what i play

Jor­don Man­swell

Exclaim! - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - by Erin Low­ers

HID­DEN IN THE OUT­SKIRTS OF TORONTO, YOU CAN FIND A PLETHORA OF THE COUN­TRY’S BRIGHT­EST AND MOST IN­FLU­EN­TIAL HIP-HOP AND R&B PRO­DUC­ERS. For many, in­clud­ing Jor­don Man­swell — pro­ducer of Daniel Cae­sar’s “We Found Love” and Mariah Carey’s “GTFO” — their big­gest hits come out of their home stu­dios.

Com­pared to many, Man­swell’s Whitby, ON stu­dio favours sim­plic­ity — it’s brightly lit and clut­ter free. Cae­sar’s Freudian vinyl sits on a record player ready to be played. Above him, a framed pic­ture lists some life af­fir­ma­tions.

“It was a gift from my girl when I quit my job [to pur­sue] mu­sic, even though I didn’t know ex­actly what I was go­ing to do. It was a re­minder that this is your pas­sion and to con­tinue with it, and if you re­ally love it and you put all your work into it, it’ll fig­ure it­self out — and it’s fig­ur­ing it­self out,” he ex­plains.

While gospel singers like Kirk Franklin, J. Moss and John P. Kee echoed through his child­hood, Man­swell re­veals that “G-Unit was the be­gin­ning. They had the coloured du-rags, they had a whole cloth­ing line — come on, you had to have loved GUnit,” he en­thuses.

In 2014, Man­swell, who still oc­ca­sion­ally re­leases in­stru­men­tal beat tapes, en­tered “Bat­tle of the Beat­mak­ers,” Canada’s largest pro­ducer beat bat­tle com­pe­ti­tion.

“Even though we have the in­ter­net and you can put your­self out there by drop­ping beat tapes, or you don’t even have to wait for any­one to re­lease your mu­sic, be­ing in a room with so many like­minded in­di­vid­u­als is so im­por­tant. You build con­nec­tions, you col­lab­o­rate and you just be­come more com­fort­able around peo­ple do­ing the same things. I met Seven Thomas, Won­daGurl, Fran­cisGotHeat — all these peo­ple through the ‘Bat­tle of the Beat­mak­ers.’ We’ve all col­lab­o­rated, we all know and love each other, and it helps us progress in our ca­reers.”

Be­fore Man­swell won the 2014 “Bat­tle of the Beat­mak­ers,” he was fi­ness­ing his craft on Beatcraft drum ma­chine soft­ware at home. “My cousin in­tro­duced me to mak­ing beats. We would al­ways lis­ten to Jeezy’s ‘And Then What’ and Jer­maine Dupri’s ‘I Think They Like Me.’ It was such a sim­ple beat, and I could wrap my head around that. I got Beatcraft, and started re­mak­ing that beat.”

Man­swell, who cred­its “a cof­fee, a re­ally good melody and good spir­its” to get him into pro­duc­tion mode, also cites the mall — yes, the mall.

“You know how peo­ple used to go to the record store and go dig­ging? I used to go to H&M and Zara and all these places. They al­ways had in­ter­est­ing mu­sic play­ing in the store, so I just went to the mall and started Shaz­a­m­ing. That’s how I found most of my sam­ples — it’s like the new crate dig­ging,” he ca­su­ally ex­plains.

While some dig­ging en­thu­si­asts would scoff at the method, for Man­swell, it aligns with the com­fort of his stu­dio. It’s his method.

“I can’t just make beats just ’cause — I gotta feel it first. How­ever I’m feel­ing that day al­ways comes out on the keys,” he says. “I’m not a pi­ano player, but I know the feel of the pi­ano, so I’ll lit­er­ally just put my fingers on the keys and fig­ure it out.”

As a Toronto-based pro­ducer, that feel­ing is also in­stinc­tively de­pen­dent on the city’s cul­tural fab­ric.

“There are just so many dif­fer­ent el­e­ments that make Toronto a safe place to make what­ever the hell you want,” he says. “You can have Nine­teen85 make a ‘One Dance’ and it’s not weird. You can have Boi-1da do ‘Mob Ties’ be­cause there’s Scar­bor­ough. You can have a Daniel Cae­sar make a Freudian be­cause there’s Oshawa — even though that’s not Toronto, we’re all in the city.”

In a non­cha­lant voice, Man­swell slips in that he signed to a pro­duc­tion house, Sum­mer of 85, founded by none other than Grammy Award-win­ning and fel­low Cana­dian pro­ducer Nine­teen85, with whom he co-pro­duced Carey’s sin­gle “GTFO.” Though that one was pro­duced abroad, Man­swell’s need to col­lab­o­rate with lo­cal artists and pro­duc­ers brings the con­ver­sa­tion back home to his Whitby stu­dio.

“We’re the only ones that un­der­stand each other be­cause we’re from the same place. When Drake and the Weeknd came out, there was this whole thing like the ‘Toronto sound’ or the ‘OVO sound’ and to us, that’s nor­mal,” he says. “I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant that we stick to­gether and fully see through the sound that we have here and the feel­ing in our mu­sic. [ When] we’re to­gether, we can prop­erly fuel more of this sound, and take it even fur­ther.”

“There are so many el­e­ments that make Toronto a safe place to make what­ever you want. ”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.