Somewhere in South Florida, there’s a studio with two young men hashing out ideas that have been catching the attention of the house music scene. Nestled in the Miami suburb, the duo sit in a studio with Ableton open inputting arrangements for a potential upcoming track. It doesn’t have a name, but the project is being scrutinized by the two who have dubbed themselves Black V Neck.
Black V Neck consists of members Ian Beato and Julian Sacheli who specialize in making tech house with a distinct persona. Despite being relatively new to market, the duo have released with respectable labels such as Nurvous Records, Basement Leak, Bunny Tiger, and most recently Dirtybird. Their Mouth Music EP was their debut on the label and signals a new accomplishment for Beato and Sacheli. “I think we’re the new wave of the youth making tech house,” said Sacheli talking about the EP. “We’re coming in with this new sound, which is why it fits so well on Dirtybird. At the same time, you can hear our Latin influences in our tracks with the rhythms we put in.”
They describe their sound as a mix of bass house and tech house which is the result of experimenting and years of producing together. Collaborations like “My Style” with AYAREZ and “Walkin'” with E.R.N.E.S.T.O encapsulate this style along with songs of their own like “Let Me Smash” and “Wanye Kest.”
The noise Black V Neck is making has caught the eyes and ears of house music’s most prominent players. Between bosses in the scene like Chris Lake and Claude VonStroke to support from peers like Tim Baresko and Lucati, house artists and and other EDM stars have included Black V Neck music into their radio shows and live sets. This includes support from CID, Duke Dumont, Jax Jones, Kryder, Malaa, Shiba San, TOKiMONSTA, Wuki, Zeds Dead, and more. But this level of support didn’t arise overnight as the two will tell you.
“Believing in your dreams is certainly part of success,” says Sacheli, “but you have to keep doing it. Him and I have been doing it now for what? Six years together. Separately, we’ve been involved in music a lot longer.”
“And that’s not to say that we both started at the start of our lives,” Beato adds. “For example, I started getting involved with music when I was three.”
Beato and Sacheli were born and raised in Miami, Florida, both have Cuban parents, and both met in college band playing the French horn all while exploring electronic music production on their own. “We both played the same instrument,” said Sacheli, “and we both saw that we shared the same affinity for making electronic music and I think that’s how our friendship started.”
“I started on Cubase, actually,” Beato says. “Julian showed me Ableton and showed me the way of Ableton. Of course I get sucked into it and now I have a tattoo of it on my arm. I got it about two years ago and it makes sense because I live and breathe the program now so… I do everything in there. Him and I both live and breathe this software. It’s so versatile, easy to use, and so clean. It works for us.”
But these differences and similarities are what pushes Black V Neck’s creative process when they sit in the studio together. When I asked them what the starting elements to making a new tune are, Beato put it simply by smiling and saying, “We tend to get really ignorant thoughts and then translate that ignorance onto paper to get what we end up with.”
“I think the first thing that we put down is the groove, which I know sounds broad,” Sacheli adds diving deeper into the subject. “The kick-drum, the hi-hat or clap, or the bassline might be the first thing we make for any given thought. But it doesn’t matter which of the three comes up first because once we have the groove down on an 8-bar or 16-bar loop, then we start to venture off. We can then look for what interesting vocals we can throw on it and decide what direction the track will take. But it all starts with the groove.”
Part of finding the groove comes from learning and playing the drums from an early age, according to Beato. Before electronic music was a thought, Beato explored genres like metal and rock as well as inspirations from reggae and grassroots music. “I really enjoy the instrument,” Beato says. “It helps me in being able to feel the groove, so to speak, that helps in the writing process. Being classically trained is a nice touch because I understand music theory and I’ve applied since childhood to now. Ear training is great for notating. If Julian hums or sings a little line, I can go into Ableton and notate it down.”
Beato describes himself as a “110 percent, O.C.D. perfectionist” when it comes to working with the program. If there’s something wrong with the track, he’ll hyper-focus into the problem and will not rest until it’s solved. But even this mentality can’t save all their projects from getting scraped.
“When it comes to our music, there’s a ton of stuff that we love,” Beato says. “but that we’ll never release and we just have to be okay with that. It’s hard to kiss your babies goodbye, but it be that way sometimes.”
It’s from there Beato and Sacheli start to talk about the title track of their EP and how it came about. The vocals that are chopped to create the lively rhythm of “Mouth Music” is from “Brazilian Trap Vocals” pack found in Splice. Sacheli knows like any solid producer does that any sample can be a source of inspiration.
“The point is that we venture off and look at a trap pack set at 140 bpm,” Sacheli says. “Then we find the vocal samples and pitch them and chop them and use them at our own discretion to make them our own tracks. This is something I recommend for people who ask me where we get our sounds from. We get them from anywhere we can and it doesn’t have to be a tech house sample pack. It can be a from something as far from the genre like a Brazilian trap vocal pack. The bassline, the drums, the loops and everything else we made ourselves and then we chopped them up and made it into our own thing. That’s something people need to know. Not everything needs to be done entirely from scratch.”
“What keeps us on our toes is trying to push ourselves,” Beato adds. “In terms of gear and our sample library, the first thing I do in the studio is to look for stuff. I ask myself, ‘What’s the next thing I can get?’ Every single day, I’m on top of looking for the new sample packs to see what I can use or what can inspire me.”
It’s at this moment that Beato pulls out a KordBot midi controller made from Isla Instruments. “I use it as a tool to inspire us,” Beato says. “You can choose what key you want and it has the full assortment of chords you might want to use in a track. From there, you can hop around it and get ideas from that.”
