When you were a child, which record made the strongest impression on you?
I would say Tim Buckley’s song “Once I Was”. I remember when I was a kid, being in the car with my dad when he played me the record for the first time. I felt really emotional hearing the song for the first time even without understanding the lyrics. I was hypnotized by Tim’s vocal performance and the overall vibe. Today understanding the words and being passionate about lyrics in general, it touches me even more.
Where did you train and/or study?
I took a few piano lessons at a very young age but didn’t really stick to it as I wanted to explore music without having any directions. So I’ve been almost self taught until I was sixteen and started taking voice lessons. I’ve started to learn recording and mixing watching online videos during high school but really improved my music production skills at Berklee College Of School where I went to study after earning a scholarship. I studied Music Production & Engineering and had the chance to learn from Grammy-winning producers, songwriters, and engineers. I learned the rest on the field recording and producing hundreds of musicians in Morocco, Paris, Boston, and Los Angeles.
How long have you been working in Los Angeles?
I’ve been working in Los Angeles for a little over three years now. I came from Boston after graduating from Berklee and it has been an incredible journey for me even-though the road has been and can still be tough from time to time.
How did you end up producing a song for the Marvel movie: Spider-man Into The Spider Verse?
I’ve worked really hard since I moved to Los Angeles without counting the hours. Fifteen hours work days were common for me. Nobody was forcing me to put all these hours in, but I’ve always been a perfectionist, always trying to get better at what I do. Eventually my hard work has paid off. I’ve been working part-time in several recording studios in Los Angeles until I found WAX LTD where I really got along with the multi-platinum producers/songwriters Wally Gagel and Xandy Barry. I started as an intern but my hard work has allowed me to step up and eventually end up working with them on bigger and bigger projects, including the song “To The End” for the “Spider-man Into The Spider Verse” movie.
What was the biggest challenge working on such a big project?
I’ve noticed that the biggest challenge working on bigger projects is to treat them as small ones. There’s that unexplainable and magical thing happening when you’re carelessly producing music. The result usually feels authentic, and people connect more to it. In the other hand when you overthink while producing, the song tends to lose its magic and becomes naturally less effective. Producing “To The End”, we were finalizing the mix, but had to change some of the lyrics at the last minute, which also required re-tracking most of the vocals. We only had about two hours on a Sunday to re-track Elliphant’s vocals as her schedule was packed with sessions, and was going back and forth between Los Angeles and Stockholm. I worked with her that day and vocal produced her, doing my best to get the energetic performance the song needed. Fortunately, I had a great time working with her and we’ve been able to achieve what we aimed for. Vocal production is often underrated, but it is probably the most important thing on a record. Vocals are the main focus and if they don’t convey authenticity, people don’t stick to the song.
What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received, and that you would give to up and coming music producers?
The best professional advice I’ve ever received and that I would give without any hesitation sounded cliché and useless to me at first, but today I realize how accurate it is in context. One day while studying at Berklee in Boston, I asked that question to one of my production teachers and successful record producer John Whynot. He gave me the very short answer: “Focus on what you’re doing well, and keep doing it well”. Again, expecting a long answer and hearing this instead could be disappointing. However, once you are plunged into the music world in Hollywood around the most talented people in the world, you’ll have all the temptations in the world to shift your focus towards the million reasons why you’re not as successful as the person you’re looking up to. So you start overthinking, thinking of how to “make it” faster, and you eventually forget that you only have a limited amount of energy, which in this case is wasted overthinking. So yes, it becomes harder and harder to stay focused on what brought you here in the first place, and it is extremely important to keep that in mind to become one of the greatest in your field. Hard work, perseverance, and patience are key to success. Everyone knows it, everyone forgets it during tough times.
Artist To Watch in 2021: Mahzi
Over the course of the past few years, female emcees have been making plenty of noise and doing it in the right way. Rising rap phenomenon Mahzi is one of those artists. Her high energy delivery paired with bass-heavy production give her a sound that leaves a lasting impression. Her talent has been years in the making. She started rapping at a young age and over time, caught the attention of Ethika Music, which house a plethora of different talent.
The Detroit native gained attention from her singles “Savage” and “Red Dot,” two standouts in her formidable catalog. Shortly after her growing buzz, she was contacted by Ethika, which led to her inking a 7-year deal with the label. Since her signing, Mahzi has released a whopping three albums in 2020.
In an era where rappers are releasing projects at record pace, Mahzi prides herself on taking her time. While we wait for new music from the artist, check out her latest project in the meantime.
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