Producer Spotlight: Flu

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Aussie veteran Flu is today’s subject, a man I was admittedly unfamiliar with to start 2018. He quickly grabbed myself and Sharon’s attention by helming the production for Eto’s Motion Picture EP. After following that up with the brand new ‘Piece of The Action’ from Rigz I had to reach out to the man. It has become quite clear that Flu is in a zone right now, with no signs of letting up. Here is what he had to say for himself.

RD: You go back a bit longer than many newer fans such as myself realized, can you expound on your background as both a rapper and producer?

FD: Yeah, I’ve been making music properly down here in Australia for about 10 years now. I was just a rapper for the first 6, spend a lot of years touring the country with my crew and releasing a lot of music. I didn’t think about producing until about 2013, remember reading a Roc Marci interview where he was talking about producers are always going to keep their best shit for themselves or their crew. When you start buying beats, you’re getting shit from their ‘sell folder’ so why not do it for yourself. So I got my hands on a sampler and started learning.

RD: Your most recent solo ‘Dust’ was met with much acclaim. With 4 solo albums in the books, how do you feel it stacks up against your older works?

FD: That was the first record I entirely produced by myself, so it holds a special spot for me when looking at my previous work. To be honest, I don’t even like anything I’ve done prior to that record.

RD: Let’s talk about ‘Motion Picture’ your collab EP with ETO out now on Tuff Kong Records. How did the project come to be?

FD: I stumbled across ETO and V Don’s Omerta project, and after about 2 songs into the record I was like ‘holy shit, who the fuck is this guy?’. I thought he was incredible. I hadn’t really been that blown away since I first heard Ka’s Grief Pedigree album. So after digesting that record, I said to myself  ‘I have to reach out to this dude’. In this day and age with the beauty of the internet, I hit him up and he was feeling the beats. We made the ‘Sonny’ track first, and the results were so crazy I said let’s do a project. He was fucking with my production style, so we agreed and went ahead and did Motion Picture.

RD: Is that the first project of yours to get the vinyl treatment?

FD: No, it’s about the fourth. I’ve been around.

RD: Is there any different approach producing for yourself as a opposed to outside work?

FD: Definitely. Everyone has their tastes and preferences, but I always make sure not to just make stuff that the artist is used to, or usually goes for. I gotta have that Flu sound on everything I do, when producing for myself I can go a bit more obscure at times. With others, you meet in the middle and build from there.

RD: Let’s talk gear if we can, what has changed about your setup in the past 10 years? Were you a hardware guy at first?

FD: I was never really a studio hardware guy at the start because I was only rapping at first. Didn’t have my own lab for years, I used to travel around to my homies’ studios to record. When I got into beat making, I got my hands on a Maschine and started slowly building from there. For ages I had some wack ass monitors that had me struggling to even hear my bass notes properly. Used that setup for awhile, but as I improved the gear got an upgrade. It’s still a humble setup, but I upgraded the Maschine, copped some JBL monitors, ProTools for the DAW, a decent preamp, Rode NT2A for the vocals, turntables for those samples and swapped the old laptop for a newer IMAC computer. Nothing too crazy or fancy, it’s all about the person behind the equipment. Half of it was secondhand, hooked up by the good homies.

RD: Your latest project is another EP, this time with the ultra-talented Rigz

FD: Came across Rigz after working with ETO, and straight away was feeling the dude. Crazy voice, smooth flow, serious writing skills and just a real cool vibe overall. I had already planned on hitting him up while I was putting the finishing touches on the ETO project. So when I did, he was feeling my sound and direction, so we made it happen. The ‘Atonement’ video is out and is doing well, shouts to Da Cloth!

Editors Note: Da Cloth is Rigz, Mooch (who has a new EP with Farma) and Maverick Montana. Get familiar if you are not

RD: What does the future hold? I saw you mention a possible producer album with some heavyweights, is that still in the plans?

FD: Most definitely! I’ve very keen to get back to working on that one. I’ve already got a nice handful of songs from some super dope acts who are making great music out there. Can’t say too much on that right now, but I’m excited for people to hear what I’ve got in the chamber.

RD: Name 5 dream artists to work with, shoot.

FD: Off the top I’d say DOOM, Pusha T, Roc Marci, Breeze Brewin, feel like I could make something crazy for Jadakiss.

Flu can be found @Fludust on IG and twitter

His bandcamp is https://fludust.bandcamp.com

Motion Picture vinyl is available here https://www.tuffkongrecords.com/collections/frontpage/products/motion-picture-10

FXCKRAP will be doing a special CD/cassette release with Piece of the Action and Motion Picture soon, no link at time of press. Should be out soon.

