Interview by: Hallway Jay
Revisions by: KINGGS (ought oh!)
Little Brother - Can't Win For Losing
Naturel - Resurrect
["My process varies to be honest with you. Lately I've been making music from scratch. Sometimes I'll sit there and play riffs on the keyboard for 5 minutes and just record the whole thing. Then I'll just go back and sample and chop my own playing. Sort of like treating it like it was a sample from a record."]
I sat in front of a window with the echoes of a gentle piano plays until a static intro followed by a voice stating “Oh we back on , let’s go”. Followed by vintage guitar riffs, ambient background, and a radio sample talking about the 9/11 and the disasters of American culture, all while I flip through the Issue of SCRATCH with 50 and Timbaland. Only to find almost instant underneath Wyclef and rated as the 18th hottest producer out and directly to the right of his name the same tune. This was the first, yet not the last time, I met Illmind.illRoots: For those who don't know your music give them a rundown of who you've worked with?
Illmind: To name a few, 50 Cent, LL Cool J, Little Brother, Apl De Ap (Black Eyed Peas), G-Unit, Diamond D, Chip-Fu (Fu-Shnickens), Jim Jones, Riz, Akrobatik, Strange Fruit Project, and a slew of incredible artists you probably never heard of, but will soon!
illRoots: How did you get your start?
illmind: Basically in a nutshell, i started taking producing seriously back in 2002 when i placed my first 12" with Akrobatik, called "Remind My Soul". Things started to roll after that, and here I am now.
IllRoots: If you had to describe yourself in three words what would they be and why?
Illmind: Humble, Creative, and Hungry. I feel like no matter how far you take your career in this game, you always have to remember where you came from. I'm thankful everyday for the opportunity to do what I do, so no matter what happens I'm always going to be grounded about it. Creative, because I am not afraid to push myself to the limit as far as creativity and experimenting goes. Hungry, because I'm always going to treat it like I just started. There's always going to be room to move up, so that's the only direction i plan to go!
IllRoots: Who is the greatest producer of all-time? and why?
Illmind: J-Dilla, point blank. He set a standard for a lot of todays hottest and most creative producers. R.I.P. to the greatest.
IllRoots: You've worked with so many artists but the new Little Brother is getting great reviews and you did the bulk of the work on there. How
Illmind: I wasn't in the actual studio with Tay and Pooh during the sessions, but the process was great. I had a vision for what i wanted to bring to the table for them this go around, and we all seemed to be on the same page, creatively. As far as my favorite goes, I'd have to say Can't Win For Losing. I took a chance with that beat, and even though it's pretty stripped down, the message was clear, and the shit knocked! I love what they did with that beat and where they took it. It was a different sound for them, and that was basically the goal.
illRoots: Little Brothers "Sirens" is a personal favorite what is your process in the lab when creating a beat?
Illmind: Good looks! My process varies to be honest with you. Lately I've been making music from scratch. Sometimes I'll sit there and play riffs on the keyboard for 5 minutes and just record the whole thing. Then I'll just go back and sample and chop my own playing. Sort of like treating it like it was a sample from a record. I [also] do different things and apply different eq's to make them sound like they were from an actual record. I can't tell you what I do though [Laughs]. I really like taking my time on the drums. To me,. the drums can make or break the track.They gotta bang every single time!
illRoots: What's one piece of equipment that you couldn't live without?
Illmind: Ensoniq ASR-10, hands down.
illRoots: Hip-Hop is constantly evolving as we see different genres such as Rock and Electronica making strides to integrate more into the genre, what is next sound to look out for?
Illmind: I honestly couldn't tell you. I guess we'll all have to wait and see.
illRoots: One artist that you could work with, that is alive, and not necessarily "Hip-Hop", that you would love to work with?
Illmind: I can name a ton of emcee's, so i won't pick an emcee [Laughs]. I'd have to say Stevie Wonder. Incredible, incredible artist & I grew up on his music. If i had the chance to be in the studio with him, I would probably just bring a pad and pen and sit there and take notes! Probably a video camera too haha.
illRoots: Over time what was the hardest time in your life?
Illmind: Career-wise, I'd have to say when i first decided to drop everything and go music full time. The struggle is where it starts, and I was dealing with a lot of pressure from my family, friends, and people doubted me. Not to mention financial issues as well. That's just part of the game.
illRoots: I have just one more question to ask before we wrap things up. It seems like in every interview everyone always asks who influences you in your life, but if I were to flip that "How can Illmind influence Hip-Hop?
Illmind: If I were in any way an influence, i would want my music to influence people to channel their music from raw emotion. When you hear music that you love, there's always that "it" thing about it that you can't explain. That feeling you get when you hear it and it never goes away. I get that feeling when i hear Dilla's music. You can tell that he makes music from his soul. When I'm in the studio creating music, for whatever genre, the ideas always come from a feeling. If you make music that you can't feel, then what's the point?
For More info on Illmind check out his Myspace: www.myspace.com/illmind