24 Jun. 2014

PHONIKS // The Producer // Interview 210 Presents

Another fresh interview by 210 Presents this time with the one and only Portland finest Producer Phoniks. Eleven questions and eleven answers talked about the past and the future upcoming productions.. Phoniks previous beat tapes and remix albums has had an amazing response and people have really feel his own world and his Jazzy Hop vibes mixed with some classic bassline from the Golden Era.Make sure you guys check out the full interview with this young and talented producer… Peace and Enjoy.


001..Yo Phoniks, Please tell us a bit more about yourself.. When and where were you born and raised?

PHONIKS - 23 years old. Born in Portland, Maine on September 29th 1990.

002..When did you know you wanted to be a producer?

PHONIKS - I first began producing in 2006 after watching YouTube videos of Damu The Fudgemunk making beats in his basement (funny name, but he’s the best producer in hip hop in my opinion. If you don’t know find out). It was around that time that I started to realize hip-hop beats were sampled from other songs and I became obsessed with tracking down the original samples and then saved up for an MPC of my own

I NEVER thought I would become an actual producer, however. It was less than a year ago where I was talking with my girlfriend about our future plans after college and I specifically said that I never planned on pursuing music and it was never going to be more than a hobby to me. Flash forward to a year later and I’ve had multiple Bandcamp #1 hip hop albums, 7 songs eclipsing 100,000 plays, mentions in The Source, etc. It all still feels kind of surreal. In a way I think I was able to be successful because I spent so many years making beats with for no reason other than I enjoyed it. Many people are so obsessed with “making it” that they focus all their time and effort into promotion/marketing or following radio trends and trying to make beats that will sell and they end up just blending into the crowd of the other million kids doing the same thing. I kind of did my own thing and developed my signature sound over years and because of that I think I was able to stand out from the crowd a little more.

003..How did you meet Awon?

PHONIKS - I decided to send a link to my remix albums (I had put together 2 remix albums that I just released to my friends on Facebook) to a couple emcee’s I had been listening to a lot. Just out of curiousity mostly, hoping for a response but not fully expecting one. I had Awon’s debut album “Beautiful Loser” and his collaborations with New Zealand-based producer Soul Chef in heavy rotation at the time. The timing ended up being perfect where Awon was between projects and happened to love the sound of my beats. He immediately hit me back and a few days later we made “Street Saga”. We both work crazy fast and the music was coming so naturally we just cranked out the full 16 track album in under a month.

004.. Please tell us about your previous collaborations with Mc Awon..”Return to the Golden Era”  did you get any positive or negative feedback on it?

PHONIKS - Oh man, the feedback was incredible. Within 24 hours of being released the album shot up to the #1 selling hip-hop album on Bandcamp and reached #5 on Bandcamp overall. All the blogs were saying really positive stuff about it. I started to get fan mail and people messaging me asking for tips on beatmaking. It was ridiculous and to me it was so unexpected. This was less than 2 months after I had made the statement that beatmaking would never be more than a hobby so it was just crazy to me at the time.

At the end of the year a bunch of blogs had “Golden Era” in their top-10 albums. This is a project that I mixed on my car stereo (because I didn’t have monitors) and Awon recorded the vocals in his walk-in closet. To see us being ranked ahead of major label releases with crazy budgets was incredible. It was just a perfect storm where Awon was so hungry on the mic and I had basically been producing for 7 years without releasing anything so I had a lot of beats ready. To be honest I can’t remember any negative feedback from anyone about “Golden Era”. Even on YouTube and SoundCloud and Reddit and all the places people were commenting on the album it was really 100% positive. And I would remember because I don’t take criticism well haha.

005.How do you make your beats?  What kind of technical equipment do you use? Do you have a favourite musical project that you’ve worked on?

PHONIKS - Right now I really only have 3 pieces of equipment, a Maschine, a turntable and a little Denon DJ mixer. Everything is sequenced on my laptop in Reaper.
My beatmaking process always starts with sampling a melody or bassline. I try to pull from vinyl as much as I can, but I don’t have any problem sampling from MP3, especially the harder to find foreign stuff or rare library joints, etc. I know some people have moral codes about only sampling from vinyl (some producers won’t even sample reissues), but I will sample from any source if the end result is dope. 

I can’t say I really have a favorite project, I think “Golden Era” will always have a special place in my heart because it was my debut LP and it made me realize that people besides my friends actually liked my music. I really had no confidence in my production ability pre-Golden Era.

006..If you are in the Records Shop what kind of records you digging?

PHONIKS - Jazz mostly. Some soundtracks and soul stuff too..

007..Let’s turn back to Awon and this year’s new 11 track album “Dephacation” with new MC Dephlow.. 

PHONIKS - Yeah this project was really fun to work on and a refreshing change of pace to what I had been doing at the time. I had just released “Autumn in New York” a remix album and “Stories From The Brass Section” with Anti-Lilly which were both really jazzy, low-key chillout albums. Dephacation was the opposite it’s all just raw street bangers and aggressive lyrics and everything about the album was kind of “in your face”. I can’t say enough about Dephlow’s emergence as an emcee, either, he just has a certain presence on the mic where everything he touches is gold. The fans have been really responsive to him as well, the first two singles we dropped with Dephlow went for 190k (Lost Girls) and 280k (Real Hip Hop) respectively on SoundCloud so I plan to continue working with him and producing a solo album for him soon.

008..Any plans for a new video with Awon and Dephlow in the near future from the album the “Dephacation”

PHONIKS - Yeah we have plans to shoot a video for “Step Up” soon. Stay up.

009..Would you like working together with one special icon from the game? I mean like Producers or Mc`s?

PHONIKS - Man there’s so many emcee’s I’d love to work with. Nas in particular. I’d love to do something with Masta Ace or AZ too. Really any of the 90′s New York emcee’s that I grew up listening to. It would be a dream come true! Hopefully some day it will happen.

010…Could you tell us any Book,Comic Book,Movie,Graffiti or Break Video or any other Documentary which is your absolutely favourite or changed your life ?

PHONIKS -I really like the “Deep Crates” documentaries, but I wouldn’t call them life changing. I think there was a period around 2007 or 2008 where I had seen every beatmaking/MPC related video on YouTube and that’s not even an exaggeration. I would say those were probably what inspired me most, specifically the Damu videos I mentioned earlier.

011..What kind of music is on your MP3 player? I mean what kind of music do you listen to daily?

PHONIKS - I listen to a ton of 90′s east coast hip hop. Classic stuff like Gang Starr, Pete Rock & CL, Biggie etc. but also more obscure underground stuff like Street Smartz, All City, Mathematiks, etc. Lately I’ve been bumping that new Jazz Spastiks album “The Product” and my homie Dex Amora’s EP “Herbs, Pen, Soul”. Those are my two favorite projects out of what I’ve heard this year. I really don’t check for new hip hop too often, though.

012..Last Words…Shout 2

PHONIKS - “Dephacation” was just released on vinyl and “Stories From The Brass” section is coming on vinyl in a month or two, please support! Also want to say thanks to Awon, Dephlow, Anti, Tiff The Gift and all the emcees who have been with me on this ride. Shoutout to my UMaine crew and my beautiful girlfriend Katie for always supporting me.  Peace/Love Phoniks

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