Thursday, September 27, 2012

Interview with Steve Sola

Interview with Steve Sola
Hip Hop game has been circumvented to different genres and styles. When you have worked with the major players in the game, you have every reason to gloat. Not according to the “Mix King” himself Steve Sola. He has been in the studio with legends such as Nas, Mobb Deep, Infamous Mobb, Cormega to name a few. The Italian born, New York by blood top engineer has been hip hop’s secret weapon. Steve Sola may not be a household name but he definitely fits the description of “I’M NOT FAMOUS BUT FAMOUS PEOPLE KNOW ME!”
Intrigued interviews Steve Sola in which he talks about his years in the music business, his role as an engineer, his relations with Mobb Deep, penned out the single from Tyler Perry’s “Daddy’s Little Girls” and more

1)            What it is, it’s a pleasure interviewing you Steve Sola. You called yourself the mix king. How many years in the game and how you get the name the mix king?
It’s my pleasure also Ty. Thank you for interviewing me. I've been in the professional music business game for 19 yrs; been playing guitar for over 30 yrs. There was an engineer that I had respect for but I was also competitive towards. He was calling himself "Chairman of the boards”. When Myspace came around and I needed a name, I was like if he's the chairman then I’m "The Mix King". I liked how that sounded, so I just put that on myspace. Everybody liked it and nobody was like …what? So I kept it, especially when the artists were like "well you should know…… cause you are the Mix King”

2)            I’m definitely feeling the line “I’m not famous but famous people know me.” It kind of describes me a little bit. LOL.
Yea, I like that too. It just came to me on the spot one day when I needed a quote for google. It flowed quickly without thinking.

3)            You were born in Italy; do you consider yourself a New Yorker?
New Yorker-Gladiator- Mobster- Italian Stallion…lol. No seriously... Mostly New Yorker cause I've been here longer and grew up here, even though I was born in Rome Italy.

4)            Looking through your resume, how did you make the transition from a guitarist working with bands to hip hop music?
Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll can play a toll on you and the bands you are in. Band members were having sex with the female singers, bass players doing too many drugs, drummers braking into places to get more drugs…lol…but true. Also the Rock and roll I liked was changing into these hair bands stuff. I liked REBEL music, hard, honest, for the soul music. That’s the same reasons why i got into hip hop in the 90's.

5)            With many gold and platinum hits under your belt and over 20 million albums sold. How is networking and keeping those connections playing a role into making it in this business?
The more you are in the music business circle the smaller the circle becomes. If you mess up, people will find out and keep note of it. If you are not a friendly good person, people will find out and keep note of it. If you are great at what you do, people will find out and keep note of it and will keep calling you.

6)            Talk to us about your label Plain Truth entertainment. Who is on the roster?
We do a lot of joint ventures because I feel that Plain Truth Ent is not big enough yet to do ALL the work, promotion, funding etc... And the artists just make the music.
They have to be part of the movement and work hard even after the music is made.
"One of our slogans is "You wanna be rich and famous? Help Plain Truth Entertainment make you rich and famous" Anyway , our full albums joint ventures (Roster/Artists) are O'neal McKnight, Sam Scarfo, Imam Thug, Dirtmell, The Mix King. Single deals with Gwen McCrae (many remixes coming), Enjoli, J3 and a few other artists that we are negotiating contracts right now.

7)            You have “The Mix King EP”. Was it with artists that you have worked with in the past or new artists also on it?
I worked with all of them before and here is the list of the songs and artists
The Mix King "the EP"
The Mix King featuring:
1.The Mix King feat Havoc, Nyce Da Future and Cormega "Schools Out"
2.The Mix King feat Prodigy and Imam Thug "The Recipe"
3.The Mix King feat Dirtmell, Salute and Doemain "No Gangsta"
4.The Mix King feat Havoc, Godfather, Imam Thug, Twin Gambino,
Big Noyd, Ruc aka Mr. QB and Foul Monday "QB International"
5. The Mix King feat Black Ice and Doemain "Ain't Worth It"
6. The Mix King feat Hot Rod "Highway 69"

8)            Was it hard getting cats to get on the EP?
Not really, they all gave me hot songs and I’m humbled that everybody got on these songs that I mixed and produced.

