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Loop Sessions DMV: Serving the needs of the area’s beatmakers

Magassy “Mags” M’bow, left, is the founder of the DMV chapter of Loop Sessions. (Sylvan "Sly" Thompson )

Beatsmiths spend hours searching record store bins for raw materials to sample, isolating and reworking musical moments and crafting a creation of their own. But is the final product a beat for a rapper or a singer? Is it intended to be played on its own, in a club or in a coffeehouse? If a beat drops in the forest, does it make a sound?

For more than a year and a half, Loop Sessions DMV has attempted to answer these questions and serve the needs of the area’s beatmaking community, both online and in person, by bringing together producers, giving them time to sample a chosen piece of music and make a beat out of it, and showcasing the results before opening the floor to a gab session.

Loop Sessions DMV is a local offshoot of the mother ship branch in Montreal, which was founded in 2016 and was itself inspired by an event the founders attended in São Paulo, Brazil. One of the participants at those Montreal sessions was Magassy “Mags” M’bow, a Silver Spring-born artist who had moved to the city for school.

Mags’s return to the D.C. area in 2018 put the kibosh on her Loop Session participation, until the pandemic shifted the event — like many others — from IRL to URL. By this time, she had found a local community of like-minded musicians who had embraced the virtual Loop Sessions. One friend wished there was a local chapter.

“Hold up,” Mags remembers saying. “Low key, what’s stopping us? Because now no one’s outside — I could do this if I wanted to.”

With the blessing of the founders of the original Loop Sessions, Mags launched the DMV chapter in February 2021. After a few virtual editions, Loop Sessions DMV held its first in-person event that June, with people traveling from up and down the East Coast to have the kind of organic exchange that can only happen in person.

“It felt like a mini convention,” Mags says. “You make online friends, and you exchange and collaborate on stuff only online, but then you guys finally meet and you’re like, ‘Oh, my God, you’re much taller in person,’ or stuff like that.”

Even though public health concerns have forced Loop Sessions back online, the community aspect is still a focus of the chapter, especially for LGBTQ musicians who don’t always feel represented in hip-hop beatmaking circles. Overall, Mags hopes online connections foster real-world ones, as well.

“A lot of artists are so close to each other, but don’t know each other at all,” she says. The best part remains “being able to break that door open [to show] you all make amazing stuff.”

Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. on Instagram Live @loopsessionsdmv.