The NY-based electronic producer shares his debut EP “We Are One” on BitTorrent Bundle.
Alex Beckmann spent the last four years on the road; the driving pulse behind Brooklyn’s Snowmine, a band who came up on collective, cinematic synth nostalgia. On his own, as MMBLR, he began exploring something more spare: murmured lyrics and the orchestration of environmental sound. MMBLR’s debut EP We Are One (Safari Riot) is a moody, layered examination of ambient sound and isolation. Like anything spoken softly, it demands we listen.
Today, We Are One premieres on BitTorrent Bundle. Preview the 5-track EP for free, then unlock the special edition download for $3.99 to get 5 HD videos, HD audio, and 6 play-able software instruments that you can use to make and mix your own versions of the tracks.
We caught up with Alex to talk sound, silence, and adventures in music software design. Read up.
“The trade-off is that the possibilities are endless”: words with MMBLR’s Alex Beckmann
BitTorrent: The project and the EP explore mumbling; softness and quietude. What inspired “We Are One”? What themes were you interested in pushing or drawing out?
Alex Beckmann: As a drummer, I tend to focus more on sound than lyrics, so mumbling melodies was sort of my transition from the drum kit to the microphone. A good friend of mine pointed out the effect of songs on mood and even behaviors, so I try to put out positivity whenever possible: for myself, not just my listeners.
BitTorrent: How has your background in jazz & classical influenced your work?
Beckmann: In countless ways. But to name a few influences: Debussy opened me up to a world of dreamy and mysterious moods in the last few years. In high school, John Coltrane's music showed me a spiritual element that I had never noticed in music. It’s like he carries all this pain and agony, but you hear him transcend it, or attempt to, with such grace and beautiful longing. If you listen and hold on its like you get carried through the sky and beyond.
With Alice Coltrane, it’s like each note she plays on the harp she's thanking the universe. It’s no wonder they found each other. I could go on and on ,but in terms of my sound, jazz drumming showed me the ways that rhythms, even if you can't quite make out distinct pitches, contain melodies.
BitTorrent: What was the recording process like? How and where did the record come together?
Beckmann: It was one big experiment. Just me in my living room in Queens with a million ideas. I recorded whatever was lying around. Hand drums, bottles, a piece of crap keyboard, and dog toys all made it onto the album. There's an ice-cream truck outside my window right now. Should I record it?! I'll be right back.
Somewhere in the process I got some nice speakers and a decent mic, but it’s amazing what you can do on a tight budget and some patience. Don't get me wrong: I love the sound of a band feeding off each other's energy in a studio, but I personally need time to develop my ideas and experiment.
Grayson Sanders, who I've been playing with for almost 10 years, helped me bring this album to life, and has been a huge inspiration. I don't know many creative types on his level who actually care about being healthy and balanced. There aren't a lot of positive role models in music but when you find them you should pay attention.
BitTorrent: In the deluxe EP, you also include playable software instruments. What was behind this concept? How did you develop these? How do you hope people will use them?
Beckmann: Safari Riot did a kickass job helping me turn my sounds into playable instruments. A huge obstacle in starting out as a producer is having good sounds to work with. You can spend days searching for and tweaking sounds, and end up with nothing recorded.
BitTorrent: In what ways does technology influence your work?
Beckmann: Technology gave me a way to sculpt the sounds I was working with. That made it okay to be kind of lo-fi and work within a limited set up. Re-pitching vocals, side chains, delays, reverbs... To get all the effects I used I would have needed 1,000 hardware devices, but software gives so many options. Sometimes I think I stare at this screen a bit too much, but the trade-off is that the possibilities are endless.
BitTorrent: Both MMBLR and Snowmine are part of music’s DIY revolution. You guys work directly with fans. What’s been behind this process? How do you see the landscape of music distribution changing (or how should it change)?
Beckmann: It’s part survival and part passion. The survival part is that the industry is changing, and artists have to change with it and be creative to get by. The passion part is having a connection with your fans, and knowing that you’re not just doing this for yourself.
If you're honest and convey this to your fans, there’s often a surprising amount of support and rallying that results. Most of Snowmine's recording and touring touring budget wouldn't' have been possible if we didn't ask our fans for help.
Instant Download / Stream
01 Windy Tree (MP3)
02 Daylight (MP3)
03 Positivity (MP3)
04 Magic Spell (MP3)
05 We Are One (MP3)
$3.99 Bundle Unlock
01 We Are One HD (5 WAVs)
02 Windy Tree (Video)
03 Daylight (Video)
04 Positivity (Video)
05 Magic Spell (Video)
06 We Are One (Video)
07 Windy Tree - Song Instrument (Software, runs in Kontakt)
08 Daylight - Song Instrument (Software, runs in Kontakt)
09 Positivity - Song Instrument (Software, runs in Kontakt)
10 Magic Spell - Song Instrument (Software, runs in Kontakt)
11 We Are One - Song Instrument (Software, runs in Kontakt)
12 MMBLR - WE ARE ONE [EP] Signature Synth (Software, runs in Kontakt)