In a time when “producers” are popping up out of nowhere then quickly returning back into the void, it’s a real treat for us to be able to cover an artist who’s been producing quality music for decades. Known to push the boundaries while maintaining that classic sensibility of the golden age our next featured guest has definitely put in his fare share of work. With an extensive collection of instrumentals, features and his magic touch with the sampler it’s our pleasure to introduce our next featured guest. Check out the Q&A…
So who are you and where are you from?
Hi, I’m Keith Science and I’m an underground/experimental hip-hop producer from New Jersey. I’ve produced tracks for artists such as Krumb Snatcha, Kool Keith, Rampage (Flipmode Squad) and Punchline (eMC). I have also released 2 instrumental albums. However, I am a musician first and a producer second. To me, that’s appropriate and makes sense. I’m much more than a dude that is just working with samples and computers. I am a real musician, which means that I don’t need anything more than a few instruments to be able to operate and be productive. I’ve been creating music long before computers were available, so they’re not a necessity for me. Most of today’s producers wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if their computer was taken away and that’s kinda sad. I’m proud to be able to say that I’m a real musician in today’s world of predominately computer-produced music.
What’s up with you at the moment musically?
At the moment, I am producing an EP for Philadelphia’s KiD SEAN & Kev KiLL (collectively known as “YK”) which is due to be released in early 2015. Here’s a single we release a few months back..
In addition to those projects, I’m to announce I just released my latest instrumental album, Hypothalamus, which is available on CD or vinyl through my record label, Central Wax. Hypothalamus was recently on Old To The New’s 100 Best Albums & EPs of 2014, right underneath Jamla Is The Squad.
You’ve been producing for over twenty years. Can you tell us how you got into it and what keeps you going?
Before getting into production I had already been a musician for years, playing various instruments, recording and engineering. Around 1992, I was introduced to hip-hop and I was instantly hooked. I began to hang out with some friends that were into hip-hop and they used to spend a lot of time analyzing what they were hearing and breaking it down into smaller parts for discussion. It may sound weird to some people, but we spent tons of time studying the art form in every way possible. We were fans, and we were amazed by what we were hearing at the time. There was just so much artistic content and substance and we wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss anything. Hip-hop was so rebellious and had such a sense of urgency. As a musician it was a natural progression for me to be interested in hip-hop production. Once I started working with local emcees, my skills began to develop further and I knew that production was my destiny. I really feel like I have something to say with my music, and that’s probably what has kept me going all this time.
Who were some of your early influences?
My earliest influence was my Dad, who was a blues guitarist. I started playing guitar, bass, keyboards and drums at an extremely young age and I was initially influenced by the various blues artists that my Dad had been listening to. My two uncles, Carl and John, were always around as well, and they were into progressive rock music which was completely different than blues. I really appreciated the sophistication and complex nature of progressive rock. That was a huge influence on me. I simply wouldn’t be where I am right now without all of that early support that I received from my family. It’s not easy being an artist in the first place, so support from my family was crucial. My musical path has been quite diverse, so I’ve been influenced by many styles of music I guess you could say. Some non-hip-hop artists that I was influenced by in my early years were Muddy Waters, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Yes, Genesis, Joe Satriani, The Bouncing Souls and Into Another. As far as hip-hop goes, my biggest early influences were Showbiz, Large Professor, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Buckwild, Lord Finesse, Marley Marl, Diamond D, Q-Tip, Havoc and Easy Mo Bee.
These instrumentals are banging! Can you tell us a little bit more about how your music’s made?
Thanks! I take a very traditional approach when it comes to hip-hop production. I use mostly all vintage gear and I try to keep computers out of the beat-making process as much as possible, which is the opposite of what most other producers are doing these days. The majority of everything I do is based around my Akai S2000 rack sampler. I don’t use an MPC, and I don’t even own a keyboard. Plus, I mix through an analog recording console which makes a huge difference. In the past, I’ve tried producing music solely on a computer, but I don’t enjoy the workflow and I don’t prefer the lifeless and stiff sound. So, I’ve spent years building an amazing studio for myself that utilizes traditional studio gear which provides the vibe and workflow that I need to facilitate my purist approach. Making music in a different way than today’s producers helps me to be able to distinguish myself from others and create unique sounds. I’ve always wanted to have my own sound and now I strive for that more than ever.
Working with Pacewon must have been an amazing experience! Who else are some of the artists you’ve wanted to work with, but haven’t had the chance to yet?
Yes, it was amazing working with Pace! He’s extremely talented and fun to work with. He recently referred to me as a genius, which is a huge compliment coming from him since I consider him to be a living legend. Other than that, I’d love to produce tracks for Joey Bada$$, Roc Marciano, Cormega, Joell Ortiz, Nas and Evidence.
What’s been your most memorable musical experience?
My most memorable musical experience was probably hanging out with my uncle John when I was a kid, learning how to record and mix music on an old Tascam 4-track. I learned so much back then and all that I do now is built on that foundation. Another fond memory that was influential was my Dad and I jamming in the basement… I played drums while he played guitar. I was so young. Playing drums in my early years was important in my development as a hip-hop artist, especially since hip-hop is drum-based.
Does spirituality factor into your music? And if so, in what capacity?
This is a good question, but a difficult one to answer with detail. I would say that spirituality is a big factor in my music, because I’m a spiritually-connected person in general. It naturally spills over into everything that I do.
Are there any tricks of the trade that you’ve picked up along the way that you’d care to share with the next generation of producers?
I have plenty of tricks that I’ve developed over the years, but I am not really willing to share them. It’s taken me a lifetime to come up with these techniques through trial and error, so I’d rather keep them to myself. Besides, there are a lot of biters out there and I’m not willing to give any of them a head-start. However, I do have some advice to give to the next generation of producers… Study your history and learn something about music before you get some lame computer program and quickly start slapping shit together, thinking you are some kind of genius. It’s great that technology has progressed and made studio recording something that anyone can afford, but it’s NOT great that many non-musicians are taking advantage of it. Most of the newer music that I hear these days sounds stale and non-musical. Newer producers need to figure out how to make their tracks sound more musical and less like your computer made the beat for you. I’ve found that people actually prefer music that sounds like it was created by a human being. And one more thing… You don’t need to sample soul records to create soulful music…
What’s next, musically?
I just want to explore and experiment in the studio as much as possible so I can continue to deliver clever concepts to the hip-hop fans out there that appreciate my purist approach. I am always trying to push myself to be better and more effective with what I am trying to accomplish. My focus is on imaginative underground hip-hop and I take that very seriously. Everyone knows that I don’t make pop records.
How can people stay connected to you and your music?
One of the best ways is to listen to my Pandora station, which is an all-instrumental underground hip-hop station featuring myself, as well as legends such as Pete Rock, J Dilla, DJ Premier, Dr. Dre, Madlib, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Alchemist, MF Doom, etc. You can also check out my Soundcloud page which has all of my latest singles. My homepage is www.keithscience.com and my Twitter handle is @Keith_Science. You can also find my music for sale worldwide through iTunes, Amazon.com, etc.
Thanks for the interview! Shout out to my man DJ Pressure from the UK! Peace.
Interview by Austin Tson Coulson. Other links to Keith Science productions below: