The South-German DJ and producer Spec. came a long way from being a skateboarder spinning hip hop tunes in the age of 14. But on his new record ‘The Infamous Album’, released the last day of November via his own imprint Infamous Tracks, he’s going back to his roots while keeping his musical production relevant and in realms of electronic dance music. Using samples of the one and only Mobb Deep hip hop duo, he managed to create a long-player with authentic, gritty sound combining the realness of the underground 90s hip hop with contemporary club music.
LSD: ‘The Infamous Album’ seems to be a tribute to the hardcore hip hop duo Mobb Deep – not only did you use their album title, but you also used samples from the USB stick of the band’s lead producer, Havoc. How did you come up with the whole idea?
S: I was looking for producer kits from my favourite producers in my youth. Then, I saw the one from Havoc. The rest is history.
LSD: It seems like a big challenge to compose a “dope electronic music” album from somebody else’s hip hop samples of songs which you know so well. How did you manage not to be influenced too much by their original use in Mobb Deep’s music? And what was your aim for the sound?
S: The influence was in me all along, but I never took full parts of the original tracks or 100% of the original samples. It’s all manipulated with different instruments in Ableton Live. „Hightimes” is the „keep it thoro” sample, it’s really different than the original. For me, the main aim was to have the raw character of the sounds from that time.
LSD: I have to say the results sound very coherent and tied together. How did you manage to achieve such a cohesive sound? Did you adjust your own sound palette to keep the raw, 90s sound of the samples, which you wanted to maintain? Or did you use solely the samples and built the whole album on them?
S: The synthesizers are by Korg M1 and Massive. That’s something I did not have on the USB stick, so I had to use them. To make everything fit together was the most difficult part of the work.
LSD: For your new record, in the intro track, you sample “The Realness” and it’s also a name of other track from the album. How would you define the ‘realness’ for yourself?
S: Firstly, I did that because it’s typical for Mobb Deep to talk about „keep it real” and „the realness” and at that time, it was always about „the real music” and not being fake. It was an underground movement. And the whole album sounds like this too. You don’t have any singing vocal or a track only made to be top on the Beatport charts or something like that.
To me personally, “The Realness” relates more to the sound back then.
LSD: You say that at the beginning of the making of process, you suffered from a creative depression, which is also reflected on the album cover. How did you get out of it and what would be your recommendation for other producers who might face similar problems?
S: First, I started with hip hop and then I switched to electronic music. I started with DJing and produced my first music with only 14 years. That’s why I’m really connected to my creative character like a lot of other artists too. It’s not just making music, you live your life with this and pay your bills from this. You’re getting older and think differently and may wanna change your creative character with this. What will you do? You fall in a depression and rebuild yourself.
This affected me very hard but made me really stronger than before. I can’t give any advice, it will happen anyways.
LSD: What are your plans for 2017 and your label Infamous Tracks? Will we be able to see you DJing hip hop or playing live from your new album?
S: I will be DJing more electronic music, but some hip hop gigs too for sure. I’m creating a new DJ show for 2017, it’s a mix of playing live and DJ elements. There is also an EP planned for this project on my label.
The release plan is to be more focused on my stuff and remixes of them.