1. Introduce yourself to the readers who may not be familiar with The Arcitype
My name is The Arcitype, and I'm a hip hop producer based in Boston, MA. I'm originally from New York City but have lived in Massachusetts for 22 years now and have been in Boston for the last 8 of those roughly. I went to school out here and stayed after because I had found myself a nice place int he hip hop community out here and felt like it was a good place for me to set up shop. I run my own label, AR Classic Records, and produce for all the cats on there. I also my own full scale recording studio, The Bridge Sound & Stage in Cambridge, MA and have production credits with a number of artists including Kool G Rap, Edo G, Big Noyd, Ruste Juxx, Killa Sha & many more.
Alkota: I recently caught your beat making video on YouTube (via Crate Kings) . Pretty dope! You were making a sample free beat from scratch that sounded sampled.
2. Are all your beats sample free? Or do you dig in the crates too?
At this point I pretty much only make sample free work unless I'm specifically asked by an artist to sample. I used to sample all the time so I have plenty of beats that are sample based and I still have love for the whole process. I have THOUSANDS of records that I collected over numerous years and still love that feeling of finding something amazing of a record. But I will say that the feeling of making something completely from scratch that really hits hard is actually more gratifying for me. In the beginning I was making sampled and sample free work back and forth. I began to lean towards sample free because of clearance issues initially, and then it later built into publishing dollars for myself, my artists and my label so it was sample free from then on. My biggest goal in my sample free work is to try to make people think there is a sample in it, or for it to just be so hot it doesn't matter haha. Nah but I really aim to give the music the feeling that sampling does without the legal issues. At this point I'd have to say I really do prefer making sample free work over sampled.
3. Are you a software or hardware beat maker/producer?
I mainly use Propellerhead's Record and Reason. I do have an MPC 2500 and a 1000 that I did plenty of work on at one point, but at this point I really use Record the most. I did just recently pick up NI's Maschine and have started to dabble in it here and there and it shows some promise, I just have to stack up some more VSTIs at this point. I prefer using Record at this point because it really gives me everything I need right at my fingertips and doesn't get in the way of my thought/creative process. I have all my sounds right there, I'm always expanding and getting new sounds and I know the program so well I can just breeze through it. And now, with Record, anything that I want to add from outside of the program is easy because it allows audio recording straight into the software, so I'm able to add live guitars, basses, other keyboards, percussive elements, really anything I want or could imagine. the program doesn't inhibit me at all. The sound quality is great, and and allows for me to really play with the tonal qualities of the parts. I can get everything from crystal clear to completely dirty, and the advantage of being able to bounce out all my stems in one click and bring them into Pro Tools only allows for more mixing and tweaking with little to no downtime at all.
4. Walk me through your workflow when you make a beat. Well it's never really the same. Sometimes I start on the keys or a synth, sometimes the drums, kinda depends. At times I will basically play around until I find something that catches my ear me and inspires something and then run with it while other times, I'll sit down with a clear notion of what it is I'm going for and what I'm gonna do. All depends on the day. I will say that I pull inspiration from all sorts of places not just music, and that can often affect what comes out of the studio. I also listen to all kinds of music in my spare time so that will often play into what I sit down and try to capture. Like I said before, I really aim to make it the listener feel like there is a sample in the beat or that it's on par with beats that are sampled, so I will play a lot of live instruments on my work to get that feeling, I will add live guitars, live bass, acoustic keys if need be. All depends on what the song is calling for and what I hear. I do have a couple little tricks that will stay with me in regards to making things sound more sampled, but the most important part for me is putting MUSIC into my work and not just hitting one note and laying some drums on top. I try to mix the beats to a place where they hit hard in Record knowing that I can take it further in Pro Tools. Depending on the beat I may put more time into it before shopping it, but often I can get them sounding nice enough out the box. At this point, I do always make my beats for an artist to work on. Doesn't necessarily need to be a rapper, I have produced R&B joints as well, but I find that it's important to not only give a voice to the tracks but to include a collaborative energy into a track so that I'm not the only one bringing something to the table. People like songs, and especially ones they can sing along with, so I need the aid of someone else with those talents for my products to be complete.
