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interview Mr Payback  (April 2009) | Interview By: Javon Adams

   Sometimes itís cool to peak behind the curtain and see what really goes into making a hit song. Producers see it all and believe me itís not all pretty but when your hard work earns you a gold or platinum plaque itís all worth it. Javon recently hooked up with Clint ĎMr. Paybackí Sands to discuss his views on the music industry and his approach to making hits. Mr. Payback has worked with Ice Cube, Squeak Ru, WC and a whoís who in Hip Hop, R&B and beyond.

Take a few minutes to find out what a producer really does and how a producer in todayís music industry can stay relevant. Mr. Payback also sheds a little light on how studio tricks can make hits. Plus he mentions a few R&B singers that have benefited from the producerís magic wand. Get familiar with Mr. Payback. Heís a legend in the game and has the plaques to prove it.

As always you can email Javon at javon@dubcnn.com.

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Interview was done in April 2009

Questions Asked By: Javon Adams
 
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Dubcnn Exclusive Ė Mr Payback
By: Javon Adams
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Dubcnn: Dubcnn.com we want to welcome the legendary Clint ĎMr. Paybackí Sands. How are you doing?

Mr Payback:
Iím good.


Dubcnn: Thank you for taking a little time out of your day to chop it up. I wanted to dive right into it. Youíre an accomplished producer but can you explain what a producer does? I know its more than just making a beat right?

Mr Payback:
Right.


Dubcnn: So what goes into that? I know youíve worked with so many illustrious artists from Ice Cube to Squeak Ru and WC and the list goes on and on. So when you get they get into the studio with you what is that process like?

Mr Payback:
We have a direction on what we want to doÖIím mainly a director. We try to come up with a hit idea and just execute it. I bring all of the elements together with the drums, the hook and the artist and make sure they deliver their lyrics right and everything fits.


Dubcnn: I know you work in different genres of music as well including Pop, R&B and others so does that same type of thought process apply to all of the different artists that you work with regardless of genre?

Mr Payback:
Yeah.


Dubcnn: Do you end of having to change things up a little bit like flows or the pitch when a singer is trying to hit the note that is just a little out of their range?

Mr Payback:
Yeah, we find little alternatives but it has to be something that works and it has to be fly. It has to be the best that we can possibly do. So if itís a note that they canít do but theyíre trying their heart out then we find something else. But it has to be equally fly though.


Dubcnn: I know ideally that you want to work with the top notch or top caliber in their field regardless of genre but is it difficult when you come across someone that isnít as talented as the label thinks or even they think? Is it hard to squeeze the best out of them and make the best product possible?

Mr Payback:
No, itís just being real creative. Itís a longer process but you can still pull something off. I mean, look at Ashanti.


Dubcnn: laughs* Itís cool that you mention that because she seems like the kind of person that really canít seem that well and there might be some behind the scenes producer tricks and magic going on.

Mr Payback:
Uh huh, look at Janet Jackson. Look at Aahliyah. I think Janet is one of the trick masters. Either her or Aahliyah.


Dubcnn: With Janet its obviously her stage shows that carry her because the voice has never done it for me.

Mr Payback:
T Boz from TLC and you can go on down the line because there are a bunch of them that have gotten away with studio tricks. Such as a lot of punches (edits) and days and days out of recording. You donít know how long it takes or what they can really do or not. A lot of times at the live shows they have vocals going on in the background or they sing to a cd or something.


Dubcnn: I know you have plaques as evidence of your success but how did it feel to get your first plaque?

Mr Payback:
Amazing. I felt like I was really doing music.


Dubcnn: How many plaques do you have? I know Iím putting you on the spot butÖ

Mr Payback:
Iím about to count them right now. Nine plaques.


Dubcnn: Does it get old or does it always feel just as exciting when you get the newest plaque that confirms you were a part of a successful project?

Mr Payback:
They are hard to get, especially now, so I really appreciate every last one that I have. They still hold a lot of value to me. They still give me a feeling of accomplishment like, ĎMan, we did that!í You canít have too many of them. You always want more! Theyíre like wallpaper.


