Producer Sessions 023: Boogie T lights up the groove on collaborative ‘Joint Force’ EP [Interview]
Louisiana producer Boogie T released his wobbly Joint Force EP earlier this season—a highly collaborative project featuring a grip of fellow sound dealers and stem dispatchers alongside the EP’s host. The producer, lesser known as Brock Thornton, has now released two projects this year: the first with his BOOGIE T.RIO band on the well-received Remedies EP and now returning back to his roots for his first multi-track dubstep project since 2019’s Old Gold.
Joint Force seamlessly combines hip-hop, dub, bass, and trap influences across five tracks, with collaborations from the likes of UK producer Conrank opening on “Mash It Up,” Dirt Monkey and Honeycomb teaming up on “Beatbox,” “Ole Possum” with bàwldy, rounding off with “Wicked” featuring p0gman, and the SubDocta-assited “Hot Garage.” Following the project’s release, Dancing Astronaut had the opportunity to speak with one of bass music’s most intriguing creators about Joint Force.
What drew you to each of the collaborators on the project?
Boogie T: “bàwldy and my best friend from high school met each other because they used to go to a little fishing spot down in Grand Isle. My friend told me, ‘Yeah, this guy makes dubstep,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, I gotta be homies with him,’ and we ended up being boys. This was back in 2015. I thought who better to put on the EP than bàwldy because he’s local?
We’ve got Dirt Monkey, which is obvious—he’s wonky, love his sound. We’ve made [collaborations] before, so that was an easy choice. We work well together.
Honeycomb and I had always wanted to do a track together, and we finally started sending one back and forth. I decided to send it to Dirt Monkey to finish it up because it was so wonky, I was like, ‘he could put his vibe on there.’
Then we’ve got Conrank—luckily. Conrank was in town for a show in New Orleans at the Republic during a weekend that I was home, and we were able to bang out our tune in a day and a half or so.
The track with p0gman is one I had been wanting to do for a long time. We love 140 dubstep… ‘140 warriors’ is what we call ourselves. We got that from Lost Lands. After that we were like ‘Dude, we gotta bang out a deep tune together,’ so I hit him up like, ‘Yo, I made a deep tune, would you please get on this?’ and he went in and did his thing.
And then SubDocta…that track came from me just sitting in my studio, feeling like making a [drum ‘n’ bass] tune, so I made a [drum ‘n’ bass] tune and thought to myself, ‘I’m callin’ SubDocta ‘cause he knows what he’s doing!’ People don’t really know him for that, but I love his drum ‘n’ bass and I think it’s underrated.”
Did you learn anything new from any of the collaborators that you didn’t know before?
Boogie T: “With bàwldy I learned a little bit more about navigation through Serum which was pretty cool. I passed these tracks to everyone like, ‘Here’s the big idea, now let me get your flair,’ so they ended up sounding exactly like the both of us.”
Do you have a typical production process? If so, can you describe it for us?
Boogie T: “Always a blank slate, and I’ll always start with drums. Depending on the track that I’m making, I’ll start with the tempo—let’s say it’s dubstep at 140 [beats per minute] and I’ll just throw some hats in, just simple quarter-note hats, and then kick-snare, kick-snare, kick-snare, and then just keep going and going.
So I have the basic beat, and then almost immediately I’ll go into Serum and pull in a wub, and just get an immediate idea of what the first drop might sound like. Once I find out what key the drop is in, I’ll go move all the drums over and build the intro. For me, it’s about adding a lot at the beginning, and then subtracting to make the beat clean.”
What is your go-to MIDI controller and why?
Boogie T: “Right now I’m using a Novation 49 Launch Key MK2—I don’t use it much, but I do use my Korg Minilogue for basically most of my MIDI control. It’s also an analog synth, so I have the USB going out into the computer so I can get the MIDI information, but I also have a quarter-inch going out so I can get the analog information, and that’s pretty fun. I do a lot of analog sounds with that keyboard, and I’ll just turn it down and use the MIDI information if I’m doing bass notes or trying to play some midi drums or something like that.”
Do you have any pet peeves between with your preferred DAW?
Boogie T: “The one thing that bugs me that’s supposed to be updated in the new version of Ableton is that we can’t comp record, which means we can’t record over the same track and have it replace the empty space. The new Ableton is coming out with comp recording, which is going to be great. Not that much really bugs me about Ableton though, it does its thing.”
What was the most difficult sound to conquer on the project and why?
Boogie T: “Oh shit, that would probably be the bàwldy [collaboration]—we sat on that one for, oh my god, probably six days straight. He would come over every other week and it was just like, sound design, sound design, sound design. We were like, ‘What are we going to do, where are we going to put all these sounds?’ We tried to make the second drop of ‘Ole Possum’ a little bit different, and it was pretty tricky, but I think we did alright.”
Do you have any unique studio habits?
Boogie T: “I’m really quick when it comes to doing studio shit. I like recording a lot of in-house percussion, so that’s kind of different. Tambourines and clicks and claps on the table, whatever sounds cool. I have plenty of microphones and I love recording snares, hi-hats, ride cymbals, all that shit, so that makes it a little more organic than using just any sample.”
What was your most memorable studio moment while producing Joint Force?
Boogie T: “I think the best one that I remember was when Conrank was here, my band (BOOGIE T.RIO) recorded the track ‘Disco Moses’ and had Conrank record the vocals for the intro with his English accent, that was a fun little extra bonus.”
Who have been your inspirations for your production style?
Boogie T: “Honestly, my production style is kind of out there. When I think of production style, I think of the order of operations of how I do it. I’m kinda just ‘drag and drop,’ very visual, very analog, not too much processing.
It’s like when you plug a guitar into an amp—if it sounds good, it sounds good. I like raw sounds, so it’s not too much processing. If I can make it sound right the first time, I’m going to keep it that way. It’s really hard to describe how I do it—it just depends on where my mind’s at.”
What is next for Boogie T and Drama Club Recordings?
Boogie T: “Oh… we’re releasing a lot more music on Drama Club Recordings and Stage Left, my lo-fi/hip-hop sub-label. Always working on new Boogie T tracks, and BOOGIE T.RIO is putting out a vinyl collection of the first four EPs soon, and we have an album in the works as well.
I really want to do a Drama Club ‘Drama Drive-In’ and have all the artists that have released on Drama Club to play it. Nothing’s booked yet, it’s just a big idea in my brain. There are good things for Drama Club in the future, [I’m] excited about it.”