Aaron Velasquez has been workin’ on a groovy thing.
The 26-year-old New Jersey-based producer, better known as Flamingosis, steadily peddles sample-based groove and hip hop-influenced tracks, and his work has struck a chord with internet listening communities.
For Velasquez, making beats is a deeply personal experience. His production skills evolved out of beatboxing, literally using his hands and mouth to create percussion. The music he makes now is entirely self-produced and self-released. Velasquez told the Daily News in a recent interview that this autonomy clicks with fans on sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp.
“When it comes to just releasing and putting out music on (my) own terms, I think people admire that,” Velasquez said. “I’m kind of stubborn and like doing my own thing with releasing music. It’s a really organic way of doing things and in turn it can bring on an organic fanbase.”
His latest and greatest album “A Groovy Thing” dropped over the summer. It contains 18 tracks of easy breezy beats spliced with samples, many of which are drawn from lesser-known funk and soul acts from the ’60s.
Take the title track: It leans on the vocals and instrumentals of Patti Drew’s 1968 song “Workin’ on a Groovy Thing,” yet Velasquez mixes it up and adds his personal flair. It’s a fair assumption many of his listeners have never heard the original track.
Sampling comes with drawbacks — getting clearance from the original artists takes time, which is why “A Groovy Thing” has yet to hit Spotify and Apple Music.
“I’ve gotten emails from artists I’ve sampled before, which can be kind of nerve-wracking. Luckily they like the track so they won’t sue me,” Velasquez said with a laugh. “Sampling is a double-edged sword. It’s an artistry but you’re taking a person’s previously recorded piece of work still. There’s gonna be legal implications involved.”
Outside of digital consumption lies vinyl, a mode of listening close to Velasquez’s heart. He’s an avid collector and put out his previous release “Bright Moments” on vinyl, and hopes to eventually do the same for “A Groovy Thing.” He points to the wholeness of his work coming across best this way.
“If you listen to one track, it can sound weird out of context. The cohesiveness is lost, and that’s why it’s good to still listen to records because you can get the whole viewpoint of where the artist was coming from,” he said.
Working with other producers and artists has been essential to Flamingosis’ journey. He’s frequently collaborated with fellow New Jersey native and singer Ehiorobo, along with producers he’s met online and in his travels: Yung Bae, Biocratic and The Kount, who all have their own Soundcloud followings. These relationships are symbiotic: “If I’m just chilling with them and we’re making something, they’ll help me out with tips and tricks” and vice versa.
Flamingosis — a moniker that’s a sendup to his Freestyle Frisbee champion dad’s signature move (a reverse spin and catch on one leg) — sustains on touring. Velasquez has toured behind his records, usually playing in small DIY spaces like Brooklyn’s Sunnyvale. He’s currently on tour with Baltimore funk band Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, which will bring him to a much larger venue on Friday — Brooklyn Steel.
Making a profit off his music seems to be the furthest thing from Velasquez’s mind, for now.
“In general, I just want people to listen to the music,” he said. “You don’t have to pay for it if you don’t want to.”