Sparking the discussion of analog vs. digital, Sacheli chimes in by saying, “The greatest question that producers will ask each other is, ‘Do you solely use analog?’ In other words, do you feel that analog equipment is needed for your production. I think the consensus from most producers is no, but it’s a toy that can give you a sound for one song or two or three. But it won’t be your end all be all. It’s also not required. It’s something meant to inspire you to make a song.”
“I did not know the delights of owningoutboard gear and analog equipment until I could afford it,” Beato adds as he sits by a shelf filled with different preamps and synths. “And that’s not to say that we’re rolling in money. We’re struggling to get by just like everybody else But at some point, you have to invest into your craft. All the stuff we have is used at 110 percent. Over time, you build up your routines of what you want to do and how you want to get into your sounds.”
This advice comes from a duo who advocate that modern advancements in audio tech allows anyone to mix and master a great track with very little equipment necessary. According to Black V Neck, all any producer needs in their studio are good converters and a good sound source. But more often than not, young producer can get side-tracked with additional equipment that may not do much for their final products.
“Start with a good sample,” says Beato. “Start with a good recording. And to do that, you have to have the equipment to do that. This includes your microphones, your preamplifiers, your…whatevers. Having good monitoring equipment is nice and dandy, but if you do not have the basis to build your track on, it’s not going to work. You see these people with massive SSL boards in their studios. It’s not necessary anymore. Maybe if you’re going to record a band or something it might sound nice because you have that nice coloration, but it doesn’t matter when you’re producing alone. Even though I’m going on an engineering rant, I feel that one of the biggest stigmas in the industry is that if you don’t have the latest and greatest synth that is out at the moment, then you’re not getting it done.”
“I don’t see it that recently,” counters Sacheli. “I think that the stigma comes from pictures on Instagram. You see the pictures of Jamie Jones’ studio, you see the picture of Justin Martin’s studio and you drool. You drool! It looks good. It doesn’t mean that you need all this equipment in order to succeed. It’s whatever’s going to get you into the end goal. If it inspires you and it’s in your price range, go for it.”
This is the mindset that Sacheli and Beato had when creating the second song on the EP “Sex, Drugs, Alcohol.” According to Sacheli, the main synth layered through the whole song is what they made off the Behringer Model D Analog Synthesizer. The kick-drum was made on a Master Live plugin. Ian wrote the bassline.
“As we were layering the track down,” Sacheli recalled, “I remember looking at these lyrics on our phone that Ian brought to me. I said that these lyrics would go well with the track we made. We then had our friend Brenda, who has worked with us before, come in and sing the lyrics we had and layer the vocals with the track. And then we mixed and mastered it here.”
Beato says it best when he says, “Everything starts and ends here. I take great pride in the work we do here.”
The differing perspectives from both sides of Black V Neck are part of what make the project stand apart from most acts in the tech house scene. On one hand, their technical prowess and musical ambition are in check. On the other hand, they maintain an insight on the genre’s history and recent changes within the industry that has rewarded them in strides.
For example, Julian’s background in music starts with his father who came to America to DJ in South Beach during the early 90s. According to Sacheli, his father was apart of shaping Miami’s early house scene and even founded his own record label called Sounds for People. DJs including Robbie Rivera and Cedric Gervais signed with the label providing an access into south Florida’s fusion of Caribbean and electronic genres.
“But then Beatport came and changed the whole landscape again,” says Sacheli. “But I grew up listening to house music. It was part of my everyday life. But as I got older I realized that nobody else was listening to house music. House music isn’t something most people listen to as a kid because it’s mature club music. But to me it was normal to listen to Crystal Waters and Danny Tenaglia as well as the great classics from Louie Vega and David Morales. So as I got older and listening to house music was so normal for me, I thought that if this is something my father can do then this is something I can do. When the EDM boom came around the same time, the whole field changed again and things were a little bit more difficult. But it’s something that I grew up with and that I feel is achievable.”
As tumultuous as the the music industry can be, the future is bright in the eyes of Black V Neck as tech house reaches mainstream audiences. “Today, starting to get into EDM could mean that someone’s first exposure to tech house will be through Fisher,” says Sacheli. “Some people can say that’s a bad thing, but I look at as a win if someone who started with Fisher finds their way to Black V Neck. Whether it’s through Spotify, Pandora, or radio, we benefit if they find us in any manner.”
He relates the tech house boom thanks to Fisher’s track “Losing It” in 2018 to how Avicii found commercial success with “Levels” in 2011. “I think we all listened to Avicii seven or eight years ago,” Sacheli says. “We were all inspired by him in some way, shape, or form. You didn’t have to like all his music, but everyone looked up to him. We all come from different backgrounds, but for a lot of people they found him and were pulled into EDM.”
Black V Neck is leading the way in what Miami’s sound is going to be. Across the globe, the duo are in a dynamic spot where their unique sound can sling shot them into the upper echelon of success within house music. Like with many young artists making a name for themselves, only time will tell if their creativity and discipline will take them there. But listening to Beato and Sacheli talk about their craft and their flow with confidence and adoration can give anyone who meets them or hears their music a sense that they will conquer in the upcoming years.
You can catch Black V Neck playing at Dirtybird Campout West in Modesto, California, October 4th to the 6th. Follow the boys at @blackvneckmusic across all social media platforms to keep up with their upcoming releases and future tour dates.