Music News

Selko's a beatmaker who thrives in the shadows

You may not have heard much about Selko, and there's a good reason for that. With the exception of some occasional tweets and the placement of his ninja stickers around town, he's kept a relatively low profile. Tomorrow night at Herman's Hideaway (with Yo, Flaco!, the Dendrites, Gamerlife and Blazing Scarlet), Selko is releasing UltraMundane, his debut beat album. Beats are often overlooked as stand alone art, but a well put together beat tape can outshine even the best MC's album, and UltraMundane is just such an effort.

Westword: First of all, we don't know much about Selko as a person. What makes you tick?

Selko: I'd say what makes me tick is my compassion and the emotions I experience. I am a Scorpio. The traits of my sign usually define me accurately. I take most things very seriously; I always have. Even as a child, the problems of the world used to plague my mind, and as a result, I've spent a lot of time as an outsider. The energy I put into my music is my subliminal way of connecting to people who can relate to my outcast experience.

UltraMundane is your first album. How long have you been working on this piece?

That's a hard question to answer. I tossed around a lot of ideas before committing to this project. Some people say you work on your first album from the moment you first decide to be a musician. As far as a real time frame, though, I would say it took about two months to choose the tracks, mix them and then arrange the final sequence. But some of the beats on the album are between two to four years old, though. Like I said -- tough question.

Every producer is different. What is your process for putting together a beat?

My process is always the same and always changing, like water. My favorite method is to dig for very unique, off the wall samples. I feel these rare sounds come to me by fate; they give me the direction and the creativity I need. I channel that energy and make the new beat come to life, like raising the dead. When I record my sequence, I pay my respect by choosing similar instruments and drums to the original sample, as if I was a musician present at the original recording session. Then I add my fury!

You definitely pick different samples. Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from all music and the fact that music can change the world. The lessons I've learned through hip-hop made me into, in my humble opinion, a pretty remarkable person. I have tried to be so many different things in this lifetime, and I always put my heart into everything. I never received an equal return from what I was giving out until I put my heart into hip-hop. That's why I've been consumed by this culture for over ten years, its endless inspiration.

Does graffiti influence your beat making, and how?

Yes, Graffiti is a major influence in my beat making and my life in general. Let's put it like this: The whole hip-hop culture consumed me by fate. In the beginning, I had no real mentors. I learned everything I know about this culture from listening and being involved. I've tried everything from breaking to graffiti.

Eventually, I realized being a scratch DJ and a multitude of other activities outside of hip-hop were not meant for me. This made me very bitter at first, but now, some of the illest MCs, DJs, breakers and graff writers are my close friends; they influence my style and my beat making every second of the day. Y'all know who you are!

Your ninja logo is an obvious reference to yourself. Why the secrecy?

You could say my secrecy is due to my inherited Scorpio personality traits. I naturally chose being a producer to stay behind the scenes, or in the shadows you could say, like a ninja.

If you could work with any MC, who would you choose?

I wouldn't want to choose. Chemistry is important. My goal as a producer is to inspire other artists to choose me. I think it would be dope to work with any MC that I inspire, as long as they inspire me. But for the record, if I had to choose someone, I would only choose from MCs who have left us, and it'd be a tough choice between GURU & Big L -- R.I.P.

Tell us a bit about your release party this Friday

Well this is my debut CD. It can only happen once! So I'm very excited! It's going to be off the hook! Live performances by Yo, Flaco!, the Dendrites, Blazing Scarlet and GamerLife. I will be blessing y'all with my instrumentals all night in between the bands! My good friend Kneeel [Neil McIntyre] -- the MC for Yo, Flaco! and creator of The Littleague -- was a major part in making my album possible. So come help us celebrate the fact my album exists and Kneeel's Birthday!

What can we expect from Selko next?

I can't seem to function properly unless I have a ton of things going on at once. There are a few projects in the air. In 2011, my plan is to rock live PA sets and collaborate with the people I've influenced and connected with. Sorry no names for now. Trust, I have a few very special EPs and mini projects I will eventually get out there for free download. Stay tuned.

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Nicole Cormier