A Blog that features the best Independent Artist and Underground artists across various genres even established veterans that are paying it forward by making there own companies to provide an outlet for these overlooked talented and diverse artist to get some exposure such as Chaundon from 9th wonders Hall of Justus and prior to 9th building his IWWMG and Jamla Academy. feel free to browse and leave feedback.
1.Whats good family, thanks for blessing me with this interview. Now I know how dope you are at your craft, but for those who may not know feel free to introduce yourself?
My name is Damon Martin (35yrs young), better known as “Science”. I am a mix engineer. I used to rap and produce beats but my love for the craft of mixing has taken over for the better part of the past 8-9 years. I still write from time to time and I may catch a spark for a hot beat but for the most part, I stick with what I am great at; mixing. I used to own a recording studio (05’-07’) in the Book Tower building (Downtown Detroit) but it was shut down due to owner/city issues and is still closed to this day. I took a break between 09’-10’ and started back in 11’ with a refreshed mindset. I had to refocus and now, here I am.
2.Now I have known you for a short time but how did you get started producing/engineering?
I was a sort of a “best kept secret” among my friends. No one outside of them even knew that I could rhyme or produce. In 2002 I got together with 2 close friends and formed a group called “Tha Alliance”. Out of budget and necessity, I started producing tracks for our songs. However, I was never a “front” man. I've always been a 'behind the scenes' type of person. So I fell in love with producing and recording more than writing and performing. Nature took its course there. I sat with the engineer that recorded our group and learned a few tricks of the trade through close observation. His name is Tony Grown AKA “T-Grown” (Eclectic Multimedia). This guy would always stop what he was doing to pick up the phone just to answer my ultra-rookie ass questions. By mid 05’ I then began recording and producing for a long time close friend “Boogie Bandero”. Between mid 05’ until the close of the studio, we had tracked just under 50 incredible songs. That’s where the base of my practice and skill foundation was laid.
3.When did you start Producing/Engineering not to show age but what year did you start?
Music has always been in my bones. Between my father’s huge collection of albums from being a DJ in his youth and my uncle’s influence with early hip-hop and rhyme skills, everything just seemed to fit in its place. However, technically, I didn't tap into my talents until mid 02’ (at 23 years old).
4.What does your lab set up consists of and how has it changed since first began?
Let’s put it like this, it has changed significantly:
1st setup (1 bedroom apt.): Triton Keyboard, Slow ass PC, 4-channel mixer, Mic, KRK Rockit 5’s and a 6-pack of bud-light.
2nd setup (2 bedroom townhouse): Triton, Nord Lead Synth, Tons of Synth Software, MPC 2KXL, Tascam FW-1884, GT67 Mic, KRK Rockit 5’s, 12-pack of bud-light and a 5th of Henny.
3rd setup (500 sq.ft. 20th floor suite): Triton, Nord Lead, MPC 2KXL, GT67 Mic, AKG 414 Mic, Tascam FW-1884, Mackie 32x8 mixer, KRK’s, Event Tuned Reference Monitors, Mac G4 + Windows PC, 5-piece Drums, guitar, DBX Comps, Eq’s, a mini bar and multiple 5ths of everything…lol
4th setup (Current): After selling off everything over the years, I've learned that a recording/mix engineer needs to invest in the craft and skill before gear. Currently I have the most basic setup ever: A powerful PC (self built) w/PCIe interface, Event Monitors, Pro-Tools 10 and my sanity.
5. What are some basic fundamentals that you feel artists and producers should bear in mind when collaborating?
First and foremost, you need to spend some time getting to know that person. If you don't have that luxury, at least study some of their work prior to engagement to get the artistic expression of that individual. If you get a chance to do so, “shoot the shit” so to speak and don't make everything about music. Get to know who and what they are outside of music. Build relationships! Relating is a building block. Don't be so judgmental. Other ideas exist beyond your own so, respect them. Art was not divinely implanted into YOUR brain only, so open up and accept art for what it is no matter how you perceive it. Basically, when collaborating, tear down the walls and let the art speak.
6. What are some of your pet peeves when dealing with artists and producers?
Artists often lack professionalism when it comes to dealing with the language of the studio in all of its aspects. Most local artists spend so much time (too comfortable) in home studios that they never get to experience the day to day rhythm of a pro recording facility. Producers may know what they want to hear but they get married to the rough drafts and home recordings way too often. When they hear the song professionally mixed, they hate it because they've been bumping the ultra loud rough mix. Any pro mixer that I know does NOT mix at loud volumes nor do they make mixes loud. That’s not our job. We create balance with the producer and artist's suggestions in mind. In both cases, they often try to tell you how to do your job, not realizing that they just lack experience.
7. Now we are both from the same hometown, but what has the local scene been like lately?
Quite honestly, I have no clue. I've lost touch with the local scene because everyone has become their own rapper/recorder/mixer/producer and mastering engineer all in one. The moment you try to show them that you have some mixing skills to offer, they refer you to some loud mix and half master that sounds good to them because why: they've become addicted to the rough mix sound and you can't tell them otherwise. I've found ways to spread my talents via internet and have gotten work doing so.
