While I tweeted with friends who lived no more than 15 miles away throughout 2020, new friends were made in between on a platform where we can use no more than 240 characters at a time. One of those new friends being (Leave)Nelson B.
(Leave)Nelson B and I went back and forth throughout much of last year about issues Black folks face, ‘Degrassi,’ and so much more but when it came time to talk about his plans for new music in the new year, we had to move the conversation here. So sit back and get to know more about a healthcare worker who made channeled whatever free time they had into music.
Kendra: For those that don’t know, we’re Twitter friends! We exchange from time to time and you’d mentioned that by the end of the year, your release from January 2020 felt like it was at least two years old. You dropped more music throughout the year, but did you ever feel too emotionally exhausted after well…everything that 2020 had thrown at the world?
(Leave)Nelson B: Yes, Your Twitter feed is a treasure, especially with how toxic that environment can get.
This year has been great for me from a musical perspective. I work in healthcare at a major trauma center, so my job was never gonna be threatened, though I feel really bad for all of the people that were not as fortunate. But I invested in making music and that is well suited for isolation. I’m not sure what copper tipped me, but the last year or so has been a surge of creativity, hence the 3 LPs in 2020.
I probably communicated with my labelmates more this year than in the past, plus I am just a happier person; not the stoic sad sack that always had to be right like I used to be. With that said, I think in the post-Trayvon Martin world, I have adopted an “everything’s fucked” point of view, and things are performing as designed, I wish the ignorance of some people was alarming to me but it’s not. People’s true colors have come out and I can do nothing but thank them for showing how truthfully selfish and ignorant they are.
Kendra: Speaking of 2020, did anything from that year inspire anything on your latest release?
(Leave)Nelson B: My labelmates all throughout the year. Holy Kerouac released a monster of an EP a couple of months after ‘2.0’ came out. I didn’t write a track for a month because it put me on my ass. Then Superdestroyer released his LP shortly before mine and that was a gem, meanwhile this album and ‘3.0’ were done with projected release dates. I have a ton more songs done that will see the light this coming year.
Kendra: When I listen to your music I think of really awesome video games and advertisements. So if you had to place one of your new songs in a commercial for any product out there – which song and product would you choose? And just don’t go for the one that’ll have the biggest check.
(Leave)Nelson B: That is a hard one because I want to make an elaborate joke. Some of the songs I wrote with something specific in mind like “Wallace” was an ambition I had with a singer that went back on her end to remix “Wallace” by Azealia Banks, and “Framed” is my take on the Griselda sound. As far as commercials go, I would love to see “Hey” used in a Boys and Girls Club advertisement, that would make me feel good inside. I wouldn’t even take a check for that.
Kendra: I took a few music classes in college. I thought I would most definitely fail the Classical and Latin American ones because they were void of words. I wound up acing them. However, it’s one thing to recognize instrumental music but to make it…? How do you approach writing a piece void of the basic lyrical content?
(Leave)Nelson B: I just try to find something that I think is funky and see what I can do with it more often than not. It’s probably bad advice but I start with a set of effects I want to use before I have a sample or chord progression in mind. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen the other way also, my label remix projects start with the samples first. There is no one way I do things, sometimes my computer is on some bullshit so I do everything away from it, sometimes my sampler feels like fucking up so I create exclusively on the computer. If it makes my head nod, I see it through to the finish. I have to love the sample or riff, if not shit is gonna be wack.
Kendra: Classical composers often are regarded as these giants, legends in music. In many ways, those who produce modern electronic and hip hop beats could be considered the same for this generation. What are your thoughts on that sentiment?
(Leave)Nelson B: If Beethoven had an MPC or Maschine, he would have been dope as fuck. I remember hearing that Hans Zimmer has and actively uses his Moog, and I believe it. That Pink Floyd cover for ‘Dune’ is my favorite thing of 2020.
Frank Zappa, Prince, or Trent Reznor has just as much, if not more, talent than classical giants. But I am not gonna make something as iconic as “Flight of the Valkyries,” or “Waltz of the Flowers.”
That sentiment is valid on some fronts, I think most composers use electronic musical influences and instruments, like Shiro Sagisu or Yoko Kanno. But as far as Calvin Harris, Deadmau5, RZA, or J Dilla being as talented? I would say so, if not more so.
Kendra: My guy grew up in Ohio where you are and found hip hop but then it was thanks to the radio and MTV. How is the hip hop scene in the 21st century?
(Leave)Nelson B: The Hip Hop Scene, at least in Cleveland is alive and well. Caity 380 is popping on YouTube and Instagram. The same with Mondo Slade. I even reached out to work with some people, we’ll see if that bears any fruits. We may lose some classic crappy venues though. They are crappy but they host some great underground acts when they do come here, I have fond memories of those places. Blueprint and Illogic have migrated hard into the podcast and book space. The scene is healthy, not at its best, but healthy.
Kendra: We’re out of 2020 but we’re still not out of the mess that year was. How do you even start to plan how to approach the new year from a creative perspective?
(Leave)Nelson B: The most important thing for me is to move forward. I don’t want someone to hear a track of mine and know “that’s a Leave Nelson B joint” I would like to keep them guessing. There is a lot more coming from me. I have a single series starting next month. For that project, I am releasing a single every month for the entire year. There is possibly a ‘Phantom’ sequel coming as well.