I recently got the chance to speak with Electronic Musician/Producer Amplicity. Known for his downtempo, melody-driven tracks, Amplicity was named Musician of the Year at the 2013 RAWards in Brooklyn, New York (yeah, he’s pretty legit). While the Pennsylvania native stays busy tracking tunes, producing with his friends at Highline Sounds and working as a web developer, Amplicity made time to talk with me about his music, family, RAWards, and the pains of overpriced drinks.
Vinyl Magazine: So, how’s it going?
Amplicity: Going pretty good. I’m in Brigantine, New Jersey kind of near Atlantic City doing some producing right now.
VM: Very cool. I’m going to start with a question that seems stereotypical, but I’m really curious about this. How’d you decide on the name Amplicity?
Amplicity: So, I produced for a while under Highline Sounds. My friends and I did hip-hop beats. Then I went to Penn State and after I graduated I started working on some solo projects that focused a lot on, like, downtempo-type beats. And I thought of it as amplified simplicity, because the stuff that I was doing was pretty simple. Simple, melodic concepts, but I like really loud stuff too and I have both of those things in my music, so that’s when I thought of amplified simplicity or… Amplicity.
VM: So, did you study music while you were at Penn State?
Amplicity: Nah, I studied Information Technology. I’m also a Web Developer.
VM: Do you feel like your studies at Penn State have influenced how you go about making your music at all?
Amplicity: Yeah, for sure. A lot of times I prefer to program and sequence stuff in rather than do it live. I mean I’ve had a vast musical background. I’ve played guitar, piano, drums, saxophone, clarinet, but I still like computers. I’ve been around computers for practically my entire life, so I really like programming things in and the whole act of sequencing, rather than playing stuff live to be honest.
VM: So when you go in to produce a song or create a remix is there one thing that you feel is most important?
Amplicity: Totally. Melody. The first thing I always think about when either doing an original or doing a remix or choosing something to sample is definitely the melody. There are a few different keys that I like more than others. I usually try to play around with more positive, feel-good keys, but the melody is by far the most important thing for me when starting a track.
VM: Yeah, even in a remix it seems like most people are still looking for a melody.
Amplicity: Exactly, and the original song is important too, but the first thing that I think about is definitely the melody.
VM: Who would you say are some of your influences? Musical and non-musical.
Amplicity: There’s a few. As far as musical goes Mr. Carmack is definitely one. He’s really innovative with the way he does drums, and his tracks in general are just really unique. I really like him a lot. Cashmere Cat is another one. He’s a big influence in the way that he puts tracks together. He’s another artist with a unique style of production as far as the way he uses vocal samples, melody, and drums. And then also my entire family is a huge influence. My family is very musical as well, so it’s always been a very common practice within my family.
VM: Did you grow up playing the clarinet and all of those other instruments because your family was so musically oriented?
Amplicity: Yeah, my father plays drums, my uncle plays guitar, my aunt sings, my grandpa played guitar, so music has always been a very common part of our family.
VM: That’s almost a full band. Are you guys going to get the family band back together over the holidays?
Amplicity: Yeah, that’s actually pretty funny, because they have a Christmas CD that they did a long time ago full of all our family stuff. Honestly, my dad is a big influence on me, because he’s into smooth jazz, and while I’m not a huge smooth jazz fan per say, I still have a lot of jazz influences in my tracks in the way that the rhythm and the melody are done. I always try to look for a lot of special aspects in music that help create that deep groove that jazz, swing, and all of those types of genres are known for.
VM: So were the family Christmas tunes any sort of influence on the “Merry Christmas” track that you recently dropped?
Amplicity: Well, not exactly. To be honest, I’ve always wanted to put out a Christmas track, and I actually sampled a track from the family CD a while ago, but I just couldn’t find a direction on it. But I’ve always wanted to do a Christmas track, because Christmas is a nice time of the year that I really enjoy. My music is very emotional and lovey and I feel like that’s pretty fitting with this time of year, so that’s why I did that track.
VM: I was wondering if you might talk with me about the RAWards?
Amplicity: Of course.
VM: How were they?
