Alkota: I don't think the readers need an introduction to The Arcitype, but just in case they can check our your first interview here
Alkota: I just got done watching the Ruste Juxx & The Arcitype "Rock to the Rhythm" Music Video on YouTube. Very dope lyrics and the production is tight!
1. How did you and Ruste Juxx link up to create V.I.C.?
I had been a fan of Juxx for years and kind of randomly decided one day to reach out and see if maybe we could do some work together. My manager hit him with a few joints and he quickly got back to us saying he was feeling them and wanted to do something. We decided to do one joint and see how it came out, so I rolled down to NYC and booked a session at a studio in Brooklyn. The Joint came out DOPE, and at the end of that session I played Juxx a few more beats and after he heard about 5 more that he was feeling, he said that he wanted to do an album with me, and the answer for me was EASY, I was amped to do it. That night he walked out of the studio with a CD of about 10 beats to work and I e-mailed him a few more joints over the next couple weeks. A few months later he came up to Boston to record the project at my studio, The Bridge Sound & Stage in Cambridge.
He came into town at like 1am on a Friday and we hit the studio right away to start knocking out joints. Over the course of the next 2.5 days, we spent roughly 35 hours in the studio working on the album. It was a blast. Artists and DJs were coming in and out of the studio the whole weekend, laying down parts for the album. We were hanging out, hearing stories about Juxx’s world tours over BBQ, chopping it up with him on song concepts and joking around in the studio, kicking it and being productive. It was impressive too because Juxx hadn’t written the whole album before getting to Boston, so he was doing a lot of the writing in the studio with us. He got into his zone and knocked it out, and it was dope to see how he incorporated references to what was happening in the studio that weekend into his rhymes. It was a great time.
At the end of that weekend, we had the majority of the album recorded. There were some missing gaps that we knew we wanted features for, so Juxx reached out to the people he wanted on the records and we started getting verses back from everyone. I scheduled a couple sessions in NYC to do little touch ups and add a couple more songs so we had plenty to choose from for the album, and some extra bonus songs for the deluxe version which is being released on iTunes. And now here we are.
Alkota: Kinda curious how the AR Classic & Duck Down chemistry played out on the creation of this project.
2. What roles did your record label, AR Classic Records play while creating the album? What roles did Duck Down assume?
My label, AR Classic Records, along with Perfect Time Publishing, handled all of the pre and post production for this album, so basically, the recording, mixing, mastering and album artwork. Duck Down Music and E1 are handling all of the manufacturing, distribution, marketing and promotional aspects of this release. I'm really pleased with how this deal worked out because it allowed us (AR Classic & Perfect Time) to handle creating this record the way we envisioned it, and then receive the support in promotions and marketing from a label like Duck Down. I've been a fan of Duck Down for years and it was an honor and pleasure to be able to partner with them for this release. It really reaffirms that what I’ve been working on over the years with AR Classic is starting to get recognized and is beginning to really pay off.
Alkota: The production on "Rock to the Rhythm" was incredible. One thing I noticed was the lack of samples and all original production (sample free/live).
3. Can you break down production workflow on "Rock To The Rhythm" and some of the other joints on V.I.C.?
Thanks for the love on my production. The whole Juxx album (similar to all official AR Classic projects) is completely sample-free. I've been working really hard to try to get my production to a place where people have a hard time determining whether or not I use samples in my beats. With this Juxx album, Duck Down actually asked me a couple of times exactly how much of the album was sample free, because they had a hard time believing that it was completely original. Some songs incorporate live instrumentation; some are just based around keyboards and/or softsynths. I use a ton of different drum packs including some of the ones featured on Alkota's website, as well as a ton of different sound libraries, but I always tweak things out to make them my own.
On Juxx’s album, I really wanted to try to bring a new dimension to his sound. I wanted to maintain the boom-bap Hip-Hop roots that make up the foundation of Juxx’s sound, but then take it somewhere new and widen his audience.
