You keep a really low profile. Is that how you like it or do you do that for marketing purposes?
(laughs) You know what? Getting into the game, I wanted to really focus on the music, so I purposely stayed in the background until I established myself, but now you might be seeing a more visible Spyda through what I’m doing with SampleMyMelodyz. You’ll be seeing me a lot more.
I don’t even think a lot of fans know what you look like.
(laugh) Nah, they really don’t. I try to get them to talk about me through the music.
You stay getting consistent placements on albums. How have you been able to make that happen?
What I figured out was the only way to get the respect is to make the name bigger than the actual person, so I was able to do that and just get people to talk about Spyda through the music and I never had to introduce myself to people.
A lot of producers scream over their tracks and make appearances in music videos. Has it ever been hard for you to play the background?
Nah. It’s actually easier than playing the frontground ‘cause when you start getting on the tracks, you’re no longer just a producer. You become an artist and you become a personality, so it’s actually harder to do the two things. It’s easier to just be in the studio, come up with the melodies and the records and work with the artists.
You’re working with SampleMyMelodyz.com. What’s going on with that?
It’s a real…
Roget Romain (CEO of SampleMyMelodyz): (interrupts) Basically the way SampleMyMelodyz came out, it’s basically a creative tool for musicians and producers, novice or pro. Red Spyda and I are friends. I felt he was very relevant and he’s worked on a lot of diamond records. I asked him how he would like to make his hits available to the general public and he said it sounded like a great idea. So what I did is he basically went into the studio and created the melodies. The melodies are not necessarily the beats, they’re the instrumentation that’s used to create the music. What he’s done is he’s gone out and made the melodies and uploaded it to help today’s hottest producers. Red Spyda is going to be the first producer to be featured on SampleMyMelodyz and he has a lot to do with SampleMyMelodyz because he’s the first big-time producer on the site.
How did you guys come up with the idea for the site?
Red Spyda: There’s always a shortage of sounds. And there’s a shortage of getting musicians. You could buy a sound module or a keyboard, but sometimes you might want to bring in a trumpet player or a bass player and they’re not available. It’s harder. I was like, ‘You know what? I play. And I compose.’ This SampleMyMelodyz is a great approach.
What happens when a lot of producers use the same melody and get similar-sounding beats?
Most producers are not musicians and most producers have the same batch of records anyway. It’s all on how you chop them. That’s how you inject your style and your personality. A lot of people have the same Marvin Gaye record but they’ll chop it differently. It will be the same thing with these melodies. And you remember in the early ‘90s when a few people would take “In Between the Sheets”? Puffy and Jermaine Dupri flipped it in their own styles and I remember when Keith Murray did it with “The Most Beautifullest Thing in the Word”. I’m interested to see what they do with the melodies, personally.
Your bio says you’re working with Steve-O of Jackass fame. What’s going on with him?
I just finished up a project with him. He’s doing a solo rap album and I used some of the melodies to test it out and it’s coming out great.
Steve-O is really making a rap album?
That was one of the coolest projects I worked on and one of the easiest. It was just a lot of booze and a lot of jokes. He just got in there and did his thing, pretty much. I don’t think people should take it as seriously as a rap album. It’s going to be Steve-O’s personality on a lot of rap tracks.
What was it like recording and hanging out with him?
He was at my house for three months and they had to get me new furniture. He destroyed everything. He’s a real life version of Beavis from Beavis and Butthead. “The Human Beavis,” that’s what I call him.
Hanging out with him is like the Jackass show. I will say this about him – he’s actually smart. It’s just about getting him to wind down a little bit. He tends to party a lot. But it’s not an act what he does. It took me living with the guy to see that it definitely wasn’t an act.
When I asked Sheek about working with you a few months ago on his single “Good Love”, he talked about how much he really trusts you. How important is that trust?
It all goes back to me not being an artist. I’m a producer. When I’m coming up with the melodies and I’m in the studio with these guys, they know they’re going to get real criticism from a producer.
Even though your track record could speak for itself, do you find that you still have to establish trust with artists you’re working with for the first time?
It’s hard in the beginning when you don’t have a name. You have to establish yourself. One of the gifts I got from my mom is my personality. When I’m in the studio with these guys, they can tell when I’m really, really feeling something. You can tell when a lot of producers are just trying to sell beats. I’ll come in with a concept. I did the same with 50 when we did “Wanna Get To Know You” with Joe on it. I told him I had this dope idea and to check it out. He went over it and that’s how that came about. Nine times out of 10, I think it’s about your approach to the artist.
I’m one of those guys that doesn’t bullshit or beat around the bush when I’m in the studio. There is the work element. When I’m in the studio with these guys, they know from my expression that I’m ready to work. I think that goes a long way and it’s not just being in the music industry.
How’s The Lox’s new album Live, Suffer, Celebrate coming?
That’s going to be crazy. I just gave Jada a joint that’s going to be bananas, man. As soon as we get that release date, it’s going to be off the chain. And I’m currently getting back in the studio with Eminem and 50’s shooting a movie and he’s getting ready to gear up for his solo album, so I think it’s time for another 50 Cent and Red Spyda record.
Unlike a lot of producers, do you get in the studio with 50 Cent?
