[From Excellent Reception : Episode 2] By lil’dave
The MPC (aka Midi Production Center) is a sampling drum machine created by Rodger Linn back in 1988. It best know as the device of choice for hiphop and electronic producers to create some of most popular sample heavy tracks of the past 20 plus years.
Detroit native Jeremy Ellis first got his hands on an MPC while in high school and it influenced the course of his musical existence. Most people use drum machines and samplers as a way to program and arrange sounds into beats, but Jeremy has adapted to using it a an instrument. He is able to work his 10 fingers across the 16 pads of the MPC with the furious energy and loose improvisation of a jazz drummer. His skills have given him the opportunity to perform all over the world, become part of the extended family of the legendary Roots crew, collaborate with DJ Q-Bert, and joined the Native Instruments supergroup Mostly Robot (with Jamie Lidell, Tim Exile, Mr. Jimmy and DJ Shiftee).
Jeremy is more than just a button pusher. He is a piano virtuoso who once made a note for note remake of Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon”. When it comes to vocals he takes a soulful approach and his songwriting style is the product of what he has learned from listening to Stevie Wonder and Prince. His upbringing in the Detroit’s house and techno scenes are the backbone of the enthusiastic electronic music he makes.
On his 2005 album “Lotus Blooms”, he headed to Puerto Rico to absorb the traditional rhythms of the Bomba and Plena. He took those techniques and merged them into his finger drumming style. This influence is very strong on the song “Take Your Time”. Jeremy uses this as an opportunity to combine afro-latin melodies and percussion with the syncopated energy of UK broken beat. It’s extremely difficult to believe that the sophisticated rhythm section you are hearing was all being played off of a simple drum machine.
This is an excerpt from the Excellent Reception podcast. Each episode our host, lil’dave, talks about the stories and influences around a group of carefully selected songs. Subscribe to the podcast now via iTunes.