There are very few pieces of clothing that better symbolize the rebellious, raw nature of music than the iconic Chuck Taylor All Star. From Blondie to Bloc Party, Kurt Cobain to Green Day, and a countless legion of others, the high top sneaker has become an essential part of the creativity within the art world. In an effort to thank and pay homage to the creative worlds welcoming embrace of the sneaker, Converse created the Rubber Tracks program. From free live concerts with real headliners to an unprecedented free sample library, and giving bands access to studio time, Converse Rubber Tracks is truly an altruistic program designed to ignite and continue the creative process. In the last two years, Converse even built two state of the art brick and mortar studios, continuously hosting dozens of pop-up studios globally, all in an attempt to give back to the community that helped cement their iconic legacy.
The continuing Converse Rubber Tracks program allows musicians from around the world to submit their music and apply to be chosen for professional studio time in their city. For many artists, studio time is an insurmountable financial obstacle, so to be given the opportunity to spend several days in the studio, alongside some incredibly skilled engineers in a safe and welcoming environment, this really the ultimate gift a musician can receive.
Over the last 4 months, Converse stepped their game up, offering the Rubber Tracks program to everyone worldwide to spend time at one of twelve of the worlds best recording studios. On the list were the heavy-weights like Tuff Gong in Jamaica where Bob Marley recorded, Abbey Road in London, made famous by the Beatles, and Sunset Sounds in LA, where everyone recorded, Bing Crosby, the Doors, etc. Basically all the studios that your favourite albums were made.
Converse was not messing around with this unique opportunity. From the 84 musicians from 28 countries, 6 were selected to participate from Canada. These six groups were then sent off around the world to spend a magical and hopefully productive 48 hours inside the studio.
The Winnipeg group that was chosen to record in the Brooklyn Rubber Tracks studio was hip-hop act The Lytics. They chose Brooklyn because, in many ways it is the heart and start of the hip-hop scene. Being surrounded by the iconic sites and sounds of the city that birthed the art form they had inherited way up in Canada, acted as a backdrop to their musical experience.
The Lytics consists of 5 members, 4 MC’s and a DJ, and the came ready, armed with fresh beats and lyrics. With the intention of utilizing the experience for all it was worth the Lytics immediately made camp inside the studio and began the process of recording a record.
One of the unique charms of the Converse Rubber Track studios, both the permanent and the pop up’s are the sound engineers they have on tap. Even when the CRT program took over these iconic studios around the globe, Converse brought in their own engineers to work with the studio pros to help bring a sense of normalcy to the situation.
What does all this mean, though? Well, the sound engineers that work for CRT, tend to have a more flexible outlook on the music creation process, working with a nonstop lineup of fresh, emerging talent, both through Rubber Tracks and on their own, they understand the ethos that goes into it.
By ingratiating ourselves into the recording process over 48 hours, we had the chance to speak to the band and watch them evolve over a few days. We watched as each song was crafted layer upon layer from the ground up. It was a unique experience for everyone involved really shedding new light on the creative process. The Lytics boys came in with the energy, eagerness, and hope to record 4 tracks, understanding that 2 fully recorded and mastered tracks was more of a reality. What emerged was 1 banger of a track. Something quite unlike what the band originally expected, in a good way of course.
As an added bonus, Converse Rubber Tracks selected a handful of studios and bands to receive a special guest in the way of a mentor. Someone from the music community and genre to offer insight, experience and advice that only someone who has risen through the ranks of the industry could offer. The Lytics, and consequently us, we’re blessed to have Mike D of the Beastie Boys come and spend time in the studio.
After the initial shock and hero-worship passed, it was business as usual, with Mike D offering input along the way. What was remarkable was the conversations that naturally arose throughout the process. It wasn’t all lectures and stories about the bygone era of hip-hop, which as fans is the information we want, but rather the best practises for getting your music mastered, production value, what different studios have to offer and how to get the most bang for you buck. Basically the economy of music creation. Of course, Mike could be seen vibing along to the track, offering his input on levels, echo, pitch, etc. along the way, but it was that well-traveled advice that meant the most to everyone in the room.
For a small band from Winnipeg with big aspirations, the advice and experience gathered from the 48 hours spent in Brooklyn goes well beyond the creation of a super tight, dope new track. It was the knowledge gained and experience that really made this Converse Rubber Track session truly magical.
Once The Lytics release the track they were working on, you know we will give it to you. In the meantime follow along as the rap collective from Winnipeg travels the world performing their unique brand of hip-hop, flexing so the world knows what Canada as to offer.
If you are an aspiring musician and want to be part of the Converse Rubber Tracks experience, head over to the their site now to find all the information on how to applying and register.