We got the privilege of sitting down and talking to Sam.I.am, a local producer with a prolific career in the local scene. We talked to him about keeping on top of the game, his new album, and his thoughts on the local music scene.
How long have you been producing?
This year will be seven years. I graduated high school in ’05 and I started scratching. Nugs, from the Goonies, is my daughter’s uncle. I would be over there and he would be cutting, eventually I got my own gear and we started making beats together.
Making beats started seven years ago. Actual songs and taking it seriously started about four years ago; however long Actlive has been around.
I originally heard about you through Actlive.
The Goonies produced Reese Q’s debut album, “The Quote to Self”. That was me, Husky, Nugs, and Woody. James Niche and Reese worked together and when James heard the album he wanted to work together. They eventually created Actlive. It’s been history since then, it was good to have him around.
What got me listening to your stuff was “American Dream” it really stuck out from what I was hearing other producers put out.
That’s what we tried to do with that. SunDula has a bluesy voice that really works, when I heard it I knew I wanted to work with him. He hadn’t worked in a while; he was originally with the Black and Blues. I heard a SunDula song on a Grunge Cake Records mix. When I found out he lived here and hit him up.
When we sat down and started working on “American Dream” the focus was to do something different sounding; still a common feel, but something that no one had tried before. I really wanted to work with a singer; I was getting bored with hip hop music and people rapping about the same thing.
What came out of working together was a soul, blues, and hip hop fusion. With SunDula, what he is saying and talking about is so far advanced than where hip hop is at. He has a soul to it.
My goal is still do something that I want to do, something I enjoy doing, but to not repeat what I already have done.
So what were you going for with the new album “This is Where I Am”?
It has a more relaxed feel like my last album but it’s a different sound than what I have been doing. I only used 4 records, one for sample, the rest for drums. I love the airy, spacey sound of synthesizers, so I really want to get more into using them.
With some of my other work you might hear some synth trickled in, but with this new album I really used them as the main focus. Its listening music, its not just beats and four bar loops.
Everyone with a beat program thinks they are a producer. You think it’s hard for talented producers to separate themselves from the pack?
In my head I feel like I am still there. I never want to feel over confident about my music but it is too easy now for people to make and share beats. I made beats in high school, using fruit loops, I still have them saved so I can go back and laugh at the. I never considered myself a producer when I was staring out. There is a technique to it, there is a life to it, and the biggest part about music is that you could have the talent, but if you don’t put that time in don’t expect to get anything out of it.
What horrible about half of these bedroom producers sample just off of hip hop tracks. You are using a sample of a sample. You need to know music to do music. I guess to a certain aspect I am a part of that era. I don’t make beats on NPC, I make everything on NPD. I do use Acid which doesn’t give you a bunch of beats and drums, all I got is a grid and a BPM meter. But you have to pay homage to those who are doing it all the right way.
What do you think about the local music scene?
The amount of talent that has come out of this city is huge, even something as big as Eastman the RPO is huge and people in this city take advantage of the talent we have here.
We have a wealth of music and art on all levels in this city, its not one genre or one band. I just wish the city was more loving to what we do have. There needs to be more support. The scene is up and down. Its not totally truthful, it is a lot of gimmicks and drama.
Do you think it is hard to get out of Rochester as a musician?
That is where the hustle and sacrifice comes in. its tough to get out of here but not as tough if you find the right way to do it, and build up the right team. You definitely need to raise yourself to a certain standards while you are here. The music just can’t take you there you need to sacrifice at the right time and build a good group around you to make a jump out of Rochester.