Thursday, 6 December 2007

Hip Hop Producers - Beirut Interview

1. Can you tell us your necessary background details so we can build on basics for the rest of the interview? For example: who you are, where you are from, projects you have worked on, people you have worked with.
I'm Beirut Music from Los Angeles, CA. My family isLebanese-Armenian, and I was born in Beirut, Lebanon.Aside from the remix projects I've done, I produced Human's "Heavy Grounds" album, I'm working with an R&B vocalist from L.A. named Noelle Scaggs, and I have a project coming up featuring former Lyricist Lounge emcee Ali Baba.

2. How would you describe your sound?
Los Angeles funk! It encompasses all the elements of life in L.A., with a hint of Middle Eastern soul.

3. Who have been your biggest musical influences and which Hip Hop producers have inspired you?
Some producers who've inspired me include Dr. Dre,Timbaland, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, DJ Quik, & the lategreat Jay Dilla. As far as my musical influences, they encompass everything from classic composers, to jazz musicians, to the previously mentioned producers thatI grew up listening to.

4. I know you have a musical background, can you tell us a bit more about that?
I've played the piano since the age of 6. I was classically trained, and continued to play and study piano for 10 years until I was around 16. At that point, I started messing around with keyboards and samplers, and that was the start of what eventually became the path that I'm on right now. After dabbling in production over the years, I've picked up some guitar, bass, and percussion, all of which I try to incorporate in my own tunes.

5. How does that musical background figure when making a track?
Being able to read and play music at an early age gave me a general idea of how music was structured, as well as a great sense of rhythm. Once I started producing my own music, I knew exactly how I wanted a song to start, and where I wanted the hook, verses, etc.

6. From what I've heard, you sample a lot of old music. What process do you go through when writing a track? Do you start with a tune, a sample, a drum beat or a concept? What happens next?
When working with samples, it's always just a matter of hearing a certain sound or feel that you want to tranform into it's own song. It's like taking your favorite bits and pieces of one song that might have been released in the 70's and went virtually ignored, into something that can be appreciated in 2007. I haven't been doing much sampling in the last few years, where my focus was composing my own songs from the ground up. The reason people may not have heard many, is that I've heard too many horror stories from producers who've had their compositions stolen, and replayed slightly different by other producers. Even if your music is copywritten, it's just a matter of someone else changing a few notes and legally owning the rights themselves. The "Beirut Gangster: The Re-mixtape" project that I've been promoting, is what got me back into sampling. The concept of Jay-Z's record musically, was based on the 70's New York era, so it was only right that I try to emulate that sound by using samples that fit into the theme he was originally going for.

7. Are you an avid crate digger? How often do you buy old records and how many do you have?
I try and stop by record stores every chance I get. Even in the last couple of years where I stoppedsampling to compose my own music, there's no better inspiration for me than records from the 60's and 70's. I'm not at all a collector who would buy an LP solely because it's rare, but rather just a lover ofmusic who can't get enough. I'd say I have about a couple thousand records total.

8. Do you have any advice for crate diggers who want good music for samples but who don't know what's going to be on a record until they get it home?
Do your research and figure out what you're into. Basically, this means read the back of every LP you're interested in, and look for names of producers,arrangers, musicians, instruments, etc., that you're into. Buying records over the years gives you a sense ofwhat was going on in what era. For example, you can tell that a soul record released in 1978 will probably have more of an up-tempo slightly disco feel to it, as compared to a soul record released in 1968.

9. Your remixes have been going down a treat with my readers. So many remixes sound out of sync and as if a producer has just slapped an acapella over an existing beat. Yours sound like the MC's/singers have actually rhymed/sung over your beats. Do you build a remix around the vocals you have?
Absolutely. The fun part of remixing to me, is that you have someone's vocals which might be in a certain key and at a certain tempo, but once you match the two, you have room to create just about anything around it.

10. Are you or do you want to work with rappers on original material?
Definitely. I've been having music shopped around to both major and indie label artists, so hopefully you'll see me in the credits of your favorite aritsts' album soon. The project I'm currently working on with Ali Baba,should be completed around spring '08. It's Hip Hop fused with Middle Eastern music, in a way no one's ever before approached it. I don't want to reveal too much about it, but it's going to be an incredible record.

11. What are your three pieces of equipment do you value most when it comes to production?
Sampler, turntable, and mixer. Those are the three pieces I started with, and it's amazing what can be done with just those three. People are surprised when I tell them that certain favorite tracks of theirs were produced solely on those three pieces of equipment.

12. What other programs/equipment do you use?
I record, arrange, and mix everything in Logic Pro.

13. Have you ever been given some invaluable advice when it comes to producing? What tips would you give to an aspiring Hip Hop producer?
Work hard, period. That, and don't expect anyone to make things happen for you, but yourself. You've gotto be your own manager/agent/publicist, until you make a name for yourself to where you can find the right people to work with you.

14. What can we expect from you in the future? Are you currently working on any exciting projects?
I just recently finished the "Beirut Gangster"Re-mixtape, and I can proudly say that after weeks of hard work and long hours, it's the best remix project I've ever been involved with. I've been getting some great feedback so far, so my main focus is pushing that project as much as possible until Jay-Z himself catches wind.

15. Any last words or plugs?
Thanks to you and all your readers for the love and support, and stay tuned!

Download the whole album

or download it here if that doesn't work!

1 comment:

JaimeConQueso said...

whats the password for the album?