With the beat for “Rock To The Rhythm” I really wanted to fuse my east/west coast influences into one joint, so it has that sort of Dr. Dre kind of pulse to it and the drums hit like some west coast shit, but it’s got this east coast boom bap grit to it, so I think I was successful in that. Like I mentioned this was the last joint we worked on that weekend at The Bridge, and we didn’t have a hook for it. Juxx had the line “rock to the rhythm to the rhythm you rock” at the top of his first verse, and I was like, “That’s the hook. Match it with ‘bounce to the bass to the bass you bounce” and we got a smash!” Then Juxx put that “move to the groove to the groove you move” at the top of the second verse and it was a wrap. Certified banger.
V.I.C. is a very dynamic album. We have the hard-hitting Hip-Hop that Juxx is known for, but we also highlight his depth as an artist with songs like “Right There With Me” featuring the legendary Sadat X, Juxx’s man Skanks, and my homie XL of The Kreators, where Juxx talks about his sister who past away a few years back. That’s a really powerful song. Joints like “Stand Strong” hold a powerful and motivational message, and we got a joint for the ladies (but it hits hard so it doesn’t get lost on the dudes) on there called “She Get It In” featuring my homie and ridiculous vocalist, Genius. This whole process of putting this album together with Juxx has really been a pleasure. I have really gotten to know this dude and it’s amazing to me how much he really lives and represents every lyric he writes in these songs. I got to know him through making these songs, and because of the diversity of topics and feels on the album, I got to know him on all those aspects of his life. I really think the honesty shows through in the music on this album. There are definitely some pleasant surprises for Juxx fans on V.I.C. and I think we're gonna reach some new fans that Juxx hasn't in the past, so overall I'm really excited about the project.
4. Did you handle the engineering (mixing & mastering) on V.I.C. or did you enlist an outside engineer?
When Juxx came up to The Bridge I really needed to be able to work on the songs with him as a producer. I brought in my engineer Young Jedi (who is my go to for all of AR's projects) to handle the engineering so it would be taken care of professionally, and I could concentrate on working with Juxx on making the songs the best they could be.
The joints we recorded in Brooklyn were engineered by me and the studio’s house engineers.
After the recording, Jedi handled the mixing of the album and I did the mastering. When I master my own albums I sort of handle it as a mixture of final mixing and mastering simultaneously. I take my time with it and go back and forth between tweaking the actual mixes and mastering the songs, burning discs and running out to the car to ride around testing how the mixes knock. It takes time, but it allows me to make sure everything is where I want it to be.
Alkota: A lot of up and coming producers stay busy chasing placements. The one thing I noticed about is that you stay busy building your brand and label (AR Classic Records) vs. appearing on everyone's albums.
5. Can you elaborate on the benefits and rational behind working on your own projects and building your brand vs. chasing placements?
I wouldn't say I DON’T hunt for placements, but I do concentrate a lot of my time working on building the AR Classic brand and developing the artists on the label. I think this comes out of my desire to want to be a producer, not just a beat maker, which I think a lot of people confuse these days, especially in Hip Hop. By being involved with my artists on the scale of a whole project, I work with them on their vision for the project on all levels including the artwork and videos to support it. This allows me to really dig into the project and share the vision, helping the artist achieve it. When you only land placements, you sort of give this level of involvement up. You often send a beat out and eventually hear the final result, without any input on the song, or how it fits into the big picture of the album it’s appearing on. Your role is just the beat maker. Now this is not ALWAYS the case, but it often is.
I came up with most of the guys on AR Classic, and we've been making music together for almost 10 years in some cases, so it also allows me to continually work on making good music on a regular basis, and push for growth for myself as a producer, the label and the artists.
This also prepped me well for when the opportunity to work on a whole project with Juxx came about. I wasn’t nervous or afraid to dive into really working on making this album a great album, and viewing the whole scope of the project in its entirety. I had the ability to look at what we were missing on the record, make new songs to fill those gaps and make adjustments to the existing songs to elevate them to the next level for the album. This was all 2nd nature to me because I had been doing this for years with AR.
That all being said, I definitely do hunt for placements because there are a lot of people I want to work with, and sometimes it’s nice to just play the role of beat maker. But I try to not get too caught up waiting and holding beats for the perfect placement. I try to concentrate on just making lots of good music, because I do believe that by building my reputation that way, those artists I want to work with and haven't yet had the opportunity, will start to seek me out.
