Studio Session: Sango’s Confidence Propels His New Album
Seattle-bred producer Sango has been making noise in the music world for years, but he plans to blossom bigger than ever before in 2017.
For those just getting acquainted, Sango's signature sound began to get him attention online in 2010. Known for marrying Brazilian baile funk with strategic 1990s R&B cuts and wispy nuances, Sango became an instrumental producer for the L.A. indie label Soulection when it launched in 2011. The 25-year-old dropped his first album, North, under Soulection in 2013, and has toured the world twice over ever since.
Aside from creating his own beats, Sango has clocked studio time and produced for Tinashe, Bryson Tiller and Smino, just to name a few, and even dropped a collab album with singer and fellow Seattle native Dave B in the summer of 2016.
With 2017 marking a fresh start, Sango is primed to come back strong with his sophomore album, In the Comfort Of. Ahead of the album's release, XXL caught up with the talented melody maker for our Studio Session series.
XXL: First, who inspired you to become a producer?
Sango: I gotta say my brother, his name is Eric. He makes music still. His name is Eric Wright. Shout out to E. He inspired me. He made me become a producer because he needed someone to start working with. Him and his boys, they made music and they were like 17, 18 at the time. He was just like, “Can you help me figure out ways to do it?” And I fell in love with it too, I was about 12.
Twelve years old. When did you get your first program?
It was weird; I wasn’t really producing for a while. I was more so learning what it was for a long time. So, the very first program I had was called EJ. It’s a program full of loops and you just mix and match loops and... Stock stuff. It was just a demo. It was fun, kinda like the equivalent of Microsoft Paint for beats. And then my mom had a friend who was a disabled guy, he couldn’t walk but he was a DJ. He brought over a program called Acid Pro and then we started messing around with that. From there, we downloaded Free Loops, and that’s when we started doing stuff for real.
Who are you inspired by as a producer?
Production-wise… I’ll say a lot of Kirk Franklin’s stuff. I don't even know who produces his stuff but Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin. But that's currently what I'm into but to answer your question directly, Timbaland for like the majority of my life. I grew up on a lot of Timbo. My favorite producer of all time is DJ Battlecat from L.A. He produced hella stuff for Snoop Dogg, Dogg Pound, Kurupt. That's my favorite producer of all time, but I was influenced more by Timbaland because he was sampling like Indian music and I was like, 'what is this dude doing?' His stuff... he was so ahead of his time, damn-near changed to the game.
Have you worked with him yet?
No, I haven't.
Do you have plans or aspirations to?
I kind of more so just have questions. I just want to learn. I want to see how he mixes, masters, how he arranges his files, comes up with his drum patterns. All that stuff.
You're closely tied to Soulection and the label seems kind of like a close-knit family. Why did you choose Soulection or why did they choose you?
Ok, let me backtrack. It was kind of like we were both on the same level at the time. Soulection was curated by a whole bunch of DJs and just music heads, beat heads as a kind of collective. And they're inspired by collectives like Brainfeeder, collectives like Stones Throw. We're taking what they're doing and just [doing it] in a more modern way. Soulection I think is the epitome of the Internet producer, SoundCloud producer. It's every SoundCloud producer's dream to be on Soulection.
When I was watching The Get Down, it reminds me of what we were doing like hijacking college radio stations to promoting stuff. Joe Kay made a college radio station poppin', KBeach Radio out of Long Beach, [Calif.] He outgrew it to the point where he had to go to Beats 1. Soulection is just like, to answer your question, it just happened naturally. They reached out to me. They needed me, I needed them.
Can you describe the meaning of the title In the Comfort Of?
It pretty much comes from, like I was working in college, I had a job before I was doing music. I had a carrying job and we went off-site to work at like a camp. Like a churches camp. We had to bring a whole bunch of food from the school to the camp. It was like really, really early. It was like mayhem. It was like 5 in the morning. And I had to be at work, so I had woke up at like 4 something in the morning just to work and I had school that day too.
