For people that may have never heard of you, and are like “who’s this white kid making beats”? What can you tell them?
Tell them this: dub-L is that producer/mc/dj who did the critically acclaimed album “Day Of The Mega Beast!” Not to mention producing The Controls album “One Hundred” oh, and Aesop Rock’s first album “Music For Earthworms”. Oh and yeah! “Ground Original” & “Claimstake” albums with DJ JS-1. Oh wait, he produced that Chase Phoenix album “Cut To The Chase” on Battle Axe Records and some of the MF Doom’s VV:2 joint and C-Rayz Walz latest Def Jux release “Black Samurai EP”. Not to mention his solo rap shit beatches! That’s what you tell them black.
Where do you hail from? How’s life over there?
I come from Monkey Pong City in the eastside of the Motropohitz. NYC! Life is sweet like young meat.
You’re chilling with a lot of well-known mc’s. What do you think of the current hip hop scene in New York City?
Over saturated. It’s hard to take mc’s seriously these days when I can go down the block and get a couple kids that are younger and better and more willing to work hard than some of the mc’s that are somewhat successful now. I get frustrated sometimes just like everyone else, everyone makes beats also now, great! You gotta work extra hard and have the natural abilities on top of that to be the man. I just get my tunnel vision on and focus on what I’m doing. I take a look back sometimes at my body of work and see that I’m not doing too bad. It’s all about ideas for me, I have new ideas for shit all the time and I ain’t smoking weed and shit, I try to make my ideas pop off for real, not just talking about them.
Tell us something about your first steps as a producer.
I didn’t even know what to call what I did at first years ago. I made beats and rapped and played music with my friends. There wasn’t a lot of talk about producers until Puffy and Timbo and the Neptunes came on the scene. They where like the first hip hop super star producers, even though there were greats before them of course they weren’t really so in your face. Before that, I feel like you hardly knew what “producer” meant. Dj’s where more like producers then. Premier, Eric B, Sugarshaft. Shit, there’s a lot of the classic hip hop albums I can’t even remember who where produced by. I think the title made me focus more on it, I knew what I finally wanted to be and it was summed up in a job title “producer”. The first steps in terms of the actual music where really just recording songs, I was really recording and learning about that mostly. The beats I made where just so we had something to rap on. I would make beats with a DR-Rhythm and my older brothers key board and put them on the 4-track. It was fun but sounded like shiz.
You did a couple of albums as a producer and rapper, will you stick to the rapping thing after Day Of The Mega Beast?
Yeah, I’ll keep doing it, I love rapping and I pop up on all my new projects with a little bit of vocs. “Dub-L’s In Town” changed my life, it really got a whole bunch of feedback that was real positive and made me more confident in my rapping, I think I had to really let all the bullshit go and just do what I felt.
If you could start again, would you do things the same way?
I don’t know, I think about that sometimes when I’m looking at all my records on the wall. Maybe, but… who knows where I’d be today.
What do you want to express with the title “Day Of The Mega Beast”. What’s the deal with that?
The Day Of The MEGA BEAST really meant that I was going to take all these mc’s and do an album that would represent where I was at with my production right now, what kinda MEGA BEAST have I grown into musically, good or bad. I had full control over and didn’t really have to hear anyone chiming in with ideas and all that. It was a way for me to turn a page in my career by showing where I was at musically and saying to myself “I did that, and now for something completely different”. I want people to get that from the album, we all come to points in our lives when we feel like it’s time to tie up some loose ends and do it with a huge gesture, this was mine.
Tell us everything we need to know about this one.
The MEGA BEAST got features from artists such as The Controls, Jemini The Gifted One, Rahzel, C-Rayz Walz, MF Grimm, Hangar 18, Karniege, Professor X, Poison Pen, Pack FM and tons of others. The songs have an underlying concept that I didn’t want to make so obvious, I think that would have made it too gimmicky. So we just tried to make really dope songs and make the album cohesive and not stray to much from the meaning of the project. Cuts by DJ JS-1 and all types of live instrumentation over hard beats. My shit.
How do you come up with the concept?
There is a story line. We all really tried to sit down and plan out things, it was a lot of just brainstorming. We came up with word connecting puzzles for people to figure out. The sentences and words all connect but there’s a system to it, not every sentence connects to every other sentence. Here’s a clue… look inside the booklet at the paragraph in different colors. Then start with the titles of the songs, then the hooks, build sentences where ever possible and write the story of the MEGA BEAST! This is the only interview I will mention this in, in fact this is part of the puzzle. Figure out this enigma, it will change your life.
You’ve worked with a lot of interesting artists. Where does one have to go to when he wants to make some good music connections?
To shows, talk to people, get on the web, trade tapes and shit, hit everyone off with beats cd’s or songs and just get it poppin’. Ask questions and hang out with talented people. It’s a combo of things, first a little talent, they won’t respect you at all if your really wack. Also need a hustle, why should any rapper or artist talk to you, you gotta offer them something, whether it’s the hottest beat, $$$, or just something that will make them $$$ or more famous. Honestly the best thing to do for a producer is to have something and somewhere to record at. Rappers start to flock then, there’s no shortage trust me.
Got some anecdotes for us?
