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All his beats are free – Interview with hip hop producer T_U_N_A_M_I.

Major Credits? I lease out all of my beats for free and have the download links accessible to everyone right there on my SoundCloud page so there’s just too many credits to keep track of / I don’t want to distinguish who is and isn’t a major artist that I’ve worked with since I know I will end up pissing some people off, you feel? That being said, I do have a couple undeniably major projects on the way that I’m gassed up for that have to be kept on the low for now. Get ready though because heat is coming very soon. Listen up for my producer tag and keep your eyes peeled for the (Prod. By T U N A M I) credit in a soon to release track title or two.

How old are you? I’m 22 years old

Where are you from?  Born and raised in Los Angeles. I’ve lived all over the city though, so I can’t really claim any specific set haha. Moved around a lot as a kid to various parts of the city, I’ve lived in East LA, Crenshaw/Washington, Crenshaw/Wilshire, the South Bay, Pomona, Glendora, Baldwin Park, South LA, Ventura, Ojai and right now (and for the past 3 ½ years) I’ve been living in Westwood for college (I’m a senior at UCLA majoring in sociology).

 

How long have you been producing? I’ve actually only been producing for about 8 months now but I’ve been playing music all my life. Very few people know this about me but I’ve been playing jazz music (primarily sax) since I was 10 years old and played seriously all the way up until college. I even used to play shows and events and stuff and never told anyone about them out of fear that they would think I was some lame band geek or something. It was really a weird secret of mine that I only fairly recently started to get over as I’ve grown less and less concerned with seeming “cool” as I age. Tying this back to the original question, although I’ve only been producing for a short period of time I was able to pick it up quickly because of my musical background, so I didn’t need to learn music theory or anything, I just needed to learn how to operate the DAW music software (FL Studio 12), in which I’m still learning new things everyday.

 

What’s the dopest thing to happen to you since you started making music and releasing product? Connecting with so many new people from all over the world because of my music has been hella dope. The internet is really a crazy tool. One of the more wild moments I’ve experienced is when I was working with a crazy fire artist named $orr¥ (dollarsorryens on SoundCloud) and we had been digging each others music for a minute and messaging each other and exchanging beats and somewhere down the road we ended up finding out we had the same birthday. I don’t believe in astrology or anything but I swear every person I’ve ever met that shares my birthday I’ve automatically vibed with. Also the support from fans has been really dope. People in my DMs and comments supporting me really is a huge factor in making me want to get better and work harder on my beats. Shouts out to all of you that have done that.

Who are your biggest influences? Honestly, so many… In terms of beat-making influences I would have to say The Neptunes, Timbaland, Travis Scott, Tyler The Creator, Soulection Radio, Iman Omari, Mndsgn, Knxwledge, Sounwave, Saba, FlyLo, Dilla, and of course all the talented producers with SoundCloud origins: (SenseiATL, Ethereal, Bighead, TM88, Mexikodro, Pierre, but mostly LORDFUBU) [if anyone hasn’t checked out LORDFUBU’s beats on his SoundCloud I highly recommend you do. He’s an incredible beat-maker with a very unique sound, something that is harder and harder to find these days.]

In terms of non-production influences, once again,too many to name. But to name a few, Andre 3000, Nas, The Roots, DJ Quik (as a producer too) Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, The Isley Brothers, Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane, Jobim & Gilberto, Robert Glasper, Snoop Dogg, really all the OG G-Funk artists, Slum Village, A Tribe Called Quest, D’Angelo, Oldies music (The Temptaions, The Delfonics, G.Q.), Hiatus Kaiyote, Lauryn Hill, Musiq Soulchild, Dwele, Ginuwine, Earth Wind and Fire, Led Zeppelin, all of TDE, Gorillaz, A$AP Mob, Curtis Mayfield, E-40, Daniel Caesar, Earl & Vince, Travis Scott, Maxo Kream, Yung Bans, Larry League, Wintertime, Nessly, Father, Ugly God, Young Thug, Migos, Zapp and Roger, Future, Black Kray, Goth Money Records, Ethereal, Frank Ocean, Frank Sinatra, George Clinton, The Internet, Jay Z, 2Pac, Kamasi Washington, K-Dot, DOOM, N.E.R.D., Nick Hakim, The Pharcyde, Roy Ayers, D Savage, Rich The Kid, Smokepurpp, Pollari, Ski Mask, Thundercat, Reese LaFlare, Kanye, Kanye Kanye and the list goes on… If you know me well then you know I’m a huge music buff, always have been. I really just listen to music, make music, or skate, and that’s it.

Want to give any shoutouts? Big shouts out to lordfubu for keeping it original. Shouts out to one of my oldest homies, Richie (@Paquout), for always listening to my beats, even the most garbage ones. Shouts out to Battle (@0calls), Stoph (@187stoph), and KOB (@prodxkob) they’re all very talented rising artists from LA, if you don’t know them you should definitely check them out.