Alkota: Aside from making beats, I understand you own your own studio in Boston.
5. How did you come about owning your own recording studio?
Well I started working at a well known studio here in Boston during the last year of college and also had my own project studio in my crib as all producer's do where I would record all the projects for AR Classic Records. I built a list of trusting clientele at the professional studio, and began to do the same at my own project studio. The professional studio ended up closing down for personal reasons with the owner and i was left to kinda freelance around town. I began to work out a small vocal studio that one of my former professors was running and that worked for a while but I was getting people asking me to record and mix their band's album, and I had no place to accommodate that, so I'd have to try to send them in the right direction for tracking and then hope to get the project back for mixing. Needless to say I was losing a lot of potential money, so I began to talk about opening my own spot, and a buddy of mine showed me this place that had been a studio before and was now housing a guy who was just living out of it as his home. He had, however, kept everything about the design of the studio space intact and he was moving out, so I contacted my former professor whose studio I had been working out of and discussed with him the idea of opening our own spot together and he (fortunately for me) was looking to move out of his space. I showed him the space, he looked at me like i was crazy, told me I was crazy, and then went and spoke to his wife. Very soon after that i got a call from him saying he was in, and we jumped on the place and made it happen. We've been here now for almost 3 years and have already worked with people like Sheryl Crow, Keane, Jordan Knight (New Kids On The Block), David Grey, Edo G, Made Men, Amanda Palmer, Waves, Apogee, & many more. So it's been an exciting few years.
6. Do you spend most of your time engineering other peoples music/records or producing your own music?
I'd say it's about 40/60 in favor of my own production. I'm trying to push it more in the direction of producing my own music exclusively, but making ends meet is important, so engineering is still something I have to do to make that happen. My passions really lie in producing and my musical flexibility allows me to really stretch my sound in many different directions and for many different applications so I am able to put my production skills to use for things like commercial jingles, songs for toys, etc. Obviously I'd love to only producing music for artists and making money that way, but that's in development at the moment.
Alkota: Producing and engineering music is definitely not as glamorous as many younger beat makers and aspiring producers might think.
7. Can you elaborate on the downside of being an entrepreneur and self employed in the music industry?
Work consumes your life. You have to work so hard to get a leg up in this industry that you will quickly find yourself putting in CRAZY hours every week to make it happen (this is all provided you have the drive to do so obviously). My biggest challenge, which I think I have been getting better at recently is making sure that I set aside the time to live my life as well with the people that help make me who I am and help keep me sane. The music industry is a complete roller coaster. In one week you will experience super highs and super lows, and it takes time to understand that's the case and to just ride it out with the confidence and faith that it will all come around again and your time will come. You also spend a lot of your time doing work for free and/or working with some less than amazing artists just to try to build your reputation as a good engineer and a dope producer. It's an incredible amount of WORK. I feel like a lot of people on the outside looking in think, "well you're making music and that has be fun?". It definitely can be, and when it is, it's AMAZING. But it can also be incredibly frustrating and can turn something that we love into something we hate (or are at least really mad at, hahaha). Best advice I can give is to only go into this line of work if you really, literally cannot imagine yourself doing anything else. It's unforgiving and your grind has to be relentless, and ultimately you may end up empty handed in the end, cause there are no promises, but if you have a true passion and drive for it, then let's make some moves. Also, this is an industry built on relationships. It's all about who you know and hwo they feel about you, so always build with people and DON'T burn bridges!
Alkota: There is a common misconception that having major label credits equates to "success" in the music industry. I feel quite the opposite. I think there are plenty of opportunities to brand yourself as a producer, engineer, and develop your business independently outside of the traditional "gatekeepers"
8. Can you elaborate on that thought? I absolutely agree. I think it partially depends on your definition of success in this industry. For me, the ability to live comfortably, have time to live my life, have a family, and not be a stress case all the time, all through making music is the bottom line definition of success. Now, it goes up from there, but there are plenty of examples of people who have actually turned down major label deals and worked completely on an independent level that have been VERY successful. It all depends on where you're coming from. I think it's clear that the people who really have a passion for this and love to make music because it's part of who they are, are the one's that would consider success the ability to live off making music alone. The people who suggest that success is only when you have a hit record on the radio are clearly more concerned with their public image and status than the music they are making. Now, this being said, would I be upset to have some of my production blasting all over top 40 charts, not at all, but it's about where your threshold of success starts, and what you consider it is to be successful.