Alkota: Last time we spoke, you were a dedicated Propellerhead using Reason 6 to craft bangin beats. Propellerhead's recently released Reason 6.5 that added Rack Extensions, their own proprietary "plugin" system. With the release of Reason 6.5 came a slew of third party plugins or "rack extensions" to assist producers with everything from from mixing & mastering and added a host of new synths and instruments.
6. With the addition of Rack Extensions, do you feel that Reason is "complete" enough to mix inside the box? Have you mixed records entirely in Reason or do you still drop everything into Pro Tools for the finishing touches?
Reason's Rack Extensions is amazing and holds even more amazing potential, however I still, as of yet, have not gone as far as creating and mixing a song exclusively with Reason. Now this may partially be out of habit, and probably also has something to do with my owning better mixing tools for pro tools, but I'm not sure that it will happen anytime soon for me. That is not to say that it can't be done and sound amazing, I'm just not sure it's going to be my workflow. I am, however, very excited with the sonic possibilities the new Rack Extensions offer for my production. There are a lot of new tools that weren't previously built into Reason and I have been able to utilize them to achieve new sounds. The Saturation Knob by Softube has offered some great warmth and richness to my sound, while Propellerhead's Polar harmonizer has been amazingly cool and fun to work with. I have gotten some really awesome sounds out of that unit. That's pretty much all I have dipped into in the Rack Extension world thus far, but like I said, the potential that Rack Extensions holds is pretty incredible. For me, Reason just keeps getting better and better, it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. I don't see myself ever leaving it.
Alkota: I've noticed you are doing some video work (shooting & editing).
7. Is dabbling in video production a hobby, aspiring profession, marketing tool, or passion for you?
Well, as I mentioned earlier, I really enjoy working with my AR artists on achieving their overall vision for their projects, and that includes visuals, through both photography and videography. My working in these fields for AR started out of necessity, and it began with photography. I have always loved playing around with photography and have had the great fortune of working with phenomenal photographers such as Colin Brennan over the years and PhotoRob more recently. We needed promo photos and album cover photos done and our budget was tight, so I took up the duty of handling this for us. I was able to utilize what tools and tricks I had picked up over the years or watching Colin, and the shots came out great. I ended up shooting the photos for both Dominik Omega and Carolina Black's last full-length albums and I just recently shot the photos for Viceversah's upcoming EP. Video was very much the same situation. The label needed more visuals, and we didn't really have the budget to pay for a bunch of videos, so with what budget I had, I bought a Canon 7D and got started shooting for us.
While in college, I took a couple classes in video editing, where I was able to pick up some basics in Final Cut Pro and found that, in many ways, it's very similar to working with audio in ProTools, and in some ways similar to chopping up a sample and getting creative with it.
I began editing these AR videos to the best of my ability and then would send them out to different editors to put the final touches on them. At this point I have done a couple music videos and a couple promo videos for the label. Although I do enjoy working on these videos, I would ultimately love to find someone to join the team as AR's official video producer, so I can concentrate more on producing our music, but until that time comes this method has been successful for AR so we will continue and get other video producers to help supplement when possible. I don't really see myself working on videos with artists outside of AR Classic, but I've also learned never to say never, haha.
8. Aside from Ruste Juxx & The Arcitype's V.I.C., what other projects do you have in store for 2012/2013?
I have a whole bunch of projects in the works that’ll be released in the near future. We are putting the finishing touches on Waters' debut album, “Surface Tension”, Carolina Black and Dominik Omega are working on an EP called “Smartest Guys In The Room”, Viceversah is finishing up his “2 Days Off” EP and is knees deep into his new LP. We’re working on Fran-P’s AR debut, I have an EP in the works with my homie Esh The Monolith, a full-length project with Moe Pope, we're working on a new EP for The High Life and I've been working a lot with XL of The Kreators on a few different things so there's a project in the works there too. I have produced nearly every song on these projects and I also have a few placements on upcoming projects that will be announced soon. So you will be hearing plenty more from me in the near future.
9. Any shout outs or final thoughts from The Arcitype & AR Clasic Team?
Shouts to my whole AR Classic family, my Bridge Sound & Stage family, my genetic family, my manager and homie Adam and everyone who has been and still is supporting me. Shout out to Alkota for the interview, and for always looking out. I'm looking forward to what the future has in store for myself and AR Classic Records, it should be exciting.
10. Shoot the readers your social networking & contact information
You can catch me at: