Interview with Phraim (2009)

You probably have run into Phraim either on the internets or the blocks of the Chi. My man has been stackin up a nice catalog of beats and treats, and is set to release a couple projects in the near future. I finally got a (brief) chance to catch up with him for a little email interview, the first in a series of EdB interviews over the next few months.

You can check him out at

Ian: Give us some background on who Phraim is, both as a producer and person.

Phraim: In a pecan shell, I’m human beatbox by nature in so many ways. A
table banger that gradually shifted from pounding fist & knuckles, to
cupping hands & making the music with my mouth, to emceein, to digital
workshoppin audio, to pressing 16 pads. Uncle had me on the drums
early on. Whenever I’m around a piano/keyboard I want to sit down to
it. First born of seven. A slave to Ar-Rahman, but not to the rhythm.
A Chicagoan, born & raised. A scholar of higher ed. twice over. World
traveled learner. Daydreamer in order to counter the many nightmares.

Ian: Straight off the top, three inspirations in life, music, art, etc?

Phraim: I. The Greatness & Oneness of the Creator & His creation: And by
that I mean all aspects of creation, both good & bad. From nature to
emotion; I harness it all. Locations I’ve been to that are stored in
the memory banks, the most blissful moments & the biggest disasters.
It’s all relevant. II. Culture: The things I was raised on, vintage
stuff. Seriously, I was a cult-Star Wars fanatic since before I could
talk good. I think motion pictures, cartoons, all that, have weaved
themselves into my consciousness to the point of inseparation.
Dialogue with me is either cool or confusing as h-e-double. Either
way, it’s gotta be entertaining. It’s safe to say that I quote just as
much media as I do scholars & thinkers. III. Instrumentalists: and I
say that in reference to any & every artist that uses an object to
express themselves harmonically. I don’t care if it’s the spoons or
the MP, I have a hard time not hearing something that gets my gears to

Ian: What political issues in 2009 do you feel should be resonating more with folks around you?

Phraim: The fact that america continues to be a complex. From the prison to
the military. I think the media does a heck of a job putting the focus
on joblessness & other global issues. I personally don’t believe our
country will accomplish anything of greatness until it cleans its own

Ian: What music coming out right now is making you think, inspiring creativity?

Phraim: Aww man-seriously, Mr.Bey & co (i.e. Jay Electronica). The
“social-service emcees” & those who provide their soundtracks get the
salute from me. Last saw ’em both live on stage in TX. Personable
kats. And the innovation is like true renaissance material
representative of the art, you know? So, yeah-as far-as production,
MADLIB always & often. I’ve been bumpin’ EXILE joints too. Jay Stays
Paid was super-satisfying. Waiting for that OH-NO Ethiopium to drop.
And that’s just hip-hop. Zo! is a genius too. “Cal-troit” has the
sound right now…

Ian: Give us two records pre-1985 you’re bumpin right now.

Phraim: I keep Marvin’s “What’s Going On” nearby in these trying times.
Ohio Players’ “Honey” has been in strong rotation also.

Ian: You have a routine for making music? Things you do before sitting down at the beat machine?

Phraim: Sometimes there’s no method to it. I’ve found I work best on an
empty stomach, if that makes sense? Seriously, I’ll be at it for a
couple hours before I realize that I’m thirsty or hungry. I’m a
“nocturnal animal” too, which I think has a lot to do with a constant
relaxed tempo throughout my product, so late night sessions are

After a dig, I’ll spend a couple days listening to the finds in their
entirety. I haven’t one record that can’t yield a gem. I’ve got
in-studio samples of bands I worked with in the past that I revisit
often too. Things sound different when you go back to ’em months/years
later. Sometimes I might already hear a sample flipped in my head how
it ends up after sequence, other times it’s on the fly, in which case
drums come first. Regardless of whom or what incense is in the air.
It’s a must.

Ian: Any thoughts on the future of music distro? Plans on how you’ll be releasing your own product?

Phraim: I’m working with Gritty Goat on a digital/limited edition
hard-pressing of a collection of tracks. I know you gotta crawl before
you walk, and I’ve been looking for the best way for people to get
hold of actual physical copies of my things while making it easy for
those that care a little less about liner notes & artwork. I’m getting
back to touching the mic too, so I’m hoping to have venues be an
outlet in the near future. Might have to hustle the EL platform &
street corners too!

Ian: Tell us about Chicago.

Phraim: Man, the EL is a good transition into that. Foreal, Chi is
like…rust belt heaven. Slum beautiful place. Except for college, a
few years in Milwaukee, WI, & brief abroad excursions it’s been
home-sweet/sour-home. Taxes are, what 10.25%, which lets you know the
municipality is pretty crookish. Lake is a precious thing. To live
five minutes from a dope shoreline is priceless. Good source of calm.
Every culture is represented, though few agendas are pushed with the
gusto, but that’s kinda everywhere. The blues flourished there, we
invented house music, & it’s the land of musical culture clash.
Middleground. East, West, & South all influence the sound. We absorb &
release. Chicago is filled w/savvy  sometimes confused schitzophrenic
music makers, self included.

Ian: How much time u spend on the internet each day?

Far too much. I don’t even wanna tally that up. I seriously need to
cut back & be more productive, but I’m a fiend for knowledge, buttons,
lights, & whistles. What can I say?

Ian: What do we need to check from you? Upcoming releases?

Phraim: The Gritty Goat EP release is gonna be titled “Silver Lined.” It’s
been a long time coming. We’re gonna set a within 30-days on that.
There’s a LP w/a few artists I’ve worked with for a couple years that
is in the vault called “Open Admission.” It’s 60/40 instrumental to
vocal track right now. Before next spring on that one would make me a
happy man. Last but not least, I’m back in the studio with my ace of
over a decade, Dylan Thomas, working on an all-vocal tag team record.
50/50 on the production. We’re two tracks into it & it’s looking good.
We’re hoping to productively rush a quality release, so stay tuned for

Ian: Final comments?

Phraim: Support low-budget music makers, indie labels, local record
stores. Type heartfelt kind obscenities at me on twitter, myspace, and
my blogspot to get & keep product out. I need that “tuff love.”  I
sometimes feed off feedback. Finally, be as natural as you are
digital. Balance the real with the virtual. Love something a lot &
hold onto it tightly, but keep it safe.

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