will be individual critiques of student work.

There will be a limited amount of seats available for the workshop, so please e-mail Katherine Smith a to reserve your seat. There will also be a very limited number of slots for individual critiques of student production work, to be held immediately after the general workshop, so please e-mail asap to reserve your slot for that as well. During this portion, students should bring a few examples of their production work and any specific questions they want answered. On Monday, Feb. 23 at 8pm in Club Illusions (no classes Tuesday), Thavius Beck and K-the-I??? will be joined by local electronic music acts Kinjac, Everflaw, DJ Elibot and DJ A Bliss Abyss to create an entire evening of electronic sounds, from trance to hip-hop and everything in between. The free show is sponsored by Last Minute Productions, the Student Government Association and Student Media and is brought to you by the WCU division of student affairs.

Following the show at WCU and the Production Workshop Thavius Beck and K-the-I??? will continue the first leg of their US tour with a show in Asheville, NC at The Garage at Biltmore on Tuesday, Feb. 24 and a show in Boone, NC at The Dragonfly Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 26.

During the WNC portion of their tour they will be joined by local musician and WCU student Kinjac.