You’ve been active for a few years working with some great Toronto artists but how did you get your start?
I took music class in high school and experimented with many different instruments including the trumpet and tenor saxophone, but was always very interested in the drums. When my music teacher finally let me take on the drums, I couldn’t let go of the drumsticks and started learning the patterns and scores for a lot of popular songs at that time. This is where I learned the influence that percussion can have on music. Another big influence on my sound is eastern melodies, for which I give thanks to my dad who played Sudanese music around the house, and jammed on the weekends with his friends playing the oud.
My friends took notice of my love for music, and one of them introduced me to Fruity Loops. It was just a fun thing to do and took it as a hobby until I graduated college four years ago. It was then that I started taking beat making seriously and ever since then I’ve just been working. In fact, I moved into my studio so I could stay working and learning.
How has playing traditional instruments like the saxophone, trumpet and drums, shaped your approach to beat production?
Experimenting with those instruments in high school really helped me understand the important role instrument sections had on an arrangement. My years of playing the drums really helped me understand the importance of timing; When to play a fill, when to break down to halftime, when to be idle. Every section needed to understand their roles and the importance of timing.
For producers who don’t have hands-on experience with these instruments, what would your advice be for using these in productions?
Study the sounds that you really like. When I played drums, I’d cover songs I really enjoyed and learned from them. Try and study the sounds of the music that attracts you and ask yourself why you like it. Knowing your taste is very important.
What are your go-to software tools?
I use FL Studio 12 as my main DAW. I like to sample myself actually so my usual process is loading up a VST, recording a loop and then manipulate the audio file to make my own sounds. A go-to VST for me is Massive. I’ve just started getting into the world of sound design and Massive makes sound design very easy actually. I also use Kontakt libraries as well for some of the classic instrument libraries. I use a few other VSTs, but again I don’t really depend on too many more as I like to manipulate the raw sound rather than relying on the presets.
Is your process to create the sound first, and then find the right melody, or to find a melody then create a sound that matches it?
I look for the sound first. For me, sound selection is the most important thing for making the right beat. You could have a good beat and the composition could be top notch, but if the sound selection isn’t right, it doesn’t matter. Choosing basic/low quality sounds is like throwing rotten vegetables in your salad. Still a salad, but still rotten.
You mentioned you sample yourself a lot but do you also sample others?
Oh, I do a lot of that too! I love when other producers send me stuff to sample. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately and really enjoy it. They approach producing in a different way so it lets me create a new and different type of sound when I blend their sounds with mine. Collaboration has been a big focus for me over the past year. It’s also a really good way to grow your palette.
You produced the track ‘Diamonds’ for local artist anders, alongside FrancisGotHeat. What was the process of making this?
anders and I started that record together in my studio back when I worked out of Rehearsal Factory in Mississauga. He just comes to the studio and I’ll play him stuff, so one night we were just vibing. I made the first version of the beat that night, and we were smoking some shisha, and it just so happened that the brand name for the tin foil we used for the shisha was Diamonds. I think that’s what triggered his writing.
I created the synths and keys using Kontakt and used drums and bass from many different drum kits to create the drum arrangement for the first version of the beat. anders then recorded it and not too long after, he met FrancisGotHeat and wanted him to be a part of it. So, he gave him the track and Francis did his twist on the drums and 808 pattern and really brought the bounce to life.
How did you use KONTAKT to shape the sound of the beat?
I actually started the track with the Scarbee library in Kontakt. I’m usually melody first rather than drums when creating, not always, but for this record I was playing around within the library and found the pianos and the keys in Scarbee and that inspired the rest of the song.
You’ve collaborated with other producers regularly to great results. What’s your advice for newer producers trying to find people to work with?
Be open to trying new things. Be open to working with different sounds, producers, styles, etc. The point is, to be a better producer, you need to grow and expand your palette. You also never know what you can find by just keeping your mentality open. Establish your own identity so you elevate yourself and be unique. If you’re just copying someone else, people are just going to go to the original producer for that particular sound. Also, take time with your stuff. Don’t rush or force things and let the natural course take its way.
When working with an artist who isn’t in the same room how do you ensure the vibe stays the same?
That’s a hard thing to do especially for people who feed off in-the-moment energy. It’s a tough thing to do if you haven’t already established a relationship with them. My advice would be to get information from people that do know them to help cater the pack that you are sending to them. Also, study their work and trust yourself in what you feel might be next for them. Artists are always trying to one-up themselves, so stay away from sending them something they’ve already done before.
How do you feel when an artist takes your beat in a completely different direction to the feeling you had when composing it?
I love that! I love when artists and producers do that because it gives contrast to it. Look at all this new wave of artists that bring contrast to their vibes. Take an artist like Juice WRLD. Some of the songs that have given him big success are songs where he writes about heartbreak, but over very trap style beats. It’s been done before, but it’s that kind of contrast that people have been drawn to him for.
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