Like a few other musical styles, electronic dance music (also known as EDM) is very polarizing. The beats and drops can either get the listener amped up or turn someone off completely.
There’s also a lot of work that goes into getting this kind of music right with proper sequencing and keeping a good flow while not being too cliché.
Locally in Cranston, Riley Baez-Bradway has been putting out original tracks and remixes of this nature under the name Boltcutter.
The East Haddam, Connecticut, native wound up in the city after living in other parts of Rhode Island over the past couple of years.
We had a talk recently about how he got into making beats, his favorite remixes that he’s done, a recent livestream that he did and hoping to make some good use of his garage.
ROB DUGUAY: How did you end up coming from East Haddam to Cranston?
RILEY BAEZ-BRADWAY: I grew up in East Haddam, and my high school graduating class was less than 100 kids. I traveled a bunch with bands in high school and I was looking at colleges during my senior year. It came down to a choice between Full Sail University down in Winter Park, Florida, or New England Tech in East Greenwich. I visited both and I fell in love with New England Tech and the whole area around here. Especially from living out on Route 2, it felt like New York City compared to where I was from. I went to school there, got my bachelor’s in digital media production and I graduated three years ago.
I had a couple jobs in college that I kept after college, so I just stayed out here. I’ve bounced around a couple places in Rhode Island – first I was in West Warwick and then for a couple years I was out in Coventry, which felt a lot like home, and then I moved to the Reservoir/Elmwood area of Cranston with my wife a couple months ago. I really like it. I like how close it is to everything.
RD: It’s a cool city. What would you say made you want to get into making electronic dance music?
RBB: If I remember correctly, this must have been during my freshman or sophomore year of high school, my band was trying to teach ourselves audio recording, audio engineering and all of that. We were toying around with this cheap feeling program called Mixcraft, and while it was engineered primarily for recording acoustic or organic instruments, it had a bunch of cheesy sounding pre-made synthesizers and drum kits and all of that. While having a copy of this on my laptop, I started messing around with it. I wasn’t trying to do anything serious, I was just toying around with something in my free time and I made a couple of bad sounding electronic beats. I just kept doing it. The struggle for me initially was to bridge the gap between my musical knowledge, because I’ve been singing and playing in bands my whole life, and the technical knowledge to be able to get those ideas from my head into a program that basically looks like a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, which was not easy at first.
After a couple of years, I’ve started playing some shows and I’ve taught myself the basics of DJing, and I guess I’ve never given up the habit.
RD: Do you find yourself being a bit of a gear junkie these days when it comes to finding new software and new programs to be able to improve your sound and be able to do things that you weren’t able to do before?
RBB: I wish I could say yes, because that would be a cooler answer, but over the last couple of years I’ve taken a look at some of the new software synthesizers that are coming out. Largely, when I get into a certain process, I get relatively comfortable in that and I haven’t really been searching for new ways of doing things so much as I have been learning how to do different things with the software that I have. Like I said, I’ll keep my finger on the pulse and I’ll check out new plug-ins or new software synthesizers, sequencers or anything like that, but I’m pretty set in my ways.
RD: You’ve also done a ton of remixes over the years. Is there any one in particular that you’re most proud of?
RBB: Oh boy. Honestly, I don’t even consider this remix to be the best one out of any of them, but if I’m looking as objectively as I can upon my own creations, it would be my bootleg of Alt-J’s “Tessellate.” I think that one musically and sonically is my best work in terms of a remix, but the one I’m the most emotionally attached to, I think I did it in 2012 or 2013, is a remix of Wanting’s “Drenched.” It’s not even really that good, it sounds really gaudy, it sounds like peak mid-2010s EDM, but I remember when I was making it I’d never made anything long form and I really focused on some of the softer emotions. Before then I was all about making the filthiest drop possible, but with this one I tried taking a softer approach and inflect some more subtleties.
I’d say after all of these years, I still have a little bit of a soft spot for that one, even if by my standards it’s not easy on the ears in some parts.
RD: I can see that, too, because it goes back to you making a change in your style. Last month you got to be a part of the “Sofa King Chill Out: Mix Sessions” livestream series. Can we expect any more livestreaming from you in the future, or do you just plan on working on recordings?
RBB: I don’t have anything solidified in the timeline right now. I’m certainly taking provisions to do more livestreaming, even on my own. I have a new webcam and other livestreaming gear that’s coming in the mail, hopefully soon. The place I just moved into in Cranston has a garage and I’m very excited about that. In my entire life I’ve never lived in a place with a garage, so I’m kind of setting that up when it gets a little warmer out to do some livestreams or something along those lines.
It’ll be something a little more produced rather than just going on Twitch and doing some impromptu sort of thing. Like I said, I don’t have anything solid in the works right now, but I’m working on a lot of new music with a new approach to it. More or less singer-songwriter type music as opposed to EDM, à la James Blake and other artists of his ilk. I’ve been working a lot on that over the last couple of years and it’s been coming to fruition. I can guarantee that there will be more livestreams that I’ll be doing soon with other music collectives or other event promotions companies.