So when I was driving, I was pretty much like I cannot wait 'til like, although I was tired, I’m content not with the situation but I’m content with being blessed with work and have the opportunity to do these things. So in a sense, comfort means not content but it means you feel good about your situation. So, in the comfort of your home, in the comfort of your relationship, in the comfort of your family, in the comfort of your job. Comfort is not necessarily complacent and stagnant. I guess like you like things how they are and that way but comfort as far as like security. Like I guess it kind of ties in to I guess confidence. You’re confident in what you have. You’re sure about things, you know.
Cool. That’s like contentedness and confidence. That’s great. So then is that what the project is about for you?
Yeah, and to tie into that more, the people I’m working with I actually asked them to write comfortably. To record comfortably. Don’t think too hard.
And what is the overall feeling you’re hoping to give fans with the album?
I want to make people feel like they own the music, you know? Sometimes when you’re listening to music, you’re kind of observing the story or, I guess, trying to relate on some levels. On this album, I really want to make sure that most of the songs are tangible. They talk to you as [the listener]. Sometimes having a lot of instrumentals allows people to have that space to think about their life or their situation.
So that’s what Im trying to aim for: making sure the music belongs to the listener rather than they’re just listening to a story by me. I do want that as well, but more so I want the listener to really own the music.
You and Smino dropped a song recently. It was your production, "blkswn." Will that will make it to the album?
That was actually gonna be on Smino's album.
Ok, cool. How did that come together? How did you work with him?
We had a Redbull Session in L.A, nearly a year ago I wanna say. He’s easy to work with. He’s fully traditional. He’s the type of guy that would come into the studio and nearly start writing whether there's music or not type of guy. So we working. This was just for Redbull 'cause Redbull, they have these Sound Select things where they pair artists together to make things together. So we used the opportunity to make as much as we can.
We're not gonna just sit there and make one song. We tried to make at least four songs. It ended up giving us three ideas. Two of these ideas are officially on projects. One of them was released that’s called "Lemon Pon Goose." It was like a single we released and that was like a spur of the moment. "Blkswn" was spur of the moment too. That’s how that happened. Just straight classic Pharrell, Neptunes, Jay Z, type of things.
What are some collabs that people can expect on the album from you?
I'm tryna keep it a secret. I don’t wanna give too much away but I know [singer] Xavier Omar is on the album. There's a guy named Midnight I’ve been working with. He’s really great. Smino will be on the album too. We worked on a song together. Jean Deaux, she's a singer of Chicago. She’s really amazing. Who else? I’m trying to think. Jesse Boykins III. I could say all of them but I don’t want to give too much away [laughs].
Also Waldo from Michigan. He’s real lyrical type of guy. He’s not like a swag rap type of dude. Rappers all have that side but when it comes to having bars, he can deliver it. I kinda really wanna have that on the album, just straight hip-hop. I have one more, there's a guy named Ryan Ashley of London. He’s a writer, amazing voice. A lot of new people. I’m into that. A lot of people want big features and stuff. That’s cool and all but its about the music and anybody can do anything as long as you trust them and they’re talented and they’re determined to make a song with you. That’s all that matters. I’m working on getting some bigger names that would for sure be on the album. Just wanna make sure of that. I don’t wanna jinx anything unless that’s tied down. There's gonna be a lot of features, but also some production as well. Just strictly production.
Do you have a date yet for it?
Actually early 2017. First quarter.
And you've recently become a father, so congratulations.
Oh thank you. Yeah, he's right next to me actually right now.
And what is his name? Mateo?
Yeah, we named him Mateo.
Has becoming a father changed your work ethic at all or your music?
Absolutely. Like night and day. Now I don’t make a lot of music often but when I do, it's either high volume or high quality. I get that moment to work and it's just I know next time I work it's gonna be something that you hear that’s gonna be on the album or just a great idea in general.
Other than the album, what is something you’re excited about for 2017?
To be honest, I’m excited to technically tour. Just getting back on the road, now that I’m a father, just to see how often. Outside of music, overall just excited for technology. I’m a big tech head, I love technology. So I'm excited for any new upcoming updates, inventions. That type of stuff really makes me happy. Especially the music industry. Lot of new devices and software out there I can use that can help better my production and my work. I'm hyped about that.
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