Back in December, the Fool’s Gold chief got a chance to tell his story in a comprehensive interview with Complex’s Blueprint series. This time, A-Trak focused mostly on music production and how DJing has influenced his work in that realm.
On how being a DJ and turntablist has helped him as a producer:
“My DJing definitely informs my production. The obvious way to explain that is just like, DJs know what works well in the clubs. So there’s a bit of that, but even on a very, an almost unconscious level, some of the programming that I do, if I’m chopping up a sound, my friends will say that I make it sound like it’s a scratch. I don’t even realize it, but my ear is so accustomed to sound manipulation and certain patterns. … But the thing that’s been interesting for me in recent years is I feel I’ve learned how to produce my scratching. So there’s a lot of full circle things going on … .”
On his limitations as a producer:
“One of the great lessons for me as I went more into production was to accept my limitations. It’s hard, and I’m stubborn, and I like to know how to do everything, but there are certain things that I’m not as good at. And I definitely still believe that I’m a DJ who got into producing, who got into remixing, who got into running a label, all these other things. And when I was learning how to produce, at first I really wanted to do everything myself. … I would drive people crazy, and by the way, even now today I’m a month and a half late delivering a remix. Sometimes I’ve very late delivering things because I stubbornly wanna do it my way or [do it] myself. And again, I’m in my element when I’m DJing. When I’m producing, I’m still trying to get the ideas out of my head, and sometimes there’s roadblocks.”
Legendary radio hosts and DJs Nick and Eric Vidal, a.k.a. the Baka Boyz, were recently guests on the Pensado’s Place show.
Originally from Bakersfield, California, the brothers first achieved fame in the early ’90s on Los Angeles’ Power 106. Their shows Friday Nite Flavas and World Famous Roll Call revolutionized radio in Los Angeles and helped make Power a force in hip-hop.
Around the same time, the Baka Boyz also made a name for themselves as producers, working with Los Angeles artists like The Pharcyde, Cypress Hill, House of Pain, Kid Frost, and Volume 10.
Later in their careers, the duo gave breaks to future Los Angeles radio icons Big Boy, Fuzzy Fantabulous, and DJ E-Man. The Baka Boyz continue to hold it down on the airwaves with their nationally syndicated show, the Hip-Hop Master Mix. As Pensado’s Place puts it, the duo is “radio royalty.”
Like most Pensado’s Place episodes, the Baka Boyz reflected on their careers from start to finish. They also discussed the state of terrestrial radio, their current projects, among other topics.
On how Los Angeles’ KDAY radio station inspired them:
“We’d get on our two-story house on the roof with a Fisher boombox and turn it all the way up, trying to just record whatever was playing because we were blown away by what they were doing, all the music they were playing. So we’d take that tape and then we’d go to LA and go to the record store … and we’d come back with $300 worth of records for the club …”
On transforming Power 106’s newsroom into a mixroom, which transformed radio in Los Angeles:
“At the time — [Power] — they didn’t have a mix room. Everybody pre-recorded mixes; it was all reel-to-reel. So Power’s Rick asked us, he’s like, ‘So you guys gotta record your mixes on reel-to-reel and turn ’em in.’ I said, ‘Nah, we don’t do that. We do live.’ He’s like, ‘What if it skips?’ I said, ‘Then it skips; it’s not the end of the world. [laughs] … We had to have the engineer retrofit the newsroom and make it a mixroom.”
On being Latin American DJs in a primarily black genre:
“We’re just hip-hop DJs, and there was no color to hip-hop DJs, and we just reflected that. We were passionate about the music. We were in tune with what was going on in the streets and in the studios because we were producing at that time.”
On the current state of terrestrial radio:
“[The stations] are stuck in their ways of what they wanna do and they have to recreate the wheel with radio to make it cool again cuz it’s not cool. … They think only because you listen to that station, you only listen to this kind of music … People like to listen to different things. … [The stations] want to put you in a box, and the box is broken. That mold is old; it needs to go away.”
Boi-1da inside his home studio. (Photo credit: Renée Rodenkirchen for coveteur.com)
Heavyweight music producer Boi-1da was recently featured on Pensado’s Place, a YouTube talk show about music production.
The Jamican born, Toronto raised hitmaker is best known for being one of Drake’s in-house producers. Among his biggest productions are Drizzy’s “Best I Ever Had,” Eminem’s “Not Afraid,” and Rihanna’s “Work.” Some of his latest projects include G-Eazy’s “No Limit,” Kendrick Lamar’s “The Blacker the Berry,” and Drake’s “Controlla.”
Boi-1da discussed a variety of topics with hosts Dave Pensado and Herb Trawick, including how he got his start, dancehall’s influence on him, his production process, working with Dr. Dre and Drake, and more.
What he learned while working with Dr. Dre.:
“He’s just meticulous with the detail. Everything has to be said a certain way and it’s not going to stop until it’s perfect. He just keeps going … It’s almost crazy but it’s Dr. Dre. This is his process so I wasn’t even going to question it.”
His inspiration for producing “Controlla”:
“That beat came about from just being inspired by dancehall music. I was having a conversation with a bunch of producers that I work with. I was telling them I really miss dancehall and what it used to do to me when I was a kid when my dad used to drive around with me and play dancehall music in his car. And new Sean Paul songs would come out and Beenie Man. I used to love them. Those are some of my favorite artists. So I really missed that feeling and the feeling of people dancing in the club, you know, because people don’t dance anymore. Songs like that and ‘Work’ kinda brought back people, women gyrating in the club.”
