Read In Your Language

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fresh Spit: Jeff Spec interview

this an interview i did with the baw Jeff Spec. as a small business owner, i can respect his hustle. and i respect the way he came at his latest project. had to get some details. maybe you might dig the conversation...

what up Spec? its been great watchin ur growth. i mean, this new album is really done well. it really has a strong sense of traditional hip hop in it. what was your first encounter with hip hop? what made you love it?

- Thank you sir. I got into hip hop in the late 80s - my neighbor had a copy of Licensed To Ill, which made me want to check out more. I got really into it when I heard artists like Special Ed, Rakim, Chubb Rock, Kane, etc. The concept of rhyming was just crazy, especially getting into it in that middle-school late 80s era, when the majority of styles people use now were being created.

as an MC, who was the early influences for you? who were the hot dudes from up where you're from was the shit back them times?

- Beyond the artists I just mentioned, I was also heavily influenced by artists like Hieroglyphics and Freestyle Fellowship, being from the west coast. We loved Outkast a lot too, the early 90s were a crazy innovative time for production and lyrics.  Around my way, the pioneers are guys like Incredible Ease, who was in a group called EQ... The Rascals had records out real early too. Moka Only, my mentor, is one of the most successful hip hop artists from Canada to date, and has like 50+ albums out... Our crew City Planners has been holding it down for Vancouver since '98, and I can say that I laid a lot of the foundation for hip hop around my region too.

album is done really well. where was it recorded?

- I recorded the whole thing on my laptop, in my bedroom, on the most basic mic that's worth using... That's Specnology right there!

who's the mix engineer?

- My man Elijah, who goes by Hajahbug, did all the mixing. It's my firm belief that the recording is important as far as getting a nice clean level and all that, but the mix engineer makes the overall sound what it is. We mixed everything from 2-track masters of the beats, which is a huge part of giving the album the unique sound that it has.  I'm not a stickler for industry-type sound, and actually try to veer away from it.

who's the mastering engineer?

- Same dude... He did the mixing so much justice that I thought it would be a good look to have him see it through to finalization.

what was the primary microphone choice for your lead vocal?

- I have a really introductory level Audio-Technica mic. It does what I need it to do! We did use a nice Neumann mic for David Morin's vocals on Strange Land though, for no other reason than I had one on loan from the big homey Moka Only when we recorded the tune.

who were the producers on the project?

- I did half of the record myself, as per usual... Also, the homies Impossible Nothing, Deezuz, Engineer, and Muneshine lent some pretty serious contributions to the project.

what is their main production tool?

It's different for everyone - I've been chopping my beats right in Pro Tools a lot of the time, but also use an MPC 2000XL quite a bit... Most producers I encounter are using software these days, but I like to incorporate some outboard stuff when I get the chance.

ur grind is real. everytime you sent me shit that i didnt like, u kept sending shit. now im recommending you to people. thats what grinding it out is all about! do you have formal training in marketing? how did you figure the game out?

- Man, that's a good question... I think I'm still in the process of figuring it out, and always will be to an extent. I have no training or education in marketing, but a genuine interest, and it's a big part of being able to continue on as an independent artist - I'm not interested in letting anyone put their hands on how my music is made, so I have to do it myself.  And you know, I'll probably make more stuff that various people do and don't like in the future, all I can do is present it and let it receive the reaction that comes naturally! But thanks for recommending me to folks, that's how the word really gets out.

and now you're on tour. congrats. hope everything goes well. and ask for ID from the groupies or them bitches thats lookin for a story or an opportunity! you put this tour together?

- hahaha thanks B.  I helped put the tour together, along with Muneshine, Ghettosocks, and Timbuktu, who are all artists on the tour as well.  The key to getting out on the road properly as an indie artist is synergy. Four heads are better than one!

as a purely independent artist and company, how do you approach touring? how do you come across tours like the one you're on? 

- These things are all built from the ground up... I've been touring for about 12 years now, and building a list of contacts, in terms of promoters, DJs, radio hosts, etc, and eventually you realize you have an extensive enough list that you can just head out and do 25 dates in one swoop, which really makes it worthwhile if you do it right.  Getting onboard with other like-minded artists and mutually helping each other is always a good look too.

who's your manager and do you guys have a business model/plan for your company?

- I manage myself. I've worked with managers in the past, but I never feel that anyone pushes me like I push myself, so it's a matter of finding someone who's as motivated as me.

how important is social media for your marketing strategy? if you had to choose, which would u prefer? the blogs or social media?

- Wow, that's a tough call.. The two work so well together. I probably couldn't make one totally worthwhile without the other! Social media is great, because it helps me get the word out to people I've met personally, and people they've put on to me, but reaching out to blogs has been really valuable too, because heads like yourself who run them are usually really into music, and your word carries some weight... That gets me out to people who may not have heard of me, which feeds back into social media, etc, etc..

what else would u like the fam to know?

- Right now I'm planning to head out with the same team on tour in the spring, through a lot of the US, planned around SXSW. I've already started work on a new record called Speconomics, for release next summer/fall, and have a couple collaborative albums in the works too.  The new record, Specnology, is up on Bandcamp 

thanks for your time. i know it gets rough on the road.

- Thanks for your time too my man, and for helping me get the word out and the voice heard. Always appreciated!


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