DrewsThatDude is a multi-platinum, Grammy nominated, producer. He’s probably also one of the realest guys you’ll ever meet. I recently had the chance to catch up with him. We talked about the tweet heard round the world, his first recording related job, major influences and a hell of a lot more. Lifetime’s about to write a screenplay to this interview. Check it below:
Q: The tweet heard round the world….I remember looking at your tweet thinking damn already RT’ed 3k times then I looked later that night and it’s at 25k. I’m not even gonna go into the 100k likes on Instagram. How did it blow up like that? How do you feel about it?
[Laughs] Honestly I’m not even sure how it blew up. There were a couple music industry people that I saw were retweeting it and it gradually just exploded. Honestly it was a funny experience more than anything I just laughed at it and kept on working haha. I still get random people retweeting and favoriting it every now and then.
Q: Did anyone in your family hear about the famous tweet ? What did they say ?
My sister and a lot of her friends were aware of it they found it just as hilarious as I did. She and a couple other people were sending me different links and tweets, telling me which celebs or famous blogs were talking about it. It’s a trip for real.
Q: I know that sometimes people fall into music after realizing they love it. How was it for you? What was your first taste of music?
I’ve been around music my whole life, I started messing around on the piano around 5 or 6 and by the time I was 7 I started taking lessons and really learning music so its something that I’ve been exposed to for a long time.
Q: Was music always a passion? Were you born to be a musician?
Music has always been a passion since I was a kid, I can’t really remember a time where I wasn’t really dedicated to music for the most part. I had my time when I was super dedicated to playing sports, mainly basketball, but by the time high school ended (and I realized I wasn’t gonna get any taller), I was back focused solely on music, [laughs].
Q: Is anyone else in your family musically talented? Could you tell me about them?
I’m actually the only person in my immediate family that has any musical talent [laughs]. My dad tried to pick up the sax, but that didn’t exactly work out.
Q: What were some of your favorite records growing up?
Jamiroquai- Virtual Insanity, Red Hot Chili Peppers – Around the World, Hov/UGK- Big Pimpin, Outkast – SpottieOttieDopalicious, Kurupt – We Can Freak It, A Tribe Called Quest – Against The World. I could go on for hours and hours [laughs].
Q: How would your closest friends describe you?
A real one.
Q: How would you describe your music?
Something like a cross of Ty Dolla $ign, T-Pain, Stevie Wonder & Battlecat with a little bit of Jeff Lorber Fusion Band & Incubus influence.
Q: What’s the last song you listened to?
A super secret record that I produced with Gravez, [laughs] my bad
Q: 7 things you couldn’t live without?
Music, Good Food, Good People, “Medicine”, Basketball, Good Books, Peace.
Q: Who are some of your musical influences and how have they affected you musically or personally?
Most of the music I make is kind of in an R&B style that I came up with studying a lot of R&B records produced by Polow Da Don, T-Pain, Pop & Oak. Then I try to blend that with a funky west coast melody style that’s heard in G-Funk and producers like Battlecat, Rick Rock, Jelly Roll & DJ Quik. I try to take my influences from most of the music that I link with certain time periods of my life.
Q: What was your first recording related job? What was it like?
Working with a terrible artist from Harlem haha, it was completely awful and I’m glad those songs will never see the light of day. Actually most of my amateur music industry experiences involved heading uptown or to the city & selling music or working with random artists. It was great experience, but nothing really memorable musically came from those days [laughs].
Q: For those who don’t know, could you tell us what tracks you were nominated for?
I was grammy nominated for Co-producing How To Hate ft. T-Pain on Lil Wayne’s The Carter IV album. It was nominated for Rap Album of the Year.
I would say it took me a good 4 years to develop the style that I’m pretty much known for, but I’m always looking to elevate and get better.
Q: Has your music evolved over the years? If so, how?
To be honest, my music hasn’t really evolved at all from a composition standpoint but technique wise most definitely. My mixes, and just overall understanding of creating music has risen for sure but I’m still making the same music for the most part as I was in lets say 2010/2011.
Q: How would you define your role in the creative process?
