INTERVIEW: We caught up with Toronto producer, AlexOnWeed, who created a large chunk of 88GLAM's debut project.
The role of a producer is just as important, if not more important, than the artist who uses their beat. The producer is the one that sets the mood for the rapper to follow. Toronto producer AlexOnWeed is the man that produced a good chunk of 88GLAM's self-titled debut project through XO. He isn't just a producer the group found on YouTube and reached out to get beats from. He's worked with 88CAMINO and Derek Wise for a long time and watched them bubble from local heroes to the hottest exports out of Toronto rap.
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AlexOnWeed is not originally from Toronto but the way he crafted the production for 88GLAM's tape may give you a different impression. Originally hailing from Vancouver, BC, the producer first met 88Camino when he was engineering one of his earlier projects with Birthday Boy. Since then, they began working together heavily and was later introduced to Derek Wise through Camino.
Now, AlexOnWeed is highly involved in the process that went into 88GLAM's master tape. He was the one behind six of the project's songs including the NAV-assisted "Bali" and the lead single, "12." The vibe he's been drawn to throughout his career has helped form a prominent sound that reflects the Toronto music scene today.
We recently spoke to AlexOnWeed via e-mail to discuss his studio essentials, working with Derek Wise and 88CAMINO, his creative process, favorite Toronto artists and much more.
What was your first introduction to producing?
I was always more of an engineer than producer but I made beats here and there. Started taking producing more seriously a few years ago when I started working with 88. "You’re Not My Mans" was my first production that gained some traction.
Who are some people you look up to as producers?
Can you tell us how you ended up linking up with 88GLAM?
Camino and I met when I engineered him and Birthday Boy’s Music to Soothe the Savage Youth and I’ve been making his beats and recording him since. Derek and 88 were friends for a while and we did the song "Anuva Wun" which I believe was their first release together. Last winter we all got in the studio and made a song called "I Can Tell" which was on Derek’s Inglorious album and the response from that song was pretty good so we decided to do a joint project soon after.
You’ve been working and rocking with Derek Wise and 88 Camino for quite some time. What’s the biggest thing you’ve noticed in terms of their sonic growth?
They’re getting really good creating hooks and melodies I would say is the biggest improvement.
What’s the difference between working with those guys independently in comparison to working with them as part of the XO family?
Not a lot has changed we still make music the same way we always have - in our apartment or wherever we can. The biggest difference is now being looked at by people we all looked up to.
Each track you produced on the album ("12," "Ricardo," "Bali," "Kyrie," "Chemistry" and "Heisman") have the cold and dry feel of the Toronto sound. To you, where does the inspiration for that sound come from?
I think I just relate to dark music more, my favourite bands are like Alexisonfire, Radiohead, and the Mars Volta. I’ve always been drawn to that particular mood I guess. When House of Balloons came out that was like the craziest music I ever heard. Anything dark or sad speaks to me haha.
What type of equipment do you use to produce?
Laptop, Ableton. For recording use a TLM-103 and whatever interface is lying around.
The role of producers became much more widely recognized over the past few years, with DJ’s beginning to even tour on their own. What are your plans do you have with music?
My goal when I started was to be like an in-house person for an artist or artists. I like to be a part of every process - producing/recording/mixing. I like the idea of building something and seeing how far it can go with just a few people who share the same vision.
As a producer, if you could create a beat for your dream collaboration, which artists would feature on it?
Trippie Redd and Mars Volta collab would be outta control.
Who are some people within your city that you think people should keep an eye out on?
Definitely K. Forest, probably my fav artist in the city right now.
Who are other artists you’re working with right now?
Not working with anyone else at the moment.
What are your studio essentials?
Honestly not much. As long as I have my laptop with my plugins and a half decent mic you can go a long way.
Word is that you moved here from Vancouver. How has your perception of ‘Toronto sound’ changed since you’ve been living in the city?
Yeah it’s changed a lot it’s always evolving and I think the term is much broader now than it was in the past. There’s so much different music in different genres coming from the city that the “Toronto sound” means much more than the meaning stapled to it.
Is your sound at all a reflection of where you came from? Or just a reflection of where you’re currently at?
My sound is a reflection of what I like - all my influences combined. And I’m constantly being inspired by new things so it changes all the time.
When you make a beat, do you think of how it will sound to a group of people, or just one person in particular?
Pretty much just aim to make it sound as good as possible keeping in mind what’s current and what I like.