9)            Describe your role as an engineer?
Trying to achieve the BEST possible sound quality using the tools that you have at hand. The opposite of a button pusher "recordist"!

10)         What does it take for an up and coming artist to get your attention?
Big bank account. LOL. joking ….but……less talent needs a bigger budget. More talent needs a smaller budget. Greatness needs No budget because me and other people will want to invest in you and be part of what you are doing. BUT most of the times artists need some work and help. A beautiful ruff diamond still needs polishing and that’s where I come in or other professionals to put their input.

11)         Have you had any experiences in the studio when a new artist felt intimidated to work in your studio since you have worked with so many popular artists?
Yes…funny you say that. That’s for sure, they do get intimidated . I play with them and I say to them don't worry and relax, that mic has been in front of 50 Cent, Ron Isley etc… If they get too intimidated they don't belong there. Getting a little nervous is cool on the other hand; I like a little edge in the recording. It makes it not boring.

12)         Do you think the advancement in technology has lost the creativity in making a record?
Not really, creativity comes from the heart, soul and mind NOT technology. You could use the newest technology and still be making boring music.

13)         There is a difference in the recording process between the 90’s and now. I remember when artists mess up on a rhyme or when producers messed up on a sample or misused a kick or snare, they had to do the track over. Now you can simply punch in using computers.
Yes, you would have to practice your rhyme or song more and then go in the booth. In the booth the concentration was greater between artist and engineer. You would have to get it right; the punch would have to be right. The breathing and punching had to be right. Now some artist think they could be a little off and we could fix later. They are right because we can. But it’s not as fluid as getting it right, it’s magical.

14)         Producers and MC’s emailing beats and lyrics. Do you think it lose the chemistry between the artist and the producer?
There is none. The artist is now the producer. The producer is just a beat maker. Let's stop calling them producers, they are beat makers.
Even if they are great, they make great music. I’m not taking what they do lightly. Great music will make you want to listen to a song, but without a good song nobody is just listening to the beat. Music, voice and song are a marriage.

15)         How do you stay relevant in the game since the state of hip hop has changed drastically?
 If you Keep Quality above all the hype, you will survive and stay relevant, always. That goes for all genres of music and formats (radio, TV, games, music, shows). I also do other genres of music and good quality applies to all of them. Keep that true love for the music. Not just the fame and the money.

16)         What does it take to make a popping album?
Relentless, dedication and hard work for the music first and not just the hustle for the fame and fortune, groupies and cars.

17)         As a producer and as an engineer, do you know which MC or rap group is compatible to any beat whether from your beat or another producer’s beat?
You could imagine how the beat might sound with a particular artist on it ….but until he or she turns that beat into a song only God knows how great or weak it will become.

18)         Is hip hop nowadays really dead or it reinvented itself?
Hip Hop is not dead. I don't care who said it, even if he was famous. lol. It's just that the 90' Golden Age of Hip Hop is not mainstream anymore. Yes, Hip Hop is changing. But let’s remember that an artist cannot buy a million records of his own, fans buy those. If you don't like what’s happening in Hip Hop Now, don't get mad at the artists making pop music more than your friends buying it. I think the fans should buy locally. If you’re from New York and you buy a record from an artist not from NY then you should buy a record from a NY artist just because you are from NY. Rep your state man! That goes for every state. Go out and buy some records.

19)         What do you think about the sound quality of most of these joints played on the radio?
Most of it is good. The musical quality is another issue. A lot of the songs sound alike. Again …the fans should speak louder, request what you like on the radio.