In the creative process, I’m just one piece… part of a whole, really. My job is to provide a canvas that an artist can use to relay a message across. In R&B records especially because I know what I like melodically, I can put it in a track and help direct artists that way and help provide direction without even being there.
Q: Can you walk us through what a day in the studio may look like?
A day in the studio is BORING! People think it’s great and where the magic happens, and sometimes it does, but for the most part it’s just work as usual. You go in there with your vice of choice and try to stay awake through your sessions, haha. It really all depends on what you’re there for though. Every day I try to do different things when I’m working so it varies, most artists sessions are usually the same depending on the artist/musicians skill sets.
Q: When it comes to collaborations how does that usually come about? Are you sought out or do you do the seeking?
I’m going to be completely honest I used to collaborate a lot when I first started getting into the industry just because It was a dope way for me to get better in things that I was lacking in. These days I don’t really seek out much collaborations anymore outside of artists/producers that really inspire me just because I’m trying to make the best music possible. A lot of people are seek me out me, but it doesn’t always feel genuine or they don’t come out as good as some of the others. I think thats why some of my collabs with Gravez or Fortune come out the best just because they’re like my little brothers. We talk almost everyday about everything. Music is like sports you have to develop chemistry. Sometimes people kick it off right away but its rare.
Q: Do you feel that artists benefit from networking online? And before working with someone do you meet face to face?
Networking online is dope, you meet a lot of great people. I wouldn’t be doing this interview without the internet! 95% of my collaborations and songs are done through the internet, but that face to face interaction or at least that constant conversation is super important when it comes to making the best music possible. Plus people lie and pretend a lot on the internet, so sometimes you have to do a lot of fact checking and meet people in person to get a real good gauge on what they’re about. There’s a lot of dangerous people in this music industry.. stealing ideas and what not.
Q: How long did it take you roughly to start excelling with your career?
[Laughs] I mean that depends on what you define as excelling, I would say it took me a good 4 years to develop the style that I’m pretty much known for, but I’m always looking to elevate and get better. Honestly, I feel the music I’ve been making since July is the best music of my life and I still have a long way to go.
Q: What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the fact that I’m finally realistically positioned to make a living off my music. Its been a long time and a lot of struggling but things are starting to look up.
Q: Who inspires you?
Successful people inspire me, seeing young people start tech start ups and businesses that turn into huge companies and money making ideas. Art, History, Love, Pain. My muse and my vices.
Q: Anyone you’re trying to work with?
There really isn’t anybody specifically, I’m more so about just making the best music possible for the people, so I love working with my peers. But I’d like to make some music Rihanna, Future, Goldlink, Shlomo, Ty Dolla $ign. Everybody, haha. I just really want to make good music.
Q: When you wake up in the morning what’s the first thing you think about?
Q: What are some of your favorite media outlet, if any?
I honestly don’t even follow media blogs and magazines specifically. I use twitter and the pocket app to save all the links to interesting articles. They usually involve sports, business ideas, music, clothing. Forbes, Business Insider, Techcrunch, StupidDope, KickDeals, Billboard type articles.
Q: When you’re making music do you have your listeners in mind or do you just make it for yourself?
I make music for myself and girls to vibe out and listen to. I try to make most of my music and visualize where the finer gender is going to be listening to it, absorbing it, where they’re going to appreciate it. I’m big on women dictating my sound and approach in how I create, because it’s rooted in R&B thats a genre that’s built off bigging up and inspiring our women.
Q: Naomi Bowler was my first interview and she spoke very highly of you! Any plans to work with her again?
Ahh, damn Naomi is the homie!! I gotta check that interview out and hit her up. We have a couple other songs already done and many more on the way! I can’t reveal too much but its a pleasure doing music with her and she’s very talented and appreciative of the work that we put in together! Definitely interested to see what she does in the future.
Q: What are a couple of your favourite projects? Why?
Some of my favorite projects I listen to for inspiration? Oh I can go all day, T-Pain’s Epiphany album was a huge influence on how i make music, same with Trey Songz Ready EP, Chris Brown’s Exclusive album. I took all those influences from that and mix it kind of with the underground world. Goldlink’s The God Complex, Terrace Martin’s3ChordFold, I love PYRMDPLAZA’s white label he dropped withSoulection, thats the homie, he’s super inspiring.
