The perceptual phenomenon in which one sees colors in music is a form of what is called “synesthesia”. This rare condition is what gave me the idea to embark on a mission to showcase people of color in the music scene, in hopes to educate, inspire, and increase their visibility in an otherwise homogenized industry. First up: Black Carl!
Carl Bell, who performs under the alias ‘Black Carl!‘, is a bass producer in Alabama that’s been making serious strides if you’ve been paying attention. The 23-year old artist’s neuro style has afforded him supporting slots for big artists such as Liquid Stranger, Boogie T, Freddy Todd, and many more! He graciously agreed to let us pick his brain about everything from producing his first song, to his exciting new side-project with VCTRE. Check it out below and be sure to check out the exclusive mix he did for us after the jump!
The Wook of Wall Street: What did you listen to before you got into EDM? What was the music scene like growing up in Alabama?
Black Carl: Before I found this type of music, I was listening to a lot of like hardcore stuff. The Devil Wears Prada was my favorite band. I also listened to Oceano and Suicide Silence. I was part of the crew that wasn’t the popular kids. Back when I was like 16 they used to be poppin’.
TWOW: What was the catalyst that birthed your desire to produce music?
BC: What made me want to start doing this was seeing Skrillex for the first time at TomorrowWorld 2014. I was 19 at a 21+ festival (lol). I snuck in and had bought a $400 staff wrist band. Seeing one guy play for an ocean of people made it click for me. Like so many people came from all over for one thing: to get lit and listen to dope ass music all weekend. And then you have Skrillex, up here on this stage that was like 4 or 5 stories high, throwing the hell down to an ocean of people. I fell in love with it. Cause I mean, back then I wanted to be in a band – a hardcore band. I wanted to be a drummer dude. I kinda learned how to play drums from Rock Band honestly (laughs). Seriously though, the way that it’s set up…when you play on expert, it’s like pretty much the actual timing of the drum hits. Except for the double bass. I had a drum set but my house burned down. So any pursuit of music was gone because my drum set was gone – and then I found this.
TWOW: So the seed was planted, you get home feeling inspired, what gear did you use starting out to make music?
BC: I just had my shitty HP laptop already when I got back from TomorrowWorld. I bought speakers and my Akai MPG 25. Then I got my hands on Fruity Loops. I sucked at it. At first I was just like “fuck this shit” because I had my friend, Ariel, teaching me how to mix. We were learning how to do this shit together but we ended up mixing more than producing. I cranked out one track on Fruity Loops, put it out, and waited a whole year to put another song out. Around my birthday, “Rise” was the first track that I shit out from Ableton.
TWOW: Over the course of your career, who has been your favorite artist to collab with so far?
BC: VCTRE, because we’ve been collabing since we met pretty much (laughs) we just flow well. We learn from each other too. If we get in the lab we take notes from each other. It’s all just one big ass experiment honestly. It’s just really fun, I love this stuff. I’m only, like, 2 years into producing all the time. I know I have a lot more to learn. There’s so much shit out there.
TWOW: We hear you and VCTRE have been cooking up a new side project. Tell us a bit about how you guys became friends and what we can expect from Integrate?
BC: Yes, yes , yes! Me and ol’ “A A Ron” became friends I wanna say back in like 2016 or 2015 – I can’t remember…but these last two years we’ve gotten really close. We met at my friends house before a show; I think it was like a pregame thing – I cant remember. Then we both got booked on some gigs together at our local bars. We went B2B like twice and, since then, we just mesh well (laughs). And back to Integrate…don’t expect anything! We are doing whatever the hell we want – no genre expectations. Except no country! (laughs).
TWOW: What’s one of the hardest hurdles you’ve had to overcome as an artist?
BC: Finding a sound that I wanted to pursue and actually like. Probably took me a year to find that. I still don’t think I’ve found my personal sound. I’ve found a genre I like, but not a distinct style within that that sets me apart. Nobody wants to sound the same dude. That’s how I kinda feel about a lot of riddim right now. There’s really good riddim out there like Aweminus or Hatcha’s “Flatline” remix. That’s good riddim. When you hear that song, you know it’s Hatcha because he’s throwing his signature on it.
TWOW: On those days when you’re just not in a good headspace, what do you do to cope with it? What does self-care mean to Black Carl?
BC: I usually FaceTime Aaron and talk about it. Self-care for me involves not getting hung up on things and not letting negative things in life get me down.
TWOW: When the struggle is of the culinary variety, as many creatives are no stranger to, how do you chef up that ramen?
BC: Ramen with hot sauce, peanuts, and peanut butter crackers (laughs).
TWOW: To wrap things up, what advice do you have for aspiring producers looking to follow their dreams?
BC: MAKE MORE AND MORE MUSIC! That’s just what it is. Everybody can learn how to mix. But…can you make a song? If you’re getting it how you get it, I salute you. But you contribute to the community when you make more music. Get out of your head when you think something isn’t good enough. You won’t know until you put it out there. ♦︎