Beats In School: Season Two Wrap-Up
Following a year of dedicated work both in the studio and behind the decks, season two of Beatport’s mentorship initiative, Beats In School, has come to a close. After a lengthy and thorough selection process back at the start of 2019, which saw hundreds of submissions from burgeoning producer from all over the world, four winners were hand-selected by four of the top independent record labels in electronic music: mau5trap, Hospital Records, Dirtybird, and Second State.
In the expanded second season, each winner was given direct A&R support from the label ambassadors from each of these esteemed imprints, career guidance from industry experts, assistance from Beatport’s vast network of partners, and a coveted prize package filled with industry-standard gear. All of this comes paired with several one-on-one studio courses and tutorials that have been tailored by the distinguished music education institutions Berklee School of Music and Point Blank Music School.
After dedicating over a year to the development of their sound, bringing prowess to their stage performances, and gaining a further understanding of how the music industry operates, we take a look back to see how each artist has grown during their Beats In School mentorship experiences.
Sammy Legs (Dirtybird)
For Season Two of Beats In School, San Francisco’s beloved Dirtybird imprint put their stock in Bay Area native, Sammy Legs, who joined the label’s year-long initiative after his track submission, “In My Body,” personally impressed label boss Claude VonStroke. Now with releases on labels like Night Bass and This Ain’t Bristol, his psychedelic and bustling forms of house music are an imposing force on the dancefloor. Also an integral member of his “modern-day boy band,” Boiz House, a group that combines “house, techno, breaks, bass, and funk” into steaming compositions of the party-variety, it’s clear that the dancefloor ethos of both Sammy and that of the Dirtybird crew were a match made in heaven.
“Because I write so many different styles of music, I felt compelled to split the project into a bunch of aliases, and it was actually Rinzen from mau5trap (a good friend of mine from college) that convinced me that this is all still my sound,” Carr says. “It’s forced me to take a longer road with management and my independence, as my musical vision is less direct and simple than a lot of the quicker success stories, but you need to be patient and believe in yourself. I have a weird musical path, and I’ve looked at it for so long as a hindrance because it is in the short term, but now as my long term plan has begun to form, I can tell that it has been worth the extra time and care.”
Between lessons in mastering techniques, personal studio sessions with artists like Ardalan, and informative lectures about both music business and publishing, Donny Carr says he’s much more well equipped to move forward with his music career, much of it thanks to the things he learned during his time at Beats In School. “I have somewhere between 30-40 tracks to find homes for this next year or two already,” Carr says. “We’ve also been fleshing out the Boiz House project to become a music label that is going to house some of this new music. I have my eyes on a couple of key labels to get my music exposed to several different audiences, but I feel completely comfortable with doing my own thing at the moment, so we’ll see! I will be releasing some VIPs, remixes, and covers for free over the next couple of months to kick things off — stay tuned!”
“The Beats In School program introduced us to the unique spirit and talent of Sammy Legs, and also his larger Boiz House crew,” Dirtybird’s label manager Deron Delgado says while reminiscing about the program. “They’ve got a unique vibe about them musically, along with a lot of charisma which will help build long term success. We were excited to get him and the crew to play our Dirtybird Campout Silent Disco and Christmas Party, as they brought a fun spirit that was reminiscent of early Dirtybird shenanigans.”
Redemptive (Hospital Records)
Landing the winning spot for London’s long-running Hospital Records imprint is Copenhagen-based producer Rolf Debois (AKA Redemptive), whose liquid drum ‘n’ bass submission “Beyond” was chosen for its “detailing and original musicality.”
“When I was selected as a winner for Beats In School, I felt fantastic!” Rolf Debois says. “I was walking around at home throwing fists and yelling, ‘Fuck yeah.’ Such a blissful moment that made me feel motivated and enthusiastic about driving with my career forward.” Between taking masterclasses at the Hospital Records studio with the artist Logistics, learning the basic ins and outs of the business side of the music industry, and getting booked to play gigs in his native Denmark, Rolf is well on his way to becoming a promising drum ‘n’ bass scholar.
“They gave me a lot of new perspectives in terms of music production, and through a lot of very detailed feedback, I’ve become better at making the right decisions in my productions,” Rolf says. “They understood my strengths and built upon that, but also pointed out the parts where I could become better and made me think about certain aspects of the genre I hadn’t thought of before.”