I get in the studio with him because I don’t like getting lost in the shuffle. Even with Em. He flies me out to Detroit. That’s how I know it’s real. It’s kind of like playing roulette when you just have to pitch it through the system.
A lot of producers don’t actually get in the studio with 50. What’s it like working hands-on with him?
I was fortunate to work with 50 before the deal, so when 50 got out of his Sony deal, he was on Landspeed. I was able to work with him and I have a different experience. I did his mixtapes. Through Whoo Kid, we were doing the tapes. So working with 50 before the Dre deal, I had all the singles like “NYPD”. It was just a different access as opposed to the newer producers. I don’t think they’re going to have that same kind of relationship, like a Jay-Z and Just Blaze. If I want to go to work with 50, I just pick up the phone and find out when he’s going to be in the studio and I just go.
A lot of artists who have gotten a buzz and deal based off mixtapes have rarely worked with producers. Can you tell when an artist could benefit from direction from a producer?
That’s the hard part! That all depends on who’s around their circle. I’m a producer and if I’m not doing my job or doing my work, I’m not going to put myself in that situation. Most of the artists that I’ve worked on, I was in the studio with them.
How’s Eminem’s album coming?
That I couldn’t tell you. I just got the call and I’m going to fly out there personally. Once I get out there we’ll do another interview and I’ll get you all that info.
You’ve also been working with Saigon lately. What have you guys been doing?
Oh, man. I got a record with Saigon and Devin the Dude that’s real dope. I’m waiting to see what his situation is. Saigon’s another dude that comes to the studio, I play him some beats and he gets right to work.
How do you find your style evolving as you get older?
I think I’m finding myself now. Before, I was coming from Florida and it was a money thing. Somebody heard what I was doing, fooling around on the keyboard, and they paid me for it. Now I actually take time and listen to records. I don’t just get on the equipment and start banging away. I study more and I think I’m getting better. If I do a record, I’m always going back and investing in some equipment.
What equipment are you using today?
Oh, man, I just copped the Chaos pad, which is crazy, from Korg.
How important is it as a producer today to be able to compose your own music?
It’s very important. And that’s what I think everyone is going to love about SampleMyMelodyz. With SampleMyMelodyz, you don’t have to deal with sample clearance issues. With Sheek Louch’s “Good Love” record, we had to get clearance from Betty Wright and the other composers of the song. I love Marvin, but he takes 50%. I’m staying away from Marvin! It’s a better advantage to compose and it’s real important.
How can SampleMyMelodyz help producers?
It’s going to help a lot. What I like about the site is that it’s not just melodies. We can make a novice sound like a pro and a pro sound even better. They’ll be able to even hear the difference. You have producers who might go by a sound module. That sound module will have all these sounds that you have to use, even though you can edit it and try to tweak it a little, it will still have those sounds. I sat and I put together 300 melodies. I did 25 basslines, 25 electric guitars, some pianos that you wouldn’t get from the sound modules…It’s going to really boost up their skills.
Do you hope this inspires producers to not rely on samples as much as they do?
Absolutely. And I’m going to have a video chat where I can chat with up-and-coming producers and I’m going to start showing how I compose certain records and giving up some of the tricks.
Should producers know how to play instruments and read music today?
I have an advantage, which is I’m a musician. I started playing the bass and pianos and all of that. What I will say, though, is that for most of these producers, I always looked at it that it was the producers who should be able to put the idea together and get the best product out, so even if I don’t know how to play the piano, I should be able to construct what the best project is. Say somebody asked me to do a techno song, I should know how to get from Point A to Point B. I think a lot of producers out now, and I used to do this too coming up, they hear a lot of songs on the radio and that’s what they’re using as their guideline because people are saying that it’s a hot record as opposed to coming up with their own ideas. I think that’s what this site is going to be able to do. It’s going to show these guys that you can be original and still come up with product that’s just as good or better than what’s out there. That’s the most important thing for a producer, I think.
If someone samples something from SampleMyMelodyz, how does the sample get cleared?
Roget Romain: When you purchase a melody, in the terms of service, you agree to it and we basically give you the opportunity to contact us. Or if we hear our songs being used commercially, we contact you and we take the necessary steps. But everything is pretty much laid out in the terms of service.
Will you be getting other producers involved as far as the melodies that are sold on the site?
Roget Romain: We’re already talking to several other producers. They already have agreed to come aboard. After Red Spyda, I don’t want to be saying who we’ll be launching, but it’s a producer who won a Grammy award last year in hip-hop.
There’s been some websites launched with great ideas that never took off. How are you going to make sure SampleMyMelodyz is successful?
Roget Romain: We are going to be doing a full-blown marketing campaign. We’re doing a soft launch next week and we’ll be going hard the entire year. You can expect to hear from us in print and on the radio. Our first launch will be online on AOL, MSN and Yahoo. We’re going to be pretty much everywhere. We already have a MySpace page and a thousand people have already joined the site and we didn’t even juice it or anything.
What’s your ultimate vision for SampleMyMelodyz?
Roget Romain: We’d like to see it launch in different genres, to include rock and gospel. We’d also like to take it off of the website and put it in retail and make it possible for everyone, not just people online. The reason that we made it online first is because most producers are techies. We stay in the studio and we surf the web. We figured the best thing to do was attack our community first and then reach out to the masses at retail.