When eu-IV’s older brother hooked him up with a cracked version of Fruity Loops over a decade ago, beatmaking started out as little more than a fun alternative to video games. “My big brother gave me the basics,” he says. “I basically taught myself, just trial and error. I copied my favorites like Flying Lotus, J Dilla, and Kanye at the beginning.”
Over time his affinity for producing grew into something more. Now, after spending more than a decade honing his skills, the process is almost automatic. “All my beats just flow out because it’s basically muscle memory,” he says. “I’ve been making beats for so long.”
Some producers might start with a specific vision or sound in their head before making a song, — eu-IV prefers letting the blank slate dictate his creative flow. “Any time I open up Ableton or Fruity Loops or whatever I just start with a white canvas,” he says. “I don’t have no beat in my head or nothin’. I just have a sample that I want to work with and I just go from there.”
“All my beats just flow out because it’s basically muscle memory. I’ve been making beats for so long.”
At this point in his career, a typical eu-IV track comes together rather quickly. “It doesn’t take that long,” he says. “Maybe an hour, forty minutes. I know other producers take longer because they want it perfect, but I’m OK with it being what it is and just leaving it there.”
Sometimes, the songs that came together quickly get the biggest response from his fans, even if they aren’t his personal favorites. “The songs that I really love and I put more effort into, it seems like those get overshadowed kind of,” he explains.
eu-IV points to his recent Close Your Eyes EP as evidence of this phenomenon, particularly the track “Timegoes”, which is closing in on half a million streams on Spotify. “I definitely didn’t expect ‘Timegoes’ to get that many plays,” he tells me. “That’s probably my biggest song now. In my opinion, the best ones on that project are probably either ‘Consciousness’ or ‘IVyouPT2’, but ‘Timegoes’ and ‘IVyouPT1’ were posted in Lush Lofi (formerly Lush Vibes), so I think that did it. The playlist thing is huge now.”
“That song is just for Black people to really open their eyes and see what’s going on out here. ’Cause we’ll be better off if we know.”
Despite the fact that fan support isn’t always equal to the amount of energy eu-IV pours into a song or project, his latest album was an intensely personal one. “Supernova — it was a pretty dark time,” he admits. “At my old apartment the rent was too high, it was hard to pay bills. Car problems, girl problems, there was just a lot of stuff.”
Instead of wallowing in self-pity, eu-IV decided to put his ideas and emotions down on paper to get the creative process flowing, helping him develop an early blueprint for the album. Further inspiring the music on Supernova was his great uncle Murriel Johnson, who handled the gorgeous cover design. “I told my uncle the idea for the cover and he got it done midway through the process of completing it,” he says. “That helped me a lot too because he knew exactly how I was feeling and where I was trying to go.”
Though the emotions eu-IV was experiencing in his personal life were incredibly difficult, he enjoyed the challenge of conveying his feelings to his audience. “It was just like chapters in a book,” he says of the creative process. “I had fun putting together the puzzle.”
“To be honest, after the fact, and listening to it over and over up until the release, it feels like there’s kind of a suicidal undertone to it.”
With song titles like “UandHappy”, “thefeelings”, “depression”, and “theafterlife”, it’s clear that Supernova is an album that dives deep into the full spectrum of feelings and isn’t afraid to go to some dark places. But more than a random collection of beats about different human sentiments, eu-IV sought to tell a full story arc with this release. “I listened to Shlohmo’s Badvibes album a lot, that influenced me,” he says. “Flying Lotus’ Until The Quiet Comes. I always wanted to tell a story through beats. I don’t see that much nowadays.”
Making a concept album is no easy feat — sometimes the music suffers or feels forced when artists stick to a particular message or story line for an entire project. This isn’t the case on Supernova, as eu-IV keeps the musical flow varied and seamless throughout while including enough clever sampling techniques to keep the beat nerds out there engaged.
On “The Message”, for example, he takes a snippet of Talib Kweli saying “Black Star” (the name of his former group) and re-contextualizes it to give it new meaning. “That song is just for Black people to really open their eyes and see what’s going on out here,” he says. “‘Cause we’ll be better off if we know.”
“It was just like chapters in a book. I had fun putting together the puzzle.”
Now that project is over and eu-IV can step away from Supernova and reflect a bit, he realizes just how vital it was to helping him come back to a healthy mindstate. “To be honest, after the fact, and listening to it over and over up until the release, it feels like there’s kind of a suicidal undertone to it,” he says. “It was good just to get that energy out, because I’m definitely in a better space now.”
After telling such a personal story, eu-IV gave pause to think about having those closest to him hear his most private emotions. “I will say that it was difficult up until the release,” he says. “I haven’t talked about that with my mother, my family, my best friend. So it was kind of hard to have that out there.”
When asked if his audience grasped the significance of his latest effort he was on the fence, but he thinks some people are catching on to the intended vibe. “I’m not sure,” he says. “I feel like people get where I’m coming from.”
“I just start with a white canvas. I don’t have no beat in my head or nothin’.”
With such an intense experience behind him, eu-IV admits that getting back into a consistent beatmaking routine since the album’s release has been challenging at times. When he feels himself falling into a creative rut, he often turns to painting or photography to help him break out of it. And after using writing as a tool to map out his latest album, he’s eager to further explore the process of putting words to paper as another creative outlet. “I kind of want to start writing too,” he says. “I felt better when I wrote my thoughts down for Supernova. Just getting everything collected.”
When he is making beats these days, he tries to mix it up to keep the production process vibrant and enjoyable. “I got beats where I’ve used the 404 and the Push 2 and I connected it all through the TV, doing scratches with my turntable,” he explains. “I’ve sampled TV stations and stuff like that. It makes producing fun. I don’t like just staring at a computer screen and making everything through there. I like the raw sounds that come from the TV and SP and VCR too.”
Releasing such a mature project while gaining significant traction on SoundCloud and Spotify might cause some artists to rest on their laurels, but eu-IV isn’t satisfied yet. “I’ve had a strong 3 years,” he recently said on Twitter. “Haven’t peaked yet. There’s much more to learn.”
Based on his body of work thus far, his listeners will also learn something along the way.
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