An Interview With Ab The Audicrat
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me this week! Please tell the readers a bit about yourself and the work you do.
Ab The Audicrat: What’s good? I am a hip-hop producer from Albany, New York. I primarily produce underground hip-hop but dabble in other genres from time to time. My production software of choice is Reason, made by Reason Studios. I’ve been using Reason for about 15 years and still love it. When editing/mixing I use Pro Tools by Avid.
A few months back I bought an MPC Live for live shows, but put that on hold since everywhere has been shut down. In the upcoming months, I hope to offer mixing/mastering services. I’ve been working hard to sharpen my engineering blade for a few years and am almost ready to start freelancing more often.
How long have you been producing music? How did you get your start?
Ab The Audicrat: I’ve been producing music for 21 years. In 8th grade, a friend of mine borrowed a keyboard from someone on his street and started making beats. During that time, my other friend had a keyboard from his mom and I had a few small ones. We were letting each other borrow all of the keyboards and using tape decks to record our music.
Funny story, my first wave of beats was me sitting against my bedroom door with a microphone hanging from the coat hook pointing at the keyboard speaker. I knew so little that it didn’t dawn on me to get a simple chord and plug it directly into my stereo lol.
On top of that, I was playing each part of the beat for the length of the song (drums, bass, melody, etc.). Now, a musician playing an instrument for 3 minutes is not some uncommon thing, but with no training, no software, no computer, no serious hardware, and a handful of shitty keyboards it was pretty difficult, to say the least. I didn’t have formal training of any sort until college in 2003. Now it’s as easy as recording a 2-4 bar loop, copy and paste, and then edit as you go.
How would you describe your creative process?
Ab The Audicrat: My creative process is something that has changed quite a few times over the last 21 years. I don’t really do anything too out of the ordinary. I love to sample, but also make a ton of original compositions. In fact, during my first 5 years making beats I didn’t sample one time. Looking back, when I was 13-14, I didn’t fully understand what sampling really was. I knew that hip-hop music was heavily sample-based, but I thought that there were more originally composed songs than there were.
It was clear to me that producers were sampling older hits and remaking them with rap lyrics over them. What wasn’t so clear is how the majority of producers were utilizing samplers the way they do. All I knew at that age was making beats with keyboards. Once I got to college (2003) and learned how to sample, an entirely new world opened up for me. Fast forward to today, I mainly use software products and midi keyboards/pads. I sample everything from records, to sample packs, to a commercial I might see on TV.
Making music takes a lot of time and energy. What do you do to stay productive?
Ab The Audicrat: For me, staying productive is strongly connected to staying organized. That may seem strange, but I’ll explain. I have come to realize that when I have my computer organized, my studio clean, my notes up to date with all projects/ideas/collaborations that it is much easier for me to sit down and create. I’m a bit of a perfectionist/completionist which has caused me to over analyze my work and constrain my overall output volume.
When I have things in order, write things down, and plan studio time accordingly the music seems to just flow. In recent years, I stopped drinking and boy did it change everything. I wasn’t focused on music because alcohol was consuming my life. Once I stopped, the creative doors opened wide and I bought myself much more time than I was wasting previously.
Staying healthy and organized allows me to create with less mental obstacles. Planning studio time is another big one. I used to randomly work on music from day to day. Growing older, it is vital for me to set a time and use it wisely. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it is a big help when I do.
How do you foster your creativity? Do you work at it or wait for inspiration?
Ab The Audicrat: I consider myself lucky to always have something rumbling around upstairs. Now, there are times where my motivation is low, but that is strongly dependent on planning, eating correctly, staying up to date on the industry, and having my life in order outside of music. Like I said before, being very organized and healthy lets my ideas flow.
If I am having some sort of slump, I never try to force it. I used to do that and the results are arguably a complete waste of time. I do this thing where if I’m not going to make music I better mow the lawn or do laundry so I don’t find myself binging YouTube videos until I go to bed.
So if I’m not going to use my time wisely to create, I shift my focus to other parts of my life that need attention. Once I finish up whatever those things are, the cycle starts again. This seems to work well for me.
Do you ever have any performance/release anxiety when it comes to showing your work to others? If so, what do you do about it?
Ab The Audicrat: At the moment, essentially none at all. I’ve finally reached a level where I can show my music to anyone on earth and be completely confident in my product/brand. In the past, I can’t say that I was ever anxious or hesitant, but I also wasn’t as confident as I am now. This took time and multiple overhauls of my entire approach to production and engineering.
It’s an amazing feeling to have reached a point where you understand yourself, what you are capable of, what you know and don’t know, and being able to use that information to grow. As long as I remind myself where I am now and where I came from, my anxiety is almost non-existent. That’s not to say what I make is perfect, or close to it. I just know that when it comes time to release something, I stand behind it 100%
What advice can you give to people who want to start producing their own music?
Ab The Audicrat: My best piece of advice to aspiring artists is BE UNIQUE. Try as hard as you can to not sound like anyone else. The one thing that nobody else on earth can do is be you.
Experiment, try new things and do whatever it takes to hone in on a sound that is inherently yours. It might not happen overnight, but IMO it is the most important thing to keep in mind when pursuing music.
Do you have any upcoming events/projects/releases you would like to discuss?
Ab The Audicrat: I have 3 EP’s in the works. I’m keeping all of them under wraps at the moment. Once they are all out, I’m going to be very open about new material as it develops. I have an instrumental project that I started almost 7 years ago that I hope to actually work on and finish within the next year. More on that later in 2020.
Thank you for taking the time to do this! Where can readers find you and your work?
Ab The Audicrat: You can find my work at www.abtheaudicrat.com, Bandcamp, YouTube, and all streaming services. Social platforms (FB, IG, Twitter, TikTok) – @abtheaudicrat.