9. What ways have you marketed and developed yourself, your label, and studio?
A lot goes into making a strong brand for yourself, whether it be a label, a studio or yourself as a producer. Making sure that everything you put out to the public eye/ear is the best it can be and strongly represents what you're about is key. I have tried to make sure that my beat making video, photos, graphic design, website, albums, social networking sites, etc all have a look and feel that is professional and represents what I'm trying to do with it. I've entered a few online competitions and some beat battles for exposure to my production work, along with trying to feed blogs as much as possible with the new music we're putting out to help build my reputation. I really do believe though that what continues to be one of the strongest ways of getting people to notice you is through word of mouth, and people putting their friends on to you. So it's important to make sure you maintain relationships with people and be someone that people want to work with, while on top of that having great work. The combo is all you need to take off.
10. What can we look forward to from The Arcitype in 2011/2012?
Well AR Classic Records released the latest full length album from VICEVERSAH this last January called Shine Not Burn. If you haven't already checked that out, please do. I'm really proud of that project, it really set the tone for VICE and myself in working further, and we're already half way through his next album (which is really sounding amazing), which may or may not drop at the end of of this year depending on how things go with it. We don't like to rush things. We also dropped a free downloadable label compilation album called, AR Classic Records Presents: The B-Sides Vol. 01 earlier this year, which is a bunch of cuts that we loved from all our artists but didn't make it on albums, so we figured we'd give them away to our fans. We're about to drop the long overdue debut LP from AR Classic artist, Dominik Omega in July. That album has been a long time in the making and has a great summer feel good vibe to it, so def check that out when it drops (there are already some singles out there, so peep those). We're releasing the debut EP from the AR Classic super group, The High Life which I'm really pumped about. This EP is really something serious, and I can't wait to hit people over the head with it. That'll be dropping this summer. Carolina Black has a new album that is just in the beginning stages of mixing and should drop late summer/early fall. That album is just ridiculous. There are some big songs on there. I'm working on newly recruited AR artist, Fran-P's next project, a debut EP from AR artist, Waters, a collab album with the homie Moe Pope (who if you haven't checked out, you need to, his album Life After God is SO dope), I'm working on a full length album with Duck Down artist and Boot Camp Clik member, Ruste Juxx which is going to be STUPID. We've got all the beats picked out for it and are starting to put together the songs piece by piece, and I'm already geeked off how it's sounding, so that will be dope. I also got joints coming out on a bunch of people's projects throughout the year, including my homie XL's (of The Kreators) new album, Beast Coast, Promise's album, The Awakening, which is dropping on June 28 on Duck Down and a number of other cats overseas. So it will be an exciting and busy year! I'm AMPED for it.
11. For artists interested in getting a beat from you or recording at your studio, whats the best way to get in touch with The Arcitype?
The best way is to contact my agent, who will then speak to my publisher, who will get in touch with my manager, who will reach out to my mother, who will yell to my father to call my sister to come find me. Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or get at me on thearcitype.com, facebook.com/thearcitype, twitter.com/thearcitype or soundcloud.com/thearcitype.
12. Any closing thoughts or shout outs? Quick shout outs to the AR camp, Black, Dominik, Fran, Vice, Waters, Young Jedi, Lightfoot; my people Esh, KiKi, Adam, Owen, XL, Moe, Ruste, Alkota; and especially my family and my girl DJ Dahl Face, what what. Closing thought: To all my music lovers, and especially the Hip Hop fans, there are still a few of us out here trying to keep the good music alive and bring you new classic jams to rock to, but it's hard and we're doing on our own without the help of major labels, so please support that cats that are doing their thing and bringing new good music into the world. Thanks, Peace.