Q&A With Producer Exile
Truth be told, there are a lot of producers dropping instrumental albums these days. And even though as a producer community we appreciate the hot tracks, reality is, the scene's getting a little...ahem... flooded. With that in mind, producer Exile, who many know as the producer/dj component behind Blu and Exile's critically acclaimed Below The Heavens LP (2007), is looking to set himself apart with his new album, Radio. The entire album was constructed using sounds, samples, and source material recorded off of LA-based radio stations. It was no less a challenge for Exile to just make a beat out of these sounds, but to make something truly hot was another story altogether. That said, he spent roughly a year working on it, and Radio was released this past Tuesday. It's truly a remarkable piece of music. The minute I heard it, I reached out to Exile's peoples to set up an interview. Here's how our conversation went:
Scratch: What gave you the idea to sample all your sounds from LA radio stations?
Exile: I always wanted to make an instrumental album, and I felt that was the next logical step. Either that or my rap album. I wanted it to be different from all the other instrumental albums. I have sampled off the radio before, but never have I sampled everything off the radio, drums and all. It got me thinking, I could like use every sound on the radio. I used some of the static as hi-hats. I used some of frequencies on AM, I put in key on the opening track.
Scratch:As far as drums, did you have to wait for open breaks to sample?
Exile: In some cases I would use some open breaks found, but in other cases I would straight up take a 50 cent song, and even if there’s like sounds already over it, I’d just filter it out. I’d have an 808 and then a clap from a south song. Once I put all the other stuff around it, you can’t really tell. If you had the files you could hear the little sample attached to the clap.
Scratch: What was the best show to tape?
Exile: The Art Laboe Show was real dope.
Scratch: How long did you compile sample material for before you started making the tracks?
Exile: It was half recording off the radio and half putting it into the mpc directly off the radio. I would just sit there and listen to the radio as I was recording and capture what came off to me. I would record the radio and then just start chopping it up. It wasn’t like there was a recording process. But there was a production process in making the album. I guess it was about a year to make.
Scratch: Was their any toss up about some the beats on here, about using them on other projects?
Exile: There’s been some talk and some of it may end up having vocals on it. I might even make a vocal version of the whole album. Blu has recorded to some of it.
Scratch: Talk to me a little about the artwork for the cover. The album cover is a lost art. This is truly something to look at.
Exile: I agree with you that the album cover is a lost art form. I wanted it to be something real timeless and could lay in the cut with the jazz and psych rock records that I love. I had this idea that I’d build a cross out of speakers and radio parts. I was going to have these monks praying to it. As I went on, the contruction of the cross is seen in this video I made, and that’s where the album cover comes together. We had to go to death valley and had to carry this cross I constructed literally on our backs. Like we were about to put Jesus on the cross, and hiking up rock formations with it in order to get these shots. It actually tipped over and fell and broke, luckily we had some duct tape and we duct taped the top of the cross. If you look at the cover, you’ll see the duct tape.
Scratch: Mobb Deep's “Pearly Gates” was a well known record you did. What else have you done?
Exile: I did the track "Baby Please" with jurrasic 5. I did “Graveyard Shift” with Akon and Kardinal Offishall. I did the Waiting Room album with Emanon, everybody knows the Blu stuff. I got this track with Snoop, “Lullaby.” I got this track with Soopafly. “It Beez That Way."
Scratch: What’s the independent beat hustle treating you like these days?
Exile: I’m mainly just trying to produce whole albums. My whole goal is to break artists and to come out with classic records for their first jump off and expose them to the world. I want to be like a Marley Marl. He broke the whole Juice Crew. I’d love to produce for hip-hop artists that are already known, but that’s not my number 1 goal.
Scratch: There's this video of you getting busy on the MPC flippng “A Milli.” You don’t see many producers using the MPC in that fashion. How did you get that good, and are you going to become a traveling one man MPC roadshow?
Exile: I just recently put together a whole show, it’s 2 turntables and 2 MPCs with my man DJ Day. He holds down the turntables and then when it’s my turn to do the MPC, I do that. He actually plays keys on the MP, and we do a version of “Fall In Love,” the Slum Village classic, live. We plan on touring that, even 2 live MPCs at the same time.
Scratch: What’s the future of Blu and Exile?
Exile: We’ve always been saying we’re going to make another album. He just wants to make his next album with a certain group of producers and after that we’re going to started on stuff. We’ve begun working on his production-based album. I’ve been doing scratches on it.