20)         You worked with Mobb Deep since “Murder Muzik” and executive produced all of Prodigy HNIC projects. What was the chemistry in the studio between you guys?
GREAT since day one! The first song I ever did with the Mobb was with Mariah Carey, "On The Roof" remix. We had great sessions, great times and great music. I could write a whole book on what went on in the studio alone.

21)         Havoc usually has the hard gritty sound. Is that the type of sound you always gravitated to or it varies?
It varies more now. I was working with Nas before Mobb Deep but when I had my first few sessions with Mobb Deep for the Murda Muzik album and hearing Havoc sound, I was like "this is hard". This is Heavy Metal . lol

22)         Any artists or producers you have not worked with yet, you would like to work with?
I've worked with a few Dr Dre tracks/music with Mobb Deep and 50 Cent but not with Dr. Dre directly. So it would be an honor to work with him in the same room. That goes with Eminem too. I worked on the Re Up album and Eminem okayed all my mixes but we were not in the same room together. That would be great to record Em. And of course Jay-Z. I think we could do some great music together. I would love to work with Madonna and maybe even flirt with There were talks about me doing some remixes for Madonna and her coming to my studio but it never materialized with the material girl.

23)         Many new artists only focus on going to the studio. The studio is important but how important is going on interviews, touring and promoting your music?
Well… hopefully they are focusing on making great music and not just going to the studio and partying with friends. I think that NEW artists promote too early and too much about music that’s not ready. The music should be professionally done and your friends and peers should be going crazy about it. After that, then you have to put another hat on and promote, do interviews and tour like crazy….relentlessly. Then it’s up to the fans to love it.

24)         Is there a creativity difference between working for hip hop artists and R&B artists?
Not really, it just takes longer to do make an R&B record. The chorus alone could have 48 tracks or more.

25)         You have also wrote and produced the lead single to Tyler Perry’s “Daddy’s Little Girls”. How that came about and what was your creative approach to the project?
The creative approach was simple, having genuine love for the music and creating a good song. Me and my partner Christopher Terrell wrote the song "Struggle No More" for the movie. Chris manager, Taheim, took it to Tyler Perrys people and everybody loved it. Atlantic put Anthony Hamilton, Jaheim and Musiq Soulchild on the song. They also added some production things and helped make it what it is. It’s the only single of the soundtrack and movie; even though the soundtrack had other artist like Beyonce, Whitney Houston, R Kelly etc…Tyler Perry picked our single…yeah. The youtube comments for the song inspire me so much and I thank all of the fans for liking and loving the song. It's funny because the song inspires them to keep going even though they are struggling. Some even thank God for songs like "Struggle No More".

26)         Aside from Daddy’s Little Girls, you also audio mixed “Barbershop 2: Back in Business soundtrack. Will we see you do more production work with movies and television shows?
YES, I hope so.

27)         What advice would you give up and coming artists and producers trying to break into the game?
Read this interview TWICE. lol.. Surround yourself to as many professional people as you can, learn and listen and apply that knowledge to your project in your own way.

28)         How can artists or producers get at you?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Interview with the Bamboo Bros

Interview with Bamboo Bros
In the age of YOUTUBE and social networking websites, these platforms have helped a lot of artists captivate their audience with fresh new music. It has also produced some of the unnecessary twitter beef which would remind you of a WWE soap opera event. The Bamboo Bros have taken the alternative approach and instead of being dragged into drama. They have used these platforms to promote their own projects, the LUV NY album and working with different artists. Dave Dar & Kurious are going to break down the state of hip hop, working with producer Ray West and the label Benchmark music. 
Bamboo Bros, what’s good fellas? The Luv NY compilation is out in stores and it’s getting a lot of love on various blogs, radio shows and websites. We have promoted it pretty heavy on our site. I want to say thank you to Anime Bouziane from Aesctic Music for sending us the videos. Dave, you know that we consider you the honorary member of solovibes as you have been a big supporter of what we do. Are you and Kurious satisfied with the LUV NY album?

