Interview: Shelf Black
Shelf Black and I first started speaking when I noticed one particular Gent was liking a lot of my Instagram posts (I’ll abstain from shameless self-promotion here, for once, since, after all, this is his interview. I think by now if you’ve seen this site, you know my social links). I gave a look to his material upon noticing this and said, “damn, this guy is good.”
Always wishing to engage my audience, I approached Shelf a little hesitantly. Meeting strangers on the internet, in my book, is equivalent to taking that candy from the shady cargo van on the corner. At the same time, I love doing it and it has helped me to network, learn and experience what goes on in others’ lives. Shelf mentions doing this as well in the interview below. After striking up conversation, we realized we’re a lot alike and a lot different all at once.
This is the reason I asked him for an exclusive video (^^^) and to interview for the site. I think he gave some really cogent and well-thought answers. I hope you enjoy!
First, what’s your real name?
It’s crazy how I know so many people on the internet without knowing their real names. My name is Casey Platt, I am 39 years old and I’m a part-time musician in Greenville, South Carolina.
I know you’re a little bit of a later in life musician. What challenges and advantages has this presented you?
Oddly enough, I started making music after hurting my back at work. I was out of work for about 6 months and out of complete boredom I set up an Instagram account and started posting daily. I basically turned Instagram engagement into my full-time job. So, I guess the advantage of getting old helped push me into making music. I honestly wouldn’t say there’s been any challenges at all. If anything, being grown and not having any kids means I can get whatever gear I want, whenever I want, and use my time however I want. It’s pretty sick.
Back in my 20s, I was very much into hip-hop. I had 2 turntables, a Numark mixer, hundreds of records. In college, I had my own radio show on the college radio station. The semester after my first I became the hip-hop director for the station and it was some of the most fun times of my life. After college, I kind of fell out of it and stopped using my equipment and sold it off. One huge regret I have is that I GAVE AWAY all my records to a friend. Didn’t sell them, just gave them to him. But, at least I know they are in good hands.
For all the people out there viewing your video, would you care to elaborate on the gear being used?
I’m using an all hardware setup so there is no DAW. No computer is being used in the making of any of the track. My main unit that everything is clocked off of is the Arturia Drumbrute Impact. I have a few tricks up my sleeve by incorporating different pedals and delay effects because the Drumbrute Impact has individual outs for the kick, snare, hi-hats, and FM drum.
So it really allows for a lot of freedom. My main synths are the Korg Monologue and the Behringer DeepMind6. Also, I use the Korg Volca FM, Volca Sample, and Volca Keys. Atop that, I use both of the Korg Kaossilators for effects to manipulate the sounds coming from the Monologue. To go even further, I have 4 pedals that I currently rotate around depending on what I’m making. My main pedal is the ElectroHarmonix Grand Canyon. I also use the TC Electronics Afterglow, The Prophet, and the DigDugDiy PizzaTime.
What are some of your main influences? I noticed, like myself, you enjoy creating a frenetic atmosphere of Synthesizer. What draws you to this approach?
The crazy thing is that I have very little actual “electronic” influences. Really, I know very little about all the genres, never found myself really into techno, or house, or anything like that. I was always a crazy hip-hop fan, mostly of 90’s rap. To name a few; I’ve always loved Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep, Dilated Peoples, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest and a million more groups and artists. In college I got more into indie rock like the White Stripes, the Black Keys and some electro indie bands like The Faint and Chromeo.
I do not enjoy making music in a DAW on a computer. It offers me no joy and I do not like the process. So, when I started with just 2 pieces of gear it was immediately fun and rewarding and having physical control of all the knobs, switches, and sounds really grabbed me. I like to push sounds into crazy directions and I do not follow music theory for the most part. To me it is total freedom. It turns a lot of people off because I do not have traditionally structured songs but I just let it happen.
Any advice for musicians on Instagram or the Internet in general to help find their audience?
Post content at least semi-regularly, utilize the right hashtags in your posts, and engage with like-minded content creators. I have met so many ultra-supportive and helpful people on Instagram who always will give advice or talk gear. Although I’ve met no one from there in real life, I feel like i have some great friendships with people. Don’t worry about just getting followers and likes. Build a small base of supportive people that you engage with and the rest will come.
Do you have any upcoming projects that we can look forward to?
I just released a small 3 song EP that was inspired by my wife called “Maria in the Stars.” It’s my version of an electronic love song to her. She’s been very supportive and understanding about my new obsession with making crazy noises.
I’ll be releasing another EP in early May entitled “Heavy Things” which will be 6 or 7 songs.
A very talented musician named Stephen Zinda and I are working on a collaborative album, no date or anything for that yet but if you want to hear our first song and get a taste it’s called “Palm Trees” and we use the name Black Zinda (available on Stephen’s Zinda’s BandCamp and Youtube).
(What Shelf Black says below is extremely kind and should warrant extra attention)
Finally, any music that is purchased from my BandCamp from now until Memorial Day will be donated to The Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals in the local Greenville area. All my music is currently pay what you want, meaning you can download it for free if you just want to check it out. I’m also available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and all those other streaming services!
Most importantly, what’s under the sheet? Lol
Under the sheet is my baby, the Arturia Drumbrute Impact. I started incorporating props, figures, and toys early in my posting of Instagram videos because I wanted people to be able to tell that I was posting different content in case they weren’t actually listening. It also helps me keep track and identify videos. At one point it seemed like I was getting a little carried away with using them and I considered not using them anymore. At that point, my wife told me that if I stopped using them she would unfollow me. So that was the end of that!
Shelf Black Out!
Thanks so much for the opportunity to speak with you. I’m excited for the prospects of ChuckW.com. As artists and creators we should all support each other. There is nothing better than a positive network of friends to help you fulfill your dreams and goals. Peace!
I want to thank Shelf Black for taking the time to answer my questions.
One super important thing he wanted for me to mention was that ALL proceeds from his new album, Heavy Things, go to local charity up through May 25th. Be sure to check out his tunes, which are laden throughout the article.
Please take this away from the article too; This is an independently run website, meaning I have no editor to answer to. Shelf Black is an unsigned artist whom I attempted to throw some attention towards because I believe whole heartedly in what he’s doing. You don’t need to be someone on the Scale of Radiohead or Jack Black to make it onto this site! Just ask and we’ll definitely work something out. I hope you enjoyed the read and, as always, keep on rockin’ and rollin’!