On The Radar: Sealed Shut
by Annette Lucero

This week, we delve into the freaky mind that is Sealed Shut. Minneapolis local Anthony Sams is a maniac when it comes to sound design and music production; we can’t help but liken him to a Shpongle-Savant. Fluent in all languages of genre style, Sealed Shut does not disappoint when opening for an artist, or playing his own secret sets all over Minneapolis. Check it!

SIM: The word on the street is that you’ve been producing for quite some time. Walk us through that journey; what drew you into producing music, and how long have you been producing for?

Anthony: I remember discovering Hardstyle in the 8th grade and instantly deciding that I would love to make something like this. I’m not sure why it clicked with me so well, but I vividly remember having a conversation with an old friend who also loved hardstyle. I was telling him about how I had downloaded the production software because I really wanted to make hardstyle. I was extremely surprised by his response though, because he told me that he had no intention whatsoever to produce music. His response blew my mind away because I had trouble finding reasons not to make this music. I just thought everyone who liked EDM was as instantly inspired as I was to create this.

SIM: So from then until now, how has producing changed for you?

Anthony: While I grow as a producer, so do my reasons for producing. I know I’ve always been interested in art and making music, but the reason that computer music sticks out to me so much is because there are absolutely no limits with a computer. I have whatever tools I need at my disposal. If I want to use the sound of a pen hitting a desk, coins falling onto a table, or a stupid recording of me and my friends being silly in a song, I can use it all, and it will sound f*cking dope. I feel like I can create an entire world of sound that is all my own; I can really express myself and show others what living my life is like. I’ve learned that what drives me the most is my desire to connect and inspire people through sound to do better, live better lives, and just learn that we are never alone here.

SIM: The passion is real; it sounds like you’re the byproduct of a lot of personal momentum. Did you ever go to school for production, or are you mostly self-taught?

Anthony: Honestly, in this day and age, I think it’s almost impossible to be ‘self-taught’; there are oh so many tutorials on Youtube with teachers explaining concepts that take FOREVER to learn on your own. I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel; I got help and learned from all sorts of different sources. I did go to McNally Smith College of Music as a PSEO student for one year. I was a music production major and learned a lot about protools and music theory, but no so much anything as producing EDM. In the end, I decided music school was too expensive and that I could learn everything I needed from the internet and friends.

Long story short, I am mostly self taught, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have help along the way. I am confident that I know how to write, mixdown, and master professional quality EDM tracks on my own, but I couldn’t have gotten to this point without the great mixing and mastering tips I’ve gotten from friends like Loom In Essence, Nostalgia, TRENTCAST, ill.Gates, Sync Button, BAD WKND, Naavis, TRNSTYL, Illuminominee, Deflorin, and so many more producers that I’ve connected with and learned from. I recommend new producers to just stay really active in the music production community, and you’ll learn real fast if you just stay open minded. Weird, but I’ve learned that everything you know is probably wrong; however, it’s more right than what you used to know. I still learn new things about production everyday. So in a sense, I’m still enrolled in Sealed Shut academy. I force myself to read books and articles about EDM production all the time, even giving myself due dates like in school to ensure I learn the material.

SIM: What genre have you decided to produce in? I know you like to dabble in a little bit of everything.

Anthony: After many years of great consideration, I have decided that Sealed Shut is going to be my Dubstep alias. I’ve made hip-hop beats, Glitch-hop, Moombahton, Electro-house, Bass House, Trap, Hybrid Trap, Future, Trance, Psy-glitch, Psychedelic Bass Music, etc. My last LP named “Inside The Shell” is a good example of all the genres I am capable of producing. It showcases some good, grimey glitch-hop, a slow, almost tech-house moombah 110 bpm track, along with dubstep at 120, dubstep at 140, and even a little jungle terror.

