Arts and Culture

The Art of Producing

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By Josh St. Hill

Imagine a world where every song you’ve ever listened to was simply a capella: no baselines, no piano keys, not even a simple snare kick — would your favorite jams still have the same effect? The answer for most people would be no (unless you’re a Pitch Perfect Geek).

Which is why we need to thank God for producers. Although lyrics are a very important key to a song, sometimes it’s important to void off and particularly listen to the instruments in the background. Take Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” for example, would it be the same without its precise sampling and foot tapping loop, or how about Dr. Dre’s “Deep Cover”?  To further understand the methods of this art and the personality behind it, The Hoofprint took a walk around Monticello and found our own Masters of Producing.

First things first, most producers have always had a passion for musical instruments, let’s start with Monticello’s own Aidan Stoddart. Playing the violin until his sophomore year, and learning to master the chords on the piano, he obviously had a great introduction to producing. His first interest in the technology of it began after hearing Minecraft’s soundtrack by C4-18. Not only did he enjoy the orchestral, yet upbeat, feel to it, but the perfect way it was put together. This launched Aidan into his own creations. Starting out sloppy, he soon did his homework on different producers in order to perfect his own craft. Although there’s a lot of skill to producing sometimes emotions come into play,

“Sometimes I can be very anxious or worry about my future and things like that, so this brings tracks to sound kind of melancholy.” said Aidan.

This is very similar to a story we heard from another Monticello Alumni Producer Mike Lanx, “Emotion can have a strong play into making beats, at one point you can be in the process of making the happiest song in the world, and fifteen minutes later you’re playing a war track.” Mike too, got an early start in music, with a story almost parallel to Aidan’s. “I always loved music, and actually wanted to be a rapper, but at some point in time the beats had a stronger effect on what I did. Not long after I was hooked on playing the piano and studying producers in the studio whenever I could, leading to Mike Lanx.”

Isolating your own art is a job in itself, trying to emulate a greats craft is alright, but finding your own unique style that makes you stand out is a whole other sequence.

“Nobody wants to be known as a copycat or a successor to somebody else, you want to be your own character, what’s the point if there’s nothing special about you?” said Mike.

A problem with many producers similar to artist today is that they seem to all have the same type of beat, nothing stands out about them. There used to be times when you heard a song come on and you could automatically tell who was behind it, from Queens to J Dilla, you knew that type of artist style.

“I try to separate myself from doing the same thing everybody else is doing, that way when you hear a certain sound you can automatically say that’s bushido.” said Monticello musician Bushido Brown. Both an artist and producer Bushido takes his craft very seriously giving us his unique insight on creativity. “I might be in the studio with Mr.Glover for 30 minutes at one point or even an hour and come up with the hottest thing you ever heard. Then never release it.” When asked why he doesn’t put out a heavy amount of music he responded, “It’s all a process in my opinion, I can’t force myself to put out a lot of music if I don’t think it’s perfection. If I were to release a tape of beats or rhymes, I want every track to sound like it has the potential to be a single, otherwise what’s the point?”

With the heavy collection of musicians we have at Monticello each one has a different method to making their music, but in a way they’re all the same. We’ve learned most producers come from a musical background and ended up falling in love with the creation behind it. Not only is it their personality that sets them apart from one another, but their emotions bleeding into the tracks that make listeners feel, and with those similarities no matter what genre of production, they all are made in the same process. They’re the people behind the music, the technicians under the hood, The Master of The Art of Producing.

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