REKchampa is the moniker of Stefan Ringer, a producer based in Atlanta, Georgia. Stefan produces downtempo beat driven experimental hip-hop, taking influence from a variety of musical styles such as garage, r&b and ghetto-tech.
We first discovered Stefan’s beats through his debut album, ‘Pocket The Rest‘, released last December on ‘TwoCircles‘. Our favorite tracks included ‘Thinking We Still’, ‘Urge’, ‘Gresey’ and ‘Complacent’. Overall this body of music presented genuine talent evoking producers such as Teebs and Shigeto, so we got in touch. The result is our 52nd mix featuring tracks from 123MRK, Sepalcure, Martyn, Presk, Joe, Youandewan and Gerry Read.
Please can you introduce yourself, tell us where you’re from and what you’re currently up to?
My name is Stefan. I make tracks under the moniker of REKchampa. I’m 22 years old and I live in Atlanta, Georgia. As of recently I am getting ready to get out of school for video and I’ve been playing out monthly around here. I’ve also been working on some new tunes.
How has living in Atlanta, Georgia influenced your personal music taste and production style?
The other artists and DJs that I know here have definitely put me onto new music. Since we all have a similar taste in music I usually like what they have to show me. I also get online and find new music. As far as production style, I try to carve out my own niche within the scene here. I can say that if I weren’t living here my sound would be a little different. The most important thing living here has done for me is motivate me to put more thought and effort into my tracks and to just generally get better.
What music did you listen to whilst you were growing up and what do you feel inspired you the most to produce music?
I listened to a lot of 90s hip-hop, r&b, old-school r&b and soul. I later journeyed into the electronic genres and started to really find out what like. Now I listen to a lot of jazz, and bass, house, ghetto-tech, ghetto-house, UK-garage, 2 step, and jungle. When I initially started producing I made cheesy hip-hop tunes. I started to get away from making hip hop the more I got into electronic music. So I started to produce jungle and faster paced stuff. Then I moved on to what I make now.
Can you please expand on the coining of your name ‘REKchampa’ – what’s the story and meaning behind it?
I used to burn Nag Champa incense a lot. I liked the way “champa” sounded. The “REK”, I just made up. I put both words together and felt it was obscure enough to spark interest. I realize in hindsight that the name is a bit long; and for some people, hard to pronounce. As of now I still like the name.
As REKchampa you’ve only recently harnessed attention from the international music community. What challenges and successes have you faced since starting out?
Starting out the main challenge was to get gigs and play out. Now I feel like the main challenge is to keep up the quality of the tracks I’m putting out. I want each release to be better than the previous. I just want to get consistently better with my productions. Also, I want to eventually get a release out on vinyl, and eventually tour sometime in the future. As far as successes, I’ve been getting more gigs around the city and a lot of blog-lovin’ around the web.
I first met the guys, Konstantin and Matt, the people behind 2circles, early in 2011. I talked to them about music, we liked most of the same artists and so we exchanged contact info. Throughout that year, I progressed my sound and they asked me to release with them. They have been instrumental in helping me to grow as an artist. I feel like it’s a real tightly knit group full of talented people. I like the fact that there are different genres represented at 2Circles and how unique everyone sound is that has released with the label.
What are your next steps for 2012, another album or physical release?
For 2012, I’m getting ready to release a project most likely with Soulection Records, a small label based out of California. That project will probably be coming out within the upcoming months. I hope to get some more tracks together for a second release this year. Hopefully I can get some looks from some bigger more established labels.
In what environments do you prefer to create music in?
It doesn’t really matter where it is, just as long as I can get a chair and a desk of some sort.
What’s your relationship with the European electronic music scene, which artists and record labels do you admire and looks for inspiration.
As of now I don’t know many people in Europe. I know a few Artists in Sweden and in Amsterdam. I look up to a lot of European producers. Right now I’m following 123MRK’s tracks, I get really inspired by his productions. I like 3024, Hessle Audio, Gradient Audio, Infinite Machine, R&S, Hotflush, L2S and others.
When you start writing tracks or even an entire body of music, do you have a specific musical direction or do you let in evolve organically.
Usually when I’m making a track I start off with a rhythm or a melody and just let the track evolve. I find it more satisfactory to stumble upon a great sound. I can usually execute some of the thing s I come up with in my head, but I like to just start out with nothing in mind.
Please can you expand on the mix you have recorded for IA – The tracks you’ve used and the overall atmosphere you’ve created?
In this mix I wanted to play some tunes that really stood out to me. The first tune is from 123MRK it’s a really intricate track, a lot of stuff that sparked my interest. As far as the other tracks, I choose tunes that were soulful and would make the listener want to move.
What’s your production setup like at the moment?
My set up at the moment consists of an older model MacBook Pro, I run Logic Pro 8 and use a USB interface. I also use a 25 key midi keyboard and a tape player/recorder.
Is there anything unique to your production style and sound signature in particular?
I would like to think that the rhythms I come up with have a unique style to them. I like to take pride in the drum patterns and percussion I put into a track. In the past I used a lot of female vocals from older r&b tracks. I’m trying to get out of using the vocals so much so I wont be only associated with making tracks with vocal samples.
What’s your opinion on analogue VS digital?
I like both formats. I like the way analogue sounds but I like the ease of use and efficiency of the digital format. As far as records versus CDs, records and tapes have a slightly different sound that u can’t get from CDs and MP3s; and there is no question of sound quality when playing from records. When it comes to recording to tape and doing things outside of the box, its not realistic for me to spend money to buy all of the gear necessary to build a track when I have it in a DAW. What I like to do is mix aspects of both worlds. I usually record samples to tape and use them in my productions. I feel like sampling analogue media makes the tracks sounds less digital.
Who else should we be looking out for?
1. 123MRK ‘Invisible Colors’ [Infinite Machine]
2. Sepalcure ‘Pencil Pimp’ [Hotflush]
3. Booddha ‘Intense’ [Vresh]
4. Meesha ‘Night’ [Gradient Audio]
5. Sepalcure ‘The One’ [Hotflush]
6. Osunlade ‘Pheramones’ [Yoruba Records]
7. Martyn ‘Vancouver’ 
8. Presk ‘Devour Ten’ [Thousand Yen]
9. Joe ‘Grimelight’ [Hessle Audio]
10. Youandewan ‘Youandme’ [Disfigured Dubz]
11. Etch ‘Tungsten’ [Unknown]
12. Gerry Read ‘Climb’ [Dark Arx]