Point Blank Presents: Breaking Into EDM [Ep. 018 - Cooda & Boy Bishop]
EDM.com has once again teamed up with the award-winning Point Blank Music School to present Breaking Into EDM: where your favorite artists and industry-insiders share words of wisdom, tips of the trade, and personal stories of making it and breaking it.
This week we're bringing you a double header in the form of EDM.com favorites Cooda and Boy Bishop. Fresh off the Pantheon release of their heavy-hitting single "Nitro," the two rising stars sat down with us to chat inspiration, workflow, and the best advice they've ever received.
EDM.com & Point Blank: So what are your musical backgrounds like? How'd you end up producing electronic music?
Cooda: "Besides dabbling in the saxophone for a few years in middle school, I actually haven’t had a lot of musical training. My dad actually is the one who showed me electronic music when I was around seven. It was unlike anything I had ever heard before. Ever since then I have been fascinated by how people can make such unique and interesting-sounding songs. I actually tried producing around 12 but didn’t have the patience or knowledge to really get anywhere. I picked up DJing at 13 and then production again at 18 (now 22)."
Boy Bishop: "I don’t really have a gnarly musical background, my dad and brother played a bit of guitar and also sang at church. However, my grandma was actually an insane pianist. I played piano for a bit as a kid but nothing really stuck. My mom always listened to classic music guys like Bon Jovi, David Bowie, and Queen, while my dad got me into bands like The Who, The Beatles, and Beach boys. My early teens were all about boy bands and hip hop, but music never seemed to be in my sights as a career path. Once I was introduced to Deadmau5 in high school I knew that was it. I was hooked, saw him live one time and I knew this was my world and where I belonged; I never felt so at home."
EDM & PB: How would you describe your sound in 3 words?
Cooda: "Captivating, Colossal, Cooda."
Boy Bishop: "Dirty, Groovy, Unique."
EDM & PB: At what point will you consider that you've made it as an artist?
Cooda: "To me, 'making it' is being able to wake up every morning and be able to do what I love. In that case, I have already made it. However, I still plan on continuing with creative work of all types and I want to always push myself to raise the bar and try new mediums. Once that happens, 'making it' will always be something different."
Boy Bishop: "When I can wake up every single day and make music; which in a way, I’m already doing! So I kind of have made it. I really just need to make enough money from music to not have a job. I will always push myself in every way imaginable so I never get that 'comfortable' feeling. Making music is about being creative and conveying emotion, as long as I can do that, I’ve made it."
EDM & PB: You guys just released your collab 'Nitro' via the Pantheon collective, how did that come about? What was your collaborative workflow like?
Cooda: "Well first off, I should say Brandon (Boy Bishop) and I were in the same class at Icon together in 2013. I have known him for a while and he is one of my best friends. I wanted to collab with him for a few weeks beforehand and we just never got around to working on anything until one day it just came about organically in the studio. We sort of just started a track and went from there. I really enjoyed how the track came about because it truly was a collaborative process. I would pull up a sound of mine and he would create a groove from it. He would make a nice drum pattern and I would tweak it and add some top layers. The main sound in the first drop actually was a patch he and I created together in our first session! I don’t collaborate very often with people so it’s interesting jumping in the studio because you are literally locking yourself in a room with someone for a few hours, shooting ideas back and forth creating something. Luckily him and I are such good friends so we didn’t hold back our feelings at all. We for sure learned how to work with each other after making "Nitro.”
How Pantheon got ahold of it is actually a funny story. The first session that track was probably half-way done, there was no master chain on it and not even a second drop. I had uploaded it to SoundCloud to shoot it over to him so he could take a listen because it had been a day or so. I accidently uploaded it public instead of private. By the time I realized and took it down (about 17 minutes) I had already gotten an email from Ryan Railsback (Pantheon A&R) about his interest in sighing it. Again… organic. Haha."
Boy Bishop: "Oh god, I’ll never work with Cooda again haha, I’m kidding. The guy is my best friend and INSANELY gifted when it comes to music production. I have learned a lot from him and through this project. We both are graduates of Icon Collective and since we live so close to each other, it gives us the ability to spend a lot of time in the studio cooking up ideas. Cooda is strong with sound design and I was able to bring the groove, it really just clicked.
I think that is only the way to do it, being in the studio together throwing ideas around, drinking coffee, and cracking jokes. I have to feel the person out and feel the energy move in the room. That’s what gets me excited about making music with another person; none of that splice file-sharing stuff. Also, about the title of the track, we basically would pound this Nitrogen Infused Cold Brew coffee, shout out to Stumptown! This coffee is insane; it’s like adding NOS to your average cup of coffee, hence the title 'Nitro' *winks*.
Also, the way the track actually got signed is hilarious! Cooda and I had just got the 'rough' idea down for 'Nitro', and I mean rough; no mix, no master, barely an arrangement, and probably not even an outro were developed yet. Anyway, I told Cooda to upload a private SoundCloud link so I could listen to it on my own and maybe gather some more ideas. Of course, my man puts it on PUBLIC! The link goes up for 20 minutes until he realizes it and later takes it down. Next thing you know, Cooda gets an email from Pantheon’s A&R and BOOM! They loved it and already offered to sign the track!!! So insane, I was shocked that a simple mistake could be so effective!"
EDM & PB: Musically, who are your biggest inspirations and why?
Cooda: "Well obviously I have to say Skrillex! Haha. He’s a tastemaker, a leader, a pioneer and all around a dope dude (so I’ve heard, I have yet to meet the guy). I really enjoy what he can do sonically. Not only can he grab you with an incredible hook but his sound design and mixing is next-level. The dude is a legend for a reason. Also trance has always been a big part in my musical taste. I grew up listening to old school vocal trance and psychedelic trance mixes like Oakenfold’s 'Tranceport.' Trance is cool because it can be a nice blend between dance music and listening music. I love the melodic, euphoric, contemplative sequences it can give. I really enjoy guys like the Glitch Mob and Flume too because I feel they can do that very well. Their production is really good but still tells a story."