Dave Dar: I'm very satisfied with the album.  Everyone on the project executed so lovely.  Cats went in with the bars.  Ray and I mixed the album at this studio and I feel we got a great sound.
Kurious: Absolutely

The both of you are featured on this album with AG, OC, Kool Keith and Roc Marciano. You also have a cut on the album with AG called Snake Charmer which is a very good record. Who was the brain trust to put this idea together?

Dave Dar: Me and Jorge had a show at the Bronx Museum a while back and we had AG close out the show in honor of his long and consistent career. He was the best Representative of the BX in my opinion. We gave AG our LP and he shared it with Ray West, who caught the vibe immediately. Kurious and AG always wanted to do a song together, so we all met up at Ray’s Studio and it just happened. Ray played a few beats; Kurious picked the beat for Snake Charmer.
Kurious: Ray put the beat up and we all agreed on it and it took life by itself but Dave's rhyme actually influenced ray to put the "warriors" thing in.

Ray West produced the entire LUV NY project. How was it working with Ray West?
Dave Dar: Ray reminds me of myself in the lab. He doesn’t try to over produce stuff. He creates a very comfortable and fun vibe in the lab. And I love his style on the beats. I would describe it as a FREE GO WITH THE FLOW FEEL.
Kurious: Super chill, free and laid way back

The Luv NY compilation album has a feel similar to the D&D all-stars album in which we have artists from different parts of New York City: Uptown, the boogie down BX, Brooklyn, and Long Island under the same banner. Was that the direction you guys wanted to go?
Dave Dar: Ray definitely wanted to capture a raw NY sound.
Kurious: We just did what we do, Ray has a unique sound and we just followed the frequency.

What is the meaning behind the super group LUV NY and what do you think is the difference between New York twenty years ago and now? Can we expect another LUV NY compilation?
Dave Dar: Good music is Universal. And all members of the group were raised in the center of the Universe – NY. So we wanted to carry on tradition. I’m pretty sure Ray has his sights on a sequel.
Kurious: NY lost its identity but we didn't and of course we would do another album.

How did the group Bamboo Bros came about?
Dave Dar: Kurious and I have a special brotherhood that has developed thru Music. And that also includes our Caribbean Heritages, inner city life, and family struggle. Most of it developed during the making of Kurious’s album – II. We worked really hard and had lots of fun on that album.
Kurious: Dave and I were chilling before music and once we started in his studio it took a life of its own, Dave came up with the name.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Interview with Josh Bliss Lighten

Interview with Josh Bliss Lighten
1)            What’s going on Josh? What you have been up to these days?
 Just trying to make good music! Just released an EP "Louisiana Born Hip Hop Raised"

2)            For those who don’t know, how did you come up with the name Josh Bliss Lighten?
I use to go by bliss a few years ago but there were too many other artists named bliss so I just added my real name on top of it.

3)            What made you decide to start rapping?
My homie had a cassette tape recorder when I was a kid. We just started playing around rapping, making songs. It was just history after that.

4)            You originally from Louisiana, what made you decide to move to Bean town?
Just to have a different life/music experience. There’s more opportunity here than where I'm from.

5)            Has being from Louisiana influenced your music?
Of course southern hip hop/rap music is my roots.

6)            You have a different sound than most southern MC’s. What separates you from other rappers?
I suppose because I actually have subject in my music. I'm not just talking about women, clothes, money and cars in all my songs. Like most cliché southern artists are known for.

7)            You call yourself a nerd/hip hop artist. Does that personality describe who you are?
Yeah, pretty much. I've always been a tech nerd. All my friends always come to me with their technical problems lol.

8)            How would you describe your music?
I would say a down south east coast mesh. I just do music from my heart. It's hard to describe it lol.

9)            Talk to us about Nerd Muzik?
Nerd muzik is just music that makes you think. Not about dumbing it down for the main stream. Being a nerd is cool you don't have to be a gangsta. 

10)         How did you hook up with Aperiod and Main Aim?
 Aperiod saw a couple of my videos I guess and he liked my music. We talked, met up and clicked and it’s been like brotherly bond since then.

