Today’s new release schedule could be confused for the appetizer section of an old-school restaurant menu, thanks to the presence of a new EP by Clams Casino. The New Jersey-based producer’s beats have made him arguably more popular than the dish from which he (regretfully) took his name, owing to Lil B and Soulja Boy raps that make Clams Casino’s music sound like a woozy update on vintage Neptunes. (For the record, Clams Casino is clams on the half shell with bacon and breadcrumbs, and it’s a staple of New England restaurant menus.) An instrumental mixtape he released awhile back became something of an underground classic, leaving a lot of music fans hoping for a proper release.
On his EP Rainforest, out today, ol’ Clammy Clams (né Mike Volpe) takes a naturalist approach to electronic music, and you get the feeling that it’ll be this summer’s required listening for discerning dudes from the likes of Radiohead to aspiring rappers and his cohorts Lil B and Soulja — who he confesses, in this chat about music and food, that he’s never met!
I just read an interview with you where you said your name started as a joke and now you’re stuck with it. What do you say to fans of the dish clams casino who might be offended by that?
Ha ha. I apologize if that offended any fans of the dish!
Seriously though, your beats have a pronounced aesthetic to them. What are you trying to achieve with your music?
I just want it to be memorable, leave the biggest impression possible. I feel like by making beats that are so emotional, people can really connect with them easily and on such a deep level.
Can you talk a bit about your instrumental mixtape and your connection to Lil B and Soulja Boy?
It’s a collection of beats that I made within the last few years that were previously only released with artists rapping over them. Mostly Lil B and Soulja Boy. Ever since the original tracks came out, there were always people online asking me to put out the same certain instrumentals, so eventually i was like okay, let me get them all in one place, and it ended up sounding like a full, solid album to me. I was kind of surprised; I really just wanted to get the tracks out there for the fans that were always asking and it turned into so much more. I got in touch with Lil B on Myspace, I think almost 3 years ago now. I was a really big fan of him and his group, The Pack. It’s funny because we’ve done so many songs together since then but have never met in person.
Can you describe your studio? How much time do you spend there each day?
It’s in my attic, most of the time its pretty messy because the room is also sort of used for storage. And it gets hot up there. I do have a lot of equipment, but most of it isnt even hooked up right now. Basically I do everything on my computer. I get in there and work on music whenever i have free time, so it’s never a steady schedule. Unfortunately i usually cant go in everyday.
How if it all do you work food into your day?
I’d say its more about working my day around food.
What’s your background with food? Did you grow up in a family that ate dinner together? Was there much cooking at home?
I grew up in an Italian-American family, so the way i was raised, food is more important than most things haha. Yes there was definitely a lot of cooking at home and family dinners growing up.
Do you cook, and if so, what do you listen to while cooking?
I do cook, but I’m not great so I usually keep it pretty simple. I like to try to create a nice relaxed atmosphere in the kitchen, a little light doo wop can put me in a good cooking mode.
How do you eat when you are on the road?
I don’t get to travel much, but when I do I love to try new things and local specialties that I can’t get where I live.
I read that you listened to Dipset and a lot of underground hip-hop. What other types of music do you kick back to?
I do listen to mostly hip-hop, but I also like older rock stuff that my parents always played for me growing up like the Stones, The Beatles, the Who, The Ramones.
Last question: What’s your favorite cuisine or dish?
Oh man, that’s tough to pin it down to one dish, but I love Middle Eastern food, sushi, and anything SUPER SPICY.