8. Does the local scene and trends affect your creative process?
See answer for question #7. LOL
9. Who are some of your influences and what did you gain from them and how did you incorporate their style into your own?
Dave Pensado (Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, Elton John, Michael Jackson, and more!) This guy is the man! He has a weekly web show called Pensado’s Place along with co-host and Exec. Producer Herb Trawick. On the show, he has guest engineers and producers from Al Schmitt, Manny Marroquin, Chris Lord-Alge, and Tony Maserati to Young Guru (Jay Z’s Black Album), Dj Ali AKA MixedbyAli (Kendrick Lamar’s engineer and tour Dj), Marcella Araica and the likes. I've taken so much advice and learned so many techniques from Dave and the others that I probably would have never learned on my own. They definitely take you down the audio “rabbit hole”. LOL I attended the inaugural Pensado Awards in Santa Monica, Ca. on June 28th and I met some amazing people in the industry that I definitely look up to. It was a great show hosted by Chris lord-Alge, Young Guru, Marcella Araica and Lisa Loeb. I received some great career advice from some pros like Steve Genewick (Capitol Studios) and I took the experience all in. I came back home recharged!
10. How would you define your sound and brand?
I'm still building my sound as an engineer so I don't really have a dedicated sound so to speak. I don't really produce beats anymore so I can't speak for that. However, I'm known for not making the same beat twice, if that helps. lol
11. What are some of your current projects and where can they be found?
Currently I'm working to develop a local hip-hop artist who goes by the name “Young Knowledge”. He has a few YouTube videos but he has some growing to do content wise. I rarely get to show off mixes because these are songs that have not been sent off for copyrights and/or artists are very sensitive about what songs are released. So, unfortunately, I don't have much work on the web to preview. My Soundcloud page (mixedbyscience) is full of unmixed material, older songs and beats that were never used. The only mixes that I have there are a few songs mixed for competition and they are labeled as such.
12. What are some of your future projects and which ones are you looking forward to most?
Young Knowledge album – 2015
Boogs Bandero – Spring 2015
Hard Grind Ent. – Spring 2015
13. Do you represent any companies or labels, if so how long have you been affiliated with them?
14. Do you have any jewels for aspiring producers/engineers?
HAVE SOME FUCKIN’ FUN MAKING MUSIC! Music as an art is Boundless! You can't do it all by yourself no matter how gifted you are. Get with a mentor! Mentor someone else! Open yourself up to criticism! Learn a thing or two about humility! Do your Homework!!! Remember, it’s all about the ART and not just you! Record, Mix and Produce with the emotion of the song in mind and not just the quality of sound. Respect professional advice, decisions and wisdom. Follow through with what you say you're going to do! If you're an aspiring engineer, hit me up! I give it freely as it was given to me, as long as there is no material injury to myself. I’m looking for someone to teach so contact me if interested. Truthfully, I can go on for days but I don't cast pearls before swine. I'd rather wait for those who are serious about their craft to connect with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
15. Any Special Thanks if so place them here?
Well, first and foremost, thank you Nate for conducting this interview. I feel privileged! I thank my parents for being so hip (they’re young lol), my uncle Chris (R.I.P) for introducing me to the world of rhyme skills and wordplay at such a young age, T-Grown for passing the torch (even though his is still lit…lol) and last but not least, Dave Pensado & Herb Trawick for creating such a diverse web show that gave me the spark to take things a bit more serious (fun-serious) once I got back into the music.
Whats good family, now I am a huge fan since I heard u on houseshoes let it go album but for those who may not be familiar with your craft, feel free to introduce yourself.
Peace. This is Anthony Jackson...also known as Big Tone. A west side Detroit native. And I’m a musician.
2. Who are some of your influences and what did u incorporate from their styles into your signature style?
Most of the stuff that has majorly influenced me is from a time that’s considered the Golden Era of Hip Hop. So the early 90’s mostly...Tribe, Pete and C.L., Main Source, Hiero, EPMD, Rakim, and alot of hip hop releases from that time period inspired my upbringing alot. The Detroit hip-hop community has been really influential on me as well. Artists like Dilla, Royce, Waajeed...their music had a big impact on me and my approach to the craft.
3.I wanted to tell u that your latest single "The Crib" is a classic from DJ Dez and DJ Butter "A Piece Of The Action" album but when did you start MC/Producing what to show age but what year did you start?
Good look! I’m excited that it’s resonating with the people. To anyone reading this, make sure to grab that “Piece of The Action” LP when it drops. That’ll be another Detroit hip hop artifact to have. To answer the question, I’ve been rhyming since a child. It’s hard to remember when, exactly....maybe 9-10 years old. I wasn’t writing songs or anything, I used to just freestyle alot. I really didn’t get serious about it until after high school. Producing would happen a couple years later...around 19 years old or so.
