STLNDRMS (stolen drums) is the truth. Posting daily beatmaking videos, hosting a weekly chill in Atlanta, and maintaining a prolific output on Soundcloud, STLNDRMS aka Chris Wilkes is a veritable beats brand. The dedicated Atlanta native slices some of the most rich and colorful beats on the web, hands down.
STLNDRMS first emerged on our radar when 'backpack' cracked out of the Bless Vol. 1 tape from Inner Ocean Records. On an already prolific beat tape, this one drew forth a wild, fiendish head bop. The drums smack relentlessly, and a pair of hair-raising string and horn samples race underneath a simple three-note melody to cultivate an almost cinematic vibe. A cut of Money Makin' Mitch, main character from the 2002 epic 'Paid in Full', comes through on the break - "The fans still gon' love me, man?"
This is one of two sampled ad-libs which invariably pop up in STLNDRUMS beats. Mitch is comparing an athlete retiring to a drug dealer leaving the game, waxing poetic about the potential loss of mojo if and when a man puts down his passions. This may be personal narrative at play.
According to prodigious DJ journalism imprint Micro-Chop, Wilkes began crafting beats in 2001 and continued to chop and splice religiously for ten years before putting down the drums - almost for good - in 2011. Despite an abundance of passion and skill, STLNDRMS beats gained little traction outside of the producer's bedroom, a dilemma probably shared by more than one beatmaker. But naturally and perhaps magnetically, Wilkes was drawn back to his craft in 2016. "If I leave, the fans still gon' love me, man?"
Since he picked up the pads again, Wilkes has brought his beats out into the world in a big way. STLNDRMS broadcasts multi-hour home studio sessions about twice-a-week through his 'Beats and Chill' videos. He asks viewers to "spread the love", reminds them that "sharing is caring" and shouts out his viewers in real time while making piping hot beats on the spot.
Wilkes hosts a weekly gathering in Atlanta called Controllerise. With beatsets from underground DJs, pizza, and anime, Controllerise is a place for the "underground to flourish" Wilkes told Atlanta lifestyle publication Creative Loafing. Where once STLNDRMS struggled to achieve exposure for his own beats, he's now created a space to big up other underground talents in his scene.
STLNDRMS has a surprisingly simple workflow. He's been using virtually the same drums since his genesis, a 15-drum pad assembled - stolen - from vinyls years ago, this again according to Micro-Chop. He doesn't use plug-ins or "anything fancy", just slapping drums, layered hi-hats, and rusty, dusty broad-brush instrumental samples to fill the stereo spread with radiant organized noise. The love is in the layering, and this dense sound is consistent across his cuts, like a signature.
We collected some choice knocks from his Soundcloud, but STLNDRMS beats are infinite and always evolving. The intangible, priceless beauty of groove can arise any time Wilkes is behind his drums. So interact, hear more and explore on his Twitter or Instagram, or roll through the Thursday night vibe Controllerise if you're in Atlanta. Scoop some free .wav downloads from his Soundcloud, and stay chooned to STLNDRMS and Lo-Fi Sundays.