What is something about you people would be surprised to know? Most people don’t know about my musical past, as I mentioned earlier. Also, a good amount of people that follow my music don’t know that I go to UCLA. One of the big things that continues to surprise people is that I’m mixed-race, my Mom is black and from Los Angeles and my dad is from Argentina and lives there now. So technically I’m black/latino, but for whatever reason I came out tan with blue eyes, so people are always trying to figure out what my ethnic background is. Almost every time I meet someone new and sit down and talk with them for a length of time the question “what ethnicity are you” or “what’s your background” comes up. Really though, I’m not even slightly exaggerating, happens all the time. At this point I’m so used to it I honestly just wait for it to happen when I meet someone new. White folks usually assume I’m Mexican while black folks usually assume I’m a tan white guy or arabic or something, and I don’t know if there’s a consistent guess of my ethnicity by Mexican people, but what I do know is that they definitely don’t look at me and think I’m Mexican. So yeah, I’ve always been kind of a black sheep I guess in terms of racial inclusivity. No one really claims me as their own, so I’ve always kind of been on the outside looking in. I think that never really feeling included or accepted into one group or the other played a pretty significant role in the development of my relationship with music. I think, in a sense, I retreated into music as a reaction to this exclusion that I’ve always quietly faced, and as a result I tried to search for identity through music when I was growing up. Now, I don’t think I ever found any sort of identity through that and I did eventually come to realize that whatever I was searching for wasn’t real and that having any sort of cultural identity/inclusion is just something I won’t ever have, it’s not in the cards for me, and that’s fine, I’ve come to accept that, you can’t have everything, you know? But what I did end up coming out of this struggle with was 1. a diverse and eclectic music taste with a large-body of knowledge about music from all types of cultures and influences and 2. that yes, I may never be accepted into one culture or ethnicity or whatever, but that it doesn’t matter because I am uniquely me, an odd mix of a bunch of disjointed influences bundled up into one ethnically ambiguous brown kid with blue eyes and a scraggly mustache. To bring everything back, those two things that make me who I am have also come together to create what is my sound, unique and original beats stemming from a plethora of influences.

 

Whats your process for making a beat?

A major reoccuring theme in my beat production is having my own sound, a unique voice. I really try to think outside of the box and create beats like no one has ever heard before, but still keeping with the contemporary hip hop trap sound. It’s really important to me to make unique and authentic music, especially in a market which is growing more and more saturated with generic, run-of-the-mill sounding production everyday. There’s definitely a culture of conformity within current hip hop that can make it hard to try something new and different without running the risk of being seen as “whack” or an “outsider”  which , in turn, perpetuates this saturation of generic, churned-out recycled beatmaking that we see a lot of today. It’s really the “fear” of being judged that has created this, in fact, I can guarantee that 90% of producers today have a few beats on their computers that will never see the light of day because they don’t conform to what’s “cool.” That being said, this is why I’m super appreciative of producers like lordfubu and Nedarb who aren’t afraid to push the envelope and try new and different things despite the risks, for example, Nedarb sampling Paramore. A goal of mine is to help encourage other producers to step outside of their comfort zones and to disregard ideas like “what’s cool right now” or “will people like this?” so they can lose those constraints to their creativity and instead make genuine, authentic music that innovates rather than imitates.

 

What do your beats normally cost?

I lease out all of my beats for free. I don’t make music for money, I make it because I truly love it. Music is more than just a hobby for me, and definitely isn’t a job. My entire life music has been a way to express myself, my energy, my feelings, and in listening to others, to feel those same things from them. It’s about the exchange. It’s why it feels good to share music with others. In sharing music that you, yourself, enjoy and derive happiness from, you become able to gift these same feelings to others through the action of sharing said music. It’s why your one friend that showed you a song will be hella annoying and make sure that everyone in a room knows that “they put you onto this song/artist” if you play it outloud. It’s because they want the homies to know that that they are the source of this enjoyment that they will now all feel (in enjoying the music) and possess (in being able to further share it with others) and to be thankful for this gift that they have bestowed upon them. I’m kinda goin off on a tangent now, haha, but basically the point of me giving all my beats out for free is that I just want to share how my music makes me feel with others and collaborate with artists that enjoy my creations and the best way to get more people to use/listen to my beats is to make them free and accessible for everyone.

 

Any story or stories on how you secured some of your placements? Nothing too exciting. Really just emailing, and Instagram/SoundCloud DMs.

 

Do you use Hardware or software? Software, although I wish I had some cool hardware like an old MPC or Moog. I use FL Studio 12 as my DAW and primarily Omnisphere as a VST, but also Nexus, Purity, and Sytrus

 

How many leases or beats, do you think you have sold in your career? Since I lease all of my beats for free I have the download links accessible right under each track on SoundCloud so the number is definitely in the 100’s. But it’s also not a fair comparison with the vast majority of producers that sell their beats, so take that estimate with a grain of salt because it’s definitely not an indicator of success.

 

what are your plans for 2018? Learn/create more, reach out to more people and develop more relationships with other artists. My beat placement goals would to get A$AP Mob, Father, Pollari, Yung Bans, Playboi Carti, Uno The Activist, Lerado78, Lil Uzi Vert, Nolanberollin, Lil Skies, Divine Council, 5fingerposse, Smokepurpp, Robb Banks, Lil Tracy, Reese LaFlare or Famous Dex on one of my beats.

 

Do you receive royalties for any of your beats? I personally don’t but I’m in the process of signing up with the ASCAP and BMI. I wish I understood the importance of this earlier though. I should have done that from the very beginning. I urge all new producers to get on that asap.

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