Boy Bishop: Deadmau5 for sure. Like early Deadmau5, 2010 Deadmau5. His music was so unique and emotional that I find myself pulling inspiration from that a lot. The ability to affect people with just chords is amazing to me. Also Skrillex, the guy is a beast, anything he touches is gold. I admire him for his artist integrity and ability to work with ANY artist while maintaining Skrillex in the music, which is inspiring."
EDM & PB: What tips would you give an aspiring producer/DJ on breaking into the scene?
Cooda: "Make music! And then make a lot more music, it is the only way you are going to get better. My Dad put it into perspective for me right when I started getting serious into production. He said, “If I told you to draw a face right now you would probably draw a very simple smiley face with two eyes, maybe a nose and a mouth. Now I’d rip it up and saw draw another one. This time you might give it hair, eyebrows and ears. If you did that 100,000 times by the 100,000th time it would be an intricate face with a jaw line, perspective, shading and emotion.” That always stuck with me in the beginning. It’s all about rounding off those edges and that takes time. Actually, Brandon and I practice this a lot! We each try to make a track a week haha. We have a lot of music now.
I’d also say don’t promote yourself till your ready. And I mean really ready. You can go out in the scene and talk to every manager, producer, and promoter you want but when it comes down to it if you don’t have a legitimate and unique product to show, you’ll look like a fool. It’s a lot better to go to war with a fully loaded 50-caliber machine gun then one bullet in a .22.
One more is of course be your-self and be different. Think about it… there are always label heads and big DJs in the scene looking for the new dope ass sound to sign and play out. They don’t want the same basic shit."
Boy Bishop: "First things first, write down, with a pen and paper, EXACTLY what you want to accomplish! If you want to collab with Skrillex, WRITE THAT DOWN. If you want to play Control at Avalon, WRITE THAT DOWN. Get used to the fact of thinking non-realistic. If you want to have a career in the music industry, you have to be a little nuts. Also, meet as many people as you possible can, shake every hand you can and be nice; nobody likes an asshole."
EDM & PB: As many producers can attest to, it's not uncommon to find yourself stuck in a creative rut. Where do you usually find inspiration?
Cooda: "Luckily, going to Icon I got a lot of insight on how to get past this. First thing I would say is make use of your time. If you are sitting down to work, and you have a limited amount of time, get SOMETHING done. That doesn’t mean force out creativity…that means ANYTHING beneficial. Organize sample libraries, create sounds, create new drum hits/loops, read a manual, watch tutorials, watch interviews, even just listen to and analyze songs to understand what they are doing and why it is working. There is so much more you can do in a session than just create. I feel a lot of creating music is preparation, and understanding. If you have all of your ingredients organized and laid out in front of you it is a lot easier and quicker to make a 3 course meal than scrambling around the kitchen looking for something. When you do prepare, you can just let the creativity flow effortlessly. If you spend the time organizing, when that creative rut is gone your flow will be so much more effective. It’s actually incredible how much it helps. Speaking of this I need to organize some new sounds...
The second thing I would say is to get out of the studio! I learned this one in level 3 at Icon in the famous “Art of Flow” class. We get inspiration from experiences. If all you’re doing is sitting inside making music and doing the same thing every day, you aren’t experiencing anything new, i.e. no inspiration. Go for a walk around a new park, see a movie, go to a new part of town, talk to a stranger. If you make yourself slightly uncomfortable you stimulate growth and adaptation. It is amazing what can come from that. For example: I am a big fan of National Parks, over the summer I went on a 2 week road trip with my Dad to Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon and The Great Sand Dunes. I feel I still pull inspiration from that trip today"
Boy Bishop: "Ahh, yes - the creative ruts we all hate. Well, I try not to let myself get stuck, or better yet, admit to myself when I’m stuck. I always try to keep moving forward, putting myself on a deadline to get the idea done NO MATTER how much I don’t like it, I just need to finish it. You ever clean the whole house or kitchen and it just felt fucking good? Trying to accomplish something so minor but it feels like you just took over the world? Well, I try and think of it like that and focus on completing the task rather than getting stuck if the idea is good, bad, or how many plays it’s going to get. Also, listening to my own music helps A LOT. It helps me realize that fuck, I am a dope producer, I can do this shit! BOOM."
EDM & PB: What is the best piece of career advice that you've ever received?
Cooda: "It’s about the process not the product."
Boy Bishop: "I think the best advice I got was someone telling me that nothing will ever go as you had planned. Whether it is a release, a gig, or even the launching of your brand - you kind of just have to jump in the direction you want and hope for the best. Right before I launched the Boy Bishop project I was throwing around hundreds of ideas on how to launch my brand. I had meetings with multiple people and got as much direction as I could. In the end, I always came back to the same conclusion, just do it. I actually launched the brand two months early because an opportunity presented itself and I just went with it."
EDM & PB: And the worst?
Cooda: “Do this and this is how you’ll blow up….”
Boy Bishop: "Mhmm, I’m not sure. I spend a good amount of time at Icon Collective where I’m surrounded by a lot of inspiring, smart, and passionate individuals who give really good advice. I’ll have to get back to you on this one."
For more inside tips and expert advice on everything music industry, check out Point Blank Music School, with courses in London, Los Angeles and online. The award-winning electronic music school boasts former students including Claude VonStroke, Nicole Moudaber, AlunaGeorge, Plastician, and many more. Catch this week's production 'Quick Tip' below and head to their site to sample a course for free.