In the last several months you’ve probably heard “No Problem” by Chance The Rapper (feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz), the standout track on Chance’s “Coloring Book.” The song has been inescapable due to its feel-good, gospel-infused vibe and its infectious beat. And if you somehow haven’t heard the song yet stop reading and listen right now.
The producers behind “No Problem” are Ivan Jackson and Conor Rayne, who perform and produce asBrasstracks. We caught up with Ivan and Conor during their stop in DC on the tail end of their month long tour with Jack Garratt—the longest tour Brasstracks has done to date.
The duo met while studying at theManhattan School of Music, “we were both studying jazz there, playing lots of jazz there—definitely trying to do that and be like in the New York scene.” Eventually though, Rayne and Jackson realized they had passions outside of jazz, “so we linked up and started Brasstracks” Rayne told us. “It became this happy accident of making something in the studio together for fun. We started out as aSoundcloud page with like maybe a few hundred followers and we put up one song and in a month, that song blew up and had maybe thirty thousand, forty thousand hits and that was the biggest number of plays/attention on something that we’d ever had.” The internet has played a large part in the story of Brasstracks, which Conor and Ivan happily acknowledged.
“It all kind of points back to the internet,” Ivan Jackson admitted, adding that literally every person they have collaborated with has been because of Twitter or Soundcloud, “I mean I feel like it’s all a similar story right? We put music on the internet and someone reaches out and says ‘hey I like that music, can I make music with you?’ And we say ‘yeah!’ or ‘no,’ or you just don’t respond. It all kind of depends, there’s a lot of shade on the internet. But for the most part, we’ve met tons of great producers and musicians, singers, songwriters, rappers—all through the internet.” Chance the Rapper sent them a DM after they had tweeted at him, Lido sent them a Soundcloud message after hearing theirR. Kelly “Ignition” Cover, and their production forAnderson Paak’s “Am I Wrong” (feat.Schoolboy Q) came about after connecting withPomo via Twitter. “The internet has literally been the best thing. It’s been our best friend,” said Rayne.
“No Problem” and “Am I Wrong” share similarities in that both songs have an infectious beat that is driven with percussion and brass. The pair admit that although they have tried to move away from jazz, the influence is undeniable. “Naturally, we do have a jazz flavor… we studied jazz for so long that it kind of seeps out of us even when we’re not trying, you know,” Rayne chimed in. And while some claim that jazz is a “dying breed,” Brasstracks believe otherwise. As Rayne puts it, “music goes through many transformations and jazz in particular is going through a certain phase—if you will—of exploration and experimentation.” Brasstracks is certainly at the forefront of this transformation, combining organic jazz elements with electronic elements, and featuring strong vocalists like Roses Gabor, S’Natra, and Masego. Ultimately, Brasstracks have found a way to deliver a universally feel-good sound that gives you no choice but to dance.
Aside from their ability to create a killer beat in the studio, Brasstracks also know how to put on a live show, due in large part to mastery of their respective instruments. “You see a lot of people that figure out how to produce a track and then they’re like ‘oh sick, now I’ve gotta figure what my live show is gonna be like and how the hell am I gonna perform this stuff? I have no performance experience whatsoever.’ It was kind of second nature to us when we started doing it—we were just like ‘OK, we’ll play the tracks with the drums and the trumpet and I’ll play keys and you’ll play drums the entire time and it’ll be easy,’” Jackson explained.
We asked Brasstracks to talk about their favorite moments of the past year and their plans for the future. Unsurprisingly, Rayne and Jackson cited having a song with Lil’ Wayne as their biggest production moment of the year and also cited playing a show at Red Rocks their favorite moment, performance wise. Brasstracks has had a big year to say the least, “It feels like over the course of like three years but it’s really only been like eight months. It’s been a little bit much to think about—in a good way,” said Jackson. As Brasstracks evolves, the duo plans to keep the focus on their own music while continuing to produce for others as well. Jackson detailed their plans for the future, “we wanna do this for as long as we can. Make as many musical relationships and produce for people, make our own music, tour as much as possible—tour with other people, do headline shows eventually. Anything that comes our way that makes sense for us, that’s what we wanna do.”