In ‘marvin’ are you using samples or are you playing the notes through a daw?
For his new album, The Wild, we had discussed creating project with some of those classic soul soundscapes Rae’s fans are accustomed to. As far as the song “Marvin,” goes, I used a sample from a Banks & Hampton song, “Passion and Promises.”and also played some instruments. I played live bass, drums, a guitar part, and some keys to round out the song. I recorded, chopped and mixed everything directly in Pro Tools.
Which producers were you influenced by?
There are so many producers, in many genres, that I have learned from and studied intently. As far as hip-hop is concerned, my favorite producer of all time is Dilla, hands down. His sound was unlike anything I had ever heard before and his music instantly puts me in a creative mood. Aside from Dilla, my influences include 9th Wonder, Flying Lotus, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, Timbaland, Just Blaze, and Organized Noize.
Is it difficult to juggle your biology teaching with the musical journey?
For me personally, it isn’t difficult to juggle a bunch of things. I have always been someone who values work ethic, as it’s one of the few things you as an individual can control. So personally, filling my day with things that keep me inspired is the most important aspect of staying happy. I am inspired by inspiring others. Whether it be through music, or the connections my creative journeys create, or my influence on future generations in the classroom, I think the ability to juggle multiple passions has opened more doors for me than the average “creative.” I have had former students of mine reach out to me years later, and end up interning for me at my studio. I have unexpectedly met industry contacts through parents of students that I have had an impact on. I enjoy being busy so I embrace it. In addition to my production company, The ISH Productions, I co-own a graphic design/videography company called Creative World Media, so I am still constantly juggling and trying to diversify. I think when you’re passionate about what you’re doing, whether that’s one thing or ten things, it never feels difficult to balance because at the end of the day, you enjoy the work you do.
How long have you been producing and what made you take that step into the actual creation of music?
I have been playing musical instruments practically my whole life, but I started focusing on production full-time around 2003, after my band Philip’s Head had broken up. It was around that time that I had started turning my love for hip-hop into something more serious and began focusing on developing my sound and my catalog.
How long did it take you to find your style and get settled in your sound?
I think finding your style and getting settled in your own sound is an ongoing process. I am constantly developing as a musician/engineer and I am always trying to push myself to be better. So I am still diligently continuing to develop my sound. I think I am also pretty aware of trying not to settle into a particular sound in order to avoid getting bored. I try to approach every time I sit down to produce music as a chance to do something new.
Can you describe your earliest beats?
My earliest beats sounded more like soundtracks than actual beats, in my opinion. When I first started producing, I was more concerned with making as many beats as possible and learning the DAW’s, not necessarily making great sounding beats. I thought they were great back then, but they make me cringe now! You can clearly hear the simplicity in them. As I developed as a producer, and more importantly, as an engineer, I was better able to “produce” the sounds in my head more accurately and with more emotion and intent.
Have you always produced hip-hop or have you dabbled in other styles?
My favorite music to produce, and most predominant, is hip-hop and r&b, but I have been fortunate to produce in other genres as well. I have written songs licensed for television and radio, and those opportunities have allowed me to integrate many different styles into my production. Even when I am producing hip-hop though, I try to incorporate other styles into my ideas. For example, I recently released an album with some of my former band-mates and other close musician friends of mine entitled, 12 Sessions. We met for some random jam sessions for twelve weeks straight and the songs from each of these sessions continued to evolve throughout the project, as each week, different musicians added their touch and musicianship to the compositions. These compositions were then treated as “original samples” to be further chopped, manipulated, and arranged to form completely new pieces of music. If you have time to check it out, it’s available for free on creativeworldmedia.com! I think it’s always important to keep pushing hip-hop and exploring new and unique ways of presenting it to people.