Troy Brundidge's education as a DJ and beatmaker is an incredibly well-rounded one. Performing live in improvised sets, he pulls samples and sounds from his drum machine, taking his his years of hip-hop knowledge and fandom and propelling them forward in a direction that reveals itself in the moment. Born and raised on the North Side, Brundidge started making his own music nearly a decade ago, but the influences of college radio, along with the mentors and musical friends he picked up along the way, helped shape what he does now as Sev Seveer. This is an edited transcript of that conversation.
Q: How did you start making music?
A: I started making beats in 2005. It was basic, not that good, mostly just messing around. then I went to U of I Champaign and got involved with the Urbana Hip-Hop Congress. I hosted the hip-hop show on WPGU — and through all of that I built up a musical foundation — being around it all, and artists in the Hip-Hop Congress, beatmakers. It all started to take off and I got more serious in college, toward the end of my time there, (and) began posting songs on the internet. When I came back to Chicago I got into it all very seriously.
Q: What was it about coming to Chicago that made you get serious?
A: When I got here, I continued doing radio — on WLUW — I came in and the guys doing the hip-hop show were a lot older; I was the young passionate dude so they let me on the show. That's when I started to DJ regularly and learn the ropes of Chicago hip-hop. They helped introduce me to the scene here and the people I needed to know. My beats improved as the bar was raised. I was teaching beat-making to troubled high school teens through Organic Beat Market; I have done youth work my whole life, and incorporate youth work with my music passion.
Q: Did teaching force you to become more serious, to dig in deeper to what you were doing?
A: The teaching aspect was less a determining factor than starting with Push Beats, the weekly residency at Rodan in Wicker Park. Things really started to pick up for me playing those shows. I started working with a MC — doing a lot to streamline everything.
Q: How did you start doing what you do now, with improvised performances?
A: I started out in beatmaking using software, and got into using computers less and less. My (drum machine) sounds so much better. I used to DJ my beats, and I got into making them live — I just bring my gear. It's totally an adrealine rush, not knowing what I am going to do beforehand. It's terrifying. I love making beats but I had never had the confidence to do it live. My sets were more planned, and gradually I just started taking more and more liberties until I was showing up with less and less planning and prior preparation outside of gathering my samples.
Q: How does what you have learned from improvisation influence what you do when you are recording and making songs?
A: I make beats a lot faster now. It's stream of conscienceness and I feel very connected to what I am making. It allows me to communicate, it helps me be more fluid because it's terrifying to just go up on stage and do something.
When: Noon Sunday
Where: Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave.
Tickets: All Ages (entrance is free with donation of canned goods); emptybottle.com