The Elemental Project: Denver’s All-Female Production Crew

Published on September 26th, 2014 By Michaela Cultrara

The Elemental Project

Meet The Elemental Project—Denver, Colarado’s only all-female production crew.

The crew is made up of Rayn, J Stylz and FM. Each member brings their own distinctive style including rock, gospel and hip-hop influences. Check out our exclusive interview with the unconventional trio below to find out more about what inspires them, how they met, advice to aspiring female artists and more.

You ladies are all from three different parts of Denver. How did you initially meet each other?
FMJ: We met each other at the University of Colorado in Denver when we were all studying music; either audio engineering or music business. We clicked almost instantly.

Jae: We all met in college. We were a part of the audio program. It was amazing to know that we weren’t alone as the only girls in audio. It was great to meet them.

Rayn: I’m actually from Colorado Springs but came to Denver for school. We did click pretty much instantly. It’s not often that you find other females who produce, let alone in the same vicinity!

What inspired you to start a beat crew?
FMJ: We just felt that although we were each doing our own thing, it would be better to combine forces and talents. We all had similar tastes in music, energy and styles.

Jae: First off it was rare finding a female producer or beat maker, but it was extremely rare to have three altogether. I was the late-comer. Jo and Rayn were meeting up back in 2006 and I came along in 2007. I was blown away by what they were doing and most definitely wanted to be a part. Rayn and her excellent ability as a leader and amazing samples and Jo and her beats and me with my chords. Definitely a force to be reckoned with. Only took us a few weeks to come up with the name and it just stuck.

Rayn: Every one of us brought a unique element to the table (no pun intended). We are most definitely stronger as a unit, which gives us something we were missing by staying solo.

How did you learn to make beats and work with various instruments?
FMJ: I started in my bedroom at my parents house with a Casio keyboard I bought with money I earned working at Dairy Queen.  You could only save two “songs” at a time and there was no sequencer, so in order to wipe the memory clean and make more beats, I used to use this ghetto karaoke machine to record the songs onto tape to immortalize them. I still have those tapes to this day!

Jae: When I was 15 I had a Casio keyboard with six channels. I would stay up late and play around until I started making my own song and would record every part on all six channels. Because I couldn’t save my recordings I would use the little tape recorder to save it. Me and Jo both have similar stories; when we found out we just laughed. I truly thought I was by myself.

Rayn: I was the only one who did not have a Casio keyboard! I played drums in my father’s church and a friend gave me a copy of the Hip Hop DJ and Cakewalk programs. I broke night the first time I used it. I was hooked. Then I bought my first MPC. Jo and I only did scratch beats. A DJ friend of mine taught Jo and I how to sample records. It was all down hill from there!

What’s your favorite instrument or sound to make a beat with and why?
FMJ: I love drums. I feel like that’s what drives the entire track. I’m always trying to come up with creative ways to play the drums on my MPC, using effects and layers. I like synths a lot too.  There’s so much complexity that you can create with synthesizers.

Jae: I love the pads and synthesizer sounds and I love stacking drums. I also like taking non-percussion sounds and making them a drum sound.

Rayn: I LOVE VINYL. PERIOD. Being a drummer, I love to bang on things. I have a beat machine addiction. Once I find a sample, I get to work banging it out on the pads. Then I’ll add keys or pick out chords on my guitar. It’s like a puzzle and I try to make the pieces fit.

As women, what is the hardest part about being in the music industry for you?
FMJ: The hardest part is being seen as invisible or adorable or attractive for making music. I put a lot of effort into making beats and so for some people to just look at that as being “cute” or look at me as if I’m not in the studio for strictly business is disheartening. People like to compare us with other women but I always aim to be better than any other producer, male or female.

Jae: The world of beat-making is still a man’s world. For me it’s, “Oh, that’s good for a girl” or “we need a girl on our team and that will make us stand out more”—not because I’m good, only because I’m a girl. I know I have potential to be great and Rayn and Jo are just as great to me. You better believe we’re not afraid anymore and there’s tons of confidence in what we make.

Rayn: For me, being a dominant woman has been a bit of challenge. Once they get past the shock that I’m not there to play cutesy games and that I’m serious about my craft, then it becomes a territory war. I and my team need to stay in our places as women. That’s when we must remind them that we are coming for their spot. That mentality, however, has been a blessing in disguise as it inspires us to work harder—and hard work and perseverance are the keys to the world.

