When you hear Clams Casino for the first time, it’s hard to forget his sound. You may think you’ve heard it all in Hip Hop, but Clams Casino tracks somehow make you rethink that notion. There’s a certain depth and emotion to them, an atmosphere that engulfs you further into their musical inner workings. The tracks burst yet remain insulated, seeming to say so much while simultaneously saying nothing at all.
While he may be hard to classify, virtually everyone agrees that Clams Casino, the Nutley, New Jersey native who first gained notoriety for standout production on tracks like Lil B’s “I’m God,” certainly has a definite sound, and that sound has recently been on all the right projects.
After gaining some buzz from working with Lil B and Soulja Boy, as well as releasing an instrumental mixtape, Clams furthered his rep recently by making key appearances on two noteworthy releases: Mac Miller’s recent Billboard-topping debut Blue Slide Park features two of his beats, and the much-hyped mixtape debut from A$AP Rocky, LiveLoveA$AP, features no less than five. With plenty of exposure from these projects, it seems like only a matter of time before his dense, emotional soundscapes find their way to even bigger projects.
DXnext was able to speak with Clams Casino by phone a few weeks ago to find out about how he linked up with A$AP Rocky and Mac Miller, what it’s like to get covered by the Wall Street Journal before the Source, and whether or not his recent success is enough to put his training as a physical therapist’s assistant on hold.
On First Starting To Take Music Seriously: “It was like, maybe the fall of 2007. That’s when I kind of just decided [to send music to artists]. My friends had been telling me for a while ‘Yo, you gotta do something with this. You gotta actually try to get out there to get heard and try and start working with rappers. Your stuff is good enough to be working with all these guys.’ [They were] the ones trying to convince me.
“It was around the end of 2007 when I really just got serious with it. I started hitting everybody online, using MySpace to try and connect with rappers and send them beats. That’s when it all started. It all kind of took off pretty fast from there.”
On First Getting Involved With A$AP Rocky: “I first started talking to [A$AP] Rocky this year, like maybe April or May. I heard some of his stuff online and I got in touch with one of his boys and tried to send him some beats. I got his email [and] I sent him like three or four beats and told him who I was. I was like ‘Yo, I found you online and I’m trying to work with you.’ I told him who I worked with and everything, and he hit me back. He was like, ‘Yo, that’s crazy. You’re like my favorite producer right now. I already had stuff recorded on your shit from the instrumental mixtape. I was planning on hitting you up eventually to do some new stuff.’ I hit him with like four beats and he sent me something right back that he had already recorded onto [one of my instrumentals] called ‘Demons.’ He recorded that before we even ever started talking and shit, so I thought that was pretty cool. I called it ‘Numb’ on the instrumental mixtape.
“From there, I just kept sending him stuff. He was already recording on my [tracks] and we hadn’t even started talking yet. I just kept sending him stuff, and then we started working on the mixtape. We were doing that all summer.”
On “Wassup” From A$AP Rocky’s LiveLoveASAP : “We always knew that was going on the mixtape because that was like the first beat that I sent him. That was one that he recorded after we started talking, and after he sent that back, I was like ‘Oh shit, I really like this,’ so I just kept hitting him with beats [that ended up on] the rest of the mixtape.”
On Transitioning To Playing For A Live Audience: “It’s pretty cool. I never really thought I’d be doing it, but people want to hear it. I just kind of go out there and deejay, play my instrumentals and stuff, so I’ve been having fun doing it. I never thought it would be something that I’d really want to do, but it’s been cool so far. It’s been good times.
“It’s cool to see people reacting to [the tracks] live. You don’t get to see that if you just put music out online. [On the Internet], you can hear people and they can write messages and stuff. They like it and everything, but when you see it at a show and you see people actually reacting to it, it’s a whole different thing.”
On Working With Mac Miller: “I had seen that he had tweeted something about me. He kind of shouted me out on Twitter and I hit him up. He was like ‘Yo, I need to mess with this guy Clams. He’s got a real different sound. He likes to go outside the box.’ I was like ‘Yo, just hit me up.’ He sent me a private message [with] his number, we started talking, and I just started doing some stuff from there. It’s kind of the opposite of [what happened with] Rocky – I kind of found him and sent him stuff, but [with] Mac [Miller], I think some of his boys were just showing him my music – maybe my instrumental tape, my [Rainforest] EP and stuff – and he just shouted me out. I ended up meeting up with him a few times, but the songs that he recorded on, we weren’t together in the studio. He just did it through email.”
