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Detroit producer Soundboy talks J Dilla, meeting Questlove, and new project, ‘No Format’

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photo: Kid Clever

Detroit Producer Soundboy has just released his beat tape titled, No Format. With this project, he’s able to give you a glimpse into his world from a creative viewpoint. During our interview, we asked him about his experiences in producing, and working with Detroit icon Amp Fiddler.

What is the story behind the cover art for NoFormat?

The artwork for No Format was actually taken at Amp Fiddler’s Studio in Detroit. My brother Josh was taking random pictures that day and after we had left Amp’s we looked over all the pictures and when I saw the picture I said thats the pic for the cover most def.

What was the inspiration behind the name, NoFormat?

House Shoes had came to town in the early part of the year. My mans Pat told me he was doing a set at Paramita Sound in Detroit and told me to come too so he can introduce me to Shoes. It was live! Being able to kick it with Shoes was a blessing. Later on that night once the crowd started to disperse, he had played some unreleased footage of a Detroit hip-hop documentary. In that documentary, it was a clip of House Shoes interviewing Dilla at a college radio station. He was asked, “What comes first when you make your beats?” To reword what he said, He said, “Making music shouldnt have a format. Nothing is assigned to come first. It’s all about what you feel.” I’ve only seen this Interview one time and one time only. I was blessed to see it.

Considering that J Dilla is one of your main inspirations, how has his music translated onto your creative process?

Man Dilla has changed my life. I wasnt even thinking about making music when I was younger. I was all into basketball until my uncle put me on J Dillas album, The Shining in 2007 which is a classic album by the way. I was about 15 years-old when I heard that album. Then that same day he put me on Slum Village. Pretty much everything that I heard that day made me want to know who it was that was producing the music when I was a kid. Then I did my research on Dilla and found out that he was responsible for the production from some of my favorite artist. I flipped because it was all coming together. Finding out who Dilla was, was like the missing piece to the puzzle of music for me. But he has played a huge roll in my life even though he is not with us today. I dont try to replicate from him either. When I hear Dilla it just makes me motivated to make some music!

On the track, “Knockout,” you have Busta Rhymes opening the track. What made you want to put him on that specific part? 

That track was supposed to be a D’Angelo flip from the song, “Jonz in my Bonz.” My girl had looped some points for me and sent them over. I kept my drum pattern that I had, but couldnt get the sample to how I wanted it to be so I finally just switched the song up.  And I noticed how my drum patterns reminded of some Busta s*** from the ’90s. Then I hit my girl up, told her what was the deal and she sent me the Rumble In The Jungle Acapella, and Busta’s flow on there was really intriguing. So I slapped his vocals on the beat and it turned out nice.

How was it like meeting Questlove?

Meeting Questlove was a blessing and a very humble moment for me. Me and few of my people was able to chop it up with him at the Martell Cognac Event at The Garden Theater and I was able to give him a copy of NoFormat. He said to me when he looked at the back cover, “Oh you know Amp Fiddler? The last guy I met from Amp was cold!! Ill definitely check this out.” So at that moment, in my head I was like, “Thank you Jesus.”  Very cool guy though.

Tell us about iStandard and some of your upcoming endeavors?

iStandard has been an influential organization in the music production industry since 2005. It has helped bridge the gap between the up-and-coming producer and the music industry.  iStandard helps producers to get placements from a variety of artists such as Kanye West, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Rick Ross, Beyonce, Diddy, The Clipse, Fabolous, KRS One, Lloyd Banks, Chrisette Michele, and countless more. I won the Detroit iStandard Producer Showcase in December of 2014. I have more content to be released in 2016 and it will be distributed through Fat Beats in Detroit. This year has been a blessed one, and I pray that the upcoming years will be my time to shine.

Check out No Format right here:

https://soundboymusic.bandcamp.com

andre j. ellington