11)         Talk to us about the Louisiana born, hip hop raised mixtape?
This was the first actual project I did that I made the kinda music I like 100% on it. I have 2 other cds out and I was making main stream stuff in hopes of getting recognized ya know? On this one I just did me and I feel it’s the best project I've done and will be hard to top.

12)         What do we expect from the mixtape?
A lot of chill vibes maybe smoke something to it if that’s what you do lol. Def a lot of positive messages but I don't go overboard with positivity like Will Smith or something. Not corny at all I keep it real too. Just giving my aspect of my life what I go or I am going though. There's something for everyone.

13)         Who are the guest appearances and the producers on the mixtape?
I've got songs with some cool dope dudes like Louie Gonz and BackSeat Trav(both from Worcester, Ma) and my homie Mista T from my hometown in Louisiana. I had very few collabs on this one because I wanted to show what I had to offer to the music game and what I was capable of.

14)         What was the concept behind the EBK track?
Just tired of hearing rappers talking about killing this guy and that guy like it’s cool. 99% of them will never kill anyone they just say it because it’s the cool thing to do.

15)         Who were your musical influences?
Goodie Mob, Outkast, Big L, Tupac, Biggie, Kanye West, UGK, Scarface, No Limit Records, The Roots, Mos Def, Talib, Common and a lot more lol. Hard to think of them all right now! Because of the internet I was able to access a lot of east coast music. That’s where a lot of my style comes from.

16)         I’ve been a big fan of southern hip hop music since the 90’s when UGK, Scarface and EIghtball & MJG to name a few. What’s the difference in hip hop down south between 20 years ago and now?
 I don't think much as changed. I mean they still make gangsta music and club music. I don't see much of a difference. There are a few individuals like myself pushing the envelope making stuff different than what southern artists are known for.

17)         Do you think the bling bling phrase is overrated?
Bling is so commercial now lol you see it all on TV infomercials for clothes and accessories. It is what it is though. Doesn't bother me any!

18)         If the situation is right, would you sign with a major label or you going to stay independent?  
Yeah I would sign to a major.

19)         Take us to a Josh Bliss Lighten session.
Gotta have my iPhone that’s what I write my lyrics in most of the time. A pack of ciggs I know it’s a bad habit I'm trying to quit. Maybe some beer to drink depending on whose studio I'm at. Good people around me to bring inspiration and some dope beats of course! Then let the process begin.

20)         Is there any artist that you haven’t worked with, you would like to work with?
 I'd like to work with Big Krit, Curren$y, Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul.

21)         You also play a role outside of music. What made you decide to go into directing and editing your own videos?
I try to cut the middle man out of everything to save money. I have my own studio mix/master myself. Just decided instead of paying someone 500-1k for a video I'll try to do it myself. So I bought a camera and started working. You can tell from my older videos to my newer ones I'm getting a lot better. Plus it puts a little extra cash in my pocket.

22)         Are you going to branch out to do something outside of hip hop besides videos?
I'm not sure at the moment just taking it day by day but I'm enjoying learning the video stuff as I go.

23)         What do you think are the key elements to success?
Work hard be true to yourself and others. Stay humble and always invest in your music don’t be cheap.

24)         What’s next for Josh Bliss Lighten?
I will never know just wake up in the morning thank god and do what I have to do to survive in this crazy world.

25)         Is there going to be a Josh Bliss Lighten album in the works?
Maybe soon I'm about 3 tracks into a next project not sure where I'm headed with it yet though.

26)         Where do headz get at your music?
 My website and youtube videos just search Josh Bliss Lighten.

27)         Any shoutouts!
Yeah my girl for always supporting me, Scrap-A-Don, Hympdok, FaLow, Rad Boy Slim, APeriod, Haze, the whole main aim crew. Louie Gonz, BackSeat Trav, Mista T, Rhyme U, Dj Manipulator, Mr Mck & Smalls The Hustler.