While preparing for the release of Soundfly’s exciting new course, RJD2: From Samples to Songs, I spent a fair amount of time contemplating the art of using samples as starting places for fresh pieces of music. It’s a unique and powerful creative skill, one that can provide any musician, producer, composer, and songwriter with endless streams of inspiration — though it’s an area that is sometimes misunderstood, and vastly untaught.
The goal of our course collaboration with RJD2 was to get artists started along the path of sampling; teaching how to use an MPC, how to capture and arrange samples from vinyl or digital packs and trigger them back for recording and performing live, and sharing his experience and wisdom along the way.
But so much of sampling is also about the artist’s emotional relationship to those sounds and this process. So I sat down with legendary composer, producer, and instructor of Soundfly’s newest course, Ramble Jon Krohn (otherwise known as “RJD2”) and my exceptionally talented and knowledgeable colleague, Martin Fowler (whose voice you may recognize from several past episodes), to discuss the personal elements of sampling music.
What does it mean to do something truly amazing with a snippet of sound you’ve pulled from an existing song? Why have certain songs been sampled so many times? How did you come across that one sample that changed everything? We dig into these questions and more in the episode 25 of Themes and Variation, “Sample Fodder Songs.” Take a listen!
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After listening to the episode, be sure to head on over to Soundfly.com to check out our newest course, RJD2: From Samples to Songs, and don’t forget to use the unique promo code mentioned in the episode for an exclusive discount on your subscription.
Episode 25 Highlights
1. Carter on piano trio recordings as sample fodder.
Carter: “Piano trio records from this era, instantly draw me in as sample fodder, and I’m trying to think of what… maybe it’s the way it’s recorded and there’s space in there like there’s a lot of separation, like you’ll have the piano panned to totally one side because that’s where the mic was in 1960 or whatever. Same with the bass and the drums, there’s so much atmosphere. In the beginning of this track you have the audience clapping, you hear Jamal’s foot kind of tapping too I think, counting the tune off.”
2. RJD2 on the art of sampling.
RJ: “The easiest and simplest way, when forced to… I generally try not to sell people on things. But, probably the easiest analogy for me is to explain it like a mosaic. In visual art you know you can make a mosaic and technically speaking, the components of a mosaic are another piece of something, another piece of material. At it’s best a mosaic is a thing that the source material, ceramic, print, otherwise whatever, collage art you know these are things where at it’s best the concept and what the artist is trying to say is at the forefront and the material that it’s constructed from kind of just disappears in your mind, at its best. So to me I see sampling, the same thing applies.”
3. Marty on the James Brown “yelp.”
Marty: “That’s the thing that’s been really interesting for me in sort of picking apart where this came from. I went down this rabbit hole only a few months ago when I was starting to delve into ya know the jungle drum n’ bass kind of sound which is having it’s own sort of interesting resurgence in certain realms of electronic music and I’ve been really interested in that and what’s going on there. You hear about a lot in what’s called ‘liquid drum n’ bass’ which is this sort of like, I mean I’ll be honest it’s the smooth jazz of drum n’ bass but it’s my guilty pleasure, I love it. but it’s all got this sound going on, and I would hear those little ‘yelps’ in the loops with the classic tambourine sound in all of these different tracks, and I was like ‘that’s the thing! That’s the thing that’s so cool, that’s the sing that defines what’s going on in this music.’ It’s essential to this music, is that little ‘yelp’ like where does that come from? Come to find out it’s James Brown!”
Join Our Collaborative Playlist
Every time we launch a new episode, we create a collaborative Spotify playlist in order to share every song mentioned in this episode and explore many others that fit the theme. And you can add to it!
We want to hear your favorite sample fodder songs, so feel free to add them to the playlist below. Go ahead and add your selected songs to the playlist!
We’ll see you in a couple weeks with a new theme, new guests, and some new songs to break down. If you have any comments, questions, or theme suggestions, drops us a line at [email protected]!
Ready to Learn From RJD2 Himself?
Instrumental hip-hop producer and sampling pioneer RJD2 opens up his creative process and sampling and arrangement workflow for the first time ever in this comprehensive new online course on Soundfly.
Learn from Ramble Jon Krohn (RJ) himself how to write and arrange music drawing on the power of sampling records and a collage-based mindset. He’ll show you how he personally tackles new tracks with his trusty MPC, and he’ll open up sessions from some of his classic tracks to show how they were made. You’ll learn new approaches to sampling, songwriting, and arranging, and how to make instrumental beats that capture someone’s attention from start to finish.
Join RJD2: From Samples to Songs today.