OD: That’s an interesting point, because a lot of emcees now and a lot of producers that work with emcees seem to be more and more employing techniques that nail down ‘studio recordings’ without so much thought to the energy that a live take, even mistakes, will grab.
C: I think it’s really important to get things in those first few takes, it’s how you get that sound; you get the elation in those first few takes, if you’re repeating it and chopping it to pieces it’s just not the same. That’s not to say that some of the best stuff I listen to hasn’t been chopped up, a lot of people punch in their lyrics, even certain words, and I’ve worked with artists that do that. To me though, hip hop and music in general is about [that live energy] – as examples when rappers would go to the parks, Run DMC, the Cold Crush Bros, that was their chance to prove they were the best, and you can tell with those guys it’s gone from the microphone to the recording, it sounds so live and even if there’s a couple of mistakes in there they’re kept. Carlos Santana as an aspiring artist would go to areas where there was the threat of being shot if he wasn’t very good, that type of rawness to a first take is important to me from what I’ve read and learned.
“With the new stuff I’m gonna try and make sure that nobody can come for me for sample clearance”
OD: When it comes to getting that energy and you saying you’re looking more to delving into obscurity when you dig now, was flipping samples that people had heard before important to show how you flip the samples?
C: Yeah, that’s a big part of hip hop isn’t it, a producer can really make his name known by how he flips a sample – Pete Rock and that do that often. People talk about Paul C and how he chopped up The Commodores and so on and how for a long time they couldn’t work out how he did it, it’s a way of showing how advanced you are as a producer. The way that I want to work nowadays, well, on the Gusto album they’re all big samples, people are gonna know at least three or four tracks on them, and I did that so that it was easier to get and get into the lyrics more. With the new stuff I’m gonna try and make sure that nobody can come for me for sample clearance. I’ve said I want to extend my music to a wider audience, and in turn I want it to be bought by more people and, you know, make more money off it in that way. As well as being respected as a musician I want to be able to say to my son when he’s older that we bought this house from the music, and I don’t want to be caught in the long term for sample clearance. There are record companies and publishers that employ people nowadays just to listen through music and identify samples so they can sue them. I don’t want to be part of that world, this whole album is sort of putting a finger up to that. I respect the artists and I hope that they hear Gusto Grizwold, like Massive Attack and Talking Heads, and I hope they respect that that’s why I’ve used them, you know. Same as Tweet and the other parts of the album that I’ve always listened to, it’s emotive music that I’ve used as my soundscape to get my stories out, and I think that’s what music’s all about, you know? In the future though, I’m gonna go obscure, chop things up as much as I can, make sure you can’t recognise it. Maybe get some live instruments on there, definitely work with layering samples with keyboards and replaying samples so that I can really feel that I’m moving on with the music.
“A lot of people are gifted and talented, but they never seem to get round to finishing a product”
OD: We normally try and get a bit of advice when we’re speaking to producers, I don’t know whether you’ve got anything specific in mind –
C: Yeah, I have. What I notice a lot with artists is… you must be a finisher is how I’d put it. At some point you have to put it down and stop enjoying it and you have to work hard to finish your product. A lot of people are gifted and talented, but they never seem to get round to finishing a product. I know as an independent artist I have to work on the cover, the design, promotion and everything, and I’ve just started the Under The Cap label as well so it’s a constant struggle, but the 10% is the creative side, and the love of the music, and the rest of the time is the hard graft of promoting it, travelling round, just finishing it. I could make a beat today, but it’d take me a long time – especially with the MPC and the way that things are sequenced and recorded – to actually finish that beat. After I’ve written the lyrics and after it’s all produced it’ll take me a long time to chop it up right and get it as perfect as I want it. I’d say to artists to take your music to a point where you’re happy with it and then just work hard at getting it out there so people can hear it. It’s a real shame that some people have so much talent but just sit back and nobody ever hears their music because it’s ‘not quite’ finished or they’re ‘not entirely’ happy with it. I always have respect for Styly because he’s a real finisher, he knows when to say a project’s finished and time to go to Mark Gamble’s and get it mixed and mastered. Maybe it’s something to do with confidence, I don’t know, but it’s something I’d like to be able to say – especially to hip hop artists who I’ve known or whatever, finish your music and get it out there and make sure people hear it, and then criticism is a big part. You have to be able to take criticism and respect criticism, because not everybody’s going to like your music but you have to respect anyone who’s brave enough to say what they really think about your music.
OD: Excellent advice! So finally, you’ve just mentioned Under The Cap: what’s next up from you and the label?
C: All my stuff’s going to come out on UTC from now on, more than likely anyway unless some major label decides to give me five hundred million pounds to do an album because that’s my home now. I’m a proper control freak in many ways so this way I can oversee everything and how it should be done. I’m working on an album with DJ Nappa from Phi Life Cipher too and we’ve got at least 11-12 tracks done for that so that should be the next thing that gets released early 2012, and by the time that’s released I’m hoping that my new music, even more diverse than Gusto Grizwold, will be ready. I’m looking forward to it.
OD: Yeah, so are we!
Thanks very much to Cappo for the chat – you can check out Gusto Grizwold’s International Vacation below and purchase it at the link, as well as hook up with Cappo on the following links. Don’t forget to Like the Oh Drat Facebook page for more quality material!0
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