If you could choose one artist to use your beats, who would it be?
FMJ: Kendrick Lamar. He’s just got a very unique way to ride a beat. Then you have a classic like Nas. I’d like to hear B.O.B. too or even Wiz Khalifa.

Jae: I would love to make a beat for Common, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar or Phonte, a neo-soul track for Musiq Soulchild or Dwele and an R&B track for Tank or Brandy.

Rayn: I’m a sucker for harmonies and I love R&B. I need to create with Allen Stone, Jesse Boykins III, Jhene Aiko and of course, Jill Scott. On the hip-hop side I am itching to do a song with Tito Lopez and Nicki Minaj. Those are at the top of a very long list.

Who is your favorite beat maker or music producer?
FMJ: I’ve always idolized Timbaland. The sounds he gets his hands on are insane and the samples are wild. Even the layers when they’re added on or peeled back as you go through the song are amazing. I also admire Kanye, Ninth Wonder, Just Blaze, Jake One and Flying Lotus.

Jae: My absolute favorite producer is Ninth Wonder. The way he samples is insane and his beat just hits in all the right places. The styles I love as well are Just Blaze, Timbaland, Pete Rock and Nicolay just to name a few.

Rayn: Number one, hands down is Just Blaze! Then Slakah the Beat Child, Focus and Ninth Wonder. I can listen to them and I lose my mind. I am inspired by them constantly and I aspire to reach their level.

When and where will you be performing next?
Rayn: We don’t really perform but when the next beat battle is listed, expect to see us there!

How long does it take to produce a beat?
FMJ: It can take me anywhere from a few hours to days. Sometimes I’ll make something, listen to it a million times and add what I think is missing or needs to be changed weeks later.

Jae: If I’m feeling it strongly just a few hours and if it needs work, maybe a few weeks. I have a lot of unfinished beats I might need to revisited.

Rayn: I’ve found that my best work comes the most quickly to me because the pieces all fit effortlessly. It can range from a few hours to a few days. I try to get it done all in one sitting or else I tend not to come back to it.

What is your favorite genre of music to produce a beat for?
FMJ: Experimental (ha!). I like it most when I do a beat that doesn’t have to conform to a certain style, and I’m free to do what I want with it. Which means the structure, sounds, tempo, swing, etc can be anything I want it to be. I don’t sit down to make a beat like this with the idea of being abstract, but I definitely like not being confined to certain style box.

Jae: I love Neo-Soul. It connects so many styles.

Rayn: Although I love Neo-Soul and R&B, I’m best at creating hip-hop. It’s true language of my soul.

What is your favorite part about what you do?
FMJ: Pride. Sometimes I just gleam with pride when I make something and love it. Even if I’m the only one feeling it in the entire room. And I will bang that track in my truck with no qualms.

Jae: When I hear the whole beat come together with all the parts.

Rayn: I just love the process. I love going to the record store and digging. I love choosing and connecting my gear. I love picking the sounds. I love creating. I love the end product. I love frowning to my own beats. I love sharing them!

Where do you see yourselves and the group in the next 5 years?
FMJ: Learning, growing, going global. I just want us to reach the best MCs in the world. No matter the language, style or popularity. I just want all of the dopest MCs in the world, on or off the radio, to record onto one of our tracks. It would be an honor.

Jae: Most definitely making beats for major artists and film and TV. No more day job—yay!

Rayn: My goal is to help us get a several major placements. I think, aside from helping us better situate our families, it will set up a platform for us to share the talents of other talented females and teach, learn and share with others who share our love for creating.

If you had any advice to give to any other aspiring female artists, what would it be?
FMJ: Work hard. Never do it for anything other than the simple and pure love of doing it, and everything else will follow. Don’t do something because it’s trendy, and especially don’t do anything that goes against your morals. Just be true to yourself, work very hard, be nice to everyone you meet, and love what you do.

Jae: Don’t stop. Keep pushing and if you really want to do this don’t let anyone tell you different. Believe in what you got, what you can do, and what you can become.

Rayn: Besides never giving up and staying very true you your own self, learn your craft. Be so good that they can’t ignore you and can’t do it without you.

To hear their beats and get more information on The Elemental Project, visit their website:

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