Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based music producer V-Train (real name Vernon Jeffries) creates music. The main genres of music that he produces are Lofi Instrumental Hip Hop. Trap and classic hip-hop are two other genres of beats that V-Train has created. V-Train is not only a producer, but also a musician. In addition to a variety of other instruments, V-collection Train’s of musical instruments includes a piano, synthesizer, drums, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, and many others. When V-Train was very young, he first became interested in music by watching his mother perform as the church’s pianist and singer while daily practicing on her keyboard at home. He took drum lessons after demonstrating an interest in music, and he later played the drums at a church and a nearby school. However, V-Train has occasionally taught himself how to practice and play music simply by using his ears. He would eventually take piano and guitar lessons. He was more interested in learning about the synthesizer as a tool for recording MIDI and Audio patterns rather than just as a musical instrument. He began by using his mother’s Triton Le keyboard as his primary recording tool, but eventually decided to purchase the Roland FA-08 keyboard and use it to make beats while also using Cubase, FL Studio, and Reason. The Akai MPC One is another amazing instrument that V-Train loves to create, sample, and produce music on, coming in second only to his favorite keyboard. These are just a few of the many instruments that V-Train still uses to create his own music, and with the help of various mentors’ advice and guidance, V-Train has developed into both an independent Lo-Fi artist and a music producer for Hip-Hop, Trap, and R&B. Check out his latest album and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
V-TRAIN: Thank you for this opportunity for an interview. I come from a small town of Lansdale Pennsylvania 30 miles north of Philadelphia. I currently reside in North Wales right next to Lansdale. I started as a music producer in the aftermath of the pandemic, so I’d say about two years. I took a music production lesson from a friend after I bought Reason. After a few classes, he said I was ready to be a producer and it just took off from there.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
V-TRAIN: Both. I self-taught myself on the piano just playing by ear until college where I took lessons in classical music and sightreading. Afterwards I took jazz piano and guitar lessons. I already took drum lessons when I was 13 but I taught myself the ukulele once I bought the instrument for myself.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘
V-TRAIN: My mother was my strongest musical influence. She was phenomenal on the piano in church and at home. After seeing her play piano, I got me interested in the instrument and music in general; however, I approached music in a different manner. Mom was skilled in classical and gospel music whereas I took the technical approach by recording and manipulating sound since she had the Triton Le keyboard workstation. She is also the person that encouraged me to take drum lessons and play alongside her in the church band. She passed away in 2019 so every time I put my fingers on the keys, I always think of her. As for V-Train, it was the nickname I received in middle school. Everyone knew I liked trains, so they came up with that nickname for me. I thought it was unique and decided to use it once I established myself as a producer.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
V-TRAIN: Lo-Fi is the primary sound of my production. I mimic the recordings from the early 20th century though VST instruments and effects that replicate the sound. Along with the Lo-Fi sound, I add in some key elements that are the staple of boom bap hip-hop including DJ scratches, hard hitting kick and snare drums, and sometimes inserting well thought melodies. Occasionally I’ll make Lo-Fi Trap, but my primary specialty is Lo-fi/Boom Bap Hip-Hop.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
I think music has an important role in every function. I am a very religious person so some of my works do contain sampled gospel songs or quotes from the Bible. That also applies to the spiritual role as I see it and religion as one in the same. As a part of the Lo-Fi and Hip-Hop community, my music always includes the cultural theme to it whether its my intention or not. I’m more of a technical person so I see it more of a technical expression with artistry with some roles sprinkled in the song here and there.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
I’m expecting more in the future. I already have 3 albums in 7 singles in my catalog so far and I’m planning on releasing more but I’m expecting to do more with my music rather than release them on streaming platforms. I want to share my beats to rappers and other producers by creating a beats store that contains all the beats I created and sample packs to be shared by others. I put all the information on my website at www.vtrainmusic.com. So far, I haven’t had anything sold yet but I’m hoping someone will come along.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
I usually start with a chord progression, melody, or a sample. Then I include the drums and everything else follows. That is my creative process for every song I create.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
V-TRAIN: The most difficult thing in my life so far was my parent’s passings. After they’re deaths, I had to endure the stages of grief along with anxiety and depression. It also impacted how I listen to music. Before then, I was into jazz because of the excitement and happy feelings associated with the genre. After the tragic news, I started playing blues on my guitar to express how sad I was feeling. It also didn’t help that the pandemic started just months after my mother passed and I was living with my younger brother in a small apartment during the time. With nowhere to go, fewer activities and feelings of loneliness, it was the toughest years I had to endure.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
V-TRAIN: I would say when I released my first album “My Quiet Room”. It was the start of my musical journey as an up-and-coming music producer. Hearing the songs on that album compared to my latest ones shows how much improvement I’ve required in the Lo-Fi Hip-Hop genre. After many feedbacks and criticisms, I kept improving my sound by adding more hardware instruments, installing new VST plugins and updating Cubase, FL Studio and Reason. The three DAWs that I use to create music. Since then, I’ve been getting recognition and lots of views on social media and I continue to create more ideas and opportunities.
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