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October 31st, 2012 REED JACKSON | Music Stories
 

Rap Class: Wednesday, Oct. 31

Portland beatmaker John Kammerle wants to take the songs stuck in his head and cram them into yours.

music_rapclass_3852KAMMERLE - IMAGE: Patti Miller

[SAMPLE-BASED] To quote an overused hip-hop proverb, sampling is an art. For local beatmaker and DJ John Kammerle, aka Rap Class, it’s also a turn-on. 

“I don’t want that to sound wrong—but I’ve always gotten off on that,” he says. “Sampling is me wanting to be a part of a song because of the good feeling I feel when I hear it. It’s always been a fantasy.”

Kammerle’s desire to be a part of the music has defined his life, which, in part, has helped define his music. 

It all stems from the Jazzercise classes his mom taught while he was growing up in Arizona. There, Kammerle was introduced to classic groups like the Beatles, and he found that certain fragments of songs would stick in his head. He wished he could hear them endlessly.  

Flash forward to high school, where Kammerle was introduced to two albums that would change his life: John Frusciante’s To Record Only Water for Ten Days and the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique. The first convinced him that he wanted to write songs for a living. The second showed him that, through sampling, he could fulfill his wish to be a part of the songs he loved. 

Shortly after, he bought a sampler—the same cherry-colored Korg machine he uses today—and he’s been bending flute riffs and warping vocal clips to make beats ever since.

Only recently did Kammerle, 25, release his first proper full-length, the appropriately titled Greatest Hits, through the Dropping Gems label, a crew he’s been rolling with ever since he moved to Portland four years ago. The album is built on sharply chopped samples, warm melodies and buzzy synth lines, and reflects the catchy songs that stuck in his brain as a youth. 

“I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything…I just want to put out catchy music so you can sing along to it,” he says. “Sometimes I hear little bits of songs that are so great, and they make me feel so great to hear them over and over again. What I’m trying to convey is just comfort.”

That comfort can also be heard in his DJ sets, which are often feel-good, dance-heavy affairs. He sometimes plays his own music, but playing songs by other artists that haven’t been heard yet gives him just as much satisfaction, he says. 

This is partly why he’s been able to get more gigs lately. But, like the millions of other musicians in Portland, Kammerle is unable to live solely off music: He currently works in a hotel kitchen. 

Scraping by in order to do what you love, though, is no problem, especially when you have a good song stuck in your head. And Kammerle has many.

“For me, it’s DJing or bust,” he says. “As long as I can DJ when I’m asked and when I want to, that’s fine for me. That’s all I want to do.”


SEE IT: Rap Class plays the Crown Room, 205 NW 4th Ave., with Eprom, Slugabed and Chrome Wolves on Wednesday, Oct. 31. 9 pm. $12. 21+.

 
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