Dubcnn: *laughs* How do you go about staying relevant and fresh regardless the genre in what you do? Do you have to reinvent yourself or is it just about being you and introducing yourself to as many people as possible?

Mr Payback:
Word to the wise for producers, you can be shallow-minded or pigeon holed. In order to stay current all you have to do is check out the radio stations or online stations or dubcnn.com. Find out whatís hot that way. Or go to the clubs. You really have to see whatís crackiní and if you really know your craft youíll understand what kind of drums, claps, tempos or melodies the people like. You can go home and put it together yourself.


Dubcnn: Can that be a little dangerous in terms of trying to do what is hot now as opposed to being a half-step ahead of the game? Is that a battle that you fight sometimes?

Mr Payback:
Yes and no because the way the business is now if I deal with an A&R and end up working on a projectÖA&Rs and most labels are copycats. They want a song like Ďthisí thatís hot on the radio. Thatís kind of whack because Iím copying someone elseís style but putting my own twist on it.

Iím a musician. I play bass and guitar so I want to put bass and guitar in all of my stuff but thatís not what the A&R wants. They want it to sound like whatever hit they are playing on the radio. So when I get with the artist I sit with them and see what they think is hot and we make something from scratch that is original and fits them. That works the best for me in any genre.


Dubcnn: We were talking about A&Rs wanting that copycat type of soundÖI read where you mentioned that black artists are Ďcreatively limitedí right now. Do you think that is a result of the artists fear to try something new or is it more of what you were talking about with the labels being afraid to take chances and wanting to copy the hit sound?

Mr Payback:
Well, black music is probably in the worst condition that it has ever been in because a lot of the people that dictate whether or not the music will be played donít listen to it. A lot of them arenít musically inclined at all. They are either attorneys that were doing production deals with people but they arenít ex-DJs like they used to be or ex-singers or writers. Those people had appreciation for writing and originality. Now all they donít do the music and all they do is sell the music so they donít care.


Dubcnn: Gotcha. One of the things that people talk about in the changing music industry is the decline in sales. I know you work with a lot of your own artists like Squeak Ru, Dawn, Ametrius and Ms. ToiÖhow do you redefine what success is for the artists that you work with?

Mr Payback:
Success for usÖitís real hard because the radio is very strict on what they play and they donít play. A lot of payola goes on and a lot of DJs are scared. There arenít a lot of authentic DJs that play in the club and also play on the radio. The radio DJs go with the music program which means Ďthese many songs worked at this station so letís try it here.í Itís real hard but we try to come up with hot songs that take off on their own. So far that has worked.

Ms. Toi has a song called ĎU-Turní. Thereís a dance that goes with it and all that so everybody in the clubs Down South is doing the U-Turn. On the West I have a song with Squeak Ru. We have a song called ĎCali Boyí with Ice Cube.


Dubcnn: That has a nice bounce to it. I like that ĎCali Boyí song. You mentioned Squeak Ru and Ms. Toi. What else can people be on the lookout for with things that Mr. Payback has his fingerprints on or hands in?

Mr Payback:
Thereís a label that Iím on the Board of Directors on called the Social Music Group. The first group is my group called ĎDeez Nutzí.


Dubcnn: Thatís your live Funk/Rock band that you have, right?

Mr Payback:
Exactly. Itís just like Funk and Rock grooves with R&B singing on top of it. It has harmonies and the singer sounds like Sly from Sly and the Family Stone. The music isÖimagine if todayís Hip Hop producer connected with a Rock band and what they would do. It would be a funky groove that you would want to rap to but there is singing on top of it.


Dubcnn: Where can people go to keep up to date on all of those things?

Mr Payback:
www.myspace.com/heatmakaz


Dubcnn: Is that where they can hit you up because I know people will try to get some of that production. They may have to save their nickels and dimes but do they hit you up that way too?

Mr Payback:
Yeah, I frequently check it.


Dubcnn: Any last words for Dubcnn?

Mr Payback:
For you radio jocks, you need to play a record or you can kick rocks.


Dubcnn: *laughs* I heard that. Thanks for your time man.




 


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