You can spend months trying to make your first painting a Mona Lisa, or you can paint many paintings and each one will get a bit better.
1. Where did you come up with the idea for Sol Food?
Growing up, I listened to a lot of different types of music. Other than hip-hop, R&B and Soul music have always been the biggest influence on my sound. With Sol Food, I wanted to craft a sound not only true to the rich history of Chicago, but also with my earliest experiences with music. I mean, Sol Food has influences from street saxophone players, you know, Chicago Steppin, Kanye West, gospel… And some more personal influences like Nujabes, J Dilla, Hayao Miyazaki films…
2. Why did you choose to sample Spirited Away?
Having worked with a lot of children I’ve come to realize that, as we get older we forget how to dream and social norms force most of us to grow out of our creativity and imagination. I don’t think you can teach anyone how to find their creativity again but if you become aware, maybe you’ll dig those paintbrushes out of your basement and get a fresh canvas, maybe you’ll pick up that flute you used to play in high school.
I chose to sample Spirited Away on one of the tracks because, like most Hayao Miyazaki films, it echoes the boundless imagination of children. And I want to inspire that feeling I get from his films in others through hip-hop.
3. Any special parts to imagine^nation?
This part in the song is specifically recreates the scene where Chihiro flies on the River Spirit dragon’s back. And the quick tempo change to double time almost makes it feel like you’re flying.
4. What is your creative process?
A lot of producers start the creative process by opening their DAW, laying out a drum pattern then introducing in melodic elements. But with the best songs I’ve created, the process often starts far away from the studio in a real-life situation. I might think of a melody or hear a song on the radio and catch a sample. In fact, I can’t even count the times I’ve been in a restaurant holding my phone up in the air trying to Shazam something. When I sample, I often chop it up to create an entirely new melody and I’ll even isolate different elements in the song, or from a cover of that song, to go back and layer them in completely new ways.
5. How do you know when a beat is finished?
With beats, sometimes you just sit down and TAP TAP TAP and bang it out in less than an hour. Less is usually much more. But other times, I need to sleep on it when I realize I’ve been up till 4 AM working on a song. Usually, I’ll wake up the next day and completely forget how it sounds until I hit play. So, I can approach the beat with a fresh mind and maybe add live instruments or just simplify things entirely.
6. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a producer?
Personally, the most important thing I’ve learned as a producer, and for life in general, is that, while being a perfectionist can be good, chasing perfection is only going to slow you down. You can spend months trying to make your first painting a Mona Lisa, or you can paint many paintings and each one will get a bit better. The only difference between the master and the student is consistency and time.