Producer Spotlight: Sax G

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Today our spotlight shines on Sax G, a man who creates stirring instrumentals often paired with deep, soulful vocals and thoughtful rhymes. His latest album, Tomorrow’s New Villain, is a project you can play straight through getting lost in the rich textures and intricate patterns. Upon hearing this, I had to dig deeper and find more of this aural gold. As it turns out Sax has quite the discography, boasting a number of projects dating back to 2012. Here’s what he had to say for himself

RD: This year saw you release one of the year’s quintessential albums; Tomorrow’s New Villain. This work features a mix of hip hop, soul and instrumentals.  What brought you to this creative space? Is there any life events and or moods directly tied to it?

SG: TMV is the first time I’ve felt confident in all my abilities. Confident as a writer with my lyrics, my skills as a beat-maker. Confident with my ear as an engineer. I finally feel like the complete chef; able to use any ingredient to make a meal. I guess, to answer your question, there are mainly two events that brought me to this point: 1. The time Vitamin D showed me how to properly chop records. After that night I obsessed over flipping samples until one day I woke up a had a bunch of material that I actually liked. and 2) Going to art school. I learned the language of sound there, signal processing, learning to love sound, hell I even learned acoustic design. My utility belt for decorating silence acquired so many new toys that by the time I was ready to work on my album, I knew what I wanted to do and precisely how to do it.

RD: Talk to me about the vocal talent on the record. Christine Urbina brings the house down on ‘Sax’s Heartbeat 3’ to everyone’s grimy hero Conway on ‘League of Shadows’ back to Georgia Ann Muldrow to close it out. There’s a full spectrum there.

SG: I knew who I wanted to work with on this project. Luckily I’m cool with all of them so setting up studio sessions or sending files back and forth wasn’t difficult all. I told them the direction of my album and waited for their verses. I asked Conway to give listeners the arrogance of a petty thief turned crime boss. He does this effortlessly. I was looking for something haunting and pretty from Christina, she absolutely bodied the beat I made for her. I made a few adjustments to the beat after hearing her verse but I love our track together. I wanna produce an entire album for her. And working with Kristin was tight. I have been wanting to make music with her since I first became HushHush fam, she’s dope. Her group, Navvi, just release a record called ‘ULTRA’ do yourself a favor and check it out. So good, they all did such an excellent job.. I’m forever grateful and I’m looking forward to sharing all of the other work we’ve all done together!

RD: Your a Seattle native, outside of Nacho Picasso I can’t speak for much of your area. How would you define your local scene?

SG: I’m honestly not a Seattle native, however this has become a home base of sorts. I’ve been critical of this scene for some time now but being as I have no roots here and I don’t know the intricacies of it all, I’d best be quiet. I will say that the music that people have been sharing with me as of lately has been so good! Looking forward to new Black Tones, Kung Foo Grip x DoNormaal and King Jarv Dee. I really wish Witch Gardens was still putting out music. I deserve to be the 5th member of that band.

RD: You have, to my knowledge, 5 releases. How would you define them to newer listeners?

SG: Haha, I cringe when i hear a lot of my earlier work. From Tu Me to TMV is when I found my stride as a producer. Each year from 2009 until now I’ve gotten better at something. Piano lessons, guitar lessons, art school. Each project I like better than the last because I’m more equipped to do any and everything I want to do. TMV is by far my favorite project. The B Sides to this record are ridiculous,y’all gonna flip when you find out some of the features I have on it! As a writer and an emcee,  I had been getting my props from the legends early on like in 09. My first “Oh shit” moment was when Wajeed and 9th Wonder both gave me my props. I was like ‘yup now i know I’m nice’. And that was just them hearing my throwaway jams back in the day when I’d just write raps to Eric G beats all day! Looking forward to the future!

RD: I feel like putting you under the ‘Dilla influence’ tree is a lazy label, who would you say inspired your sound?

SG: I’m certainly a child of Jay Dee. Bought my first SV tape in ’98 or ’99. I’ll never forget it. I believe I was in 7th grade. Sam Goody, the good ol days. But yes, other producers who greatly influenced my sound are DJ Battlecat, Band of Horses, 9th Wonder, Jeff Lorber, Prince, Kashif, Jimmy Jam x Terry Lewis. I come from a musical family. All of my uncles would play along to the new tapes that would drop. I still remember reading the album credits while watching my Uncle Tony jam out on the Casio to the Guy tape back in the G. Yeah, so studying liner notes and following some of the more unseen contributors to albums was a huge thing for me. All that stuff definitely affects my approach to making music.

