We caught up with Clams Casino when he was last in Toronto. We spent an evening with him inside The Thompson Hotel to discuss his debut, 32 Levels, how video games are a major influence behind his project, Lil B The BasedGod, his current tour and more. Get familiar with the New Jersey artist now.
Tell us about the creative process behind 32 Levels
I was working on it for about 2 years. Some of the ideas were older, and the inspiration I pulled from were older, but the process was 2 years.
It was completely new for me. I have never done something like that – starting a project from scratch, like the instrumental mixtapes and EP’s I’ve put out is always music I’ve had sitting around. This is the first project I went into saying “I want to do this,” not knowing what it would be, so it was a new process for me, figuring that all out.
Video games had a large influence behind 32 Levels. Are there any specific games that stood out to you?
Yeah, during the making of 32 Levels. it (video games) was probably once of the biggest influences ’cause I wasn’t really listening to music, or following new music, I was kinda shut out from that because I didn’t want it to affect my decisions or anything, or stay too up-to-date with everything coming out, so I was just playing games and that’s what I was taking in most of the time while I was recording.
I was playing mostly older games, like Zelda on Nintendo 64, The Wheel of Time – I played that for a while, the music in there is amazing. Other older games like Mortal Kombat, just dark music and scary sounds. Games like that soak in, not consciously, but came out in other ways you know? Inspired by that, but not realizing it until later.
How did you and Lil B link up? Even before you guys sent each other music and met in the studio. When did it all start.
I reached out to him on MySpace in like 2008. It was a long time ago. I was a fan of The Pack for a few years before that. I started to get serious about producing and wanted to get my music out, send my music out.
Lil B was one of the first guys that responded to me, I mean, I hit everyone up on MySpace that I would try to work with, link them my beats, so I had sent him a message on MySpace, and sent him my music. Every once in a while he would respond and then he would start using them, so that was a long time ago – 8 years ago.
How was it being in the studio together vs. being online?
That’s another weird thing about it too. We worked for that long but we didn’t really meet properly, or hung out and worked in the studio until last year for this album. That was 7 years of just working online and never really meeting, I had done some shows with him, but we never really hung out, we just saw each other and said ‘Wussup’ and that’s about it. Being in the studio felt natural, felt like we kinda knew each other I guess, from all the stuff we had worked on already. We just picked up the first day. He came out to LA while I was working on the album. I was out there for like three weeks during the summer, and we flew him down there and he just posted at the studio and we started making music the first day. We talked and hung out for a while, but we started writing and stuff, and we made 4 songs in those 3 days I think. It all happened so naturally so it was easy, came naturally. I didn’t know what to expect, sometimes, maybe it wouldn’t work, but luckily it did.
Was the process just as fluid with other artists you worked with such as A$AP Rocky or Vince Staples?
Yeah, I mean they’re all a little bit different. I do most of the stuff online, so I’ll meet up with Rocky every once in a while, just play beats and stuff, but he’ll want to take them on his own and spend time writing.
Everyone has their own way of doing something, their own process.
Yeah, Staples too. Same process, for his album, for mine, I’ll email him or play beats for him in the studio and then he’ll take it home to spend some time, maybe we’ll meet up again to record it, or sometimes they record it on their own. I’m the same way, I don’t really do too much on the spot, I’d rather be home, I’d rather be alone, spend time, sometimes I’m trying to get myself better at putting myself on the spot at the studio session. Sometimes you have to be able to think fast, make something fast, and I do it. I’m just much more comfortable when I can take time and then send it to the artist, or play it for them vs. making stuff on the spot. I take a lot of time making music, so I probably think too much about it too. Working with those guys works well ’cause they understand that. You know, they’re doing stuff in their room too, so most of the time, everything that I do is over email.
Did you always want to pursue producing as a career?
No, I never thought it would realistically work. That’s why I went to school. I been making music my whole life since I was young, I started playing drums when I was young, I started doing my own beats and messing around with that when I was about 14. I was doing it forever, but I never really thought I would make a living off of it so that’s why I went to school. Told myself, ‘let me just do it as a hobby’, and I still went hard with it, I was still trying. The whole time, especially when I started to get real serious about it, almost 9, 10 years ago, 2007, I used the internet (MySpace) to get serious about it. At the same time, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for a living, you know I never thought it would really happen, be able to make a career out of it.
It started a little at a time too. The Lil B stuff was one of them, just talking to people online and sending them beats I listen to, and people I’m fans of. That was a big deal to me already. That was right when I first started – I was sending these guys beats and they were using my beats. From there, bigger artists, like Soulja Boy , not long after that, hit me up cause he was hanging out with Lil B, and he got beats through him. When I first put my instrumental tape out, that got sent around a lot, to different types of people, electronic people, and fans that weren’t really Hip-Hop fans, so that got around to a whole new crowd and that was another big thing. I hadn’t made any money off of (producing) until that point. When I first started making a little bit of money I was like ‘Oh, maybe I can do it’ you know? ‘Cause for years I wasn’t getting paid for anything.
It took a long time to be able to make music full-time. It was a lot of little steps and little things on the way that kept me going. It was definitely a steady thing, I wouldn’t say one thing really kicked it off. When I put my first instrumental tape out, people started seeing me as an artist and that was a whole new thing.
Tell us about your new single “Walls” with Elle Watson. How did you link up with her?
She’s a fan of me and music I’ve done. She had reached out to me. It’s funny, I remember she had recorded a cover of Mikky Ekko’s “Pull Me Down”- the song I had done with Ekko years ago. When that first came out, she did a YouTube cover video, playing guitar. She had reached out to me through Paul Epworth, who runs the label that she is signed to, and who’s my friend too. They told me she wanted to reach out to people that she liked, and listened to and wanted to work with, so I flew out to London in January of this year (2016) and we worked out there on some stuff, so we have a few more things coming out. She’s a really talented writer and singer. She’s got a lot of good music that’s about to come out.
Anyone you want to collaborate with that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
Yeah, there’s a lot of guys I really want to work with that I’ve been kind of talking to, hopefully, some stuff will come out soon. Some of the favourite new guys, stay tuned for that.
What’s your next move after this tour?
I’m just making music in between these shows. I’ve been making a lot of music without any goals, just making beats and it’s been good. Working on my album and specific stuff for so long, after a while I got burnt out on that. But now, I’m just making stuff that I can go back to, whether I use it for myself or give it to other people, not having something specific in mind has been refreshing. I’m on tour ’til early next year (2017), February or March of next year. I’ll be sharing new music soon enough so just stay tuned for that.
If you haven’t done so yet, stream 32 Levels below and be sure to purchase your copy here.