We have a new monthly feature starting this month called “Interesting People In The Industry”. Basically every month (until we run out of interesting people) Bruno will be sitting down with some of the interesting people in our industry. Soulsupplement Artists, Djs, producers, lifestyle reporters and pretty much anyone and everyone that Bruno finds interesting.
This month we kick things off with Michigan producer, poet and all around artist Achickwitbeatz. Bruno met Achickwitbeatz by way of Facebook sometime back and well Bruno found her so interesting that after pretty much ripping off her website’s Q & A section he decided that the least he could do was ask her to sit down and answer a few questions for “ours”. Here's the sit down:
Bruno Browning: There’s been some great artists from Michigan: Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and my personal favorite the incredible Rev. Dr. Della Reese just to name a few. Is the Michigan music scene still vibrant and how does hailing from Michigan shape your sound?
Achickwitbeatz: Yes indeed and I am very proud to call The Mitten my home. There are many incredibly talented artists here and I believe it's because of those greats that paved the way for us. Personally, I believe there's a strong sense of pride hailing from the same state that churned out the soulful sounds to the rest of the world that Michigan has become known for. I believe I instinctively add that element of soul to whatever I do because it's what I'm used to.
Bruno Browning: How did you first get into production?
Achickwitbeatz: Excluding my feeble attempt in high school (which included a Casio keyboard, Karaoke machine, and JC Penney drum machine ha ha ha), it started when my husband got a MacBook and I decided to play around with GarageBand and see how it worked. It was morning and I didn't have any plans that day, then the next thing I knew it was late night and I had forgotten to eat. After that, I began to dedicate every spare moment I had to it, eventually the software and hardware collections kept growing and then came the launch of Achickwitbeatz, LLC.
Bruno Browning: As a country it could be said that we’ve made advances in changing people’s preconceived idea of so called traditional gender roles. Do you think this is the case in the world of music production and if not what are some of the challenges that go along with that extra burden?
Achickwitbeatz: Haha, excellent question. No, I don't think it's the case in the music world hence my moniker. Achickwitbeatz is a portmanteau name derived from the words "A chick with beats". It's my way of embracing the fact that not everyone recognizes that there are women in the field and it's kind of my ode to the underexposure that we deal with.
When I first started putting my music online I would get asked "what do you do?" even though my profile would clearly state that I was a music producer. Or I'd get comments like "I like your beats bruh" even though my picture would be plastered all over my profile, background/wallpapers.
I am a proud Native Instruments Maschine user and once I was having some technical issues with it so my husband and I took it in to Guitar Center to have it checked out. Upon leaving (mind you I'm the one carrying it) a man approaches my husband and says, "Hey man, I have the same drum machine you do". My husband responds, "It’s my wife's". The man then says "no, I said I have the same drum machine you use." This went on three times before the man finally understood that chicks can make beats too.
Aside from the annoyance of having to explain obvious things simply because I'm female, I wouldn't say that it's a hindrance. Sometimes I think it takes some people a bit longer to take you seriously, but once they listen they become supportive.
Bruno Browning: Any advice to young artists out there and any special advice for female producers trying to get in the game?
Achickwitbeatz: I'd say to stay true to your sound, even if you're still searching for what it is. While its commonplace for people to imitate what's "hot" right now, that stuff fades quickly and there's no longevity in that. Make music that feels good to you and focus on building with artists that connect with your sound. Additionally to female producers I would say not to get discouraged, just understand that not everyone "gets it" and some people need a little extra hand-holding until they do ha ha.
Bruno Browning: I’m fascinated with people like yourself that can put pen to paper and write poetry / lyrics. When did you first start writing and when did you know that you were good?
Achickwitbeatz: Oh wow, thank you! All smiles over here haha. I first started writing in elementary 4th or 5th grade and THAT was terrible haha. It was fun for me though and a way to express my thoughts or spill my imagination on paper. I didn't really gain confidence in it until about 2002 when I was finally brave enough to share it with others who seemed to enjoy it, but I'm always working to evolve and become better than I was the day before.
Bruno Browning: Playing the bass, keyboard and being behind the decks is not something I do but more accurately something I must do like, breathing. Do you feel the same way about writing poetry or is it something that you do when you really have something to say?
Achickwitbeatz: I do feel like production is breathing, but poetry I try to save for when I have something to say. The funny thing is that the production usually gives me something to say.
Bruno Browning: Alright let’s put on our studio nerd hats for a minute. There’s a natural disaster coming your way and you’re being evacuated to safety. You’re allowed one piece of hardware and one piece of software, what are they?
Achickwitbeatz: Native Instruments Maschine, the hardware/software. I didn't even have to take time to think about that one haha.
Bruno Browning: What’s next for you and how can people get in touch with you?/p>
Achickwitbeatz: I am working on a few different projects (EPs), one I hope to release late this year (currently tied up in feature limbo) and a couple early-mid next year. Possibly some singles sprinkled in the mix. I love connecting with people, you can connect with me at any or all of the following:Achickwitbeatz.com Twitter
Thank you so much for the opportunity, it's been great talking with you and I look forward to working together soon!
Bruno Browning: It’s been a pleasure talking with you over the past year…thanks for taking the time and I look forward to some future collaborations.