Favourite albums of all time gotta have Jeff Lorber Fusion Band – Wizard Island, Bloc Party -Silent Alarm, Jamiroquai Space – Cowboy, Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Majik, Project Pat – Mista Don’t Play
Q: Do you think going to Berklee helped advance your knowledge and career?
I wouldn’t be the musician I am without Berklee, it taught me how to be a professional and how to work with multiple people from different backgrounds, practice habits and just providing a network that I still use to link with people to this day!
Q: What was the first instrument you ever learned to play? What instruments do you play now?
My instrument history is kinda weird. I started playing piano classically when I was 7, then I was actually part of a Drumline/Honor Band. I played Snare drum from when I was like 9-13.. Then I got kind of sick of playing piano, I didn’t think it got girls (I was wrong as hell), so I started playing bass guitar and thats kind of when I started expanding into different genres more.
Right before I went to Berklee I had the chance to play both instruments, but I went back to piano and focused more on Jazz, gospel and composition.
Q: What do you find to be the most challenging part about being in the music industry? And if you could change one thing what would it be?
The fakeness, the gossip, the politics. It makes it very stressful to deal with on top of the fact you have to produce music at a high level with all this going on, not to count whatever is going on in your personal life It can leave you feeling very lonely and depressed honestly if you’re built of a certain character. I’d like integrity to make its way back into the music industry. There’s a lot of thievery and a lot of just overall snakiness that happens when it doesn’t even have to.
People will stab somebody in the back for $5 in this industry, when all they have to do is communicate. You’ll realize that same person you’re willing to stab in the back over $5 would probably give you that same $5 if you would just be honest with your intentions and ask.
Q: In your own opinion what does it mean to “respect artistry” ?
To respect the process of creating music from beginning to end, to pay homage to your influences and muses and everyone involved to help bring your art to the forefront.
Q: Any pet peeves?
My biggest one is people who aren’t honest with themselves. I also get annoyed by people who are intimidated by confidence or people who speak their mind.
Q: Is there anything that really make you not like someone? Because you seem way too nice.
I am a nice guy!! I just don’t tolerate disrespect, I’ve been disrespected in this industry and never reacted and while I can say I took the high road it still bothers me. I don’t let people disrespect me or my peers any longer, so if it gets to that level you will probably hear from me in some way shape or form.
Q: Is there one piece of advice that has stuck with you that you’d like to share?
Keep working. It’s okay to complain about the things that bother you or to be upset in your situations, but never stop working. Sometimes you have to be vocal about the things that bother you so you can know what you will and won’t stand for but just always keep working through it all!
Q: Do you believe in luck or hard work?
Hard work. You can become a superstar through luck and hard work, but no matter what you’ll always be successful if you work hard. The whole “Chance favors the prepared man” theory. I’m just working hard till I can cash in on my luck.
Q: What does 2015 look for you? 2016?
[Laughs] More of what I was doing in 2014! Finally booking to be doing shows this summer/fall (really this spring my schedule is just getting crazy), so hopefully people will catch me and my friends during some of these shows. More remixes, more mixes because people keep asking. Tons and tons for the future and beyond.. just trying to maximize all the options presented to me!
Q: Any other thoughts?
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me and ask me a bunch of dope questions. I appreciate you guys for always showing love to me and the music I produce! Im gonna use this time to shoutout a couple dope people like my homie Erik who stopped me from beating up many many people in this music industry, Grant Tucker of SCKNOWS who does majority of my art direction and helped me put this whole plan into action. Maryam who stopped me from quitting music when my production deal was awful and gave me the confidence to really push this DrewsThatDude brand, my musical Family (Gravez, Fortune,PYRMDPLAZA, Elhae, SPZRKT, Ekali) for always supporting my music and for making such great fucking music together and for being great pals.
*BONUS QUESTION* : If Beck and Kanye were drowning and you could only save one, who would you save?
I don’t rock with deep bodies of water like that so they would probably be assed out honestly. Would probably tell them to call Beyonce.