Beatchild Rises to the Challenge for New Track "Thunder Groove"

The new tune was created with only live instruments
Beatchild Rises to the Challenge for New Track 'Thunder Groove'
Photo: Chris Aznar
When Beatchild set out to create his new song "Thunder Groove," he was given one simple challenge: create a track using only live instruments.

The Sarnia, ON-born producer né Byram Joseph is certainly fond of mashing up the digital with the analogue, with a penchant for programmed drums, samples and virtual gear alongside his real-world array of instruments. Whether as Slakah the Beatchild, Beatchild & the Slakadeliqs, or his current moniker, Beatchild is a master of weaving a rich tapestry of sounds that blur the line between live and virtual, a time-warping blend of funky, throwback grooves and cutting-edge technology.

But, as the producer tells Exclaim!, the restriction kept his process intact. "I approached it like I do most other solo works," he says. "I often sit at the piano and improvise until I do something that feels good. The piano riff is basically something I improvised and liked. I built everything around that."

Recorded with a Universal Audio Apollo Twin X interface, Beatchild found that the interface allowed him to keep to his typical practice of "committing to sounds and tone on the way in" rather than treating everything digitally in post-production. With an array of UAD plug-ins including the Neve 1073 preamp, the 1176 Classic Limiter Collection, the Teletronix LA-2A Leveling Amplifier, and the Studer A800 and Ampex ATR-102 tape recorders, Beatchild brought his collection of real instruments to life. Once mixed, the final polish was added by mastering engineer David Roman of 4130 Mastering, who stayed "in the box," mastering it with various UAD plug-ins.

On "Thunder Groove," Beatchild builds a head-boppin' soundscape where each instrument is fully committed to making listeners dance in their seats. Each element is recorded cleanly and crisply — no matter which instrument one chooses to focus on, there are plenty of fun licks, riffs and fills to be found, be it via Beatchild's Fender Stratocaster guitar, Fender Precision Bass, Ludwig Classic Maple drum kit, Hohner Pianet T electro-mechanical piano or his "old upright piano."

All of the instruments were recorded by the Royer Labs R-10 ribbon microphone. "I'm so happy with the result that I might only use this mic on instruments from now on," says Beatchild.

"Thunder Groove" keeps to Beatchild's penchant for rethinking and reapproaching his standard style of production, a central theme of his recent output. While longtime listeners are patiently waiting for the forthcoming third instalment of his Soul Movement album series — following 2009's Vol. 1 and 2014's Vol. 2 — he's been keeping his fans fed in the meantime. He kicked off 2021 with Nostalgia: Beats of 2008 – 2020, which delivered instrumental versions of tracks from that fertile 12-year period of his, bringing his expressive blend of funk, hip-hop and psychedelia to the forefront.

If Nostalgia represents his past, his upcoming Unselfish Desires EP represents his future. Due for release on August 13 via longtime label BBE, the six-track effort features a vibrant collection of sounds drawn together by Beatchild's infectious need to keep listeners grooving. The EP's title track also serves as its lead single. Remarks Beatchild on the Wurlitzer-driven tune, "It actually has a similar vibe to 'Thunder Groove.' I'm about the soulful funk lately."