Lisa Vazquez - Exceptional Multi-Instrumentalist, Beat Maker, Collaborator and Genuine Soul (008)

The eighth guest on The Rec Show was Lisa Vazquez, one of the hardest working beat makers, YouTube content creators, live performers, frequent music collaborators, vocalist, emcee. She is a lover of Hip Hop culture and humanity and so much more. You can't box her in and nothing will stop her. Enjoy this edition as you get to know Lisa Vazquez. Enjoy!

Question #1: For those that don’t know who you are, please introduce yourself, what your name means and where you’re from? 

My name is Lisa Vazquez , I am a Hip Hop /Soul Producer , Vocalist and Multi -Instrumentalist. I am originally from Portland, OR and reside in LA.

My artist name is my real name. I never settled on a moniker because I just feel like my music really represents me. One thing I strive for in my art is to be as authentic as possible so using my real name is fitting I suppose.

 

Question #2: What are your first memories of your musical journey, musical influences and how did you get into beat making?

I started off as a drummer and singer in my early teens. I looked up to artists like Sheila E, amazing drummer,  and then artists like Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu who paved the way for female artists in R&B and Hip Hop. My dad also played lots of old funk and soul records all the time which definitely had an influence on me. He also loved early R&B and rap artists like Young MC, Bobby Brown, LL Cool J and Tone Loc etc. 

At first I played in Hip Hop groups doing vocals and percussion, then eventually decided I wanted to learn how to create a full band sound solo.With guitar and keys knowledge under my belt I could songwrite, but I still needed a way to perform more instruments solo. 

I decided to go to school for Audio Engineering to learn the ins and outs of music production. I experimented with different DAW’s and controllers, but then discovered live looping. 

I started using a percussion sampler by Roland called the HPD20 that you could load samples on to and had preset kits. This was before the newer MPC’s came out so there werent many modern standalone options available.  It was designed for hand percussionists, which I was.  I would loop my drum portion through my TC-Helicon Voicelive Touch looper and then loop my vocals, repitch my voice to make a bassline, then sing and rap over the beat. 

I did that for a few years, toured around and it was great, but I wanted more flexibility in sound.  Finally I got my first MPC , the MPC 1000 and it was a wrap. It was everything I was looking for to create my track live and still loop my vocals to have a very hands on live performance which was very important to me. 

Once the MPC Live came out, my 1000 had some issues with the buttons so I decided to upgrade. The MPC Live is still the main centerpiece to all my production even though I do use other samplers such as the S2400 from Isla Instruments that I was on the beta testing team for. 

It’s been quite the journey, but I am happy at the point where I am now. Always learning though...

 

 

Question #3: What is it about Akai MPCs and live finger drumming that lights your fire?

MPC’s are iconic for a reason. Even though the workflow is clunky in the older ones, having the limitations can challenge you creatively in a good way. The general workflow, and not using a computer all of the time is crucial.

With the newer MPC’s they’ve made it very easy to edit and chop with touchscreen and very capable operating system.The things you can do with live effects and so on can make for a really dynamic live performance.

Finger drumming inspires me because it’s a way to integrate live playing and electronic production. You’re not just pressing a button, you’re performing a piece that takes lots of practice, just as a piano player would. 

A lot of people… especially those who don’t produce, don’t look at music production as a skill, but there’s way more to it than just pressing buttons. Finger drumming is just another art form that takes hours of practice like any other and people are really starting to see that now.

Question #4: What is the beat scene like where you live and how do you connect with your local beat making community?

In Los Angeles the beat scene is incredible. This city is a mecca for creatives of all kinds and music production is no exception. Even with the continued lockdowns, I have been fortunate enough to connect and build with several artists out here and create a solid community. 

I’m sure when things fully open again the scene will continue to grow exponentially. There are so many dope artists and events out here that I feel like I will never exhaust the possibilities, which is something I haven’t felt in other places.

Question #5: Tell us about the concept of your amazing YouTube series “Flip It Friday”. What do you want the person who watches it to take from it? 

I got the idea because I feel like people enjoy seeing the process behind finished work. It makes you connect more with the person behind the art and the art itself. 

I love the Rhythm Roulette series and it’s sort of like that, but with me flipping a record on the spot, then myself and/or guest artists playing live instruments. It’s very raw. I like it that way because it shows that the process is messy and full of mistakes, but that’s okay. 

I took basically all of 2020 off of the show, but I started it back recently with special guest Naia Izumi who was an NPR Tiny Desk concert winner. Phenomenal guitar player, producer and vocalist. More episodes will definitely be rollin out soon.

 

Question #6: You are a part of an incredible album called ‘Nuthin’ but a She Thang’ which featured ALL FEMALE PRODUCERs from 8 countries put out by Dedicate Label. This is a culture bending moment. Can you tell us how this came about and what the experience was like with this incredible group of female producers?

Yes, I was honored to be a part of it. The label out of Germany called Dedicate had reached out to me last year about the project and as soon as he explained the whole thing; the custom vinyl with artwork from a dope female graffiti artist, other amazing producers such as Georgia Ann Muldrow , Sadiva and Gnarly, and lastly a clothing collab with Nike to accompany the album, it was a no brainer.

They loved my track and featured it in a lot of the promo which made me feel even better about the project. The Vinyl turned out beautiful and all the tracks were great. I gained a good amount of international fans from the release and even got a couple of international interviews. Such a great experience and a good one to continue to push the culture for female producers.

 

 

Question #7: Who are your beat maker superheroes and why? 

Honestly there are so many so it’s always tough. Exile is one of my all-time favorite producers.  His drums are other worldly and he has an amazing ear for picking and chopping samples. Also, his live performance is next level on the MPC and turntables... he is honestly very underrated for his skill level. He also has his own record shop in Long Beach, called Record Box Truck. I highly recommend it to anyone in SoCal.

Oddisee also blows me away. He is one of the few producer / rappers that does both equally well. I appreciate his content that touches on everything between love, social injustice and human struggle. His rhythms are also very unique and worldly to where I don’t think he sounds like anyone else. Super well rounded and seasoned artist. 

Ski Beatz is also someone who inspires me not only on his production skills, but his current hustle and community building within the producer community. Very inspiring. I am fortunate enough to be collaborating with him on some sound design with his Smack Pack Challenges and with the marketplace he is currently designing. 

As far as peers, there are many who inspire me. Elaquent, Fresh Kils, Trizzy, J Black, Sndtrk, Duke Westlake and on and on. There are a slew of producers out right now just making amazing stuff. You just have to go find ‘em.

 

 

 

Question #8: What advice would you give to the younger you when you first started out making beats and how can the internets find you?

Advice I would give to younger me is not to stress so much if my stuff doesn’t sound that great right away. Just find whatever it is that inspires you to keep going and do that. 

It took me several years to really find my stride with all of it. Just being able to tune my ear to find drum sounds or bass sounds that were like the ones in my favorite tracks was difficult. More difficult than I thought it would be. 

It just takes practice, trial and error, and making a bunch of mediocre beats before you can get to the place where you’re making the stuff you always dreamed of. The best thing you can do for yourself is just keep creating and keep yourself inspired.

 

 

 

The Internets can find Lisa at www.lisavazquezmusic.com

Or @lisavazquezmusic for IG / FB

Twitter @_lisavazquez

Booking inquiries @ LisaVazquezMusic@gmail.com

If you enjoyed, leave a comment and subscribe for the next Sound Wizard issue. Peace and Love

Gldnmnd

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