In case you haven't noticed, Azealia Banks is back and coming for your neck. After being released from her dead-end contract with Interscope, aka Yung Rapunxel dropped a new single, "Heavy Metal and Reflective" yesterday (July 28th, 2014). The song combines Banks's signature raw vocals with a @LIL INTERNET-produced beat that's equal parts weird and completely club-worthy. And you know if @LIL is involved, there's a story behind the banger...
So, tell me the story of "Heavy Metal and Reflective."
@LIL INTERNET: So, I made the beat for "HM&R" in London—I was there working in the studio with Azealia and Machine Drum, and me and Machine Drum would drink a whole bottle of whiskey every day, working on beats and playing each other what we were making. Anyway, there was this really loud fan in the bathroom of the studio, and every time I was in the bathroom I'd kind of rock out to the sound of this bathroom fan, this vibrating drone sound with a life of its own. Finally, I brought my laptop into the bathroom and recorded the fan. I took the sample of the fan and tuned it. So that weird rising and falling pad sound—people have actually mentioned on messageboards how crazy and cinematic of a sound it is—that sound is literally the fan in the bathroom of the studio in London.
That’s incredible. Is that the first time you’ve used sound from found objects in a beat?
@LI: I try to use unconventional samples a lot. With how near-limitless production is now with endless softsynths, effects, and plug-ins, the next logical step is to transcend conventions of what an instrument is entirely. I love the vast feeling of freedom that comes from treating literally everything in the entire world as part of your sound palette and as a potential instrument. I used a lot of found sounds and objects in "Yung Rapunxel" as well, but not quite as musically as I did in "HM&R." I listen to a lot of industrial music—Skinny Puppy is a big favorite of mine—and I think using found sounds and objects has always been a part of that genre, so I like continuing in those footsteps but applying it to pop music. The change in perception that comes from thinking of any sound as a possible instrument is truly incredible. Once you start thinking like that, walking down the street, really anywhere you go becomes an immersive symphony. It's such a simple change in cognition that makes your perception so much richer.
Kind of like Readymade music.
@LI I'm a big fan of Duchamp—my parents actually gave me a small lithograph they bought in the 70s of his, so I keep his energy around. There are some parallels here to Readymades, and certainly there has been a lot of music made with the technique of Burroughs's Cut-ups. I feel like a Readymade pop song would just have to be outright stolen from another song however. Maybe though, there's a bird somewhere who tweets a really dope melody you could use. You could pay its royalties in seeds, buy it a sick bird house with a pimped-out bird bath.