After checking out Crem’e’s debut album ‘Close Up’ we were immediately captured by the cleanness and sensitive vibe surrounding the tracks. An incredibly personal peek into his mind, basically telling the story of losing a person very close to you and translating the grieving process into 45 minutes of pure feels. We hooked up and talked about his main influences, Los Angeles and his Pendleton gear, 100% wool.
Who is Crem’e – can you tell us something about yourself and where we should know you from?
Crem’e is a vessel of my musical output. I’m Los Angeles born, raised and surviving. A basketball aficionado, record collector, producer and DJ.
How did you become a music producer?
Since I was about 11 I got real deep with music and hiphop culture. I grew up in the now defunct “underground era” so I was literally a backpacker kid in LA – I had to know all the samples, all the lyrics ya know… geeking out over sounds.
Over time, the production of tracks is what fostered my interest to start making my own music. If the beat was trash I didn’t care to listen, no matter how busy the MC could get on the mic. I eventually found time between playing sports during my younger years to kind of dabble. But I didn’t really make it a passion until my mother passed… that’s when it became medicinal ánd necessary.
In what way is Los Angeles an inspiration for you?
Los Angeles has been an inspiration since I as long as I can remember. Whether I knew it at the time, or not just having parents whose neighbourhoods and culture are like Frogtown and Lincoln Heights. LA is still shaping the person I’ve become.
My father grew up a gangster – so just him raising me put me on soul music, Chicano oldies and Pendleton clothing. Later when he became a pastor I was being introduced to gospel music. My mother would sing songs from the likes of Mary Wells, Barbara Mason, Motown and Tamla records while I would ride in the car with her. Instances like that grant me the ear I have today. Then just on a community level, it’s just a huge amoeba-like melting pot. Being exposed to all different types of music… beat culture, psyche, electronic, g-funk, gangster rap. Hearing avant-garde- and world music flipped my wig and it really steered me to be open minded and willing to venture into unknown grounds. I’ve also had gracious and tasteful friends along, together with a musician brother who had me up on game with new artists and films as well, very important.
We’re lucky with the weather too… I would play a high school baseball game in 85-degree weather, go hit Low End Theory underaged and then roll to a house party down the block – all in the same day if that paints a picture. Lots to take in and, monitor so it was fairly easy to put myself in certain atmospheres with mediums I was fond of. My best friend DJ Trexxx was obsessed with turntablism, just like I was about producing, so we were both kids in a candy store… the ‘honeymoon’ years I say, haha.
If you had to choose between producing or DJing, which path would you take and why?
Producing. DJing is fun no doubt, but I’m more of a selector. Blends and sound collage – which is how I make lots of my music, so it trickles over.
What is your most memorable performance you’ve done so far?
Man, it’s super, super cliche to say ‘playing Low End Theory’, so I’m not. I rolled up with Jincallo, Toylight and Mystery Cave to Santa Cruz to play an Alpha Pup show in the middle of the forest. Absolute mental experience. 200 people, hella drinks, hella weed and killer sets. Bananas.
Your album ‘Close Up’ has a strong dream-like and emotional vibe, hitting us right in the feels. Can you tell us something about the process of this record?
That time of my life was a real surreal state. As you said, at times it was a dream where I was floating in my daily life and then at times reality was too encapsulating to process. It’s ultimately where I grasped a sense of myself again before it was too late. My mother’s death brought me great grief and loss for myself and my family but in time I found a sense of purpose and love with my art. It was a real deep self-cleansing that led me to flesh out what I was going through into an album. It felt real natural and soothing, like a brush stroke. I can’t tell you much about the process because in its creation, in retrospect, I was dreaming of hope, love, purpose, joy again… which I eventually discovered.
Crem’e. Is there a cool story behind your name?
Guru of Gangstarr says “cream of the crop, crem’e de la crem’e” in Royalty. I thought it looked dope to tag on walls but later used it as a moniker cause my graffiti was shit.
Tell us about your favourite hotspots in Los Angeles.
Ah, Tacos Baja on Whittier Boulevard in East LA has to be number one. Best ceviche and fish tacos in the world. Dublab of course. Kaleidoscopic Sounds at the Hyperion Tavern is one is of the best places to immerse yourself in for diverse music. And Poobah Records.
What do you do when you’re not busy with music?
Now I’m usually ór playing basketball *you either sling crack rock or got a wicked jump shot* – watching the Lakers *ICE IN MY VEINS!!* – watching a film/show – digging for Pendletons at local goodwills and vintage stores ór working at Poobah Record Shop, *Shoutout Unc Bits and C Dog*
What’s your favourite kind of food?
'I make beats quick, but then maybe next I’ll hammer out a 20 minutes left-sider experimental track.'
Tell us about your top-3 favourite movies.
Tree of Life, Revanche and Double Life of Veronique. Real hood shit.
Any cool upcoming projects you can or can’t tell us about? And what can we expect from you in the future?
I’m always trying to reinvent myself so it’s hard for me to group something that stands on its own. I make beats quick, but then maybe next I’ll hammer out a 20 minutes left-sider experimental track. It’s always changing and I’m so omnipresent with my music so I’m terrible at sticking to one gun. That said, I’m tuning my focus to produce a rap record featuring some of my favourite rappers in LA. I feel confident and ready to finally go for it. I got something to offer. After that who knows, I’ll keep it moving.
Imagine your house on fire, what are the three items you just can’t leave behind?
My computer, my records and tapes, and if I can scurry around quick enough it’d be all my Pendleton long sleeves and jackets. 100% Wool.
A 30-minute guestmix by the man Crem’e – Los Angeles bornd and raised and a cunning producer. Ambient, beats, hiphop and pure instrumental goodness!