Amplicity: It was great. I got to play at Output Club in Brooklyn, which is one of my favorite places to play. It’s a pleasure playing there. The sound is always incredible. It’s built for electronic music. It’s got the Brooklyn crowd. So, I like that venue from the way it looks to the way it sounds, to the people that are there listening. It’s all so great… except for the drink prices.
VM: New York drink prices are unreal right?!
Amplicity: Yeah, they’re insane. I was in L.A. before this, and they’re pretty expensive there too, but New York takes the cake.
VM: You just need to come south for the reasonable drink prices.
Amplicity: I know, right? I really do.
VM: So, what was the application process like for the RAWards?
Amplcity: My friend actually copied me on an email and hooked me up with the person who was the director at the time for Brooklyn. I put my music online and they liked it, so I did the first showcase. After that they told me there was something for RAWards coming out where you had to have people vote, and I don’t really like bothering people with voting and all of that, because I’d rather just put out music. So I didn’t really promote for it at all, but I guess people liked my music elsewhere and voted, and that’s how I got into the showcase. After the showcase I cleaned up my profiles and put up my newest tracks. I did a Drake remix recently, so I put that up there along with my Ciara remix, and after that I got chosen to do the showcase, and then later I was chosen as Musician of the Year.
VM: That’s awesome!
Amplicity: Yeah, I guess a lot of random people really liked my music.
VM: That’s got to be a pretty good and validating feeling right?
Amplicity: Definitely validating. I’ve been making music for a while, and I’ve seen a lot of other people come up. It’s definitely one of the main things I focus on, but it’s just so tough to make money off of, so I just make music to make music and I don’t expect much out of it, so it’s really nice when people actually appreciate the tunes that I make.
VM: What do you feel like winning RAWards Brooklyn has meant to you?
Amplicity: It’s not as much what I’ve gotten out of it as it is just that validation that we were talking about. It’s nice to know people do like and listen to my music. It’s kind of like a milestone and a waypoint. I mean, I’m not really there yet, but I feel like I’m definitely on the right path since people like what I’m doing and voted. Which just gives me even more reason to continue making music. So, it has meant a lot to me honestly.
VM: What’s next?
Amplicity: Keep going. I have some stuff coming out soon with a vocalist that I’m really pumped about. I have another release with this label called Glitch Squad in Philadelphia, so I’m just really excited to keep releasing new stuff and continue finding new concepts. I was recently in the studio with some people that I really look up to and are really talented, and it’s motivational to see people who are just so good produce and make music. That inspires me a lot, because that’s all I’m trying to do is just make unique, new sounds, rhythms and melodies. There are a lot of new producers out there. Soundcloud is proof that there are millions, but to really stand out I think you have to create something new, different, and interesting. That’s what matters most to me as a musician and not just as a DJ or producer.
*Be on the lookout for more sweet sounds from Amplicity!
Hailing from 'The Good Life City' of Albany, Georgia, Colby Pines is the middle child of five boys. While his family is primarily comprised of men, the Pines family did have a female dog once... unfortunately she died... God bless his poor mother. When Mr. Pines was in third grade the doctors discovered that he had an extra bone in his knee. The bone did not possess any magical powers or help Colby run faster/jump higher, so the doctors surgically removed the bone and refused to let Colby keep it as a souvenir. Colby recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor's degree in English and a Master's degree in having cool friends and wearing great sweaters. Colby studied abroad at Oxford University's Trinity College where he was able to visit three of the four coasts, but was not able to bring back a baby with a British accent. Colby enjoys going to the movies, scotch, traveling, playing folk music with his band, BirdHead, eating good and bad food, writing, dabbling, playing Fantasy Football with his Pigskinz and Sundee Beerz League, reading a great book, and all sorts of music. While Colby has a bit of a bipolar taste in music, some of his favorite bands include: Band of Horses, Death Cab for Cutie, 2pac, Washed Out, Johnny Cash, Childish Gambino, Local Natives, The Beatles, Danny Brown, and Beach House. Colby is currently single and quite possibly ready to mingle. Colby has broken five bones, saved two children from drowning, been to Canada twice, and almost fallen into The Grand Canyon once. While he tends to miss things like Breaking Bad, eighth grade, Hey Arnold!, and Surge soda, Colby's excited for the future where he hopes to continue writing and doing the things that he loves.