Interview #3: Yung Beethoven (English version)

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and explain what it is that you do?

My name is Patrick and my stage name is Yung Beethoven. I’ve been making music for about three years now, basically rap and hip-hop, but it’s difficult to pin me down musically because I do what I like. I record quite a lot of songs and release music regularly, about once a month.

2. What sparked your interest in making music yourself? Why did you finally decide to become a musician?

I`ve always been an active listener of music and I used to go to lots of different concerts. Those were entirely different music genres, melodic hardcore, metalcore and deathcore, everything in that vein. But in general, I’ve always liked music and played bass for four years as a teenager, I also played a little piano and guitar, but that was never anything serious.

I did a bachelor in German language and literature and philosophy and had a difficult time in my life at that point. My ex-girlfriend had broken up with me a few years before. That was still on my mind at the time and I needed an outlet to get that off my mind. One night about three years ago, I got bored and started listening to music, including hip-hop. I remember Lil Skies’ Welcome to the Rodeo was playing and then I thought “I can do that too”, so I decided to try and write a rap track. It was quite fun, but mainly for entertainment purposes. When I showed the song to friends, it was well received and then I continued.

At the beginning, I copied flows, changed lyrics and gradually delved into writing my own music. I did so analytically because, as I said, I studied German language and literature, so I wrote poetry analyses, so to speak, looking at how the songs work and what makes them work: How do the artists rap? What are they rapping about and what about the cadences, the number of syllables and so on? That’s how it started. All in all, I was just doing it for fun.

So music has always been a constant for you and at some point you just wanted to try for yourself?

Yes, but that also came very suddenly and I didn’t expect it although I’ve always listened to music actively and I’ve come to realise not so many people appear do that. I really sit down and listen to music and that’s always been the case, so music has always played a big role for me.

3. What gives you inspiration and motivation for your work? Let’s say you watch a film and like the vibe of it, does also influence you? It doesn’t have to be films and you can answer this more broadly too.

That’s difficult to say. Of course, there are things in life that inspire me, like when I hear a cool piece of music. If something is in a film, it’s a matter of whether or not I like to listen to it. For example, if it’s hip-hop, which I make myself, that can inspire me, but I would separate that from films entirely.

 I do what I like and what I think is cool at the time. If I happen to hear something I like, I might copy it and try to make a song like that myself, but where I end up going is always different, although you can describe it in certain terms. I basically take what I like and do something with that.

Apart from that, I have to mention that I use beats from the internet. I search for the genre I want to play or for artists with that sound. They have a certain style and that’s how I search for the beats as well. That means if I want to write a pop-punk song, I look for pop-punk beats, or if I want to write a hyper-pop track, I look for suitable beats, and in the case of classic hip-hop, I look for the right producers. Since I’ve been doing this for a while now, there are also a handful of producers that I check out regularly. I know that I like their sound, so what they do has an influence on me because at the end of the day, I sing over their beats.

4. What is your song-writing process like?

I’m always looking for beats basically. As I said, I follow several producers and always listen to their latest beats. If there’s one I like, I just use it. Then I hum a melody that I hear over that beat and sometimes record that so I don’t lose it. Afterwards, I use the melody as a basic construct and insert phrases that come to my mind and adapt them to the beat. While doing that, I also make sure that they have the right number of syllables. These can be things from my life that move me or are buzzing through my head, for example: “I don’t like the way you treat me” or something like that, and then I put a rhyme on it and continue from there.

If I don’t know where to go from there, I write lines that fit in and that I want to get out of my system. I also consider certain rules, for example if the flow stays the same, the next line should have roughly the same amount of syllables. One more or less work as well but if a line has much more syllables, you have to change the flow or figure out another way to make it work. Such rules offer you a small guideline. On the whole, it goes like this and I just put in one line after the other.

Oftentimes, I start with the hook, because that’s the essence of the song. If the hook’s not awesome, I don’t know if I’ll finish the track. Afterwards, if I still feel like it, I’ll just go straight to writing the verse. Some songs I’ve written entirely in one go. Peace, for example, which I’m shooting the video for, came together in one session and it all went smoothly. That’s why I think the track is really good, because it just came together really nicely. Sometimes, I write songs piece by piece, for example the first half of the verse on one day, and the second half the next day, but sometimes I write the whole verse in one go. It always depends on how I feel and how much time I have.

Most of the time I take the verse and the hook to Maik’s and record them there. Then I edit them and if I know it sounds good on record, I know I’m definitely going to finish the song. But it’s also possible that I discard tracks.

