2010) | Interview By: Chad Kiser|
Dubcnn had the pleasure once again to sit down with former Aftermath
producer Focus to candidly discuss his recent release,“The Avant Garde
Project”. This project showcases Focus’ many musical talents and sounds, and
is filled with depth and music showcased from all genres throughout. While
it might be easy to assume that this project developed out the many Detox
sessions he’s been a part of, you can tell when reading this interview that
“The Avant Garde” has been an idea in Focus’ mind for many years.
We discuss many things regarding “The Avant Garde Project”, as well as
getting the scoop on his recent split with Dr. Dre, what his relationship is
to his mentor, his involvement in the Detox, the development of his a.Fam
label, and what we can expect in the future from the talented producer.
Interview was done in May 2010
Questions Asked By:
Dubcnn Exclusive – Focus...
By Chad Kiser
Dubcnn: Talk to me a little bit about your new project The Avant Garde
Project. What can fans of your music expect with this?
It isn't really geared towards any genre so it'll be surprising to
those that have been following my career thus far. I really just made an
album full of music. Not one set theme. Whatever I felt, I did it.
Dubcnn: In other interviews I've read recently with you, you say that the
Avant Garde Project isn't a Hip-Hop record, or Rock Record; it's just good
music. How is this project different from the other productions in your
What I aimed to do with AGP was to get me out of the 'box'. My listeners see
me as a hip hop producer and that's it. I grew up listening to rock, r+b,
hip hop, jazz, even classical. I love it all and try my best to do it all. I
used AGP to kinda show my abilities and further develop my songwriting.
In conceptualizing this project, what was the motivation or
inspiration to put this project together?
Being honest, it just sorta came about. I wrote a rock song in hopes of
getting it to Lenny Kravitz and when it didn't happen, I just kept it going.
My original plan was to put out the 'Pay Homage' lp but getting that
together was taking too long. I wanted to see what else I could do so I went
in on the AGP.
Dubcnn: The reason behind that last question, is that you worked
side-by-side with Dr. Dre for several years while he's been fine-tuning
Detox. How much, if any, of the "idea" for Detox to be a totally different
sounding project came into play with the Avant Garde?
'Avant Garde' came outta the blue and when I was working on Detox, I solely
focused (no pun) on Detox. I did my 'Dedicated' cd when I was in Detox mode.
Dre's 'different' and my 'different' are two different things. He is still
going to keep the essence of what made him DRE, you know. I'm still new to
many so I can experiment and really go different places with my music.
Dubcnn: Speaking of Dr. Dre, you recently left the Aftermath camp. Why?
It was just time. Dre has given me guidance and a doorway into the industry,
I am trying to show him and my listeners that it wasn't in vain. I've been
with Dre for over 7 years and I was getting frustrated with my music just
sitting around. I wanted to be on the various Aftermath projects, but we
were so 'Detox' driven that nothing I was doing was coming out and really
couldn't be shopped too many places because I tailored it to Dre. Me and Dre
spoke and I told him anytime you need me, I'm there but I gotta do this. He
was cool about it and we still holla' now about me being on 'Detox' so
hopefully you'll hear me on it.
Dubcnn: What is your relationship like with Dr. Dre now?
That's still my mentor. We still good. I didn't leave kickin' up dust and
cursin' cats out. Just showing Dre that I'm a soldier in and out of the
Dubcnn: We've heard the rumor of Detox for nearly a decade or more, and just
recently there was a rumor swirling (fueled by Dr. Dre & Jimmy Iovine) about
a Detox single called "Under Pressure". Is Dr. Dre toying with us about his
supposed final album?
Dre is strategic. When the time is right and the music is 'perfect', it'll
drop! This isn't a game to him so he doesn't want to regurgitate the leaks
with the same rhymes and beats. He'll sooner revamp the entire lp before
running with old material. Dre is a perfectionist. Can't rush perfection.
Dubcnn: How many tracks have you worked on for the Detox project?
I've submitted well over 500 tracks to Dre for Detox while I was signed to
the Math. Could be more, but I know that I was constantly working on it and
submitting every track as a Detox hopeful.
Dubcnn: One of my personal favorite songs you produced was "Where I'm From"
for Game's The Documentary. Why wasn't Dre's verse on the album version?
Good question. Again, Dre is a perfectionist. If he didn't like the cadence
of his voice or one line, anything, he probably heard what we couldn't hear.
I was dumb excited when I heard Dre spit on the song. Would've been a great
look for the lp.
Dubcnn: "Live By The Gun" is also another favorite track of mine that you
produced, minus Tony Yayo rapping on it. One of the things about that
particular song that I remember from it first coming out, was that alot of
people thought Dr. Dre did it. Is it frustrating, as a producer, to not get
a just due so to speak for your creations?
It kills me, man, no lie. I have so many tracks out that people thought Dre
did that I got tired of correcting them. I figure, if people truly want to
know then they will read the credits. I produced Mac Dre's "Get Stupid" but
in the song Mac says Dre produced it. 'Conglomerate' was another one people
put out as a Dre production. Yeah, it irks me but it comes with running with
a legend I guess.
Dubcnn: Who are your top 5 producers of all-time, and why?
Well, there is no order but Stevie Wonder, DJ Premiere, Dre, my father;
Bernard Edwards and Prince. The reason for these cats is because they all
have distinctive sounds and wrote music the whole world knew and loved. I
took attributes from each of these cats to make me who I am.
Dubcnn: Tell me about a.Fam Entertainment. You have Al Gator and Kida you're
working with over there. What can we expect out of a.Fam?
I have had this company for years and I never really gave it my full
attention like I have been giving it this past year. Gator and Kida have
been around me for a while and I really believe in them both so I started
rebuilding the company and focusing on their sound and look(s) in the net.
I'm not signing anymore rap but a.Fam is looking for a pop female, a rock
band, and either a solo male or male group. I want the world to expect great
music from a.Fam in all genres, that's my goal with the brand.
Dubcnn: Who are some of the artists you're looking forward to working with
that you haven't yet?
I want to work with great artists, talented artists. I'm not throwing names
out because it might be a new artist. I might just have a second chance with
an artist I already worked with. Who knows.
Dubcnn: When an artist gets in the studio with Focus..., what can they
expect from you as a producer?
I try to make it as relaxing and comfortable as possible but, as a whole,
they should be ready to work. I will get the best out of you if we both have
the same thing in mind, A HIT! I'll stay in until we get it right and I
would hope the artist(s) do the same thing.
Dubcnn: Without putting you on the spot, who are some of your favorite
artists to work with?
I have had the honor and pleasure of working and befriending artists like
Marsha Ambrosius, Busta Rhymes, Sterling Simms, and even Dr. Dre to name a
few. They are my top favorite sessions to date. Christina Aguillera's
session was an amazing experience also.
Dubcnn: Any closing thoughts for our Dubcnn readers out there?
I hope everyone continues to follow my career outside of the MATH. I'm not
going to stop putting out great music. If you want to hit me, follow my
Stay humble, stay hungry... Stay Focused!
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