As Amy Perren presses buttons on an MPC 1000 beat-making machine, husband Stephan watches earnestly and gives her tips. The North Las Vegas couple, both 29, listen to a cassette tape of the soundtrack to one of her favorite horror films: 1992’s “Death Becomes Her.” Amy picks out what part of the song she wants to sample before chopping it, then looping it (repeating) and adding drums and a bassline on a keyboard.
Stephan, who has been rapping and producing music for more than 15 years under the name Trade Voorhees, is teaching his wife how to produce. They are documenting the process through a YouTube series titled “Amy Voorhees Making Beats.” The couple have released three episodes, and she has made 15-20 beats in her first month of learning.
Stephan has released more than 15 mix tapes and opened for artists such as Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah and Raekwon and Top Dawg Entertainment’s ScHoolboy Q. Amy has watched him make music since they started dating about 10 years ago. She would attend many of his shows, sat in on studio sessions and was featured on a few songs, Stephan said.
It wasn’t until about three months ago that she showed interest in learning the craft.
“I’ve always been trying to think of a way to get both of us out of work (at our jobs),” he said. “This was the first time it’s ever opened my eyes that we could do this music (thing) together.”
Amy said she grew up loving music and had an older brother Lionel Rosales who was a rapper. It was music that brought the couple together when they met at a show in Long Beach, California.
Amy said that some of her favorite producers include Pharrell, Timbaland, Pete Rock, MF Doom, J Dilla and her husband, of course. When she and Stephan were just friends, he said, she’d often ask to hear his beats.
“I listen to the beats that are in a lot of songs and I get ideas in my head, and I always want to make them,” Amy said. “Now, I get to put my stuff out there and people can hear it.”
The couple started practicing together about two months ago and posted a snippet of a vlog (video blog) on Twitter, asking followers if they’d be interested in seeing their process, Stephan said. They were overwhelmed by the positive feedback.
Stephan said having him as a teacher allows Amy to learn more quickly, and that she has given him a fresh perspective.
“I think she’s dope,” he said. “I think once she gets a good grasp on her (equipment), then we’ll really be able to see her unique style.”
The couple, who call themselves horror film fanatics and will celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary Oct. 30, said they share a love of creepy elements in their music. Amy describes her style as more futuristic and space-like with classical sounds such as violins and pianos, while Stephan’s is darker and more eerie. Their living room is decorated with black curtains, their home studio has burgundy and black walls, and a bookshelf contains horror films and books.
Stephan said friends who are involved in music are impressed by Amy’s music, especially by a beat she made for his upcoming album “Saturday the 14th” — which is a part of a four-part series and will release Oct. 14 — for a song titled “Out to Lunch.” He said he wants to do a joint project with her soon.
Amy said she hopes to continue working with local artists — especially female artists, who don’t get to work with female producers often. Local artist Zelly Vibes said she’s already looking forward to working with Amy.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of female producers in the Las Vegas (music) scene,” she said. “But right now, I feel like there is a strong energy with female creatives. There are so many talented women, and of course I’m also about female empowerment.”