DJ / PRODUCER
Las Vegas based producer, DJ and partner of Laika Sounds. Riley brings a unique melodic and deep sound that soothes the soul. 2005 was when Riley started DJing and it's been a magical flight since.
FOLLOW RILEY BEE
Where are you from and how long have you been DJing and producing music?
First, I want to say thank you for having me as a guest. It means a lot when someone is interested in my music.
I’m from California, but currently residing in Las Vegas. My musical journey started in San Diego in the rave scene. It wasn’t a big scene, but it was perfect for an intro into house music and getting to know local DJ’s who are all pretty unpretentious. It’s kind of a small-town vibe so everyone was super friendly and supportive of each other. My first-time touching needle to a record was in 2005. I was going to lots of big shows and thought I could play a perfect opening set for lots of these big acts that came through, so I saved up some money and picked up some turn tables, headphones, a mixer and some vinyl. I couldn’t afford speakers right away so I learned how to mix in my headphones and stuck to that style of mixing… as you can still see in my mixing style in djing now. There was a huge house scene pop in 2007-2008 and the five clubs that played house turned into 15 and spread out the crowd and ultimately crashed the scene since all the crowds that packed a couple clubs were now spread out. Because of that, a lot of my bookings dried up and I decided to take the time to produce. I picked up a copy of Ableton and just downloaded every remix contest pack I could find and it started there. It took about a year or two before I had my first release.
How would you describe your “style” and approach to DJing?
Good question. I’m not really sure I want to label my music style as I try to be musically ambiguous. I have a love for many styles of music, but I tend to stick to progressive, melodic tech, and electronica, but I definitely love sprinting breaks, indie, and drum and bass into a set if the set up is right.
Tell us about your journey into music production and the development of your brand?
My original moniker is Riley Warren and I have over 50 releases under that name, but I decided a couple years ago to rebrand. I had taken a break from djing and started to focus on film audio, and when I decided to jump back in, it seemed the perfect time to rebrand to Riley Bee. There are a lot of tracks released under Riley Warren that I am immensely proud of, but also some that I didn’t put the time or effort into that I should have, or just downright should have said no to. A common mistake of newer producers who are hungry to get music out.
With the rebranding, Riley Bee aims to be more musically diverse and definitely quality over quantity. I’m not trying to make a career out of music, so there is no feel to rush a track or have a certain amount of tracks out in a year.
What were some of your goals when starting out as a producer and challenges faced in achieving them? How have these goals and challenges changed over time?
Some challenges are that I am self taught and I don’t know what I don’t know. I, still to this day, can hear a sound I really like, and just have no idea how to reproduce it. I think a lot of the music I write just kind of makes itself. It just happens to be my fingers on the controls when it happens. It kind of feels like a flow state. Great tracks seem to get written in 3-4 sessions and ones I don’t particularly like are many many more. I would say this is still my main challenge, however, I think youtube is a great tutor and there are lots of great videos out there these days that will show you the ways.
When did you know it was time to “shop around” your first track? How did you know it was ready?
I think I kind of got lucky on this front. MySpace was a great tool for connecting with electronic artists and I always tried to connect with some of the artists that were going to be coming through my town. Partly because I was a broke ass and wanted to try to score a comp to a party, but also, I genuinely wanted to connect with my peers. An old school progressive guy, Noel Sanger, and connected and he sent me some remix parts to a track he was releasing and I messed around with it a bit and came up with something I thought was pretty cool. It was scary as hell but I sent it back to him and he actually liked it! There was lots to do with it as far as mixing down and arrangement, but he was impressed with it enough to mix it down with me, help me on arrangement, and release it! I was so excited that my first release was coming out on a major indie label. The track smashed.. It was really freaking cool, and fun.
What are some of your favorite tools and gear for music production?
I love Ableton for my DAW, but some plugins that I use almost all the time are Omnisphere2, Sylenth, Serum, and I play with the DeepMind 6 for some cool analog stuff. I wish my hardwire and analog gear collection was bigger but I am gonna save my next big purchase for a Dave Smith Ob-6. MMMmmmmm.
What are some tips you can give an amateur music producer that is just getting started? With the knowledge you’ve acquired over the years, can you suggest a roadmap for success?
I would like to remind newer producers to not get discouraged when they hear no from labels repeatedly when shopping their track. I got tons of labels saying no to me, and you know what… I’m thankful. I have tracks floating around out here that I WISH labels would have said no to. I’m not sure why they didn’t.
“No” not only protects the label from music that’s not quite ready for release, but it protects your brand. Once they world hears it, it’s never disappearing. So, take no as a challenge to do better, work harder, and get more creative. Sometimes the yes hurts you more than a no. Always remember that.
Tell us about your partnership with the label Laika Sounds?
Laika Sounds is a labor of love between Nathan Clement, Christopher James and myself. Those two guys are both phenomenal djs with amazing connections in the industry. Nathan has been djing nearly two decades and was one of the pivotal underground progressive djs in Las Vegas in the 2000’s to about 2015. When the big clubs closed, and all the clubbers needed an after-hours, he was one of the guys that kept the party going.
Christopher James has been doing for the same amount of time and is a serious music collector. I feel like anyone can challenge him to name a progressive house artist from 200-now and he’d know the artist and the name of the track, AND if it was on any mix album, which it was from and who mixed it. Dude is a lexicon of knowledge. He’s been working with WMC and Ultra Music Festival for a number of years and just loves the music.
Those two guys were just ripe for making a label since we were all making music and putting it out on other labels. It all just kind of made sense. It all just fell into place.
Do you have other music-related interests or ventures outside of DJing and production?
You know, I super dig rock climbing. I’m looking forward to doing more of that. Weather just finally cooled off enough to get back out on the rocks!
Are there any other thoughts or input you would like to share with the Transitions community?
I’d just like to say thanks again for having me, and also mention how thankful I am for the amazing Twitch community who have been so supportive of Laika Sounds, and all the other streams I see us all bouncing around. It really made quarantining easy and I feel like aside from building a great supportive community, I feel like we’ve all made friends through a rough year. When the world gets weird, the weird get creative. We can’t be stopped. The music will last forever. The community is bonded, whether it’s your first time, or your thousandth. The house music scene started with misfits and extraordinary outsiders, and we will always be that.
One last thing I’d like to share is that the Laika Sound’s stream has great tunes, but is made one of a kind by the amazing interactive visuals by Searchlight Chris. He’s really done something amazing that no other stream is doing and if you haven’t seen it yet, definitely swing over to our stream and check it out. It really is something. You’ll be glad you did!
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