The art of hip-hop production is consistently evolving, crossing racial boundaries, and earning respect worldwide. One half of the West coast group Sayre And Samix, Samix is a producer who started of The Lost And Found Generation when Sayre And Samix released 2001’s “One Side Away” EP. Samix handed the entire production for the “Pacific Avenue” LP (2003) and Ashkon's “The Fine Line” LP (2004). While most producers create only a handful of tracks for an emcee’s album, Samix has locked down the role of the sole producer for his friends and The Lost And Found Generation (Avie, Plutoe, The Sex, Ashkon, Coley Cole, and Sayre). Like Rza in the early days of Wu-Tang Clan, Manny Fresh in the early days of Cash Money, and Dr. Dre in the early days of Death Row, Samix is helping to construct a unique sound for his Santa Cruz based crew. Recently, he produced 95% of the “Midriff Music” LP, by Canadian rapper Josh Martinez. Strap on your “Gold Plated Straight Jacket” and walk down “Pacific Avenue” which is “One Side Away” from “The Fine Line”. Samix is helping to put Santa Cruz on the hip-hop map.
MVRemix: You just produced 95% of the ‘Midriff Music’ LP by Josh Martinez. Tell us about the album.
Samix: It has 10 tracks of more upbeat material made for the summertime. A lot of Josh’s older pieces have been slower and darker. This is a total 180° change from his older works. It was supposed to be fully produced by me, but Josh added a remix by someone else at the last minute.
MVRemix: When you produced an entire album like ‘Midriff Music’ did you have a different approach?
Samix: Yeah. I would say it was more with what samples are chosen, especially voice samples. I like to have samples from movies and other stuff that run through the whole album, which all reflect the same kind of idea. I think it brings everything together more, rather than the project being just a bunch of tracks thrown together.
MVRemix: What other projects with your production were just released?
Samix: Besides ‘Midriff Music’, I also have a track on Coley Cole’s new album, ‘Goldplated Straitjackets’ from the Lost and Found Generation and a track on the upcoming Chicharones album, which consists of Josh Martinez and Sleep. That is coming out soon. I have a lot of single tracks on multiple projects.
MVRemix: When producing a song, do you have the beat ready for the emcee or do you create the beat while they come up with the theme, concept, or lyrics?
Samix: I usually have a big collection of beats and let the emcee choose. Then, I tailor it to the emcee. It throws me off when someone says, ‘Make a beat like…’. Then, I'm spending the whole time trying to make a beat sound like something that is not mine. If that’s the case, I lose interest. It’s better if an emcee chooses a beat.
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite drum machine or sampler?
Samix: Actually, everything I make is in Fruityloops. It has gotten a bad rap, before people found out 9th Wonder uses it. But, I am very comfortable using it and I am able to make the final product sound like it came out of a MPC or other drum machine or sampler. I thought of getting a MPC but I think it would alter my style too much and I would end up chopping samples into a billion pieces and coming up with beats that sound like every other underground producer’s beat.
MVRemix: Can you explain the creative process of producing a song?
Samix: “It sounds corny but it’s just a feeling you get when you know it is right. Whether it’s hearing a certain sample or hearing an emcee redo a verse, while you hear it, you just know it is right. I and the emcee just bounce ideas off one another until we find something we like. It wasn’t really this way for ‘Midriff Music’ because I was in San Diego and Josh was in Canada.
MVRemix: When did you first begin producing hip-hop?
Samix: It was back in high school, about 7 years ago, which consisted of 2-bar drum loops and 2 bar samples. It was more experimentation, trying to figure out bars and beats and samples and sounds. Actual recording and producing didn’t happen until the middle of college, when I met Sayre from the Lost and Found Generation and made ‘One Side Away’.
MVRemix: How did you meet the people from Lost And Found Generation?
Samix: I had a music business class at UC Santa Cruz and Sayre sent out a class-size e-mail saying he had a hip-hop website. That caught my attention because I had been looking for something hip-hop related at UCSC. I e-mailed him and found out he was an emcee, so I told him that I had some beats. We met up a couple times. After that, I didn’t hear from him for about a year. Then, one day, he called and told me that he wanted to record. From there, he started bringing in more emcees and musicians he knew. That is how LFG started and grew. Through Sayre, I met Ashkon, Cole, Ben Mills, who played keys on ‘Midriff Music’, and a bunch of other very talented people. It’s cool to know that such a small thing we started is now growing into something that will put Santa Cruz on the map hip-hop wise.
MVRemix: Out of the released songs you produced, which one are you most proud of?
Samix: It would be ‘Time Alone’ from Josh Martinez’s ‘Midriff Music’ because it accomplishes everything I want in the beats I make. It evokes a ton of emotion, breaks down and builds up, and evolves over the 4 and half minutes. This makes it interesting to listen to. It started as a 2-bar loop which was cool. Once Ben recorded the keys, I knew it was something way better than a great 2-bar loop that would have a bigger effect. Some people told me that they cried after listening to it. This is good because that means it touched them deeper than their ears. This was only accomplished with the help of Ben’s musicianship.
MVRemix: Since there are a myriad of different emcees in Lost & Found Generation, how do you choose which beat goes to which emcee?
Samix: It’s pretty much first come, first served. A lot of times, someone will choose a beat and not do anything with it or lose interest in it. Then, it circulates through the crew and sometimes, outside the crew. We are close with Rec League Records out of Santa Cruz so a couple of my beats have been going to their projects lately.
MVRemix: Was most of ‘Midriff Music’ recorded without Josh being near you?
Samix: Yep, the whole thing. I met him once in L.A. at a show. He expressed interest in doing a song or two. I sent him beat CDs with some skeleton beats. He recorded to them then. He then decided to do a whole project with me and him, which I was hoping he would want. I didn't meet him again until February of this year, when ‘Midriff Music’ was all done and just about to be released. Everything was done by sending material back and forth online or through the mail.
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"‘Time Alone’ from Josh Martinez’s ‘Midriff Music’ because it accomplishes everything I want in the beats I make. It evokes a ton of emotion, breaks down and builds up, and evolves over the 4 and half minutes. This makes it interesting to listen to. It started as a 2-bar loop which was cool."