543214_10100833994036294_1844291353_n[1]
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.
blitz op native sun fat beats[1]
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.
gio da g[1]
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.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s