On Future Solo Plans: “I’m not doing any solo stuff or instrumental stuff right now. That’s because I’ve got a lot of that out [already] – I’ve got the whole instrumental tape that [dropped] in the spring, and then I had the EP in the summer. There’s a lot out right now, so I’m just trying to work with some other artists because that’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I mean, the instrumental stuff is cool. Maybe sometime next year I’ll think about starting another instrumental project, but for right now, I’m not really focusing on that.”
YouTube Link: Clams Casino “Natural” [Rainforest EP] HYPERLINK “http://www.youtube.com/user/clammyclams?feature=watch” l “p/u/13/cwDzy6h8vBI”http://www.youtube.com/user/clammyclams?feature=watch#p/u/13/cwDzy6h8vBI
Reception In The UK – Bigger Than Buzz in U.S.?: “It’s been crazy. Websites and magazines based out of the U.K. have been showing a lot of love. I’d say it’s probably about the same as in the States, but it’s cool to see that from a lot of people over there. I’d like to go over there sometime soon. At the end of this month, I’m going to Spain, to Madrid, to do a show and stuff for Red Bull Music Academy, but I’ll just be going there and back. Hopefully sometime next year I’ll get to go to the UK and all the other places.”
Searching Napster And Other Music Services For Samples Using Keywords – True story?: “Yeah, I would do that most of the time. I haven’t done it recently, the main reason being that I’m trying to stay away for samples because of legal stuff, so I’m trying not to do it as much. The new stuff I’ve been making sounds like all the same stuff but it’s not like copyrighted songs or anything. I haven’t done it in years because I’ve just saved up so much stuff over the years. I have a big folder that I go to [full of] everything that I’ve gotten together [over time]. I don’t really need to even go back to searching for new stuff to sample any more. But yeah, that was how I used to do it. I would just search stuff and try to get [tracks] that I’d never heard of before, any stuff from around the world, and just type in words and see whatever comes up. That was just a good way to find a lot of new stuff that I would’ve had no idea about, so I did do that a lot, yeah.
“I didn’t really plan [the process] out too much. I was just kind of trying to find different stuff and things that didn’t sound like what [else was] out there. When I first started making beats, I would sample a bunch of soul stuff like Kanye, all the same stuff that he would sample. When I started getting deeper into making stuff, I just got bored of that and wanted to find new, different things as a kind of challenge. Experimenting is kind of how it all started really. It was really just about experimenting and seeing what I could do with lot of different kinds of things. It probably just came out of getting bored of sampling the same sort of soul stuff.”
On finding “Just For Now” by Imogen Heap, the sample used on Lil B‘s “I’m God”: “One of my friends had sent me a song of hers to sample, and it wasn’t that one. I think it was “Hide and Seek” or something, another one of her songs, one of her big songs, and that was the first time that I had ever heard of her. He was like ‘Yo, check this out.’ He sent me a song, kind of like an a cappella thing, so I started messing with that, and then I just searched for more of her stuff. Out of that came ‘I’m God’ and a bunch of other stuff.”
YouTube Link: Lil B “I’m God”- HYPERLINK “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG6zsHUCum4″http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG6zsHUCum4 YouTube Link: Lil B “I’m God” Instrumental – HYPERLINK “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVZNucbIga4″http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVZNucbIga4
On Hip Hop Publications Being Some Of The Last To Come Around To His Sound: “Yeah, some of the Hip Hop ones have been the last ones to reach out. It’s just funny to me. Some of them still haven’t yet, at all, and some of them have just [started] now. Most of them have not even reached out yet. It’s kind of backwards, but you know. . . . That’s just talking about the publications. The Hip Hop fans, they know that I’m making Hip Hop beats.
On Pursuing A Career As A Physical Therapist’s Assistant: “It’s on hold now. I got my license and everything and I want to make sure I finish. I actually went all the way through school and I’m happy that it happened at a good time. It just worked out – all the music stuff started really going crazy when I was winding school down and it was all happening at the same time. I just want to make sure I finish so I can always have that there, to have that license as back up. I just want to make sure I’ve got it all done. This year, I don’t even know what’s gonna happen [so] we’ll see.”
Follow Clams Casino on Twitter (@ClammyClams). You can download his instrumental mixtape here.