The UK producer of such artists as Sway, Kyza and Lowkey talks to Rapnews about getting into production, equipment, releases he's been a part of, projects in the pipeline and lots more.
Please introduce yourself to our readers, and tell us what you do.
Easy people, This is Caramac. Producer/ Show DJ for Kyza and Lewis Parker, plus club DJ most weekends.
How long have you been producing and how did it all start?
I'd say as far as sending beat cd's to people, probably 5 years now. Maybe 6/7. I'm getting older now and it seems like the days and years are merging. My dad and cousin got me into it. I was playing 'The Chronic' one day and my dad came in thinking I was playing one of his records. Aside from all the cussing he was like 'what have they done to it? They've ruined it' etc etc. Obviously I'm not really getting what he's talking about. He disappears out the room and then comes back about 20 mins later with a stack of records and tells me to listen to them. I put them on and listened to them and thought he's right. Most of the samples were there and there were parts I was like 'why didn't they use this section or this track' or 'yeah I liked this one' or whatever. From then I was going through his records all the time listening out for loops to use. Trying to see if he had doubles so I could cut them up and make some instrumentals that way. Anytime a song came out that I liked, I'd play it to him and see what he had that was on that similar vibe. As the years have gone on and I've met different people, the knowledge just grows. People like L Dolo, Lewis Parker, Secondson, AM and Lil Angry Man have been a proper influence. I mention a name and they've just filled in some of the gaps.
What material did you use back in the day and what's your standard pieces of equipment these days?
The first thing I remember using/seeing was an MPC 60. Ace J from Upfront Rudies had one and he hooked up some Tom Browne record and that Cheryl Lynne record for me. I used to do a paper round and I'd pop round there on my route, get the latest tapes, listen to a few records and then carry on with my round. He'd only just got this MPC and was showing me some beat he'd made and I was like 'hook me up a beat for me and my mate to rap to?' I left them two records round there, came back the next day and he'd hooked them up for me. From then, I'd mess around on friend's computers. The first stuff I used was Acid and Fruity Loops. The Sway stuff I did was on Fruity Loops Version 1. And some of the Lowkey stuff was as well. I then took it to the studio and Zygote transferred it to Logic and then mixed it from there.
I brought an MPC 2000 XL xmas 2003 and that's the only thing I use these days. I had it sat in the loft for about a year and didn't even touch it. Picked it up one day and haven't really used anything else. Someone's got an old SP12 I keep meaning to pick up but I haven't got round to getting that and adding it to the set up. Other than that, it's a Korg HD recorder, Technic turntables, a Vestax 05 and a stack of records, oh and some other bits of old equipment I use once in a blue moon. The Korg has a really nice sound but it's one of my more stupider purchases. The BPM only counts in whole numbers. Other than that it's near perfect for all my needs.
Do you think you have a particular production style or vibe, and if so, how would you describe it?
I've been told by a lot of people that stuff sounds like porn music. I don't see it but yeah that's what I've been told.
What releases and material have you been involved with so far?
Well out there to buy, there's the Sway 12" which is the first thing I did. 'The Happy Ending' and 'INA NME' 12" which is Lowkey and Sway respectively. Another tune on Lowkey's 'Key To The Game 2'. Some tune with Ti2bs and the Kyza 12" 'They Call It… Murda!' We've just decided that due to the Damian Marley tune blowing up proper all over the place that that tune won't be going on Kyza's album. So other than a few mixtapes and the 12", that tune won't be out there anymore. Kyza's LP. I've got two tunes and some interlude beats.
How many beat's do you create a week and how many are stored up in your vaults?
I go through phases of making beats all the time and then not doing anything for a few weeks. I've been back on it recently after not making anything new for like 4 months or so. But if I'm on it, usually about 2/3 a night. As for stored up. Don't know. About 1000 or so. Haven't really checked in all honesty. Only about a 3rd of that I'd be happy to send out though.
What forthcoming projects have you got in the pipeline?
Well the main thing we've/I've been working on is the Kyza album. Me and D'Lux have been executive producing it. We're just sorting out the artwork now and stacking some more beats. I've got one thing on Ti2bs album, maybe a few more. Depends what he likes when they're recorded. That's coming out on Kemet Entertainment Records. Got one beat on the new Lowkey Mix Tape called 'Key To The Game 3'. A tune with Stylah which may or may not have Skinny on. Not sure on that one. Got some tunes with Ddubble Impactt and MCM (Caveman). Other than that I've been giving out beats and recording with various people. Jargon and MI5, Louie G, Riot, Pyrelli, Spellz. Oh yeah there'll be a one off Lowkey single on hopefully the end of the year.
