He’s known for his critically acclaimed work with Blu. He’s also known for stomping MPC’s into submission while maintaining the groove. We’re talking about producer extraordinaire Exile, of course. He’s a busy man these days, what with his instrumental album Radio and it’s subsequent remix projects. He’s also embarked on a tour of Europe with Fashawn. TRU caught up with Exile for a chat on the first day of the tour.
TRU: You’ve done several Youtube videos where you create beats on an MPC, using it more like an instrument than a programming tool. Is that something you wish to introduce to Hip-Hop?
Exile: I did that just to make it fun for myself and to try and introduce a live element to Hip-Hop. I think that’s definitely possible. Without having a live band we can still maintain that gritty Hip-Hop shit and have it be live, I think it would be great if that caught on. I mainly did it for myself but if other people want to do it I think that would be positive for Hip-Hop.
TRU: It might also bring more appreciation for the act of beatmaking as it’s largely something that goes on behind the boards. Do you think people generally underestimate the craft that goes into a beat being created?
People probably don’t know what someone is doing, but at the same time, when creators are making beats it’s not necessarily how I make beats live on the MPC in front of an audience. It’s a little different, but it’s possible to make beats like that in the studio as well.
TRU: So what’s the biggest difference between an Exile live show beat and a beat you create in the studio for someone to spit on?
A lot of these beats are designed to be played live. If I’m making a beat for someone to rhyme on, I mean, I have made beats live on the MPC for a vocalist before, but if I’m producing for someone I’m programming it, that’s the difference, programming it. Sequencing it out and it’s not all live.
TRU: What musicians inspired you most to do what you do?
Fashawn, Blu, Aloe, the people I surround myself with definitely inspire me. My creativity may be in one place and theirs’ll be in another so they give me inspiration to keep doing what I’m doing.
TRU: So what initially got you into creating beats?
Hearing Hip-Hop music and wondering how it was made and then just putting myself into a position where I have to figure out how to make it. I had no idea, and I got my home stereo system with two tapedecks in the bottom and a turntable on top and I’d hold down the tape button and press in the phono button to create something like a transform scratch. And from there I figured out how to create loops, with two tapedecks and a turntable. What inspired me to do that was really just being a fan and wanting to do what they do.
TRU: So who where ‘they’?
LL Cool J, Rick Rubin, Run DMC, Beastie Boys, DJ Pooh, King Tee, Ice-T, Fat Boys, all that.
TRU: You’re releasing AM/FM, a remix album of Radio, what was the motivaton behind that?
It was a way to get people that I know to remix the records and give the album some extra life, as well as having people that I know do lyrics over songs that were just supposed to be instrumental tracks and explore it in a different way. A bunch of cats in my scene helping to expand on the creativity of the Exile – Radio album.
TRU: There are a lot of political and spiritual themes on the original, do the vocalists expand on that as well?
Yeah, definitely. Aloe Blacc for instance have a song So We Can Move on there which has very conscious, spiritual lyrics that definitely add to the theme that was originally there.
TRU: Do you believe it’s the role of a musician to put his view of the world into his music or just to entertain?
You need to have a little bit of both. But I definitely think it is important to be able to put what you’ve learned out of your life into what you’re creating. In order for people to connect to it and for it to be honest as a work of art.
TRU: With the AM/FM album, are you trying to reach an audience you didn’t reach withe original Radio album?
Definitely, with people on there like Evidence or Clutchy Hopkins I’m trying to go through the span of the different styles and the different people that I know and have them introduce what they know and what they do, which is different than what’s on my album.
TRU: Are you planning on releasing more instrumental albums or do you rather work in tandem with a vocalist?
I plan to do it all. Recently I gained access to my father’s reel to reel tapes. He passed away when I was eighteen but he was recording music since the sixties and I’m actually creating an album going through his reel to reels. It’s me making an album out my father’s music, it’ll be an instrumental album called Family Tree. There’ll be another Radio album, besides a new album with Blu, a new album with Aloe Blacc (Emanon). I’m gonna work with ADAD out of Chicago, on a whole album. We just opened up a new website (thedirtyscience.com) where you can check us all out.
TRU: Family Tree sounds like a very personal record. Is it hard to maintain focus with a project that brings back memories and is tied to your family like that?
Well listening to the songs my father made definitely makes it different, special, and it sparked up a lot of memories. It makes me want to create something my father would be proud of, it actually gives me more focus.
TRU: What are the goals you’ve set out with your current tour?
To rock the crowds, have a good time with the show, meet some good people, eat some good food and live it up!
Exile’s AM/FM is on sale through Plug Research August 31st, the album Radio Bonus can be downloaded for free right now.