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Interview with Relic The Oddity

This is a guest post from Geoffrey Granka of Fresh Produce Productions. Find him online at www.freshaudio.ca and @gmgranka on twitter.

You might not know Relic the Oddity, but if you like Canadian Hip Hop (read: good hip hop), you’ve heard his work already. Fresh off his work in Shad’s TSOL (an album that Eye Weekly calls “infinitely playable”), he had some time to answer my nagging questions.

Since this picture, Relic has relocated to a more traditional home studio.

What are some of your most successful projects that people would know you for?

The work I’ve done with Shad is where people may recognize me from: (When This Is Over – production; The Old Prince – production, mixing, feature emcee; TSOL- production, mixing, feature emcee). I’ve also done work with Sev Statik, Braille, Surreal, Fresh I.E., and Manafest to name a few.

How did you learn the ropes? Did you go to a recording college?

Actually, I applied when I was fresh outta high school to Fanshawe College for their audio recording program, but failed to make the cut. I had a couple of mentors, Adam Messinger, and Rob Berger who were running a couple of studios I used to work out of every so often. These guys laid the foundation for me, showing me the fundamentals of tracking, mixing, gear selection etc. Most of all that I’ve learned since then has been from reading books, or trial and error.

What got you into beatmaking?

Remember the movie Beat Street? There’s a part in there where this guy Kenny gets an opportunity to use some gear to make beats. Seeing that when I was a kid, I was like “Man, I gotta be like that dude“. Sounds strange, but it’s funny how seeing such a small thing when you’re young can affect your life.

How do get in touch with most emcees that end up using your beats?

I used to rely purely on word of mouth. One man knows a next man, who knows a next man who needs beats… that was usually the way it would go. A lot of it still works that way, but now, since everyone and their uncle is a producer, I kind of have to use whatever resources I can. The internet has been a great tool. Being not only a producer, but also a emcee/D.J./singer/songwriter and working to get my own music out there has helped a lot. Networking at shows and making new conneks/building relationships is key.

What was your first drum machine?

Me and my friend Nate used to make beats using a Commodore 64 (for all you young heads. Google this) and a 4 track cassette recorder. Ping-ponging 2 track mono loops off of that thing was fun… but the sound was garbage. We eventually bought an [Emu] SP1200, and had that running 8 outs through a small Mackie board to a Fostex 1/4″ reel.

Commodore 64 Relic The OddityNot only good for Duke Nukem apparently.

What’s your current recording set-up like?

I used to use a lot more outboard gear than I do now. (Gates/limiters/compressors/EQ’s) But I’ve simplified my equipment down to a Presonus Firepod and a Mac G5 running Logic Pro. (although I like the FirePod as an interface, I can’t recommend it because of some of the issues I’ve had with it. not sure what my next interface will be, but I can tell you, I’ve been looking anxiously at the Alesis Master Control .. that thing is iLL! ) Until just last week I’ve been using a set of M-Audio BX8 monitors (which I have nothing but good things to say about ) but am giving a set of Yamaha HS80-Ms a go right now. They sound great, but I’m still not sure how my mixes will translate in comparison to the M-Audios. I am a lover of drum machines/samplers. I still have the SP1200, and a Esi 32, but also use a ASR-X Pro, a MPC 2500, and a old Prophet 2000 as a midi controller. I also have an Akai 1212 board, which I use as a patch bay for the SP. My secret weapon is an old Apex 430 mic. It’s a dinosaur, but tracking vocals for hip hop/r&b seems to be what it was made for. I’ll probably get a new mic eventually, but I will never get rid of this little gem.

Do you have any one particular piece of gear that you use all the time?

MPC 2500 has been my best friend for about 2 and a half years. Before that it was the ASR-X. can’t live without either of em.

Do you have any dream clients?

Not really. A dope emcee is a dope emcee, and a good singer is a good singer. If I had to pick someone though, it would more than likely be Black Thought, Elzhi, or Phonte. I dig what these guys are doing.

Is there anything wrong with modern music today that you’d like to fix?

Although there are genres of music that hurt my ears, and make me want to pull my eyelids off, I think music is not the problem. If I were to fix something, it would be the hearts of the people running the industry. It sucks to see any art form suffer because of capitalism.

As a producer, what current producers really catch your ear lately?

I gotta say, I miss Dilla. He was an innovator. My man Rich Kidd is hella dope. Oddisee is also becoming one of my favourites. Exile of course. M-Phazes. Many may not know either.. but my boy T-LO, (Shad’s DJ) has got some hidden heat. Also from T-dot, Die-Rek is crazy with it.. Gigs is dope, and Lyve is a guy to watch for as well.

What projects to you have coming out that we can keep in ear open for?

I’m currently working with Wio-K (you know him from Kardinal’s song “Ol TIme Killin”) on a EP that is gonna be nuts, set for digital release in the next couple of months. I’m in the middle of completing my next album, and finishing up an EP with producer Scarlem D, also set for digital release before the summer’s over.

Speaking of networking: You can get at Relic online at your choice of 5 social networking sites:

www.myspace.com/relictheoddity
www.twitter.com/RELMcCoy
www.soundcloud.com/rel-mccoy (you can find some free joints here)
www.facebook.com/relmccoy
www.soundclick.com/relictheoddity– I got some beats there for cats to peep, and have recently dropped the prices to clear out the archive… so get at me!

And you can check out his free album here.

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