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