RD: Is there a certain period of time dedicated to each release, or can it vary? Tell us about your workflow and how you like to get things done.

SG: If you’re down I’d like to set up a 3 or 4 hour studio session with y’all. You could bring the cameras in. I’d show you how I get busy. Hopefully inspiration would strike and I’d make something bangin.

My entire career, I’ve been working with whatever scraps I have. There have been times when I had to write mad raps while en route (via bus) to the homies house because he only has an hour to record and I need him because it’s free studio time. I remember being in LA with my After Ours and Soulection homies. Like 6 of us in a studio apartment, each of us with headphones on, trying to make bangers. Splitting pizzas and playing each other music, all I need is time and space. I can figure anything out with time and space. That’s the workflow.

RD: Your music often washes over me, with calming and chill side effects. Do you shoot for a ‘signature’ sound, or just let your methods take care of that?

SG: Ya know, my music and my paintings seem to mirror each other. I don’t intend for them to look or sound a specific way. I more so chase a feeling. I guess it just happens to come out a certain way. My signature begins with a thought, Tehuti. Then if I’m inspired to move I move. It doesn’t take long. Some of my best beats were made in like 5 minutes while I was watching the homie play video games, or while I was waiting in the car and just so happened to have my laptop open.

RD: What’s your ultimate goal as an artist? What would you like to say you accomplished as a 50 year old Sax?

SG: As a 50 year old artist I’d like to be able to say that I was able to encourage others to look from outside of the box they are told be in. As a child, I didn’t have very many friends, never lived anywhere long enough to develop home bases and comfort zones. Naturally, my interests and beliefs had to materialize via self reflection and some sort of analysis, not pop culture and group think. Counter culture is what I found myself seeking out. I do not believe that my thought process is right and exact or perfect, but I think that it’s pretty obvious that there has been a decline in the ability for one to think for themselves. Sadly enough, I’m not sure how many are even interested in doing this. But as a challenge, I’d like to think that my art could help with that. My non-traditional approach to creating tends to catch people off guard. I smile when they enjoy it.

RD: Say you have financing for a Sax project with some commas in it. Give me your first 5 calls to start this project.

SG: Thundercat, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Ishmail Butler, Bruce Pavitt and Warsame.

Sax is @saxgwhiz on IG and twitter. Older material can be purchased here https://saxg.bandcamp.com

Tomorrow’s New Villain is on Itunes among other platforms https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/tomorrows-new-villain/1337574400

 

 

Producer Spotlight: KrushLove

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While scrolling through Bandcamp one day, I saw a few like-minded listeners had copped a new EP from Rozewood. With Roze being one of my absolute favorites right now, I was instantly intrigued. It was at that point I delved into ‘GXD’, the collaborative effort with the Ghxst God himself and Chicago beatsmith Krushlove. After one lap around this masterwork, it became clear that this was not only a man with ill beats but a vision to match. His instrumental albums take you to all kinds of places in the mind, and he sports collabs with many dope emcees including Denmark Vessey, Main Flow, All Natural and many more. Something tells me he’s going to be a force in this thing of ours for a very long time.

RD: Let’s get into your latest work, ‘GXD’ an EP with Rozewood. How did this project come to be?

KL: I learned about Rozewood through his work with The Winners. Saw him in a few videos with Hus and liked their style. I randomly saw Rozewood a few months later, then we started talking about work online and reached out for a song.

RD: Was it originally going to be a single?

KL: I actually only contacted him for a few joints, got the songs back and decided to try and knock out an entire EP. Rozewood is very mysterious, sometimes deactivating his social accounts (rightfully so), so SoundScience and myself jumped on the opportunity when it came.

RD: How long did GXD take to complete?

KL: Whole process took about a year and a half end to end, the project moved from a couple songs to seven, so it needed more time overall. I had songs in mind for Rozewood, but when we wanted more I took the time to craft a sound around him that worked with my own at the same time. Anyone who has heard Rozewood freestyle knows he’s a blessing to rap. To catch some of that on record forever was a must. I like the way it turned out, definitely going to pursue this EP style format with more artists.

RD: Saga is a compilation of work with some artists from your hometown of Chicago. For me it hearkens back to Molemen’s series of tapes that showcased lesser known over their brand of production.

