Chicago-born producer and DJ Brenmar released an original sample pack on the collaborative music service Splice this summer, but he had no idea he was laying the groundwork for an unprecedented collaborative EP. After posting the sample pack, he hosted a contest on Audiomack, inviting producers to create tracks incorporating at least three of his samples.
“My initial intention was just to choose my favorite submission and ‘collab’ with that producer on finishing the track,” he explains. “We would then release it as an original collaboration on my label High End Times.”
Instead of working with just one producer, however, Brenmar ended up collaborating with four. His contest attracted 54 producers from around the world, and he liked too many of the submissions to choose just one. His contest drew in producers working in a variety of musical genres and with differing levels of technical skill. The submissions he was most impressed by, Bernmar says, were the ones that presented unique ideas that were aligned with his own personal style.
“The idea is everything to me,” he explains. “The technical part is necessary but can be learned over time. The idea, the ‘sauce’ if you will, is a little more abstract, and to me, you either have it or you don’t.”
After selecting his favorite submissions, he reached out to the four producers and began working with them over the internet to create what would eventually become The Collab Collection. Sending ideas back and forth with four different producers pushed him to steer his sound in new directions and consider “decisions that [he] might not originally have chosen on [his] own.” The resulting EP presents varied influences that work harmoniously together. Elements of hip-hop, trap, Jersey Club, R&B, and reggaeton blend in unexpected ways.
Brenmar mastered the tracks using Landr, an online mastering service that uses an extensive database of reference tracks to identify the sonic characteristics of a track and then applies a custom mastering chain tailored to suit each individual track.
for me, it’s about community and making something bigger and larger than you could have on your own.
“This whole project wouldn’t have been possible without Splice, Audiomack, and Landr, which I think is dope because they’re new music tech startups out here grinding like all of us,” he says. “They supported me, and I get to support new artists.”
Brenmar is rolling out the unique project in an equally unconventional way, releasing the tracks several weeks apart. The first song, “Drop It,” a high-energy collaboration with ShaqTheProducer, was released on October 20. “No Brakes” with Wristboi is set to drop on November 3, “This One Thing” with Shruggs is slated for a November 24 release, and “Repentance” with Eight Away will conclude the rollout on December 8.
“We all make music for different reasons, there’s no right or wrong here, but for me it’s about community and making something bigger and larger than you could have on your own,” he says, explaining his motivation for making collaboration the centerpiece of his EP.
Read on to learn more about how The Collab Collection came to be.
How did working on this project push you out of your comfort zone?
All four songs sound a little different because they were all started from a different place. If you do something different, you get a different end result. That’s half the reason I love collaborating, because it makes you choose and accept decisions that you might not originally have chosen on your own. That’s exciting to me.
How did the four producers you chose to collaborate with stand out from the rest?
That’s a hard one to pinpoint but each one of their songs have parts that really stood out to me. Every song had an idea that resonated with what “Brenmar” sounds like and since this was a collaboration competition, that was important. Sometimes when working with newer, younger producers, you can tell that they have the right ideas they just lack some of the technical execution that comes with practice, time, and experience. The idea is everything to me; the technical part is necessary but can be learned over time.
Collaboration allows me to try new things and new ideas that I might not have otherwise. It invites new energy and excitement.
The idea, the “sauce” if you will, is a little more abstract, and to me, you either have it or you don’t. ShaqTheProducer came though with those crazy TT The Artist Jersey club vocal chops. Wristboi gave me a tribal drum-heavy take on my loops that I knew I needed to play with, and Shruggs came through with the sick bounce and drumwork. Eight Away gave me a moody ambient 808 heavy hip hop beat from the future that got me in my feels the first time I heard it.
Do you plan to work on another project similar to this one in the future?
Maybe, I’m not sure. I have started working on another sample pack though, so we’ll see.
What are your thoughts on collaboration now that the internet provides so many new tools?
It’s amazing and easier than ever because of the internet. Collaboration allows me to try new things and new ideas that I might not have otherwise. It invites new energy and excitement. We all make music for different reasons, there’s no right or wrong here, but for me it’s about community and making something bigger and larger than you could have on your own.
What music tech startups have you been impressed by lately?
Well I used Splice to host the sample pack, Audiomack to host the contest, and Landr to master the whole project. I love what all of them are doing! Output makes some amazing software instruments and Native Instruments, although not a startup, is still always innovative and exciting to me.