1. Introduce yourself to the readers who may have been living under a rock and aren't familiar with Illmind.
I'm !llmind.. from NJ living in Brooklyn, NY.. I am a music producer and teacher at The Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at New York University, and a senior contributer at www.beattips.com.. I've worked with Little Brother, Redman, Scarface, 50 Cent, Eminem, Apl Black Eyed Peas, Ludacris, Dr. Dre, Pharoah Monch, Boot Camp Clik, and many more. I've shared the stage in beat showcases with Kanye West, Just Blaze, Nottz, Don Cannon, & more. I'm founder and CEO of B.L.A.P. (Beats x Love x Alcohol x Party), which is a live producer showcase (running for 2 years now) for upcoming and established producers. I'm currently producing major label and independent hip-hop, pop, soul & more. Im also in a band called Smokey Robotic, which is a culmination of multiple music genres.. we've been together for a little over 1 year, and already have close to 500,000 youtube video views, and some notable hollywood cosigns like Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson..
Alkota: You have a really good interview at beattips.com about the evolution of your production setup and equipment, so I won't ask you the same cliche "what do you use to make your beats..." type of questions.
2. Rather, can you elaborate on workflow and the importance of having your equipment and sounds help you make beats more efficiently.
I think with producing, work flow means everything.. as a producer, it's important to embrace technology.. it's all about convenience and ease of use in my opinion.. it really doesn't matter what you use, as long as your production set-up allows you to create the music you were intended to create, starting from ideas in your mind.. a comfortable work space can equate to smooth workflow, which is something we should always strive for....
Alkota: You just released the Illmind Blap Kit Vol.1, which is a collection of your signature drum samples. Having bought the kit myself, I can say its packed with lots of dope, usable drum sounds . That being said, most producers guard their drums like Fort Knox
3. So why did you decide to release your drums to the world?
I wanted to try and stimulate the production community with my drum-kit.. there are a handful of new (and old) producers, who actually don't understand the concept of "sampling and manipulating" drums.. a lot of producers rely on stock sounds, which is actually normal if you are a new producer who is just learning the craft... being that i've been producing for about 13 years now, coming from the school of Dilla, Pete Rock, etc, and using a keyboard like the ASR-10, I wanted to give producers (and my fans) a part of who I am and where I came from... all of my sounds were chopped and collected from old drum breaks.. I layered them with other sounds (some live) and manipulated them in ways to call them my own... the kit is only the first of MANY more to come, and I'm really excited to release my series!
4. What makes the Illmind Blap Kit different than other "producer kits" available on the Internet?
Like I said in my previous question, my drum kits a big part of who I am as a producer.. since as long as I could remember, i was always most fascinated by drums and their textures.. I love drums that you can feel.. some kick drums sound better with certain snares, and visa versa.. certain hi-hats can sound bland by themselves, but when combined with certain snares, they can sound amazing... my drum sounds are all manipulated, created, and combined to create a texture.. a feeling and a sound.. it's almost emotional in a way, because music is emotion.. drums need love, just like good food needs love when you're cooking it.. it's the difference between a McDonalds chicken mcnugget, deep fried and thrown in a cardboard box, compared to a slow roasted Rotisserie chicken, flavored with different herbs, well thought out, stuffed, slowly cooked, and presented in a way that makes you really want to eat it...
5. Sonically speaking, what is the biggest mistake you notice up and coming beatmakers and producers making?
Mixing. Having a proper mix to your beats/songs can be a deal breaker. You can be at a huge advantage if you had the ability to mix your records properly. If you don't know how to engineer or mix well, get a professional to mix your records. It's worth the time, and absolutely crucial to competing with the big leagues.
Alkota: Lets switch gears and talk business, networking, and beat shopping for a minute. In the Nature Sounds, Behind The Curtain promo video/interview you discuss your departure from relying heavily on samples in your production.
6. Aside from self fullfillment and musicianship, what are the advantages of making sample free beats and music?
Just speaking from a business standpoint, creating and owning non-sampled music is absolutely necessary. As a producer, you are not limited to JUST placing records on albums either. With non-sampled music, there is less of a need to worry about clearing copywritten material from 3rd parties, and there's potential to make more money. It's significantly less stressful when dealing with major labels, and companies who license music gravitate more towards original, non-sampled music. It's a win-win situation.
