Ned Bigby’s ‘Attic Nights’ Comes From The Budding Hip Hop Genre Called Lofi
“I’ve been making beats since high school, in all different genres, but haven’t really attempted the lofi style until last year. I never really officially set out to make the project per say, but it sort of culminated over the past couple of months, if that makes sense… I didn’t really realize I had an album on my hands until I saw that I had a collection of tracks that had a similar style/vibe. The tracks don’t necessarily relate to each other sonically, but the samples and the titles of the tracks mean a lot to me, and are an exploration of my psyche. While I won’t go into the meaning of the individual track titles, I’ll tell you that they were very intentional and each one has a significant meaning that relates to myself as well as the sample or theme of the track.”
The year is 2017. Just three years shy of the end of a new decade, it seems era’s in genres are becoming more and more murky thanks in part to the internet. I like to believe we are past limitations as well, held once by sampling mood genres such as instrumental hip hop and collaging and vinyl music. What was once solidified is now heavily modified into a brand new and exciting movement curated by aspiring beat-makers and nu-plunderphonics wizards. Instrumental hip hop was previously known as a style of music that produced either groundbreaking pieces of conceptual art or instrumentals from a specific album, such as Dr. Dre’s 2001: Instrumentals Only. What this new, underground movement presents in the genre is a wave of DIY beat-makers producing lo-fi and often nostalgic pieces of instrumentals with either soul or hip-hop vocals. The strong dividing line between initial and recent incarnations of instrumental hip-hop is that this new movement features a heavy use of conceptual and aestheticised nostalgia with an alternative/lo-fi edge rather than produced commercialism. If indie bedroom pop producers decided to turn to sample-based music, this experimental anti-strain of hip hop would most likely be their drug of choice.
That’s the vacuum I discovered local artist/beat wizard Ned Bigby. His latest LP ‘Attic Nights’ does an wonderful job of taking seeming dispart parts and tossing them into the mechanics of rythmic sound design. The album features slow lagging beats that pull behind the downbeat, overly gritty keyboards, the occasional mind-fuck sample, and yet the vibe feels like a dream, tapered with culturally high moments from a distant past. My personal favorite is “P’an-ku/Azure” which uses a guzheng sample and children cheering into an upbeat hip hop vibe, great juxtaposition, and mood, doing what this project does best.
We reached out to Riley about his music and genre
, he said, “So there is an up-and-coming genre of hip hop called Lofi, and while I am by no means a major artist in the scene, I have been following the emergence of the genre for the past couple of years. There are huge Reddit and Soundcloud communities. The purpose of the genre is to mimic or recreate the imperfections of physical music such as vinyl or tape. While there are a multitude of ways to go about this, every artist has their own take on it. Tracks are usually sample based, and often times hardware such as tape decks, turntables, and MPC’s or drum pad/sampling instruments are used in the process.”
What do you add to a genre based on sampling?
As for my own approach to the genre, I have incorporated the knowledge I have gained over the past couple of years. The album is heavily sample-based, all of the tracks are worked around samples from various sources. I have had a fascination with tape since I was a kid. I have a pretty large collection of cassettes and tape decks that are slowly filling up my living space. Most of the samples from the album come from tape, and if they aren’t, I recorded them to tape and bounced them back. Beyond that, the only other hardware I used was a midi controller for drum pads. A lot of the drum hits I recorded myself, notably in the track ‘Zeuhl.’
How about the artwork?
The album artwork features a photograph that I took and (obviously) edited. I think it pretty nicely captures the analog vibe of the album, as well as the glitchiness of the percussion/sampling. I’m working on putting out a physical release soon.
Riley Autrey aka Ned Bigby is a born and raised artist from Long Beach, CA. He is a third-year student at Northeastern, currently living in the East Village. Purchase his album here.