KL: Those Molemen tapes definitely had an affect on me growing up. I used to roll to Gramaphone for those. Learned it was ok to focus on yourself as producer. I think SAGA, or I at least hope it followed those spiritually.  Those projects brought a lot of the cities styles together in one album. I wanted to do something like that, exhibit as much of the city as I could. Since this was a compilation of guest production + few unreleased features, thought is was cool to showcase my style & work with different parts of the city and their styles throughout the years. Very cool you know about Molemen, btw.

RD: What’s your take on the scene up there in the Chi?

KL: Hometeam is doing great right now.  Some of the best music in the world is being made in the Chi. I love being in a atmosphere so supportive for artists, lot of space to perform and grow. The city as a whole has taken a lot of chances on artists and their music plus their ideas, and it’s paid off.

RD: You’ve produced full projects with emcees as well as a number instrumental projects, is it difficult to go from having full control to collaborating? Or is the key finding the right collaborators?

KL: It was harder when I was younger, learning to work and share ideas with those around you is better than always secluding & producing. Those beat tapes let me establish my sound first, so I know more of what I want when in lab with someone.  Try to understand what they want too. Working with people is always gonna work better naturally when you know yourself as an artist more. You have lines you will and wont cross.

RD: What qualities do you look for in an emcee that is a potential collaborator?

KL: This is tough because everyone offers something different and its weird to judge one emcee off the next but I like consistency and ingenuity the most if I had to pick. Everything plays apart into it, being consistent lets your art grow and fully mature. I just look for that overall vibe, I like storytellers or emcees who make the track feel like a one on one conversation. The ability for them to bring you to their world before I even get the track out.  Think we all like to avoid cringe bars, where its too much or not enough, a fine balance is always fun to work with, your more inspired that way. Can’t force work.

RD: Clearly your a film buff, what are some titles that have inspired your discography?

KL: Working on it, not a buff yet. I like too many shitty movies. The Blind Swordsman, Zatoichi (not a shitty movie) was always ill to me any of those, there is like 70 of them.  Carmen Jones was one of my first musicals I saw, Mom’s put me on to that gem. Vertigo messed with my head as a child, any Hitchcock is always on deck.  Black Caeser of course, as I kid that one stuck with me.  Never saw a black man act that on film and that alone represents how much I love that movie.   The original Night of The Living Dead in black and white still has a creepy vibe no matter how many times I watch it, that ending.  Honorable mentions have to be SuperFly, Coffy, & House Party. I could name names all day.  I like to have studio sessions with a nice flick on silent in the background, sparking some visual inspiration.

RD: Do you actively shop beats for outside projects, or mostly keep things for your own?

KL: Right now no, I don’t turn down work either. I still make music with the intention of keeping it instrumental, so some stuff is always going to just stay with me. I think fans want to know you can do it alone sometimes, at least I would like to know an artist could hold down a project on their own.  Some of the independent producers and the entities they created spoiled me.  Creating their own production houses and naturally working with who they wanted too.  In my opinion the work is the shopping, its kind of a ‘go where your celebrated not tolerated’ situation.

RD: What emotions do you want to evoke in listeners when they hear your music?

KL: As many as I can. How I’m feeling at the moment is what you get production wise. I don’t have any set way I want people to feel, just to feel something. I get the emo label sometimes, and I just run with it. Music that has a lasting effect on me almost always has some sort of emotional connection, and I wanted to convey that to listeners.

RD: What’s your next move? How quickly do you start your next project after wrapping the previous one?

KL: Next move for the duration is more music. I think ears today need to get used to your style, your sound, fine level between flooding and not enough. I like to have music on deck so the next project is usually ready or at least panned out, I get restless in the lab. Definitely more vinyl on the way. I’ve always been jammed up with music, don’t really know what it feels like to have a clear plate. I make beats with beats still unfinished, bounce back and fourth. Kind of a cascading situation, so I keep working.

RD: This has become a standard, I’m cutting a check for a Krush album featuring whoever you want. What’s the first 5 calls you make?

KL: I always leave people out on these, at the moment I’d have to hit up Anderson Paak, Y.O.D., NoName, Hall & Nash and Nas. Little something for everybody.   The second 5 would be Roc Marciano, Denmark Vessey, Hus Kingpin, Ankhle John, and Chris $pencer (Chris Crack & Vic Spencer).  I want to name fifty more.  Think that lineup would make me push the work in directions I’ve never been.

Krush’s Bandcamp is https://krushlovely.bandcamp.com/music where you can find physicals and digital versions of the GXD EP

Follow KrushLove @krushlovely on Twitter & IG