Saturday, 1 December 2007

Hip Hop Producers - L.G. Interview

For a while now I've been thinking over the role of producers in Hip Hop. Rarely do they get the same status as the rappers for whom they produce. When I listen to Hip Hop music the initial indicator of whether or not I like the track is based on the production. It's the beat and the melodies, the samples or the instrumentation that is immediately important to me. For most of the tracks I absolutely love, a natural requirement is that the production matches, or in some cases outshines the rapper.

When I got the chance to interview UK based Hip Hop producer L.G. I decided I'd put some of my thoughts to him:

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 from London. I started Sit Tight Records with Lopez a good few years back and we put out:
Rocket Fuel feat Jehst & Skriblah / City Breaks featuring Yungun 12" (which I produced)
Micall Parknsun - Tha Shit,
Wordsmith feat Jehst and Skriblah - Life After The Apocalypse
Micall Parknsun - The Working Class Dad album (which I produced half the tracks on)
LG & Biscuit - Smoke Rings album
LG & Biscuit feat Dubbledge - Sonshine,
Conspicuous - Family Photo album (I produced about half of it)

I’ve also produced:

Party Animals 12" with Tommy Evans, Doc Brown and Usmaan,
Falling Down and ESP on Jehst’s Falling Down album,
Jehst - Psychadelic Phlegm 12",
Suki Suki, Neckbreakin Remix, Souls Of The Unborn remix with Kashmere and Who’s That with Micall Parknsun on The Mengi Bus Mixtape by Jehst,
Dubbledge - Rice & Peas / Imagine That 12"
Dey Ain’t Ready and Scram on Dubbledge’s Richest Man In Babylon album
Terrafirma - My Brothers Keeper on their mixtape
Smurf - Timothy 12” and on 'my alpha' album,
Kashmere - 'In The Hour Of Chaos' I did 'Souls Of The Unborn', 'Opium Foetus' feat Verb T and 'Have Faith' and some other stuff which I've forgotten

How would you describe your sound?
That’s hard to answer. In my head my sound changes all the time but to answer the question it’s old-school-but-new-school-psychadelic-hiphop-space-jazz ????

Who have been your biggest musical influences and which Hip Hop producers have inspired you?
Marvin Gaye, James Jamerson, James Brown, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Bootsy Collins, Jimi Hendrix, Jaco Pastorius Etc Hiphop Producers - DJ Premier, Pete Rock, J Dilla , Madlib, Beatminers, Extra P, A Tribe Called Quest Etc.

Do you have a musical background? Do you play any instruments?
I’ve been learning to play the bass, I’m practising when I get time now as I wanna be in a band. I can also play a very small amount of keys, just to get by as a hip hop producer.

How did you find out that you were handy when it came to crafting beats?
I just enjoyed doing it, I had a passion for it and people started using my beats, I had records out so I just kept doing it.

What three pieces of equipment do you value most when it comes to production?
Turntable, MPC3000, Logic Audio

What other programs/equipment do you use?
Akai S950 sampler, I’ve got loads of software synths and plug-ins on the computer I also use a keyboard and bass guitar.

Do you feel like many producers are overlooked or overshadowed by the MC's that rap on their beats?
I think the UK has some of the sickest hip hop producers in the world, I hear so many people’s beats that just blow me away. It depends on what the producer’s intention is when making a beat though. Most hip hop producers make beats with MCs being on their track in mind, so the MC can be the final part of the completion of a song. If you are making a beat that doesn't need an MC you are probably gonna have other things or different arrangements going on in it, in which case an MC wouldn't sound right on the beat, but part of being a producer is to find the balance and make it work whatever’s happening in the track.

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?
A lot of the time I start with a basic drum beat, then start chopping some breaks or playing synths or bass over it, when I get something I like I might change the drums to work with the music more and then start adding other things that sound good until I feel its kind of finished…which sometimes it never is.

You've worked with some big name UK MC's but you've also worked with singers and musicians (most notably flautist, Biscuit). How does it differ working with each kind of artist?
Some people you know well and are friends who you hang out with, like Biscuit, which can be good because you can be more experimental or sometimes do stuff on the spur of the moment. Sometimes I don’t really know some one very well at all but have given them beats which they have written to and they come in the studio and smash it, which always brings new energy. It’s good to change it up, the best music always comes unexpectedly.

How do you prefer to work when collaborating with rappers? Do you both get in the studio and write together or is there a separate process?
Again it varies. When me and Jehst had the studio in Old Street there would always be people around so I would be making a beat and Jehst or Parke or whoever would be writing the bars then and there. Sometimes they would even spit them on the track before I was even finished, like on the Guns Of Naverone on Parkes album. Other times people take beats away, write at home and then record on another day.

Have you ever been given some invaluable advice when it comes to producing? What tips would you give to an aspiring Hip Hop producer?
If you’re sampling drum sounds off records, try leaving the air on the drums.

Tell us what it's like being a part of the YNR famalam. Do you spend a lot of time with Jehst, Micall Parknsun, Sir Smurf Lil et al? Is there a lot of touring involved in being a producer?
Yeah we spend time together as we are all friends, we mostly link to do music but we chill as well. We've been touring recently all together but we haven’t got a lot of time to chill on tour, cause we are all trying to balance our normal lives at the same time.

What can we expect from you in the future? Are you currently working on any exciting projects?
There’s some stuff I don’t really wanna say, but there will be an album with me, Jehst, Micall Parknsun and Kashmere, we are called Arkham Asylum.

Any last words or plugs?
LG Presents 'The Mission' with Jehst and Micall Parknsun / 'What Would Happen' with Kashmere 12" is out now on YNR. Go buy it, it’s sick (trust me I'm a doctor!)

A lot of people don’t know about the LG & Biscuit 'Smoke Rings' album. It’s a beautiful album, even though I'm biased, check it out on Sit Tight Records.

Asaviour - Be Careful
Yungun - City breaks
Terra Firma - My Brothers Keeper
Tommy Evans - Revolutions remix
Micall Parknsun - Somehow

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