Music by VICE

Dig Into the Sweet, Crunchy Spread of Tony Rainwater’s ‘Rockberry Jam’ EP

The newcomer makes his proper debut on German label Lehult.

by Krystal Rodriguez
Feb 17 2017, 4:35pm

EP artwork courtesy of the label

A longtime DJ and dancefloor dweller, Tony Rainwater's foray into production came from a stroke of luck—and also a pluck. As the Chicago transplant tells THUMP over email, a chance encounter on Soundcloud with the spaced-out, pluck-happy "Ombré" by Eddie Ness—who's part of Hamburg's Lehult crew—inspired him to make and send Ness a remix centered on that mesmerizing sound. "That really set everything into motion," he says.

After making an appearance on the latest in Lehult's Lehultsub series earlier this year, Rainwater is today making his solo debut on the label with the release of the Rockberry Jam EP. Like the spread it's named for, this six-tracker is a thick, crunchy concoction of sweet and sample-heavy grooves, from coquettish title track to the twanging melancholy of "Alone." Each track was recorded live, he says, adding, "It's mostly 100 percent random with me pressing shuffle on my iTunes and then throwing things into the sampler / blinding reaching into a crate to flip something... The record is really like my record collection randomly coming together above a kick drum."

Listen to Tony Rainwater's Rockberry Jam EP in full below, and scroll down for a quick Q&A with him as well.

THUMP: Hi Tony! Let's dig a little into your background: Where do you call home, and how does that play into your musical make-up?
Tony Rainwater: I've been living in Chicago for about five years now and going to the same parties the entire time. Chicago has a couple amazing recurrent nights—H.O.T.H., Night Moves, Queen, Acid Dreams. The consistent heat I've heard at these parties has been a major influence. I've also hosted my own parties in the city which have been wild fun. Chicago has a bunch of electronic music nerds who are also just nice people (rare) who won't "forget" the track title if you ask for an ID. It's a very supportive place musically.

A press release states you've been involved in this scene for a long time as a DJ and dancer, but only recently have you begun producing. What spurred you to make the leap?
For the sound I'm coming with it takes no technical knowledge of production whatsoever, I'm really just stitching together samples with minimal modification—most of the time the samples are totally unaltered. The change from just dancing and DJing came when one day I was mixing and realized I was going further than just blending two tracks together. It was one of those moments when I realized that something I assumed was incredibly difficult was actually quite simple. This was actually the day I made the bonus track on the record—it was the first track I ever made.

How did you connect with the Lehult crew?
About two years ago I was listening to very little house music for whatever reason but this snippet kept mysteriously coming on shuffle with my Soundcloud. It was Eddie Ness's "Ombré." I really loved the song and also how it felt like it kind of dropped from nowhere. A lot of people hate on the internet as a source for finding new music but the element of something coming out of nothing is really attractive to me. It honestly felt like some transmission I was supposed to get even though I didn't ask for it. The song has this part in it with this amazing plucking / popping sound that I was obsessed with and would play over and over again.

When I started making my own tracks I remembered that sound and built my own track around it. I then sent the song to Eddie, who was the only producer I sent any music to at the time. He really liked the remix and asked me to send more tracks. I did and now I'm happily in the Lehult family. I really like to think of it as the story of that plucking sound. It's that sound that really set everything into motion. When I finally met Eddie in Germany I asked him what it was and how he made it. He said, "I don't know."

What was your creative process behind the Rockberry Jam EP?
A lot of people think I'm joking when I tell them how I make tracks but it's true—it's mostly 100 percent random with me pressing shuffle on my iTunes and then throwing things into the sampler / blinding reaching into a crate to flip something. I believe the record really feels like that though. Most of the tracks have less than 5 moving parts, and on average 3 of them were not chosen but randomly selected by a computer. I just was the person who edited it / decided which random selection made most sense. The record is really like my record collection randomly coming together above a kick drum. Every track was recorded live.

This EP goes pretty heavy on the samples. What's your favorite or most unexpected source for finding sample material?
I wish I was one of those producers who recorded eggs being thrown against a mirror but all of my samples are just from records I like and my taste isn't very surprising. However, the kick drum sound I used on all of the tracks is a recording I made of my friend KJ swiveling in his desk chair. No one believes that one either but it's true.

If Rockberry Jam were an actual edible spread, what would it be made of or taste like?
It would be made of rocks and berries and taste sweet and way too crunchy.

I asked Yahoo what happens if you eat a rock and this is what user 3525 says:

"Nothing bad happens to you, i know this from experience, i used to eat lots of rocks they tasted delicious to me, and hey im still alive and i didnt get sick or anything, when i say lots i mean lots, so if you feel like eating a rock go for it =)"