Friday, June 17, 2011

Interview with Co$$ "Before I Awoke" Producers (Part 1) : Beatnick Dee

Beats on Co$$'s debut album, "Before I Awoke" (In Stores June 21st) were produced by 12 different producers from all over the world. We interviewed those producers to introduce here. Part one is with Beatnick Dee who produced the title track, "Before I Awoke."

-Introduce yourself, where are you from?

My name is BEATNICK DEE, I'm from a small south west town called Wells, the smallest city in the Uk. I was born in San Francisco and spent some of my younger years around the bay area. I've been producing Hip-Hop for about 5 years.

-What’s the hip-hop scene like where you’re from?

Uk Hip-Hop in general was really great between 2001-2006. Things have changed a lot over the last few years. There's rappers making number one hits now. A few underground dudes went for a more mainstream sound and now they're reaping the benefits and thats good for them. Jehst, Task Force, Skinnyman and Yungun are some people that haven't been as prolific as they used to be, but they're all incredible. Classic material has come from those guys. In the small countryside area I'm from, there's my boys Leaf Dog and BVA mc who are from Glastonbury doing their thing.

-What equipment do you use?

I use an Akai MPC 1000 with Logic 8 on a Mac Book Pro. I have an E-mu midi controller, Numark turntables and the M-Audio micro track II which I use to record various percussion instruments, sounds, noises etc. -What kind of things inspire you the most to make a beat? Sometimes I get inspired from watching a thriller movie and I get really hyped up and just feel in the zone for making new music afterwards. Sometimes books, hearing some amazing music. Hearing a dope sample of course. I listen to everything from Thai psych rock, to Soul, to European prog rock and everything in between. Sometimes I’ll set my alarm really early and just try and be as productive as possible throughout the day. Just waking up and saying to myself ”Ok, I have to work hard at this if I want to make this a career” can be enough to get me out of bed! Not every time though..ha

-How did you get your name?

I used to just be called Beatnick but there's a few people with a variation of the name so I decided to add something. My real name's Nick, last name Doherty and a few friends call my Dee so it made sense. My boys Leaf and Bva wanted to call me 'Gold Platypus', 'The Beat Molester', 'The Pig With Wings Beats' but none of those names stuck though.. haha.

-How long does it take you to make a well polished beat that you’re proud of?

It can take anywhere between 45 mins to 4 hours. A finished beat to me is arranged and sequenced just how I want, with drops/layers muted and at the right length, usually with verse and chorus sections. I spend a lot of time adding layers, tweaking synths and adding percussion and various sounds to the mix. That stuff can take a long time to get just right. I guess you could say I'm a perfectionist.

-What is your personal favorite song (or beat alone) you’ve produced for an emcee?

I'd honestly have to say the title track 'Before I Awoke' from Co$$' debut album. I'm really happy with the way it came together. The title track was originally going to be over another beat of mine, but I'm really glad he chose this one instead. If not that, then maybe another song I did for Co$$ called 'Through The Flames' which features Blu. That was so dope to have them both rocking over my production. Hope to do more work with both in future.

-Describe your method when producing tracks.

Most of the time it starts with a sample, then I'll work around it. I'll find the right drums, then tune, pitch and layer them, sometimes use a drum break, chopped or layered underneath my individual hits. Then if I can hear another instrument in my head going well with it, I try to create that sound. If there's not enough bottom end I'll play in a bass line myself too. I also like to re play the sample and layer my own instruments over the top and take the main loop out at certain points in the beat. I like progressive beats, or beats that change throughout. But as Just Blaze said ''Sometimes you just gotta let a loop rock''.

- Tell us about how you crafted the beat for the title track 'Before I Awoke' on Co$$'s debut album.

Well, at the time I was actually in a 'beat slump', the equivalent of writers block. Most of the time a sample has to move me in a certain way or make me feel like ''Wow I've got to mess with this loop right now''. However, at first, that sample wasn't doing too much for me but I thought I needed to have a go at something just to see what came out. It wasn't until I chopped up the saxophone and sequenced it over the main loop with the delay that I really felt it. There's some percussion layers added in and an extra organ I played in to thicken out the main loop. The bass line I played is a combination of a double bass and a thick filtered sub bass.

-How did you first link up with Co$$, and how long have you been collaborating?

I saw the Tres logo on his first mixtape so I checked it out, thought he was dope and sent him a message on myspace. Good old myspace, it was a great tool for awhile. I started sending him beats in 2007 I believe. Ever since then we've been building a strong musical chemistry. I feel I know what kinds of beats he likes, what suits him and he's really what I've been looking for in an emcee. So stay tuned for plenty more from Co$$ and I.

-What do you think of Co$$ as an emcee? How would you describe his sound?

His voice and flow are both very unique. His content is really varied which is a great thing as he can rock over anything from an epic banger to a mellow introspective or storytelling sounding beat. He's hungry too, he's got a huge passion for hip-hop and takes pride in his thought provoking lyrics.

-What’s next for BEATNICK DEE? Any projects you’re working on or any other emcees you’re working with?

As mentioned, I do a lot of work with Co$$, we’ll be putting a project together sometime in the near future called ‘Things Take Shape’. Half my beats and half Fonetik Simbol's. We have a lot of songs stashed. I’m doing a remix for ‘Now Til Infinity’ ft. Reks and Naledge which was on Co$$ and Numonics’ ‘Revelations’ mixtape. That’ll be part of a whole remix project for that album. I should have beats on Vinnie Paz’s next solo album, as well as Joe Scudda’s debut solo LP this year. Iron Braydz from London has an album coming this year called ‘The Slugger’. I’ll have a couple beats on there as well. There's Co$$, Blu, Shawn Jackson, Sene, Joe Scudda, Vinnie Paz of Jedi Mind Tricks, Iron Braydz, Saheed, J Nics, The Regiment, MadKem, Silent Knight, Klarity, Brotherman, Leaf & BVA of Three Amigos from back home. I’ve either done music, or have stuff forthcoming with all of these people.

-Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time?

Ideally selling beats to various artists, with a name and a reputation for quality production. Consistently contributing to the genre I have such a big passion for. Working with more artists I respect and just having a solid foundation of rappers I work with regularly. Also to have the support of a large, growing group fans would be amazing.

-If you had to pick one, who would your favorite current producer be?

Man, that's a tough question. I could say at least 5 just off the top of my head. Number one I'll say 14kt. His style is varied, with so much emotion in his music. If he flips well known samples it's always in a really fresh and unique way. He's a huge inspiration to me.

-If you could pick one emcee to do an album with, who would it be?

I'd say Evidence. He's one of the few emcee's I'll listen to regardless of if I like the beat he's on. Always interesting to hear what he has to say and how he flips words.

-How can people contact you or listen to your tracks? Any last words/shout outs?

You can contact me on twitter @BEATNICKDEE Facebook: BEATNICK DEE I've got some music on and also has some of my tracks I've produced for emcees. Shout out to anyone who has supported my music up until this point. It really means a lot! All the homies back in Glastonbury, Wells, London and Southampton all the way to LA, you know who you are! Peace!

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