Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with producer/saxophonist Ehren Wright, better known by his stage name SoDown, about his background in music, influences, and plans for the future. As a member of Colorado’s own Mile High Sound Movement and repping Boulder, CO on his sleeve, SoDown is preparing to release his brand new EP entitled Bounce Town on November 17th, which will be chock-full of funktastic saxy bangers that are sure to impress.
Sensible Reason: Your sound and style of music, on a collective level, is complex, layered, and soulful, with so many stories to tell. It seems to stem from a multitude of genres such as jazz, funk, hip-hop, electro, soul, and more, all of which you can hear distinctly with every track. Did you grow up listening to these genres? Who are a couple of artists that you first remember hearing and being influenced by within these genres?
Ehren Wright: I grew up listening to all different types of music, but mainly hip-hop, and reggae. Wu-tang Clan was my shit back in the day, especially Method Man. His flow is unreal. More recent loves of mine are funk, soul and blues. There are too many to note, but some of my favorite groups from back in the day are The Meters, Parliament, and James Brown.
SR: Each of your tracks, both original and remixed, explores multiple dimensions of sound as a result of incorporating different instruments such as guitar, piano, and my personal favorite, sax, all of which you perform yourself. What was the first instrument you learned to play and when did you begin experimenting with live instruments?
EW: I think the first instrument I learned to play was the cello back in elementary school… Haha, I didn’t have much dedication back then though, so I ended up playing a bunch of different instruments (and not getting very good at them…) more recently I picked up guitar, and then sax. Live instrumentation is a part of my music that I’m really glad I made the jump into. Its crazy fun live, and I think it adds another dimension to the music, and performance.
SR: As I stated before, you perform instrumentals live and record them live for your tracks, which is unlike a lot of the artists out there who choose to sample and incorporate samples into their music. Do you ever use any samples in your tracks as far as instruments go, or do you feel like that’s cheating a little since the majority of your songs embody an organic character because you play your own instruments?
EW: I mainly record all of the instruments in my tracks, occasionally if I’m feeling stuck I will use a sample as a starting point of a tune. Sampling is fun as well, it gives you a starting point that you couldn’t have come up with on your own. But for the most part, all of the instruments in my tunes I’ve played. For me, recording everything I can gives the music an originality that is tough to grasp with samples. I have mad respect for producers that can do it well though.
SR: Have you always been interested in the electronic music scene as opposed to a different scene? Or did you gain motivation to produce electronic music through a random influence, maybe by hearing a certain artist or album that resonated with you?
EW: Haha, its funny that you ask. I was actually pretty late to jump on the electronic music train. My friends were all getting into it, and I didn’t really give it the time of day. In 2010, my homie convinced me to head to Red Rocks with him to see Pretty Lights. After that, I was pretty much hooked, started going to shows every weekend, and eventually quit school and work to pursue my own career as an artist.
SR – Did you grow up in Colorado? When did you move to Boulder?
EW – I grew up in Boulder actually, moved away, then came back. After high school, I lived in Nicaragua with my good friend Andrew Clymer of SunSquabi. That was my first experience with actually wanting to learn an instrument. I brought down a little mini guitar, and Clymer and I would jam out on the porch of our apartment in San Juan Del Sur. It was a fucking blast.
SR: Is it surreal to be a part of the Colorado music scene, considering it’s rapidly evolving nature and expansion? I feel like every time I speak to or hear about an artist from anywhere in Colorado they are incredibly humble and appreciative of their supporters, no matter how well-known or underground they may be. Maybe it’s just a Colorado thing.
EW: Maybe. Colorado is a very supportive place. So many amazing cats out here doing their thing. I think it would be hard to be cocky about it. Plus the supporters are who makes this shit tight. Its no fun playing to an empty room. With out the people, this shit wouldn’t exist.
SR: Although the electronic music scene is continuously diversifying and new talent is constantly arising, every time I think about Colorado my mind gravitates towards a classification of genres that seem more prominent and popular in CO than anywhere else – and that is music that emulates the sound of artists such as Pretty Lights, Gramatik, and Opiuo, and anyone else cranking out smooth yet funky electro-soul, glitch and hip-hop oriented beats. Has the hype surrounding this type of music acted as a reinforcing agent that motivates you even further to continue pursuing your work?
ER: I think it has influenced me, and I think I got lucky to be born in Colorado. I’m definitely trying to carve my own niche in the scene, but it’s also really cool to be a part of this movement.
SR: You are a member of the Colorado-originated Mile High Sound Movement (MHSM), an artist collective that represents some of the rawest talent in the electronic music scene in the West, showcasing a plethora of musicians, whether they’re big-time or still underground. When did you become a part of the MHSM and how?
EW: I used to fantasize about being a part of MHSM and as I got further into the scene, I started to see Jay (Project Aspect) out more and more. I kept doing my thing, and one day Ronnie (Unlimited Gravity) hit me up and asked me to join. I was so fucking pumped. Those kids crush it and its an honor to be riding this wave with them.
SR: The list of producers and groups that are part of the MHSM is already extensive and is only getting longer and gaining more and more potential – do you intend on collaborating with some of your fellow MHSM artists in the near future, either on a track or on stage?
EW: I definitely would love to do some more collabs with MHSM homies. Ronnie and I started one, but it never saw the light of day, Jay and I have been talking about it for a long time but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. It will happen soon I’m sure.
SR: Within your last year or so, can you briefly describe a certain show or festival that was especially significant to you in terms of the turnout of fans or how positively the crowd reacted to your music and performance?
EW: Actually just this past Saturday at Sonic Blossom. The crowd was so energetic and powerful. It was packed and shit really popped off. Some of the most fun I’ve had.
SR: Defunk recently dropped your collaborative remix of GRiZ’s track “Gettin’ Live” at the one-and-only Red Rocks Ampitheatre. How did it feel to know that your work was played at one of the most amazing venues out there, and more importantly, do you think you’re on the road to one day being able to play Red Rocks?
EW: It was truly amazing. Logan is a great homie and I’m stoked he got such an amazing opportunity. Haha, I sure hope so!!! Its a life time dream of mine, and I’m gonna do my best to make it happen.
SR: Your Facebook mentions your new EP Bounce Town in the works, can you leak a little something about what we can expect to hear?
EW: You can expect some Bouncy Bassy Swunky Saxy Get Down Funk. 🙂 I really tried to step up my game on this one, and I’m too stoked about releasing it.
SR: What can we expect from you as far as touring goes for Fall?
EW: I have some shows with Vibe Street and Unlimited Aspect, as well as shows with Exmag and The Floozies. I’m mainly focusing on this EP release right now and hopefully starting to tour hard early next year.