UK-based producer Psalm//Trees has been making music since the age of 14, but he hasn’t been taking it seriously and showcasing his instrumentals until just recently. His oldest public track is less than a year old (the fittingly titled “On the First Day”), and in the last six months, Psalm/Trees has managed to release multiple singles through Chillhop Records (Winter and Spring Essentials) as well as a self-titled debut LP. Available on vinyl, the 16 song beat journey showcasing the buzzing producer in his sunshine and glow. With plenty of more music in the works and after making a recent visit to the Chillhop headquarters in Rotterdam, I spoke with the relaxed producer about studio essentials, his production routine, his plans for the future, and falafel.
Your debut LP is over a month old. How long had you been working on these songs?
I’d been working on my debut for about three months before I decided to put it all together. Most of the time I was making tracks for this release, the sun was shining and I feel like this comes through on the record. I guess it gave it an unplanned concept in some ways.
Are you already working on new material or are you resting?
I’ve got a few things in the pipeline but I’m always working on music. I take a few days off here and there but most of the time I’m up to something involved with it; either digging for samples in record stores, chilling with like-minded people and talking about it or thinking about artwork for releases or what I can add to a track I’m working on. It never stops and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Your oldest SoundCloud track was released six months ago. How long have you been producing?
I first started producing beats (if you can call what I did back then producing!) when I was about 14/15. My brother had an MPC 1000 he wasn’t really using so I decided to give it a go. I didn’t have a record player back then so started sampling my mums CDs. I’m glad there’s no way of hearing those beats now! From there, I was doing it on and off but only really put my mind to it a couple of years ago and since then become immersed in it.
What’s the rest of the year looking like for you?
I’ve got a few really exciting things coming this year but I don’t want to reveal to much yet. Both of these involve other artists on Chillhop, though.
What’s your typical studio setup? What are some necessary instruments/programs? Any food/drink essentials?
I mostly use vinyl, an MPC 2000xl and Logic 9. Sometimes I work with other instrumentalists as well. Nothing works better for me than caffineated beverages (Club Mate if possible), a pack of cigarettes and some general snacks. Unfortunately, I’m vegan, so it’s usually some chips or falafel.
From vinyl to cassette to Bandcamp/SoundCloud/Spotify, do you have a preferred platform or channel? Do you think physical copies will be in demand forever?
I could answer this question in a number of ways and probably go quite in-depth into why I think different platforms/formats have their individual benefits, so I’ll try to keep it short.
SoundCloud is a great way to find new music but also to build a fan base with the help of like-minded people who support what you’re doing.
Bandcamp is a good platform for monetising off of people buying your music digitally. I like the way it’s given artists the ability to release music independently.
Spotify has helped me a lot and it’s an amazing feeling to see how many people are listening. With the support from the Chillhop playlist and releases with them, I’ve been given the opportunity to access listeners I would never have been able to before. The future of music consumption is definitely in streaming.
However, my favourite format is (and probably will always be) vinyl. I love being able to have a release physically in my hand and putting the needle on a dope record is something I don’t think will ever get old. I don’t see physical releases becoming a thing of the past completely, vinyl heads will always exist and I’m happy about that. I just hope that I don’t run out of room as my collection is beginning to get out of hand!
Do you have a personal favorite song (or music session) that you’ve released?
I think it’s probably got to be my track on Chillhops’ Spring Essentials, ‘Wherever You Are’.
Your SoundCloud states you’re from Cape Town? What’s the music scene like in your area?
I’m actually from the south of the UK. I spent a lot of time out in South Africa and it holds a lot of fond memories for me. I feel that’s where the next phase of my life started (not to get too deep!) and therefore when SoundCloud asked me where I was from, it kinda felt right to put there. There’s actually some really dope hip hop coming out of SA if you look for it.
You recently stayed in the Chillhop Capital Rotterdam for a couple of days. How did you like the city?
Yeah the city is dope! The sun was shining and it was nearly 30 degrees. All the Chillhop guys are super nice so it was a pleasure to finally meet them in person. Got some nice records whilst I was there and chilled with Philanthrope at his house making beats.
Your name can be interpreted in many ways. In reference to ‘Psalm’, do you view your music (or the act of making music) as sacred?
I think the act of making music is definitely something special. There are theories, but I don’t think we know for sure how the creative mind works. You can try and theorise music all you want but when it comes down to it, I think the stuff that works best has had some heart put into it and that, to me seems like something that should be respected.
Do you have any advice for producers working on their craft?
I guess to find music that they love and look deep into the roots of where it came from. Use what they have access to try to be creative.
What’s your history with Chillhop? How did you first get in touch?
A friend of mine who raps (Obijuan) had planned to come out to visit Philanthrope in Austria last fall. I had some time free and asked if I could come along too. We got on really well and it was clear we liked a lot of the same music and shared some influences. I played him some beats while we were there and he liked them. I came home and was making a beat and sent it over to get his opinion. This turned out to be the track ‘Prayer’ on the Winter Compilation. It’s all gone from there really.
Having been featured in the Spring and Winter Essentials compilations, can we expect more from yourself and Chillhop in the future?
We haven’t talked about anything just yet but I guess we will have to wait and see. Chillhop is an amazing label and I feel real blessed to be a part of it, I’d love to continue to work with them for sure! You never know what might happen.