So far I’ve released about 20 songs and written about 100, although I haven’t recorded all of them. Especially in the beginning I wrote a lot. In the first three months I wrote two or three songs a day. They weren’t particularly good, but you have to learn doing that first. As far as good songs with potential are concerned, I’ve got about 40, 50 at the most, including the ones I’ve already released. The rest is pretty rubbish, I’d say. But I had to learn how to write songs first. Finally, once I like the recorded version of a track, it’s done.

Do you ever return to songs that you’ve dumped previously in order to use them further or to implement the ideas differently?

That just happened with Give me a few years. I had been working on it a while ago, but then life got in the way and I had to put off working on it, so now it came out a year later. In the song I also say “Two years ago I reached a new milestone” because at that time, I had only been making music for two years, so you can see that it’s a bit older.

There are also songs that I’ve let slide, for example Crazy, a track that I really love and had started a year ago. I really want to finish that one. That’s why I’m currently taking a break and I have not been writing any new songs, for 1.5 months now. That’s the longest break I’ve had so far. I want to finish all the songs I’ve already started before I write new tracks, because I also like the songs I haven’t finished yet and I want to get them done. 

5. You like to experiment with different genres, including pop-punk and hyperpop. What’s behind that? Does it always depend on your mood or do you try to push yourself?

I want to push myself, for sure. I mentioned that I used to listen to a lot of metalcore and melodic hardcore when I was young, which I still do, but not as actively as I did back then. For my taste, my music is often too much on the hip-hop side and not enough on the rock and hardcore side of things. I would like to learn that as well. I want to make energetic music that is full of power and melodic hardcore encapsulates that for me. I would also like to do that because hip-hop is often chill and laid back, even though it can be energetic. That’s why I also find hyperpop particularly interesting, because it has both of these facettes to it.

In the end, I definitely do it to push myself and discover new genres. I do what I enjoy and what I want, but I also don’t want to limit myself to just one genre. At the same time, you have to think about whether or not it makes sense not to be able to be put in a box and that can be a bit difficult.

Finding the balance between being able to do what you want and not being too broadly positioned musically is probably difficult.

Right, because your listeners also expect something from you. Let’s say someone listens to my music for the first time and likes one track a lot, then listens to the second song and realises that it’s a completely different vibe, then they might think: “That one song is cool, but I’m not going to listen to the rest”. But if that happens, that’s just the way it is and I still do what I want. I don’t really want to be guided by that.

But hip-hop also offers a constant, because it’s always a focal point in your music.

Exactly, apart from that, my singing and the way I produce give my music a certain touch, I think.

We’ve previously talked about how you’d like to learn how to scream and incorporate that into your music. Is there something you can tease or something that you have set your sights on that you would like to do more of in the future?

I think screaming as an art form and stylistic device is very interesting. All the music I listened to as a child and teenager includes that, but I wouldn’t want to take it to that extreme. Instead, I would like to use it as a stylistic device at certain points. So far, I’m not that familiar with it and I don’t have that much time to put it, partly because there are still so many things I want to learn, but I’m trying my best to learn and implementing that into my music would be great. But I’ve also realised that you can make very energetic music without that, which is why hyperpop is so interesting to me, because the beat already brings a lot of energy with it.

6. There is more to making music than just the music itself and you are also your own marketing manager. With this in mind, what are the challenges and opportunities of making music in the age of social media?

I’d like to start with the opportunities. Nowadays, I think is one of the easiest times to be making music successfully, simply because the audience is a global one. You can connect with people from England, America, Thailand, wherever and I actually have fans from all over the world, which is wild because people also write to you and tell you how cool they think your music is and that they come from every part of the world. That’s interesting and a big opportunity but also a big difficulty because you can reach people from all over the world but you also have to know how to reach them. Because of the fact that we are all on social media, also as consumers, the feed we get as normal users is gigantic. We’re all subscribed to people, for example on Instagram, and if you’re following several people, it might be tough to keep up with them, especially if they’re not particularly active on social media.

I try to be active on there, but I also find it difficult. The biggest challenge for me is actually the marketing part of music. Writing music is quite easy for me now and I’ve become much faster at it. While working on Savior, for example, I spent 24 hours in that programme. Nowadays it’s much, much faster and I can finish a song in six to eight hours. But with social media that’s different, because you also have to think about what you can post, what is meaningful and engaging.  Beyond that, you also have to create the visuals. I know the audio part, but the visual is whole other thing, just creating a flyer, for example, or an Instagram post with the right resolution and creating branding that is recognisable. That’s all still hard for me, but I’m getting better and it’s getting easier. It’s all a matter of practice, just like everything in life.

7. Is there something you are particularly proud of or a milestone you have reached so far? For example, you collaborated with a YouTuber and rapped over a beat of his. Are there similar things you are proud of?

