Archive for July, 2013

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Optiks is a producer who has worked with a nice roster of lyricist that are well known. His beats are full of all types of intruments ranging from flutes to horns, then samples and strings etc. When I listen to Optiks production style, it gives me a feel good vibe, almost like everyday is a celebration. I was pleased to be contacted by Optiks, who reached out to me via twitter and was interested in the requirements of my blog.
After doing my research on Optiks, I was amazed by his sound and wanted to interview him immediately. Optiks is the type of producer that make other producers go back in the lab and try to out do what he has done. Thanks Optiks for allowing me to interview you. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing out Producer Spotlight of the week, Optiks!
INST: Let the world know who you are and where you’re from?
Opt: I’m Optiks,  producer/engineer for Jon Connor, Blitz the Ambassador, Psalm One, and Kap Kallous.  I’m born and raised in Cincinnati, a product of the Ozone (Orlando, FL), and settled in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  I’ve been in a lot of places and it all helped make me the artist that I am today.
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INST: Who have you worked with & how long have been beat making or producing?
Opt: Man, I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years.  The main ones are Jon Connor, Blitz the Ambassador, Kap Kallous, and Psalm One, who I have an album on the way with.  It’s crazy!  I’ve also worked with Talib Kweli, Maffew Ragazino, Freeway, Styles P, Heltah Skeltah, Saigon, Les Nubians, and a bunch more.  You can hear some of those at http://www.soundcloud.com/optiks and if its not there its probably at http://optiks.bandcamp.com.
I’ve been making beats about 12+ years now, since 16, and really producing since then as well.  I used to come up with the song concepts and write some of the rhymes for my homie that I was in a group with, and we would sell the cd’s in our high school.  We got a lot of love and sold every copy we pressed up so I felt encouraged to keep doing it.
INST: How did you get started beatmaking-producing?op scribble live beatmaking[1]
Opt: When I was younger I took piano lessons and I convinced my mom to put me in an electronic music class.  It was me and one other kid in it and I learned how to arrange my own songs and a little bit about synthesizers and how midi worked.  Shoutout Mr. Jolley!  I don’t think anybody else ever took that class, haha, but it was my first exposure to writing my own music.  When I went to college at Kent State in Ohio is when I started to get more serious because I met Blitz the Ambassador and produced for songs on his album, Double Consciousness, when he just went by Blitz and was one of the dopest and most critically heralded artists coming out of the Cleveland/NE Ohio area.  I got a little bit of local recognition for that and that was it for me, I knew that I wanted to pursue music full-time.
INST: Of all of the artist that you’ve worked with, do you have a favorite artist that you work well with?
Opt: Aaaaah, this is tough.  I don’t know if I can give a straight answer, haha.  I’ve had special, magical moments, with every artist that I work closely with.  Blitz the Ambassador really pushes me to create a vibe with every beat.  We work really closely together and co-produce almost all our records.  If I come with a beat, he’ll come with a hornline, or I might come with some ill drums for something that he makes.
I feel like me and Psalm One’s album is some of my best work.  We have some really dope records, like, gritty, pop/dance type joints…not sure how to describe it but our album’s crazy.  Not a lot of samples, its more of a collage of sounds influenced by every genre from prog-rock to funk, to bass music.  I can’t wait to put that shit out!
Last time I was in the studio with Kap Kallous was dope, too, we made some ridiculous, big, trunk rattling, 808 heavy type joints, but incorporated a musical element that a lot of that type of shit doesn’t have.  And Jon Connor is just a beast, so I’m always excited when we do records because he’ll take the simplest shit and make a classic out of it.  I’m also doing a project with my homie, cRitical, from Critical Madness, and that’s been a really fun project.  The dope thing about working with him is he’s a serious movie buff so we’re always pulling these crazy pieces of dialogue and creating a cinematic vibe from the samples.
INST: What equipment and or software are you using?
Opt: My setup is super minimal.  I have a turntable, Microkorg keyboard, Fruity Loops (an old-ass version), and Pro Tools.  Got a bunch of records, too, and a mic setup in a storage closet.  I’ll be up in there with jars of rice and couscous, or banging on pots & pans, laying down live percussion haha.