I’ve had so much trouble trying to stick to one genre in the past, and I am still working through it. I’m trying to stick to dubstep right now for Sealed Shut just so people can get a feel for who I am and what I am. I don’t like to confine myself to one genre, but I think it’s time to get a little bit more defined in order to present Sealed Shut to a larger audience. Plus, dubstep is a really, really fun genre, and I want to help expand the genre to more possibilities.

SIM: WOW Anthony…that is an impressive list. It makes me wonder what you’re going to be capable of once Sealed Shut takes off. What production software do you like to use? Or is there more than one…?

Anthony: Ableton is my software of choice, and I’ve been using it for about three years now, maybe four. I started out by using FL studios for about three years, but I gave up on it after I downloaded Ableton. It’s not that FL is bad, I just ended up flowing with Ableton better; I find it much, much easier to Mixdown on and come up with new ideas. So far, I am fluent in Ableton, Fl studios, and ProTools but from my perspective, all the DAW’s are extremely similar and I can get by using any of them (with the exception of ReNoize because it’s just way too weird).

SIM: Alright, so you’re ridiculously versed in production software; how does DJing workout for you?

Anthony: I am a producer first, a DJ second. I think being able to play a great DJ set is really important, and I use it to set the vibes of a venue. I love how mixing can really change the way that the crowd acts and thinks. Because I am a producer however, I really stay away from all the local DJ’s competitive nonsense, like how using CDJ’s somehow makes you “better” than other dj’s or how not using a sync button means that you’re actually talented. It’s b*llshit in my opinion.

In the DJ world, I am considered a controllerist. That means that I like to use my laptop, computer software, and midi controllers to do my DJ-ing. Right now, I use Traktor 2 Pro with a Numark ns6 and I have no issues with sound quality, dj-ing properly, or even creative expression. It’s all about the gear you use. You have to have a good soundcard if you wanna use a controller, and the Numark ns6 has a pretty good one built into it.

However, I am making the transition to Ableton Live Performances. I want to do this because I want to be able to play out live dubstep mashups with my own sounds and songs using a drumpad. Artists like Mad Zach, Madeon, and M4sonic also use this method. Also, I am making the transition because I think it will be easier to engineer quad drops and mega chop mixing, which will be fun for me. I really think these things are going to be what sets Sealed Shut apart from other artists. A lot of locals also don’t use this method, and I’m taking the initiative to start something different. It’s just going to make playing live that much more creative and organic in my opinion.

SIM: I hope we get to see you showcasing the new trade soon; besides being a trend-setter, do you have a few favorite moments as a local?

Most recently, I created a remix for my good friend Loom in Essence’s remix album contest. The album is called ‘DigitAlchemy: The ReMixologists’ and is released by Elliptic Audio Research aka EAR (formerly known as Mycelium). I sent in the remix not really thinking much of it, but the label guy heard it once and was instantly was like “YUP, I like this one!” And voila, I’m on a remix album being released by a very well know IDM label!

As a side note, I have to say that getting a whole crowd super hyped-up about a track that you made from the ground up is one of the best feelings in the world. Production-wise I gotta say my ‘Inside the Shell’ LP was a great accomplishment because I did it all. Literally everything, from writing, to sound design, to mixing, mastering, all of it! And it’s fun to listen to. 🙂

SIM: And what, if we may ask, are some of the next goals you have established for yourself?

Anthony: One of my current goals is to get posted on a few soundcloud tastemaker channels. I want help in promoting my music; this way, I get to spend more time in the studio and less time out partying. I’ll let my music speak for itself. Another goal of mine is to become more consistent with releasing music, as well as making my name a staple in the Minneapolis EDM scene. I want to eventually start releasing one new track every three weeks so that scene regulars know my name.

I also want to work with more local producers. Collaborations are going to be a big part of 2017 and 2018 for me. I’m looking to learn new production styles, share fanbases, and share the knowledge I’ve gained. I’m shooting for 1k followers on Soundcloud by the end of 2017; let’s get it!!!

Make sure to keep up with Sealed Shut on his socials; he’s got a lot of gems that may soon see the light of day. Vibe with him here: