The downtempo, contemporary R&B music on Larce Blake's new EP invokes calm, a fitting sound for the 22-year-old producer,. He says he's at peace now that he's finally found the time to release new music.
Blake is a full-time student at the University of Texas at Dallas majoring in mathematics, and also has a full-time job. He's an in-house producer for the Dallas-based record label IRAS (Independent Recording Arts Society), where he produces tracks for local favorites such as Terrence Spectacle, KissedKilled and Danny Cainco, all while producing his own catalog of music.
This time last year Blake was having a tough time in school and at work, and it was showing in the gloomy tracks he was creating for the IRAS' artists. Blake jetted off to the Philippines, where he has family, for a three-week breather. That trip helped him put things in perspective. “Just seeing a third-world country will humble you a lot, which is what I needed at the time,” Blake says. “It was good for my soul. I need it. I learned to appreciate the struggle.”
Blake broke through in 2015, when he produced the love song “Come Home With Me” for singer Kissedkilled, which currently has nearly 87,000 listens on Soundcloud.
It opens with a shimmering cascade of synths paired with intermittent keys that set the romantic mood. Overall it’s an easy listen because it’s so smooth, but if you pay close attention, you'll notice nearly a dozen intricate sounds and layers.
While Blake's free time is limited, he’s seen dividends from his musical efforts in the form of a solid fanbase on Soundcloud. Through that platform he’s established relationships with artists across the globe, including Cabu from Australia; London's DJ Complexion, who put out Blake's debut EP in 2014; and Montreal's Planet Giza, who linked Blake up with Soundcloud superstar Kaytranada, who has over half a million followers.
When Planet Giza sent Blake a drum track for a Kaytranada song, Blake put his touch on the track, sent it back and later he says Planet Giza sent him a screenshot of Kaytranada’s reaction that read, “This is really fucking tight.”
“It’s really tough to balance all the things I have going on but I have so much I want to accomplish in life,” Blake says. “I really want my music to take me places, to travel the world, and I’m just doing my best to balance it all and focusing on making school and music work.”
When he returned to the States, he began working on the four tracks that would become his new EP, Why Can’t I Sleep – aptly titled for a hustling producer. It's perfect summer listening and showcases Blake’s developing signature sound.
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For Blake, the process starts with the keys. If he’s producing a song from scratch or building off a drum sample he plays with chord progressions to first find the right key, and – even more important – to set the right mood.
“It’s my formula,” he says. “For my music, the chords are what’s going to set the mood. I worry about the groove later because for music to touch me or to have an impact on me it’s all about the chord progression.”
On some tracks he can find that right progression in a matter of minutes, for others it could require hours of tinkering before it feels right. The result is always a breezy, sleek and tender rhythm.
With the release of the long-overdue EP behind him, and the school semester coming to a close, Blake has an opportunity to bask in his accomplishments for a bit before diving back into his next musical efforts, which include more production for artists both local and foreign.