The Producer Behind A$AP Rocky's Biggest Hits Steps Out On His Own
Clams Casino, despite its name, is known more for their moody beats than for their breadcrumbs. Over the past decade, the New Jersey based producer Michael Volpe has been the man behind Clams Casino, providing beats for everyone from Lil B and A$AP Ferg to Mac Miller and The Weeknd.
Now, ten years since first getting his start, he’s stepping out of the shadows with his first studio album ever—and he brought along his favorite friends. Released earlier this month, 32 Levels is a 12-track party you wish you were invited to, thanks to vocals from A$AP Rocky, Lil B, Vince Staples, Sam Dew, Mikky Ekko, Kelela, and more. Packed with the same sleepy, melancholic sounds that Clams Casino perfected over his three Instrumental mixtapes, it’s everything we could’ve ever wanted, and more—right down to the biting lyricism from the featured artists. As Clams Casino prepared to step into the spotlight for the first time, we called him up to talk working with A$AP Ferg, the long-forgotten relic of Myspace, and his favorite track on the album.
Why wait so long to release your first album?
A lot of it just had to do with working on other people’s’ albums and producing for other artists. I take a long time to make music that I’m happy with and I’m selective about what I put out, so it’s all about letting it happen naturally.
You’ve worked with so many different musicians. Do you have any favorites?
There’s such a range of artists and I like them all for different reasons, but I had a lot of fun working on the A$AP Ferg album. We worked with a live band to sample—that was a fun new process for me, jamming in the studio with the band. I had my setup and I was recording them as they’re playing and flipping it right there on the spot.
You’ve been around for years. Did you start out on Myspace?
Yeah! That’s how I started getting music around when I first got serious about it. Myspace was the main tool at the time for doing that. I would send messages to artists and send them beats and, eventually, that all moved over to Twitter.
It’s crazy to me that younger kids have no idea that Myspace was even a thing. It was my whole life when I was a teenager.
I was just talking about that to someone else the other day. It really wasn’t that long ago! With how fast things move, kids don’t even know about it now.
Do you think music moves at a similar pace?
Yeah I think there’s so much music online that it gets overwhelming. I imagine it’s harder and harder in this internet age to stick out with your music and be heard.
I saw that you’re also really into movies and want to do film scores. Is there a director you’ve always dreamed of making music for?
Not that I could work with now. I mean, a big inspiration is Stanley Kubrick movies. I want to get into scoring films because I feel like it’s a natural progression for me because my music is cinematic already.
Do you have any interest in becoming a more public persona?
Musically, yeah. I’d like my music to be spread and heard by as many people as possible. But not me personally. I have no interest in that. I just want my music to get out—that’s what’s most important.
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
I like them all for different reasons, but I think an important one for me is the closing track, “Blast.” It’s just me. There are no features on it. It’s what I do, but it’s a new version that takes it to the next level.
Stay tuned to Milk for more producers named after seafood dishes.
Images courtesy of Nick Griffiths.