Future Producer Interview: Alex Goose
by Winston "Stone" Ford
Future Producers is a new segment from The Couch Sessions profiling the newest and hottest producers in the game. These young, fresh, talented producers are flipping the script and bringing the game to new heights. Watch out for these Couch Sessions-approved producers in 2010.
DOWNLOAD: The Blueprint 3 Outtakes
Alex Goose – Fire
Alex Goose – Hova’s Back
Alex Goose is one of music’s rising producers, creating some of the best hip-hop and R&B beats this decade. Raised in the DC area, and now living in Atlanta, Goose’s inspirations come not from the traditional breaks of hip-hop, but from psychedelic rock and French film scores. In addition, he is a talented graphic designer and photographer and he’s pushing the cultural boundaries of music and design. Alex is also a member of Atlanta’s The Big Up Crew, a art and music collective which includes Couch Sessions favorites Danny Swain and Brittany Bosco, along with designer Brandon Collins.
Last month, Alex dropped The Blueprint Three Outtakes, a collection of his beats that were sent to Hova himself for consideration for his latest album. Needless to say Goose didn’t make the cut, but the Outtakes have become a web success, spawning 10,000 downloads in its first week and getting acclaim from the hip-hop world.
Production wise, you’re all over the map. You’ve done Hip-Hop, R&B, and now Rock. However, they all have an almost vintage appeal about them. What are your influences?
My influences are first and foremost Serge Gainsbourg. He was a big face in French music, and he was around in the 50s but was super prominent in the 60s and 70s. He was the man of the moment for a really long time. He did films and acting and ususally would score the music for those films [as well]. I really like his music because he is so versatile. One minute he would be doing chants and the other minute he would be doing psychedelic rock and then the next would be super dramatic film scores. I really value his diversity and sound. His ear was very unique and I felt like he was way ahead of his time. I want to take some of that style and fuse it with what I’m doing and the projects I work on.
Your latest project is The Blueprint 3 Outtakes, which I think is Amazing. What was the story behind that?
Basically what happened was, around the Spring 2008, an A&R from Def Jam/The Roc hit me up on email. Within 2-3 weeks he came down to Atlanta and we met up, and we talked about music and we chilled and whatnot. I sent him some tracks and he was like “yo, I want to send a couple of these to Jay-Z.” I gave him the tracks and he said that he was going to email them to Jay-Z, and and about 2-3 months later the A&R hit me back and said that Jay-Z didn’t hear anything he wanted to use for the album.
I was kinda bummed at first, because I thought that these would be great [for Jay], but at the same time I was really appreciative that I had the opportunity to submit music to Jay-Z. It was a win-win situation for me because Jay is hands down my favorite rapper besides Nas, so it was a great experience to send tracks.
Alex Goose – Dear Daisy
So a few months after that I was like “maybe I should release these?” and other people at the time were like “hey you should put these out.” I acquired a management team around that time and they were like “you should drop these around the same time as The Blueprint 3″, and I was like “that’s a great idea.” At first I was thinking “maybe I shouldn’t,” but they kind of pushed me and said “you need to do this.”
[The release] was done strategically. I wanted to drop this around the same time as the album. A lot of people were searching Google for The Blueprint 3 and it just so happened that my project was coming up in those Google searches. It kind of started to catch a buzz really quickly.
All of the tracks on that album were sent to him, and about half of them were pretty old. Some of them were created around 2004-2005. When I was looking for tracks to send to Jay-Z, I went to some of my old tracks and basically just revamped some of them. Even back then I was making beat with Nas and Jay-Z in mind, because they are my favorite rappers.
The sound of The Blueprint Outtakes is very 60s vintage, and you use a LOT of horns and orchestrations. How were you able to craft that sound?
It had a lot to do with how I arranged things and the kind of of samples I chose. I don’t really listen to a lot of hip-hop so what really inspired me to make those hip-hop records were the music that I actually listened to. I’m really into Itialian film scores, French pop, psychedelic rock, garage rock, prog rock. Mostly music between the years of 1967-1974. I really just wanted to hear Jay rap over fuzz guitar from a psychedelic rock band, and drums from that time, and horns and strings and stuff like that.
I think it also has to do with how I mixed the album too. I didn’t particularly try to mix the album like a normal hip-hop album. A lot of people were telling me that the drums were too set back and the kicks aren’t hitting hard enough, and I did a lot of that on purpose. I don’t really study hip-hop mixes, I study how old records are mixed, and a lot of times the drums are set back and the music is up front. A lot of hip-hop music now is so bassy that you didn’t hear nothing but the bass. I wanted to sound like Jay was really rapping over a psychedelic rock record or a soul record that came out in 1968. Kind of like how DOA sounded. That was kind of the direction that I was going in, because I know that’s more of Jay’s element.
