Interviews: iStandard sits down with "Dilemma”

"Production’s Next Dilemma”

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

What’s up, Dilemma. Thanks for sitting down to talk for a minute. So let’s rewind and work the timeline. You started with saxophone lessons in third grade. Do you recall a time before that when you were struck with a desire to explore music?

My earliest recollection of really getting into music was in the second grade, I played Michael Jackson in a school concert. Instead of “Beat It”, the song was called “Read It”.

Haha, clever. How did your sax training assist in the ultimate evolution of your current production career?

My experience as a sax player plays an integral role in my production and helped me become a well-rounded musician. My music studies consisted of learning how to read music, ear training and sight reading. Playing the sax gave a good understanding of melody lines and the blending of certain instruments. Strong melodies come quick to me and I think it’s because of my sax playing. It has helped with one line melodies, and making the song “sing” as opposed to the use of chords when playing the piano, bass or more complex instruments.

From age 18 when you first broke onto the scene, things have really changed the face of the industry. With music relying so much on the digital space, some people think that younger folks have an advantage because they’ve grown up with more knowledge of the digital world. Do you agree with this sentiment? Have you found it easy to keep up with the industry trends?

To a certain extent. Technology is always changing so being it may place me a step ahead of the older crowd. However, we should study past generations and how they used to record before things were digital. We should have an awareness of the methods that were used to produce quality sound and revisit that from time to time.

I like to understand how things work. I like to understand the trendy things. It is difficult because technology is always evolving. And there is always something new or something better than the next thing. I like to stick to what I’m comfortable with, what I know. I stay in contact with other producers and sound engineers to see what’s new and what’s hot, and what’s recommended for alleviating some challenges faced when it comes to the sounds I’m trying to create.

How would you relate your beat battle experiences in various markets – was there a major difference? For instance, did you note a higher level of competition or pressure in LA and New York? Or would you say it was comparable to the level of competition boasted by Philly and Atlanta?

I would say that out of all the competitions, I’ve been in the higher level of competition in LA, really. There were a lot of good dudes out there. The area brings different styles. NY is more hip hop oriented, as are Philly and Atlanta. LA produces all around hits. It was much more diverse because it didn’t focus on one particular genre of music.

I understand you’re currently working at Sigma Sounds Studios in Philadelphia. As home of music icons the O’Jays, Patti Labelle, Jill Scott, Billy Joel, Madonna and the Jackson 5, the studio itself must lend itself as a major influence to you. Do you believe that the atmosphere in which someone creates is as important as their talent? Does it foster an ingenuity that is exclusive to that environment?’

I believe it’s a good idea to be around good energy. Before Sigma, I worked out of my in-home studio. I like to believe that while I have a lot of talent, there’s nothing like being surrounded by other creative energy. At Sigma there is natural inspiration in the air, the walls… Just knowing that all those icons have recorded there makes me feel like I’m in the right spot. That does bring certain energy and spark creative juices.

Your latest album/DVD release garnered some international exposure for you. Does the idea of international success supersede your desire to make waves on a national level? What is your focus as of now?

This may sound weird and I may be contradicting myself later on, but it’s not about me being big or nationally recognized. Wherever my music is being respected and enjoyed that’s where I’m going to be. I will definitely entertain that market. I put my music into the world, hence the name Hello World! music. The truth of the matter is that not everyone looks at and respects music the same way. Just because it’s not working over here doesn’t mean its whack or it’s not working.

As of right now my focus is to improve with each beat I make, making the best records I can possibly make with each artist and continuing to push the Hello World Music brand.

What was your involvement with the CBS 3 Eyewitness News Obama Special? How do you personally feel about the influence of music on politics and vice versa? Do you believe the cross-effect is a positive notion in society?

I composed a track with a local group called 3KZ about Obama and Clinton working together as opposed to working against one another. The song got buzz and the news heard about it wanted to know the inspiration behind the song.

When specifically speaking to young kids, 18 and younger or unable to vote, I feel a great way to get them in tune with what’s going on is by putting it in music. It helps get them involved. Music is a big force and a great way to market or to get the word out. If you use it the right way it can help, if used the wrong way it can be harmful. But I would consider it a major factor in spreading political awareness. As for political influence on music, it serves as an avenue to express thoughts and feelings. The two go hand and hand and influence one another.

In addition to your musical collaborations, you’ve worked with some athletes. How is it comparatively to work with athletes versus musicians?

(Laughing out loud) I enjoy working with people that are passionate about music whether artists or athletes. It depends. I think certain athletes consider music a hobby. Others have always been passionate about music but just chose another avenue to work in. I’ve worked with athletes that have indie record labels. But I think athletes should be athletes and musicians, musicians and artists, artists. I don’t mind, I just can’t expect them to have a full understanding of the business unless they are actually in it.

So break it down for us, what is your perspective on Philly sports fans? Overbearing and obnoxious or enthusiastic and emphatic?

All of the above! That’s a Philly fan. All of that, within one game. An hour. They will love you. Turn on you. Love you where you’re great and hate you when you’re doing something wrong. I’m not your normal Philly fan, but I’m a PHILLIES fan. Maybe it’s because I had a situation with Ryan Howard. A Philly fan will love and hate you at the same time.

You say you live by the four “P’s”: stay positive, stay persistent, stay patient and always pray. Who would you credit for instilling these values in you?

It was something that just came to me while I was working a day job, thinking “This is not my life.” All it is is having faith. My parents helped plant the seed. Especially my dad. I’ve never seen my dad really worry, but even when things were hard they worked out.

How has iStandard helped your career? Can you tell us about some direct and indirect successes you have had with the company?

Networking events that have led to placements, tons of exposure through beat battles and all in all, showing me how important networking is. Being prepared and professional is important. I got my first placement from a gentleman I met through iStandard at a beat battle competition.

Can you give us any insight regarding new projects taking shape for the coming year?

New projects are crazy. The sound is crazy. I’m working on two albums right now. My EP “Musical Chairs” and another compilation album. Expect both albums to drop before 2009 is out. A lot of new artists Melissa J, Sole Barbie, and a few others. I’m just working. A lot of good music, high energy stuff that will be dropping in time for 2010. Thank You iStandard for having me, and Thanks Kristen…. HELLO WORLD!!