INST: Do you use or prefer sampling over playing live instruments?
Opt: I got into hip-hop because of sampling.  I’ve built by name up by always finding ill samples that other producers don’t touch.  But…right now, I’m more interested in working with live musicians.  I do my little thing on the keyboard, but I’m no real player.  Fortunately I’ve been blessed to know some great musicians.  I can pretty much get any instrument I want from working with Blitz the Ambassador, and I co-produce a lot of material with my homies Seandammit from Orlando, and Boatlaunch from Flint, MI.   I’m always gonna sample, though, I’m just enjoying the live aspect more right now.
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INST: Who influenced your style?
Opt: Everybody.  I was really into electronic music and trip-hop as well as hip-hop when I was younger, so groups like The Prodigy, Morcheeba, and Portishead have always been a big influence on me.  I could list producers for ever but some favorites are: Dilla, Dr. Dre, Hi-Tek, Q-Tip, Earthtone III (Outkast), DJ Quik, Mike Dean, and El-P.
INST: Do you ever see yourself quitting or retiring from beat making?
Opt: Naw.  If I ever stopped feeling inspired I would hang it up, but I’ve been thru a lot that would’ve led others to quit and I’m still going strong and feel happy about making music.
INST: Do you feel that there a difference between being a producer and being a beat maker?
Opt: Yes.  A beat maker just sends out beats and hopes someone will rap to it.  They don’t wanna work with an artist and let a record grow organically.  Or maybe they just don’t know how.  I just know I always hear about “producers” not wanting to make changes to beats for an artist and that shit bugs me out because the beat is just the start.  Its just a demo or idea.  I can’t even finish most beats until I hear a song over it, then I’ll come in and add new parts, drops, additional instruments, etc.
INST: Any tips, tricks, or advice that you’d like to share?
Opt: Listen to as much music as you can, and study as many other artists and producers as you can.  I learn more from other genres than anything else.  A lot of people get stuck because they fall in love with their own sound and only listen to themselves and people they know.  You need to keep an open mind to keep yourself fresh and inspired.
Also, don’t use other producers drumkits.  That shit is wack.  Over the years I’ve had people ask me whose drums I use, and they’ll offer to trade Timbaland and Just Blaze kits for whatever kits I have.  I HAVE NEVER USED ANOTHER PRODUCERS DRUMKIT FOLDER OFF THE INTERNET.  That shit defeats the purpose.  Be original.  Put in work and find sounds the same way your favorite producers did.
INST: Where can we hear your work?
You can also hear my work if you pick up any Jon Connor, Kap Kallous, or Blitz the Ambassador albums.  You might hear me if you turn on your tv and tune in to MTV or ESPN.  I’m under the radar, but I’m everywhere.
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Pri The Honeydark is a Producer, Lyricist from Queens NY.  I’ve first discovered Pri some years back when myspace was the premier social networking website for artist, promoters, and making new friends and fanbase. Always humble, Pri would respond to my messages whenever I contacted her. Her style is Dark at times and her voice is lyrically dope when she’s rapping. Pri’s subject matter is always meaningful and complimentary to her production. I was excited to hear that Pri accepted this interview with me, as I am a fan of her music. If you were not familiar with Pri The Honeydark before this interview, now is the time for you to get familiar. So without anymore delay, I bring you Pri The Honeydark, Our Producer Spotlight of the week.
INST: Let the world know who you are and where you’re from?
Pri: My name is Pri the Honeydark  (Pri is pronounced Pree) and I am from Queens, NY.   I am an M.C. and  music producer.  I am the Vibe magazine, Blaze magazine and Everlast Boxing Corp M.C. Battle Champion and I am also the 1st runner up competitor in both the Istandard Producers and MTP beat battle competitions.  I am 1/5 of the all female hip hop collective, The Anomolies and I am the founder of The Female Producers Association, which is a networking organization for creative women worldwide.  Outside of music I wear many hats, including interior designer, photographer, carpenter, artist (muralist), cook and MOTHER!  🙂  I am a creative flower, with a hard edge.  🙂
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INST: Who have you worked with & how long have been beat making or producing?

