The Orignal Konducta
- Bethany Headley
- Big Smoke
- November 21, 2006
Madlib is renowned for not doing interviews but we love the impossible. Brother to Oh No, friend to the late and great J Dilla, the Alkaholiks and others, he's also got close links with Stones Throw. That explains it; he's so engrossed in his work, he couldn't name-drop even if he wanted to.
BORN IN OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, Otis Jackson Jr. started making beats when he was just 10. It's little wonder once you learn his 'Pops', a session singer, had worked with David Axelrod and H.B Barnum, while his uncle, Jon Faddis, had trumpeted with Dizzy Armstrong, Charles Mingus and Bob James. Now in his 30's, this humble, laid back character lives, breathes and eats for making music. And not any old music; bloody good music. He's a keen crate digger with a deep rooted passion for Jazz and Soul and along side a group of session players he founded Yesterdays New Quintet, a fuzzy Electronic Jazz combo, so it doesn't surprise us when he replies 'Papoose? Who the hell is he?' This man is absorbed. Luckily he snapped out of it for long enough to answer your questions.
Baby J: How do you go about starting to make a beat? What is the first thing in the process of production?
What are the first stages when you sit down to make a beat? When I go to make beats, I don't really think about it, I just get a bunch of records. I don't care what they are; I just get a gang of records and try to freestyle it to make a beat. I take a drum or a bass or whatever - it doesn't matter. It's not like a thought process where I sit and do it. It's just completely experimental at the time and that is why half my shit doesn't even come out.
Bruza: Do you listen to UK underground music and if so, what do you think about it?
Uhh not really. What I've heard is cool but I'm only into my own shit and making records. I couldn't tell you the names of UK or American artists to be honest. I'm not really on that thing anymore but they are all out there making it good for us I guess.
DJ Juice (Pepa Records): Taking it back to your studio and the grimy, heavy sound that you get, what is your favourite weapon of choice in the studio?
Weapon? The equipment don't matter, you need records because the sound is going to be whatever so it doesn't matter what machine I have. The same shit is going to happen. And it depends on the records. I go record shopping once a week when I can and I shop for mostly the whole day. I pick up five or six boxes when I dig. Every time I travel all I do is go to record shops. In LA I go to Beat Down and like, there are record fairs and things out there. Usually when I travel is when I get all my shit. I got boxes on the way from Japan right now! I'm spending all my show money haha.
Dirty Harry: is there anything you used to do before the fame that you can't do now?
I can do whatever I did before. I just used to do what I do now anyway. That whole shit isn't my style really.
Keith Lawrence: Nuff respect - how many beats do you do a day?
It depends; sometimes it's one beat and sometimes I do a whole 70 minute CD. Most of the time I will be working all day and all night. Sometimes I do so much I don't have to work for like a month or something.
Jehst: Just after the first Quasimoto album came out you told me you made the album on your 4-track and that it was only intended for you to listen to on your Walkman! Is that true?
That's true, I do that all the time. I'll mix up an LP and then I come out the studio and the labels will hear it and want to put it out. The same happened with Madvillainy, and it was my biggest, best selling record.
Lewis Parker: I want to know, which is your favourite drum machine and why?
My favourite drum machine is a 303, because it can take forever to what you do and people should be able to hear that shit.
Mr Ti2bs: How important is a unique selling point and what is yours?
I don't go by that really. I just try and make good music. That's about it and if it comes out it can make you some money. It's better than construction work, that's all I know. If I got to make a certain amount of money and sell loads of records, well in that case I might as well make some Lil John shit so I don't think about unique selling points and all that.
Ty: How much of an equipment junkie are you and is it an obsession or a compulsion?
I like to buy all the new shit that comes out. I buy shit every month I guess but it ends up getting snapped up eventually because I use it all so much so I guess it's a bit of both.
English: How did it feel to be given the whole Blue Note back catalogue to use?
They didn't give me the whole back catalogue but if they did it would have been on! Nah, they let me choose some things and that was fun, I was feeling that. They let me have three or four tracks and it took about a week to turn it all around.
DJ Woody: Do you find touring helps or hinders in your creative process. Do you find enjoyment and inspiration in touring or is it just a necessary part of promoting your music?
DJ Woody ... I know him. Whether I'm touring or not, I sell the same records and I got the same fans. I guess I just go out there and do my shit. I do what I do religiously, no matter where I'm at. I make music if I'm touring or not. To be honest, I'm not really a tour dude, I'm more like a studio cat. Touring I don't really care for. Making records and being in the studio; that's what I'm trying to do. If I could I wouldn't tour but I guess I got to. Spending time making music is what I care for.
And with that, the king is gone.
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