There are several things I’m proud of, including the fact that I’m doing this in the first place, because it takes a certain amount of courage. At the beginning it cost me a courage to just show my music to people. I’m no longer embarrassed now, but I was at the beginning. I’m also proud of the fact that I’m so consistent and release tracks on a regular basis and of the fact that some people listen to me, but also of the feature with J. Rent. The fact that this worked out was really great and you can see from that that you just have to see opportunities and use them. You also have to approach people and ask them nicely. Of course, you don’t always get an answer and he wasn’t the first person I wrote to for similar formats, but it worked out and of course I’m proud of that.

What kick-started my career was a YouTuber who used Wasted for a compilation in March 2020. My song was playing in the background while he compiled the highlights of his game in a compilation. He then posted a comment underneath, saying that I make cool music and people should check me out, and they did. Wasted was my most successful song for a long time for that reason alone. In the first month of my songs being available on Spotify, I had 4000 streams and that was incredible for me because I had just started making music. Until now, of course, the numbers have increased, but that was a real stepping stone that I don’t want to forget.

8. Do you have any tips for people who are also interested in this topic and might need an introduction? In other words, recommendations for beginners, starting points or artists from your field to check out?

The most important part is to start making music. You have to practice making music if you want to be a musician and it’s not as hard as you think. I’ve come to recognise YouTube as a learning platform because there are so many channels there that specialise in teaching certain skills. That’s how I learned music editing, just through YouTube without courses. The same goes for social media. Anyone who wants to do that can watch videos on YouTube by Simon Servida (Servida Music) or In the Mix, or J. Rent. I’ve watched their content and you can always find some cool tips that you can use for the editing programmes that you typically use in music.

You don’t even have to do that and you don’t necessarily need these programmes, you can just get started. That’s how I did it. I started off with poetry analyses of songs, looked at how they work and copied that at first. That’s what you always do. When you learn to play the guitar, you don’t just start composing, but copy a cool track from Metallica or whatever. That being said, just get started and watch a lot of YouTube videos on the topic. The people who make information available for free are MVPs. You can honestly find it all on the internet.

At the beginning, I only had a microphone and an audio interface, so I could connect the microphone to the laptop and nothing else, no professional people to help me and no recording room and so on. So you can do it all on your own and just have to start.

That’s another opportunity that comes with making music in the digital age. You can access everything online and you just have to make use of opportunities.

That’s right. I have one more tip though: I was very uncomfortable doing this at first. But everyone will feel that way and find it difficult to hear their own voice; I didn’t like my voice at the beginning at all. Of course, everyone has difficulties showing their personal side, their vulnerable side. That applies to everyone, but at that point you also have to move on and be daring, you have to be brave, you mustn’t forget that. At some point it becomes second nature and then it’s no longer a problem.

Are there any people you would like to shout out?

Yes, definitely a shout out to Maik, Hollowkami, at whose place I also record all the songs, because he has a pretty good studio. He always listens to the music first and gives me feedback and I’ve also made music with him before. Check out HollowKami’s music on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/7h8kiXpZvkjL7LLejqXwJo

The second shout out goes to Jason Masoud, an American artist from California, if I’m not mistaken. Apart from Maik, he’s the only feature partner who came prepared with recordings. I’ve been making music for a few years now and I’ve had a few requests so far but also some bad experiences with features, because some of the people hadn’t written anything at all, which is why I had to write the tracks solo and ultimately released them on my own. Lovely Entertainment would have been a feature originally. But Jason came up with a beat that he had recorded himself and he had already written lyrics. Our feature went completely smoothly. So a shout out to Jason. He is a real one. Also give Jason’s music a listen: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2ZDVnuPd31hILsEUXMKcC1

Also a shout out to Andre, drekay. I worked on Give me a few years with him. He’s one of my best friends and also makes beats. He is my biggest critic and gets to hear every song. Follow Andre on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aka.drekay/

9. Are there any plans for the future or anything else you would like to address?

I have a lot of things planned. I’m working on getting a lot of content out on Tiktok, including performance videos in the studio at Maik’s. I’m also working on a video for a song that means a lot to me. I went outside and recorded something for that and I’m learning video editing because I thought, “If I can edit audio, I can edit video”. Those are the plans for the future: to do a lot more visually and to release even more if possible and to keep having fun, that’s what’s most important.

Keep up to date with Yung Beethoven on Spotify, Instagram and YouTube:

https://www.instagram.com/itsyungbeethoven/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5f5DKYw721hiMQXrLqabhA

Thanks again for the interview, Patrick!

Published by sovlpvnk

On this blog, I talk about the alternative music scene and its ethics as well as LGBTQIAP+ -related topics. I mostly write about asexuality, political issues and their representation in media. Expect content in English and German once per month. Book and film reviews on my goodreads and letterboxd accounts: sovlpvnkblog and sovlpvnk.

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