Rahzel makes me spray Lysol disinfectant spray on my pop screen on my mic before he does any vocals. Rza almost stabbed me in my hand with his pointy ass rings (by accident) when I was signed to WU-TANG in 2000. I bought sushi for Jemini The Gifted one for his first time, he had Eel/ Avocado rolls and tuna rolls. I woke up in Professor X’s basement once completely hung over and not knowing where I was, he also crashed at my girls crib once slumber party style.
You’re also working as a DJ, doing shows in NYC, regularly. When people go to the club dancing and partying, what do they wanna hear and what do you serve them?
At the spots I usually play it’s very Top 40 and whatever the radio is playing now and has been playing for the past 25 years. 50 Cent, Beyonce, Usher, Ciara, Sean Paul, Lil Jon, Pop stuff mostly, Michael Jackson and Prince. I play pretty eclectic an try to make it interesting with some lost favorites. Now, that’s for the club gigs. The shows and shit are a little more fun, I play a lot of my own records and unreleased stuff and some really dope hip hop that you can’t really rock to much in the big clubs. I’ll play O.C., Soulz Of Mischief, Smif and Wesson, Tribe Called Quest, Artifacts… It’s a lot of fun.
What about the hook-up with DJ JS-1? How did you meet him the first time, what about the (possible) creative differences between you? Will you keep on working with him in the future?
We met through Percee-P along time ago, he came in the studio to do some cuts on a track me and my man Plain Pat where putting together with P. He cut shit up with ease and I needed a guy like that on the controls album. He ended up doing half the cuts on the controls album “one hundred” and toured with us as our turntablist. Creatively were on the same page most the time, he let’s me run with my ideas and doesn’t bump heads with me when I want to do something a certain way. I like that cause I get crazy sometimes and he’ll just kick back and let me bug with out asking me what I’m doing every step of the way. We have a bunch of projects in the works right now. He’s all over the MEGA BEAST and I did a bunch of stuff on his solo album “Audio Technician” out on Bomb Hip-Hop.
What type of a producer are you? The genius type of guy that only relies on his scintillations or more the hard working ant?
I feel like a little of both, I’m the guy who feels like he has a gift for sound and music, pitch and rhythm, but also needs to know how to operate, record, produce, program and mix everything he creates to be the true artist. I love to mix and record my own work, I can really pay attention to all the details every step of the way to make it perfect.
How long do you work on a beat usually? Step us through your usual process when you’re making a track.
I try to approach beats from all types of ways so it doesn’t get routine, I like to challenge myself. Generally I like to arrange drums around the music so I usually start with the music elements, whether it’s a sample or self composed. I like to be able to feel the musical part of it, even if it’s just some really basic shit. I can here the drums in my head before there programmed and I’ll kinda beat box that shit out quietly and the same for bass lines and other additives. I can hear the track in my head but it took along time to be able to program it and make it sound like the beat in my head. I can make 3 or 4 beats a day if I want but I might do that once a week. I think about making beats all the time, like I said before it’s about ideas and listening to the world around us for influences.
I’ll drop anywhere from 25-50 beats on a cd after several months of work and name the volume, I’m up to Vol. 9 now. Then I’ll play beats for artists or just hit em with a cd. They’ll tell me the track #’s they like, then we try to set up a session. I’ll track a ghost version of the beat, which is just the basic beat looped over and over with maybe a couple little changes in it, to protools or to tape making sure it’s all synced up. Then we do vocals. I’ll do some edits then sequence in the mpc while I’m synced to the protools going over each part of the song making changes to the beat in the mpc and muting the ghost track. Then I’ll do some live stuff, Rhodes, Moogs, Guitars and percussion all on the fly, then I’ll edit that stuff. I’ll track all the mpc parts so they can be mixed tight. Then I’m ready to mix. Put on the FX and eq’s and compressors and get it perfect. That’s it! now go to work. 1 song will take a whole day and night for me to finish but it’ worth it.
There are a lot of producers that have problems making tracks that fit actual performers, so do you have certain rituals that you go through when you’re collaborating with other artists?
That’s why you gotta give them a lot of options or none. I guess depending on who’s doing what for who and what $$$ is involved. It’s good to know what the artists other records sound like. Do some research, although I’ve seen rapper take some beats that are totally out of the norm for them so throw in some extras.
Which equipment are you working with?
MPC-2000 is my main element, I play a lot of instruments Rhodes, Moogs and Wurlitzers. I have a small collection of nice keys and Guitars and basses not to mention percussion elements. I’m currently tracking and mixing most of my stuff on Protools HD in my Upper Westside NYC studio.
Will you come over here to Germany, as a support for certain people featured on you album?
Yeah, I’ll be out there soon on the MEGA BEAST world tour. Dates available soon.
Even though “The Day of The Megabeast” has just been released to the masses, have you already your next project in mind?
I’ve got a ton of new group projects coming out. I have the Monsterz album with Rahzel, C-Rayz Walz, Breez Eva Flowin’ and DJ JS-1 coming soon! I have an Album with LoDeck. I’m also working on called CAVIAR! I’m also working on an album with MC Paul Barman with no definite title yet. I do have the title and theme for my next solo album but have not started working on it yet. So I won’t talk about it yet. I’d say late 2006 for that.
What will be the first thing you do after answering all these questions?
Go to sleep, this interview took forever! Peace Ya’ll… www.dub-L.com.