4.What was the event or moment when you knew this was what you wanted to pursue?
Those early studio experiences impacted me like that. I always wanted to be in the lab, whether I was working on the music myself or not. I just loved the environment, so I wanted to be in the lab all the time.
5.What do you enjoy more MCing or Producing?
The go hand in hand. I enjoy the beat making creative process more, but being able to share my voice with people is an honor in it’s own right. I really enjoy both.
6.I currently reside just outside grand rapids Michigan but what is the local scene like?
I don’t get out to local events as much as I’d like to these days...which is something that I’m hoping to change. But I feel the local music scene has always been commissioned by the artists, dj’s and curators, nurtured and supported by the communities, and housed in intimate clubs and pubs scattered throughout the city. The faces and places change, but the culture remains the same.
7.What does your lab set up consists of and do you have a favorite piece of gear?
I got a real simple set up. I’m running logic on a mac, with a Metric Halo interface, a Bluebird mic, a Focusrite channel strip, Korg Synth, and an MPC 2000XL ...which is my favorite piece. I’m actually planning to revamp and open a fully facilitated studio over the next year, but it’ll still be pretty simple in structure. I feel like it helps with the work flow.
8.What is your creative process as a MC and Producer?
Not much to it. I just try to connect and create amongst artists that inspire me. I’ve got a nice environment to create in. So we just sit in the lab or outside on the porch, elevate and kick it. Eventually beats and rhymes and songs happen.
9.Does the local scene affect your creative process at all?
Yeah. Artists around here have inspired me for so long, it’s fresh when we get the chance to work together. I’m blessed to have some great talent that comes through and let me be apart of some dope projects.
10.What are some of your current projects and where can they be found?
The most current work I’ve released is available at the Swank Addict Bandcamp page. http://swankaddict.bandcamp.com I dropped 3 EP’s this year. “No Thieves In the Temple”, “Clear?” and “LAWDHAMMERCY” are all available there.
11.What are some of your future projects and which ones are you looking foward to most.
I’m looking forward to all of them. It’s been a minute for me, so I can’t wait to start hitting people off with the new releases. The first up is a free download LP called “God Bless You” that I’ll be dropping soon. We’ve actually just released the God Bless You video this week, too. The next album is a collab LP with the homie Fuzz Scoota called “BLK MRKT MNPLY”, which I definitely feel like is some of my best work to date. Then me and Houseshoes have this “Big Shoes” project we’ve been working on the past year that’s due top of 2015...which is gonna be one for the books, too. Then there’s my album, “Dare To Wonder”, named after an artist creative development program that we’re building. No timeline yet, but I’m workinonit.
12. Do you represent any labels or companies?
If so how long have you been affiliated with them? Swank Addict, which is my immediate circle of friends. Loveturl, which is our artist collective and homies on the west coast. BLK MRKT MNPLY, which is our new product line. And Dare to Wonder is our recording studio and creative development program. That’s it.
13.What are some of the pros and cons for being an independent artist vs a major label artist as you see it?
I think it’s not much difference. There’s more debt hanging over the head of a major label act, due to more of a financial investment being made. The indie artist has the blessing of the bigger piece of the pie, yet comes along with the challenge of handling the operation and expenses. I think most indie artists I know dislike the fame game, work without managers, and rely on the nearby supporters and coworkers to build with. And most major label artists I’ve known take the fame that comes along with the marketing and promotion as it comes, have management teams, and work within business network. But at the end of the day, it all comes down an artist doing everything they can to inspire the people enough to create a demand worth supplying.
14. What is your take on the analogue vs digital debate on producing?
Dope is dope. I feel whatever pieces allow an artist to be in the zone...it is what it is. I love the work flow that the digital realm provides, but I’m also a conspiracy theorist and I’m leary of computers without cd drives, and I have nightmares about crashing hard drives/systems and all that. But the MPC’s and hardware based pieces come along with tracking processes that take a long time and parts that need to be replaced, and lots of cables and cords and shit like that. At this point, I’ll alwys be one part analogue, and one part digital.
15.How would you define your sound and brand and what sets you apart from other artist?
I just do what I know to do. My thoughts and ideas over music that I like to hear. Sometimes I’m dead serious, and sometimes I’m having fun.
16.Do you have any jewels for those who are aspiring to pursue this as a career?
Make your space in the lane you love, and love the lane you’re in. The people that are supposed to rock with what you do will, and those that aren’t, won’t. So just focus on your movement and growth, and let the rest be.
17. Do you have any Special shout outs or thank yous? Shout outs to the lightworkers of the world. Spread love.
18.What does a typical day for you consists of?
If I’m handling my biz, I meditate in the morn, center my thoughts, address the current order of affairs, eat breakfast, work, make phone calls, work out, clear off the eraser boards, unwind, and enjoy the fam until the next episode.
19. Any final thoughts for the readers?
Let’s do what we love, and see where it get’s us. Peace.