Local electronic artists gathered at the Camel last Tuesday for the Richmond Electronic Collective’s monthly “Beat Cypher One-Hour Challenge” to flex their creative muscles.
For the challenge, artists are given a pack of samples at 8 p.m. They’re tasked with using at least five, with only an hour to create a track using whatever equipment they are comfortable using.
“There’s no rules. Do whatever you want,” said Owen, who both participates in and organizes the monthly event.
Owen said the goal of the event to bring local artists together and cultivate a scene. For many artists, he said this is the first time they’re able to perform live. Finding creatives who have potential and giving them a place to root in Richmond is important, Owen said.
“It’s a cool way for everyone to show their own unique way of sampling,” said Sam Roots, who creates as .oldneon and runs the visuals for REC Room performances.
The samples are chosen each month by a local producer. This month featured samples by Jefferson Harris, who produces as BSTFRND.
“Seeing people working on what they’re passionate about, in their element, is cool,” said VCU student Emily Medina.
Medina said it’s interesting watching the artists’ body language as they create. Some are visibly expressive, while others sit still, zoned and focused, she said.
“It definitely opened my eyes to writing different styles of music,” said producer Coleman Sweeney. He said it was his first time at the REC Cypher, and he ended up scrapping his final product.
Next time, Sweeny said he’s going to adapt his style to the samples, rather than try to force them into his style.
The REC Room has been held monthly at the Camel since early 2015, and the Beat Cyphers since July.
This month marks Ben “Ninja Ropes” Isenberg-Rubyan’s third REC Cypher, and he said he uses its model to help with his productivity at home. He now sets a timer for an hour when he’s working to create new music, and comes back to whittle his concepts down later.
“The pressure really brings inspiration,” Isenberg-Rubyan said.
After the hour is up, the tracks are played in front of the Camel’s audience, followed by local electronic artists. This month’s REC Room featured performances from KeepSkeamin, WaBEYA, Moss, Lopzark and Foreground & Neighborhood.