Meet An Expresso, the 23-Year-Old Producer Behind Azealia Banks' "The Big Big Beat"

How the New York rapper recruited the Anaheim "house head" for her latest single.

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Feb 29 2016, 5:40pm

Courtesy of artist

Courtesy of artist

Ever since she blew up with her 2011 hit single "212," Azealia Banks has demonstrated a knack for picking great beats, whether they be from veteran producers or up-and-comers. She's worked with artists like AraabMuzik, Ariel Pink, and Lunice, and the credits for her 2014 debut album Broke With Expensive Taste include UK names Boddika, Lone, and Pearson Sound.

For her latest Detroit house-indebted single "The Big Big Beat" (from her awesomely-titled forthcoming mixtape Slay-Z), she recruited An Expresso, a virtually unknown DJ and producer with less than 900 SoundCloud followers.

We wanted to know how a 23-year-old from Anaheim—who started making music after seeing Skream and Benga perform at a southern California rave in 2009ended up working with the New York rapper, so we called up the artist (whose real name is Jay Wilson) to get the firsthand story.

THUMP: Tell me how you ended up producing "The Big Big Beat."

An Expresso: It started through my friend Jonathan Roshad, who owns [Los Angeles-based] Newbody Records, he's friends with Azealia and I came out with an EP [Movin' On Up] on his label a few years ago. He sent the EP to Azealia and she ended up liking one of the songs ["I Wish A Muthafucka Would"], so she wrote a song to one of my beats, and that's pretty much how it happened.

There's a definite house feel to the song, were there any particular records you were influenced by when you were making it?
I'm a house head. For that song, the influence came from old 90s house records, stuff from New York, Detroit, New Jersey, even some UK garage. I had a couple of 90s drum samples that I put together, then I chopped up a Biggie sample and put some chords down.

What's been the craziest reaction so far?
My Twitter, which I never really use, blew up with mentions. I got a bunch of SoundCloud views and people are asking for me to make beats for them and buy my beats. That wasn't happening before.

You can probably charge more for beats now.
Yeah, I guess so. People are offering me like a couple hundred for a beat now and they definitely weren't before.

Are there plans for you to work on more music with her?
Nothing set in stone yet but I think there's going to be some stuff in the future.

What's next for you?
I've got a couple records coming out with Skylax in France, and I've also got a vinyl-only label 12 Inches Deep, that I'm starting with a friend. It'll be primarily focusing on garage, deep house, and acid, with limited-edition runs. Our first release features Kool Vibe, a producer from Paris, and two tracks from me and another one from my partner on the label.

An Expresso is on Facebook // Twitter // SoundCloud

12 Inches Deep is on Facebook // SoundCloud

Max Mertens is on Twitter.