On how Drake influenced his approach to beat making:
“I look at it like a painting. As a producer/beat-maker, you have to create the canvas for the artist to paint a picture on. If there’s too much on the canvas, there’s not really any room for an artist to paint his picture. It has to be like a half and half thing … I learned that from working with Drake. He’s always subtracting something.”
Watch the full interview below (it begins at the 19:00 mark).
Here’s a breakdown of the topics:
– How living in Canada has influenced him (19:30)
– Winning beat battles and getting discovered at 17 (21:45)
– How Dancehall music influenced him (23:00)
– His thoughts on Trap music (25:53)
– Thoughts on EDM (26:58)
– His go-to collaborators (27:23)
– His production process (28:25)
– Producing “Pound Cake” for Drake (29:50)
– Working with Dr. Dre (30:53)
– Working on “Blacker the Berry” (32:30)
– The people that mix his records (34:00)
– The making of “Controlla” (35:41)
– His preferred 808 (37:17)
– His go-to plugins (38:05)
– Working in Fruity Loops (39:30)
– How often he makes beats (40:03)
– When he knows he’s done (42:20)
– Quantizing beats (44:00)
– Focusing on detail (45:37)
– His preferred picks for a super song (46:15)
– Working on the Lana del Rey album (47:07)
– One word answer game (48:25)
– Advice for young producers (50:00)
– Overcoming self-doubt (53:35)
Rising DJ/producer Henry Fong was recently featured on Pensado’s Place, one of the best YouTube channels about music production. The Florida native discussed a wide variety of topics with host Dave Pensado, including his approach to DJing, the current state of EDM, his production techniques, using SoundCloud effectively, and more.
Watch the full interview above (it begins at the 3:20 mark).
Pensado’s Place is on a roll. Following their episode with DJ Mustard two weeks ago, the show is back with another heavyweight hip-hop producer, Hit-Boy.
A California native, Hit-Boy is best-known for co-producing Kanye West and Jay Z’s “N#ggas in Paris,” Kanye West, Jay Z, and Big Sean’s “Clique,” and Lil Wayne and Eminem’s “Drop the World,” all of which have been certified platinum or higher. He also co-produced Beyonce’s “Flawless,” Drake’s “Trophies,” Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle,” among others.
Aside from all the production knowledge, one of the best things about Pensado’s Place is that it shows the personal side of producers and their journeys. The conversations are also almost always inspirational and Hit-Boy’s is no exception.
Watch Hit-Boy’s half-hour interview below.
Starting out on Myspace and with Polow da Don ~ 10:46
Maintaining relationships ~ 14:19
How “N#ggas in Paris” came about ~ 16:49
Handling success at a young age ~ 18:00
Helping his father ~ 18:47
Getting started with new songs ~ 21:22
Embracing imperfections and mistakes ~ 22:10
Using Kontakt and Maschine ~ 22:54
Choosing kicks, snares, and other sounds ~ 23:58
His influences ~ 25:40
What it takes to make a hit these days ~ 26:45
Working with Travis Scott ~ 27:39
Overcoming writer’s block ~ 29:15
Balancing being an artist and a producer ~ 30:23
Producing “Goldie” for A$AP Rocky ~ 31:10
Not being worried about making hits ~ 31:50
The pickiest artist he’s ever worked with ~ 32:31
Pensado’s Place is one of the best YouTube channels for music producers and engineers. Since 2011, the show has featured icons like Young Guru (Jay Z), Noah “40” Shebib (Drake), Mixed By Ali (Kendrick Lamar), Mike Dean (Kanye West), Showtek, and many others.
Adding to Pensado’s impressive guest list is none other than DJ Mustard, a super producer who requires no introduction. The Los Angeles native recently sat down for a 50-minute discussion about all things production and was joined by his engineer James Royo, who also mixed Major Lazer and DJ Snake’s “Lean On.”
Watch the full interview below.
Here’s a breakdown of the topics:
Intro – 0:00
Tuning drum samples – 8:30
How Mustard begins a new song – 13:10
How Mustard’s background as a DJ has helped him as a producer – 16:25
Mustard’s musical influences – 20:25
Mustard’s current production setup – 21:40
How Mustard decides who he records with – 25:50
Mustard’s role in co-producing Big Sean’s “I Don’t F#ck with You” – 28:45
How Fergie’s “L.A. Love (La La)” came about – 32:35
Mustard’s preferred songwriters – 34:00
What Mustard looks for in new artists – 36:05
How the ratchet movement came about – 38:20
Mustard’s advice to new artists – 40:55
How Royo met Mustard – 45:50
How Royo and Mustard work together – 48:10
Royo’s role in mixing Major Lazer and DJ Snake’s “Lean On” – 49:40
How Royo makes 808 drums sound great – 55:00
Few people have impacted music and worked with as many superstars as Teddy Riley.
From co-producing half of Michael Jackson’s album “Dangerous” to co-founding Blackstreet and working with the likes of JAY Z, Snoop Dogg, Usher, Mary J. Blige, and Lady Gaga, Riley has established himself as one of the industry’s most accomplished talents. His mentor, Quincy Jones, once said that he “personifies the balance between soul and science.”
In a recent interview with music production show Pensado’s Place, the singer-songwriter, engineer, and music producer spoke for nearly an hour about his incredible career and the artists he’s worked with. The conversation is packed with tips, stories, and insights about production and the creative process as a whole.
DJ/producer Dave Aude was recently interviewed by Pensado’s Place — a YouTube channel that features many of the industry’s leading producers and engineers. During the conversation, the prolific remixer discussed a wide range of topics including the evolution of DJing, his approach to production, how DJing has helped him become a better producer, his remix of Beyonce’s “Partition,” and much more. Skip to the 13 minute mark to see his interview: