Checking In With Producer
By Kathy Iandoli
If you follow Vanderslice on any social media assortment, you know that his posts are just as complex and unconventional as his beats. The production mastermind has a resume punctuated with top-notch artists including Vinnie Paz, Freddie Gibbs, and Evidence, and while the man born Eric Vanderslice (yes his government last name is actually that cool), and his love of all things vinyl is very apparent in his samples and prized possession (he’s pictured here proudly holding a limited run release of a gospel record distributed by Kentucky Fried Chicken). We caught up with Vanderslice to talk vinyl and music, which for him are really one in the same.
Do you remember the first record you ever bought?
It was Fat Boys "Crushin" in 1987. I was six years old, and I loved the cover.
You still primarily sample on vinyl. Why is that?
There are way more records in the world than there are mp3's. Even with the nature of the internet and people sampling YouTube, they'll always be playing catch up ball to someone who is in the field digging up records.
How big would you estimate your record collection to be?
I grip and flip most of my records to keep the lights on so I only keep what I sample—what I hold near and dear—and covers for my wall, so I'd say a rough estimate is maybe about 3 to 4,000 at any given moment. I'm not on that hoarder shit—I buy whole library collections, use ‘em, once the beats get sold or used, I'll sell the whole collection and hit the reset button.
What is it about vinyl that still captivates you?
It's knowing what goes into the creation of an album that still grabs me. I like the fact that being in the arena still counts for something. How many hip-hoppers in Elmo suits are trying to sell you their mixtape on vinyl? It takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to press your own vinyl, and I think that should still matter. The craftsmanship of the actual product. It's why I put out records, I want someone to find my record in a beat up old record store for a dollar, sit there, and decide whether or not it's worth a dollar to invest, go home, and be mind blown at the content on it. There is no better way of capturing a new ear. It's really a dopamine release at this point. It's not all that different from people with drug habits or gambling addictions. I could get married and be somewhere remote on my honeymoon, if I see a record store, I'm absolutely stopping and checking it out.
Who are some of your collaborators? Do they chop on vinyl mainly too?
My collaborators are mainly people who play instruments but are also of the same mind state. Green Steez and I were pretty much on the level at one point and his progress was stunted by a misspent young adulthood smoking weed and dating selfish Latina women instead of digging in the crates and making beats. He's lucky he's method trained so he can still play the keys, guitar, and bass, so he still provides an immense value.
Do you still go digging? If so, what is your favorite spot? If not, what WAS your favorite spot?
I don't dig as much these days, but you don't ever truly stop. I have connects to some heavy hitters like my dear friend Gene Brown [seen here ROLLIN' as only he can in his mobile record store outside of my home] and Julian from Recordkingz.com. They've been go-to guys for a while, but my all time favorite spot to dig was the Philadelphia Record Exchange on 5th Street. They moved, and
the essence isn't the same, but I used to spend hours in the basement. If you know my work with Vinnie Paz and The Army of The Pharaohs, every rock sample I ever used in any of those beats came out of that basement. I used to dig heavy in New York. Jared from The Sound Library was also instrumental in helping me find my sound. Academy in Brooklyn, Good Records, Breakdown Records, the list goes on.
What are some of the projects you have out/coming out?
I have an album and several beat tapes out; I'm a straight to market guy. My album Everything's Awesome came out on white vinyl with no bar code. It has fancy beats and raps on it courtesy of Freddie Gibbs, Evidence from Dilated Peoples, Apathy & Celph Titled, Maffew Ragazino, AWAR, and my man Merkules. All things Vanderslice can be heard and more importantly purchased at https://vanderslice.bandcamp.com/. I'm working on a couple things, most noted are some new singles (yes on vinyl) with Freddie Gibbs, and my brother from another mother Awar. We did a song with Scarface and Anthony Hamilton that I'm pretty proud of, and beyond that I got nothin' going on. I'm stuck in a loop of insomnia, sexual deviance, and used Movember as an excuse to not shave (or shower).
What is your Holy Grail record you hope to own one day on vinyl?
That's a super tough question, because my Holy Grail would be something like being able to dig in the CBS Library. I don't even think they pressed records, but they own the music to my childhood that was never really available on any platform other than TV shows. Watching a chase scene in T.J. Hooker or Hawaii Five-0 is actually a huge influence on my sound to this day. They pressed a soundtrack, but I'm talking more so the incidental music and cut scene themes. It's still my favorite kind of music to sample and to find.