No doubt, I feel you. I’m in the same boat where I don’t listen to a lot of hip-hop at all. It all sounds the same to me.
It’s funny that you would say that because I feel the exact same way, and I wanted to make something that didn’t sound so repetitive. I wanted to make something that even people that listen to rock and don’t listen to hip-hop would like it. For example, someone told me “man, when you made that outtakes record, I was disappointed that you made that for a hip-hop artist,” and I was just like wow, that’s crazy. I kind of wanted everybody to like it. I wanted it to be a real eclectic record.
Danny Swain – Manic at the Disco
People should also know that you handled a bulk of the production for Danny Swain’s album And I Love Her, which I feel is one of the most slept on albums this generation. You’re also doing production for Danny’s Latest project. I know you told me a few months ago that you’re going for a more psychedelic vibe, is that correct?
It’s called Where is Danny, because whenever he’s not around, people are asking “Where is Danny?” (laughs) As far as the music goes, we wanted to make something that focued moe on his lyrics. He was real inspired by the Madvillian records, and of course I’m inspired by psychedelic records and we just came up with this minimal concept where each track was a minute to 3 minutes, and sequence them like a movie. Some of the tracks won’t even have a chorus and some of them won’t even make sense. It’s like when you’re listening to things that Ghostface does and you’re just like “I don’t even know what he’s talking about but its good.” Danny loves that, and I think this is just a really fun record. He would write the tracks and I would create a beat in 10-15 minutes instead of me working for an hour to a day.
I know he’s been having issues with his label. Will that album ever see the light of day?
Yeah (laughs). We’re going to self release it. It should be out by next month, no joke.
Brittany Bosco – 8-Trak (produced by Alex Goose)
One of my favorite songs that you’ve produced is Brittany Bosco’s 8-Trak. I’ve always wanted to ask…are those samples or live instruments on that song?
They were samples. Primarily I’m a sample based producer unless I’m working with a band. Primarily I would not sample if I had the resources not to sample, like Mark Ronson used The Dap Kings for all of his tracks. Your’e kind of limited when you sample but at the same time I appreciate the aesthetic and the sound quality. So if I can produce music that resembles that type of sound quality then that’s what I would do.
That’s dope. You’re one of the few producers that’s been able to pull it off. I rarely say “oh, I’ve heard that sample somewhere” with your songs. It feels like it’s an original composition.
Your design as well and one of the things that I thought was amazing was Brittany Bosco’s packaging for her Spectrum EP. How did you come up with that concept?
No budget, no money, no time. Yeah, we didn’t have a lot of money to put into something. We needed a quick turnaround, and we had to put something out in a week, and we wer so pressed on time. We ordered the bubble gold wrap and me and Brandon just fleshed it out real quick. I think we finished [the design] in four hours and we put everything together by hand, and within a week we shot it in the studio. It was that simple man, we had to do something cool with no budget. So many people get a slim jewel case with an little insert and a some graphics on it because its the norm, but when you get a gold package you’re more likely to take a look at it and see what it’s about.
I feel like that whole era of physical packaging is dying now.
Yeah, you have to really give someone a reason to want to buy a CD. You have to make them feel like they’re investing their money into something that make it feel like they are owning a collector’s item, you know?
Who is your design inspiration?
I’m just not into trends. I’m really into things that are simple, clean, timeless and smart. The keyword is timeless. I value a lot of design that came out of the 60s and 70s because it I thought it was very original and the communication was very direct. I feel like a lot of people lose touch with how important communication is as designers. Communication is key and you have to send a message through design. I also value a design with a good strategy in mind as well. I think that everything needs to be done strategically. Like what you said earlier, that you saw the Brittany Bosco packaging and you wanted to hear the music, that’s what I want to do.
So what’s your involvement with US Royalty?
I’m just glad they want to work with me. They heard the Outtakes and they wanted to work with me, and I think that they could see that my boundaries are not just hip-hop. I met them through Chis Black, their manager, and I came to thier show in Atlanta, I saw them perform, and after their first song I was like “I would love to do a song with these guys.” After the show we hung out, and me and John Thornley talked for almost two hours. While everybody is off at the bar getting drinks and getting drunk, me and John were at off to the side talking about music for hours. I think that then I knew I wanted to work with these guys. I think that me and John were on the same page immediately. Hopefully I can get up to DC and work with them for at least a week or so, because I have some great ideas.
Alex Goose’s Top 5 Songs
Warpaint – Billie Holiday
Dangermouse and Sparklehorse – Just War
Jefferson Airplaine – White Rabbit
The Beatles – I Am The Walrus
Skyzoo – Under Pressure