B-side Magazine is a music publication focused on young musicians of New England that brings the voice of the youth to public.

B-side Magazine is the branch of WBRU which is an fm and online radio based in Providence.

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February 6, 2020

Zoe Lee

While drinking around a darts board in a room full of engineers, I found solace talking to the only other creative in the room during a visit to a friend in Upstate New York. Meet Caffean, Ryan to his friends, an emerging EDM artist out of Rochester, NY. After a night of discussing Freddie Gibbs to European dance music, we continued chatting over Zoom a week later.

Here is what we talked about, edited for clarity.
How has your year been like for your music? Especially with graduating college, Covid, etc.
This year has been crazy. I just graduated college in May and my plan was to do music full time. I got my bachelors in physics so it's pretty funny that I do music, but it is what it is. Because I transitioned to doing music full time this year, it has been a pretty busy time for me.

I've made a ton of music, but not a ton of finished music. I spent most of the year in my parents house because of Covid and have been living in my studio constantly making music. It's a blessing and a curse because no one wants to be in a pandemic, but it has allowed me to have very little distractions and to just grind.

What is your process like? Do you think your background in physics has any influence on your music?
My entire background is in academia so I take a kind of research angle. I very purposefully pull from art that I like. I know that my art wouldn't be anything without all the art that I consumed for 21 years. That's what I learned from physics. You can't learn it on your own, you have to learn from people who have done it.

My process has become different over the past year. I will take the same song with the same theory, background, and sound design, but then make variations with 4-5 different styles and drops.  The last ones have been quick, but for The Noise, I have been working on it for 4 months. I sent Katie Hoffstatter (featured artist) like 3-4 completely different finished songs. I would send her one and then the next day be like never mind, I'm scrapping it. I keep trying to push the sound quality up to what I like and what I'm happy with releasing.

Part of my process is not being afraid to completely erase and start over. I try not to be tied to anything. I think that might be what a lot of people do. The variations definitely build on each other. I'll make all these different versions with different leads and drops and then I'll take the different parts of what I like and combine it to get all the best parts of the variations.

What got you into making music?
I started off exclusively making rap beats for 2-3 years. I had some friends who were rappers and it was a lot of fun.

Do you see yourself as an EDM artist? Or would you want to eventually mix for other people?  
I don't know. I have Caffean, which is an EDM artist front as me, and then I have You Missed It (YMI) Productions, which is becoming an independent label where I function more as a curator. I like to find artists in Rochester and then try to get them a higher production quality and mixing and stuff. I would like YMI to be a platform for people to release their art. I think that me being a successful EDM artist would allow that. It's nice to have your name tied to your art.

What is the backstory for your stage name?
It's pretty simple honestly. I'm drinking coffee right now. I really like coffee and was brutally addicted to caffeine in college. My music is kind of confusing and in your face, which is due to me producing in the morning when I'm buzzing on caffeine. The spelling comes from the fact that I'm notorious around my friends for not being able to spell. So I wanted to misspell it because it's such a hard thing to spell. Well, maybe it's not, but for me it is.

Who are your biggest influences? What do you listen to on a regular basis?
Before 2 years ago, 99% of what I listened to was rap and hip hop. My most influential artists are rap artists because of how they carry themselves in the art they do. Recently I have been listening to weird stuff. I went through a noise phase. I’m listening to old French house, funk, and mainstream dance stuff, because it's fun. I don't like the term market research, but that's really what it is. What are big names curating right now? Incorporating those musical aspects into my work so that it is mixed to sound more popular. My 2 most influential artists are JEPGMafia and Yung Thug, both their sound and who they are.

What is your dream project or collaboration? 
I would really love to co-produce a Caffean song with Kenny Beats. That would be crazy. Insane.