“We spent 12 months mentoring, and supporting Rolf Debois,” Hospital Records co-founder Chris Goss says. “He was open and receptive to our input, feedback, and advice, which ranged from studio tips, production essentials, and sample re-creation, to strategies and ideas for social media and extra creative content. Whilst Redemptive has not yet secured a release on Hospital, he has a direct channel to our A&R team, and has been encouraged to keep pushing forwards with his inventive and unique drum and bass. We hope to see him again soon!”
Photo by: Mitsun Soni
Dotdat (Second State)
On the techno front, Second State label bosses Tassilo Ippenberger and Thomas Benedix, better known as Pan-Pot, selected Indian artist Sidhant Naren (AKA Dotdat) for his track “Scutter.” They could not have been more well-informed in their choice. Dotdat has turned out to be a force that continues to rise fast through the ranks in his native country, which continues to show an interest in techno that grows ferociously with each passing week.
“Living in India, we are quite cut off from the global music industry,” Naren explains. “Getting an opportunity like this actually meant a lot to me. I did not expect to win at all, but I guess I stayed true to myself, and to my surprise, Second State recognized that and picked me as their winner.” Growing up, he learned both the drums and the tabla; rhythm has always come naturally to Sidhant. He went on to earn a degree in Audio Engineering at SAE in Sydney and, after that, decided to shift to production and DJing. Now having shared the stage with artists like Charlotte De Witte, Volte Face, Drumcell, and more, the new tricks of that he’s learned during his time at Beats In School has given him a serious leg up in the industry.
“I enjoyed most of the masterclasses for the sole reason that they came from different producers with different backgrounds producing different genres,” Sidhant explains. “It was refreshing to see how things work in other styles of music, and I picked up a few skills that I could use for my own music. All the lectures were super insightful as well, especially the class on Music Law with Sander Petit. It helped me understand how copyright law works and how artists can protect themselves and avoid making mistakes that could get them into tricky situations. The one on Mental Health with Paul Nolan was great too. As musicians, we spend a lot of time alone in our caves chasing external validation. Paul stressed the fact that maintaining a balance is essential, and that really stuck with me. Given the competitive nature of the industry, sometimes artists do tend to lose focus. Paul’s words reinstated that it’s essential to take care of yourself whilst you grind in it in the industry.”
During his time with Second State, the label brought him out to perform gigs in both Amsterdam and Berlin, and even put one of his tracks, “Wiggle,” on their 2019 Sum 6 compilation. “The hypnotic and dark driving sound of India’s uprising talent Dotdat is unique and something out of the ordinary,” reads a statement about the artist from Pan-Pot. “He knows how to combine old school techno elements with contemporary beats and tunes, which is why we chose to work with him. He’s a very sympathetic person and fits into our label family perfectly. He made great progress during the Beatport mentorship program, and we’re so pleased to now be acquainted with him.”
Donny Carr (mau5trap)
At the start of the season, progressive house talent Donny Carr was picked up by deadmau5’s infamous mau5trap imprint for his glimmering production “Luna Brave.” Known as a label that regularly commits its energy and resources into nurturing fresh talent, many of the young stars that have come out of the label include Rezz, ATTLAS, i_o, Julian Gray, and one of our very own Beats In School masterclass teachers, Rinzen.
“It’s always interesting to see how other artists approach production,” Carr says. “I particularly enjoyed the Rinzen masterclass, the way he turned field recordings and foley sounds into ambient textures and atmospheres is a technique I’ve since adopted into my own productions.”
With his deep, melodic, and tight sound, Donny Carr is one of Salt Lake City’s most sought after DJs and a regular player in the city’s burgeoning underground scene. With mau5trap on his side during the BIS mentorship program, he was put on the bill to perform at EDC Orlando’s mau5trap Art Car stage, his first major festival, and his first time playing on the East Coast.
“It doesn’t get much better than having the mau5trap team as a mentor,” Carr says. “They were fantastic to work with and gave me some unique opportunities such as the EDC gig, a guest mix for their Mixcloud radio show, a release on We Are Friends Vol.9, and more. Their team was always willing to give any advice or answers to any questions. It was exciting to learn more about the inner workings of a record label at the top of their game — both on the artistic side and the business side. Overall, it was a great experience.”
When asking mau5trap label manager Mario Morales what it was like to work with Carr over the past year, he had this to say: “Working with Donny Carr and Beatport during the Beats in School program was a great and unique experience for the label. The culmination was when we were able to include Donny’s original track “Luna Brave” on We Are Friends Vol.9 as an official release, and he also did a production tutorial for the record via mau5trap’s YouTube channel. It was awesome to watch Donny grow throughout the process. He was very receptive to label tips and ideas for both his sound and brand. He’s a true producer with great skill and promise!”