Made With Tracklib: Datsunn (Interview)
Made With Tracklib
Made With Tracklib:
Datsunn (Interview)

Every time you hear Tracklib's soul-infused theme, you hear a beat by Datsunn. He has been crafting sample-reliant productions for over a decade now, driven by a love for beats, jazz, soul and funk. But using samples is one thing, licensing used to be another... For many years, the Canadian producer tried to avoid legal troubles by only releasing unofficial mixtapes for free. But Tracklib turned the tide for him, legitimizing him as a sample-based producer. Now there are official albums, a vinyl release, and new opportunities.

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9 out of the 14 tracks on your 'Familiar Faces' album include Tracklib samples. Can you please tell me a bit about how you discovered them?

My digging process on Tracklib is similar to the way I dig at a record store. Which is quite random. The main difference is that I can narrow down so many aspects of the ‘dig’. It’s pretty amazing knowing I can select an instrument, tempo, key, et cetera. As far as what I look for in a sample, there isn’t much rhyme or reason. I really try to go with the feel of the moment.

Any particular artists or labels you’ve discovered through Tracklib you didn’t know about yet?

Most definitely. Marvin L. Sims, Magic in Threes and Norman Feels, just to name a few.

Your bio mentions you also draw inspiration from artists such as Roy Ayers and Lewis Taylor. How do musicians like them influence your approach to beatmaking?

Roy Ayers–and other Jazz greats–have influenced my beatmaking simply because it was some of the first music I ever sampled or heard in other hip hop. Someone like Lewis Taylor on the other hand, I constantly go back to his records and get inspiration from his progressiveness. It always makes me rethink structure, melody and in general my process on writing a beat or song.

Based on the videos on your Instagram, the Maschine MK3 seems to be your hardware of choice. Some production geek speak: what makes it stand out to you compared to other gear?

The Maschine MK3 is my go-to hardware because of the workflow. I started using the Maschine when it was the MK1. Chopping samples on it is clear and simple enough to cut through and get a good idea going quickly. I love the built-in Native Instruments plug-ins and sounds. I understand no program or controller will ever be “perfect.” But I think if you find one that works for YOU, than that’s all that matters.

So what could be better for you?

I'd love to see some improvements on the software end of things. It'd be amazing to use it as a full on DAW. I find myself still taking my sessions into Ableton to track vocals, emcees, real drums or other instruments. Maybe we'll see it become a full DAW someday. That would be super dope!

"Tracklib legitimized me as a sample-based producer. I can now approach artists, publishers, or ad agencies with the confidence in knowing that none of what I’m doing is illegal."

– Datsunn

Datsunn's latest track, '"Reminiscing." It samples this same-titled by The lugknuckles from the catalogue of Lugnut Brand Records:

You’re the man behind the Tracklib theme song. Can you tell me a bit about the production process of that beat?

It was actually fairly simple. I lucked out with finding the sample quick on the site. I only used my Maschine MK2 at the time, no other gear involved which kept the flow super smooth. The sample I used is “I’m Gonna Move On” by The Deltas.

I can imagine clearing samples is extremely difficult–and expensive–as an independent producer. How did you experience this in the past?

To be honest, until Tracklib, I was only releasing mixtapes on Soundcloud and Bandcamp for free. It was to avoid having to go through the stress as well as financial and legal troubles that go along with sample clearance. The theme song, “Thoughts of You” was the first legitimate sample-based song that I ever released.

In which way did that open up opportunities for you as an independent artist?

It opened up a door that seemed like it had no opening. [Tracklib] legitimized me as a sample-based producer. I can now approach artists, publishers, or ad agencies with the confidence in knowing that none of what I’m doing is illegal. That’s an amazing feeling in a time where people are getting sued for the most ridiculous things!

I can imagine! And now you even have a vinyl release...

I've wanted to release my music on vinyl for a such a long time. I think It's something a lot of beat-makers strive for. Tracklib has played a major role in making that happen. I never felt right about putting music out that I didn't have the clearance to do so. And now, it's a pretty amazing feeling knowing that any track [from the website] I sample and flip, could be released that same day if I wanted... that's wild!

What other potential do you see for Tracklib in the (near) future?

The biggest potential is already being proven in my eyes. The fact that a Tracklib sample was used in a Top 40 track [J. Cole - Middle Child] is absolutely incredible. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more sample based music back in hip-hop, R&B, and other genres in the very near future.

Sampling is alive and well, my friends.


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