Alkota: I had the chance to interview Jake One, Beat Butcha, V Don, M-Phazes, and many other career producers and they all have one thing in common. Early in their careers, they gave free beats away to build their discography and visibility. However, it can be confusing for up and coming producers to decide when working for free is a good career move or a huge mistake.
7. Can you elaborate on giving away "free beats" to make career moves?
Working with artists for free early in your career is very important. It's no different then doing an internship. When you're starting off in the career of producing, you've got to build a resume and a brand. Getting to know people is the key. Cultivating relationships with artists that inspire you is key. Money shouldn't be the motivation to being a producer. If you love what you do, you're going to want to work with artists for free, simply because it's exciting. Money will come in the future, if you believe in yourself and build your career the way you should. I'm "established" but i STILL work with certain artists for free, because in those situations, I'm not going to let anything stop me from making incredible music.
Alkota: It's no secret that at some point most bedroom beatmakers want to be career producers and make money. Transitioning into a full time career in music can be frightening and financially uncertain.8. In your experience, when does it financially make sense to make the move to full time producer?
It's a really difficult question to answer, because everyone's situations are unique, and there really is no "formula" or right way to do it. What I do know is that PREPARATION and CONSISTENCY are key factors. Do what you can to put yourself in the position to be able to perfect your craft. If that means working a 40 hour job from 9am-5pm, and doing beats from 6pm - 3am, then that's what you do. Sacrafice things in your life that you don't need, and surround yourself by inspiring people. Read books. Make sure you are absolutely prepared for every opportunity that presents itself. Luck is where PREPARATION and OPPORTUNITY meet. Those are 2 things that you have control over. Never forget that. Preparation & opportunity.
Alkota: I heard a rumor via Twitter that you are offering consulting services now.
9. Is this true? What kind of consulting are you doing and who is it intended for?
I am, kind of. I am officially a member of BLAZETRAK, which is an online service that allows people to ask questions, via video, to various high-profile industry people (a&r's, lawyers, managers, producers, etc). The feedback you get is also via video. To my knowledge, it's the only site that provides this type of service. You can visit www.blazetrak.com/illmind
to see what it's all about. Holla at me!
10. Tell me more about your B.L.A.P producer showcases and BR&L series compilations.
BLAP is a producer showcase I started 2 years ago. Over the years, i've participated and judged various beat battles and beat showcases. I wanted to start my own producer showcase, which allows up-coming and established producers play their beats and songs for an un-biased crowd, in a "club" environment. It's tons of fun. The point is to create a community amongst producers. We all share the same passions and share mutual respect amongst one another. That's one of the beauties of the music production culture. BR&L (Blaps, Rhymes & Life) is a free digital compilation series (entirely produced by me), which features various artists (major and independent). It's a cool way for me to not only showcase my music, but give some shine to the up-coming artists that I'm working with as well. I've released 5 so far, and there will be plenty more to come!
11. What up and coming projects and Illmind produced records can we look forward to in late 2011/Early 2012?
A TON. I've got a ton of music coming with my band Smokey Robotic (www.smokeyrobotic.com
). I've got placements on some major label projects and independent ones. Also expect some non-hip-hop stuff from me too. I'm just having fun with music and I feel like I'm at a creative high right now! It's all very exciting for me and I can't wait for people to hear the music.
Alkota: I appreciate the interview, I think the insight will be helpful to alot of readers.
12. For artists looking to buy beats from Illmind or producers interested in participating in your events, whats the best way to get in touch?
ANY artists interested in buying !llmind beats, PLEASE contact firstname.lastname@example.org
. I'm very reasonable. I know the game, and I understand what it takes to pay out of pocket. But it takes money to make money. Invest in yourself. Any producers interested in participating in my LIVE producer showcase BLAP, please contact email@example.com
. Visit my site www.illmind.biz
for all updates, music, new drum kits, and more! Hit me up on www.blazetrak.com/illmind
if you want feedback on your music, or if you think I can help you in any way.
Shouts to alkota and the RIDICULOUSLY DOPE usb drives his company makes. Shouts to all the producers keeping it funky. Don't ever let anyone stop you from reaching your goals and dreams. YOU are the only person who can stop you. So don't.
13. Any last thoughts on the music industry or shout outs?
Download the Illmind Blap Kit Vol. 1