What artists would you most enjoy hearing over one of your productions?
From the UK? I'd say probably Sincere, Tef Co, Guvnor, Bigga. From outside of the UK? Well I'm a big Mobb Deep fan so it'd have to be Prodigy. I'd like to work with the Ghetto Dwellas as well. Got a lot of time for them. Back to the UK, Tony D and Reveal along with the rest of the Poisonous Poets now that I think about it.
What's the hottest piece of UK hip-hop production in the past year?
I'd say 'Dreams' by Tef Co. Other than that, not sure what came out this year. 'P's and Q's' if it did. Oh and 'R.E.A.L.' by Kyza. When D'Lux played that to me I got proper jealous. Went straight on the MPC when I heard that. That beat is proper gutter. Yeah probably 'Dreams' and 'R.E.A.L.'
How do you rate the current standard of UK hip-hop's beats, and how does this differ to the standard of previous years?
It's started to even itself out. The last 5 years or so has seen a lot of people bring out consistent product that's produced and mixed well. Before that I'd say it was really just a handful of tunes out once in a while that were any good. But yeah, people have been doing well in all areas and now we're starting to get some good tunes on a regular basis.
How did you hook up with Sway, and are you involved with his forthcoming album?
Met Sway at a Battle Scars final at Subterannea 2002 I think. He called me out of the blue one day. Oh yeah, me and Kyza used to host a radio show on Juice FM in London so yeah, he called me saying his crew had this EP they were promoting called 'Onederful World'. He sent me a copy and we were playing it for ages on the show. He then came down to the station with about half the One Crew and dropped some freestyles and talked about themselves, the EP, and just some general stuff. We kept in touch and I sent him some beats for One. We were going to record two tunes originally. One for One and one with just him. It turned out we recorded the One tune 'Simple N Plain' and that was it. I gave it to a few people and it took off from there. As for his album. Nah, I'm not involved in it. I've got a beat on some collaboration mixtape he's done with Pyrelli and a few other people. But nothing for the album.
Have you heard the album, and is it gonna live up to the hype he's getting?
Haven't linked him in a while so nah I haven't heard it. I imagine it'll be bad. The man is proper talented so I'll buy that when it comes out.
What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the music production side of things. Where do they start?
Start off cheap and see if it's for you really. That's pretty much all I can say. If it is you can then go from there. Reading up on equipment, learning instruments, buying stuff etc etc.
Can a producer on a low or non existent budget make music that sounds as good as stuff by a producer with a huge wallet?
Depends what you mean by 'as good as'. Assuming I'm interpreting you right then I'd say no. You'll never get your music to sound like Dre if you're using Fruity Loops and Logic or Cubase or some Mackie desk. It just won't happen. I don't care what anyone says. You get what you pay for and if someone has some 30/50k mixing desk, 2 inch tapes, 60's and SP's etc etc you're PC won't be able to compete sonically. Creatively, you could compete with them boys, maybe even make better music then them, but from a professional sound point of view it won't happen.
Have you been involved in any other aspects of hiphop? Would you ever consider rhyming?
I DJ out quite a bit. Playing mostly Rap, RnB or Ragga or all 3. Sometimes play some 80's Soul, Rare Groove when I'm out. Depends on where I've been booked really. At the moment that's all I do outside of the production. That and the day job. I tried rapping, but I only really like them hood type rappers and that's not really me so I personally don't feel I have anything to rap about. Plus I can be a little bad minded and I can see myself calling bare people out so nah I leave that alone to other people. Plus I can't be bothered with having to rap infront of people night in and night out. Nah man Djing is more me.
Have you got any plugs or shout out's to end this on?
Well the Kyza album is the first thing I want to plug. It's called 'The Experience' and should be out Feb/March 2006 on Pepa Records. The next single is looking to be a joint thing with Chemo on one side and me on the other. We're just prepping the storyboard for the video at the moment. I want to give a big shout out to Sway for winning the Mobo's. Well done bruv. Shout out to Lowkey, Myst, Stylah, the whole of Sorecs and PP, Lewis Parker, Juice, D'Lux, Dixie, LP aka Rev Norman Bates, Terra Firma, Excalibah, MK, Mr Lawson, Blu, Riot, Louie G, Skitz, Rodney P, Sean and the whole of Beats and Rhymes, Phlo, Sharon @ Colorz night club (shame it's shut now), 563, Ghost, Disorda, Rap 6, Pyrelli, Ti2bs and bare other people I'm probably forgetting. Oh and yeah. Shouts to everyone taking the time to read this. Almost forgot my manners.