Dallas, Texas-native Lucy Clubhouse is 1,000 miles from home on stage looking out at a packed arena at the 2018 Battle of the Beat Makers competition in Toronto. The audience is cheering her name and her mother has just run on stage, a huge smile on her face, to give her a hug. Behind her three esteemed American producers, Just Blaze, !llmind and Mannie Fresh grace her with a standing ovation.
Fourteen years old at the time, Lucy has just made history as the youngest champion of the beat battle competition since her idol Wondagurl took home the crown at the age of 15 back in 2012.
“It didn’t really hit me that I won until after we were on the plane back home, but while I was on stage I was blown away,” says the young beat maker.
“To see everyone [yelling my name] that was a super crazy moment for me. Honestly, I froze because I didn’t know what to say.”
Lucy let the beats speak for her. They illustrate her creativity and conviction as an engineer of music, but despite her age she’s not entirely new to the game. Her father, Sivion – rapper and member of hip-hop collective Deepspace5, would bring Lucy to the studio regularly where she’d watch him create music and interact with other producers.
“That really inspired me to get into production and actually take it seriously,” says Lucy.
Following her father’s lead Lucy started producing at the age of nine and in 2018 competed in five beat battle competitions. She took home three first place titles one being at SXSW, the second at the Rapzilla battle at A3C in October and the third a month later at Battle of the Beat Makers (BOTBM).
Although Lucy has seen great success within the beat battle realm, she says she’s decided to gracefully make her exit from competitions and shift her focus to something bigger that’ll still satisfy her lure to the boisterous energy of a cheering crowd.
What kind of process do you go through when developing your own beats and what program are you currently using?
I use Ableton. I started out with a program called Reason and I moved to Ableton when I was 10. I like classical music and jazz music. I’ll hear something in one of those songs and think to translate it into a trap beat or a pop beat. I usually start out with an idea in my head while I’m sleeping or something and then the next day I bring it to life.
What made you want to enter BOTBM?
Probably watching Wondagurl compete, but also I loved how the crowd reacted to the beats and stuff. I definitely wanted to see how the crowd would react to mine. That’s a big reason why I signed up. It’s a huge event.
How did you prepare the beats for this competition?
It was a really interesting process. I started in September and I had the 20 beats or whatever you’re supposed to bring, and I ended up scrapping them last minute right before the competition. I believe two weeks before the competition I made all new stuff and I was like I’m just going to go with what I have right now.
To see everyone [yelling my name] that was a super crazy moment for me.
The moment you found out that you had made the top 64 finalists, what were the thoughts running through your head?
I was really shocked honestly. I didn’t think I was going to get accepted, but from there it was kind of like the anticipation of OK can you get past the preliminaries? I was very excited.
You mentioned initially joined BOTBM from watching Wondagurl perform online. How was it meeting her for the first time and what was that conversation like?
It was very shocking. I met her a month before the battle, but we didn’t really talk until we got to the battle. It was crazy because she’s like my hero and I was able to meet her and talk to her about music and production.
Did she give you any advice?
She was just like ‘keep going and walk into the battle confidently and walk into anything that you want to do confidently. It’s hard being a female in this industry so just be bold and do what you want to do.’
Who are your other major influences in music aside from Wondagurl and your father?
My brother is a huge one. He’s a producer as well so he definitely inspires me. I’m a huge fan of Kaytranada, he definitely inspires me a lot, and then Timbaland.
This must have been a huge deal for your family then. What was their reaction when you first came home from your trip to Toronto as a champ?
They were so proud and excited and happy. I remember when I walked into my house it was super late, but my brother and my dad stayed up and congratulated me as soon as I got in the house. My brother gave me a huge hug. Everybody was pretty excited. It was awesome to see that support.
You obviously come from a very musical family. Are there any memories you have creating with them that stand out to you?
I remember the first time I got a computer for production and my brother and I would just make beats on there all the time. I think for like a week straight we were just making beats every day and that was definitely a pivotal moment in me producing. I feel like when we did that it showed that it can be really fun, and I want to do this for the rest of my life.
What does it mean to you to be the youngest BOTBM champ in history?
It’s honestly an honour. I knew, but it didn’t really hit me until after I got back home. I was like, wow I’m the youngest person to do this. It’s definitely an honour. It’s very exciting and amazing that that’s the title for me.
Seems like 2018 was a big year for you and beat battle competitions. Why have you decided to take a step back from the battle scene?
Mainly because I feel like I want to explore another path in production. I want to do more DJing and stuff like that. So still the battle element of a crowd and excitement. I would definitely want to venture into DJing and live performances [moving forward].
Photos © Isa Miguel Ransome & Urbanology Magazine