Pri: I started learning how to produce back in early 2000.  My current production focus is on film and television, which include licensing placements with MTV & Viacom.

How did you get started beatmaking-producing?

My son’s father, Afrobluu, was a DJ and producer (We started as a hip hop group and well…..you know…lol…a child was born).  We had a home filled with crates and equipment.  One day I asked him to teach me how to DJ (I’m not a DJ now, so obviously that didn’t work…lol), then he purchased a Tascam Porta One and that became the very first piece of equipment I learned to use.  Back then you had to double up on tracks in that machine like a motha’ to create a song!  However, I stuck it out and then moved on to chopping samples in the ASR and EPS keyboards with a Protools set-up.  By that time I had found my own style, which tends to be very dark…hence the name “Pri the Honeydark”, and it was on from there!

Of all of the artist that you’ve worked with, do you have a favorite artist that you work well with?

I like working with my crew The Anomolies, which includes Invincible, Helixx C, Big Tara and DJ Kuttin’ Kandi.  We are an all female Hip Hop collective.  Each individual has a unique style that challenges me to work in various genres.

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INST: What equipment and or software are you using?

Pri: After the ASR and EPS, I moved on to Propellerhead Reason.  I found out about it by accident after bumping into someone who used it while I was shopping for new equipment at Rogues Music Store in NYC.  At that time the Reason software was kind of low key. I had never heard of it, but once I used it for the first time, I knew I found what I had been seeking to go further and I have been using it ever since.  My keyboard trigger is an M-Audio 61 Key.  I also have Logic, but rarely use it.  I tried the  drum machine set up, but I just feel more comfortable playing keys.  I  also use loaded midi keys to play keyboard drums, which I use a lot to  make certain tracks sound more live.  I hope ONE day, I will have a  large enough space to store, learn and play on a real drum set….sigh.

INST: Do you use or prefer sampling over playing live instruments?
Pri: I love both sampling and live instruments. I like to play out sounds.   I generally play a lot of my sounds on my keyboard, but I also love to chop up samples and use loops as well.  Both mediums work, as long as the music is good to me.
Who influenced your style?
Afrobluu taught me, so he is the first influence.  The next individuals that influenced me the most were from our past.  A few of those influences would be Jimi Hendrix (I would have been a Hendrix groupie in my past life), Etta James, Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin and Bob Marley.  Those are some of the individuals I listen to mostly for an inspirational story within my music.  Nina Simone as well.  As far as hip hop is concerned, I have been inspired by producers such as, Dr Dre, DJ Premier, J Dilla, Rick Rubin, Diamond D, Da Beatminerz Just Blaze, Large Professor, Buckwild, Prince Paul, RZA, Pete Rock, Easy Mo bee, Denaun Porter, Freddie Foxxx, Alchemist etc…..etc…..the list goes on and on.  My style is Hard and Dark (sounds like a really interesting movie…lol).  I am mostly influenced by people who create that dark emotion within their tracks, but aren’t limited to them.
INST: Do you ever see yourself quitting or retiring from beat making?
Pri: NOPE…fingers from the grave….lol
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INST: Do you feel that there a difference between being a producer and being a beat maker?
Pri: Yes there is .  A beat maker does just that, makes beats.  A producer deals with the entire span of the song from concept to completion.  The producer not only creates the beat, he/she must also marry the right artist to the track, be able to coach the artist to get the best out of him/her, sometimes write songs and/or sheet music, hire outside musicians and coach them if need be, pay for studio sessions, make sure the track is properly mixed down and mastered and usually the producer also has his/her hand in the contractual business and marketing of the project as well.  A beatmaker can chill in a room and make a beat, but a producer will take that same beat and turn it into a “song”.
INST: Any tips, tricks, or advice that you’d like to share?
Pri: Just do what you feel sounds right, but keep it crisp. Take a few music classes if needed to learn more about music theory.  Also, remember,  what you use is not important, but how you use it is, so don’t spend your entire paycheck on equipment, because your favorite producer uses it.  Save that money for business cards, a web site and marketing yourself.    Lastly…KNOW YOUR BUSINESS & BRAND!  This industry is 10% music 90% business and if you do not know your business, you will get nowhere!
INST: Where can we hear your work?
Pri: All of my connects are:




Beat Inspired! IZy

Posted: July 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Today’s beat inspired is some one whom I’ve never heard of before today. She goes by the name of IZy. She is a very dope beatmaker-producer, that I just so happen to come across while searching for content to add for the beat inspired beatmaker of the week on youtube. What I most liked about IZy is that she oozed extreme confidence and came up with a catchy tune in under 5 minutes. Very dope and I look forward to seeing IZy fulfill her dreams.

Remember to always “Beat Inspired”.

Visit http://www.izymusic.com to learn more about IZy