As dance music has exploded in the US, so have the number of people wanting to get involved within dance music, particularly on the production side. I have lost count of the number of “check out my soundcloud!” or “follow us on instagram for exclusive previews!” posts I have seen all over my social media. More often than not, these “producers” are simply following whatever trend seems to be popular at the moment, contributing to the awful cookie cutter music that has spread like a plague throughout electronic music.
When and how did you first get into production, and how long have you been producing for?
I originally started out in a Rock band, and began songwriting and producing that style of music. When I was 18 or 19, I had a small studio, and a friend of ours came in and heard me playing on the guitar. He turned those beats into R&B and pop tracks, and I thought “Damn I wanna do that.” Then I heard Flosstradamus’s remix of “Lana’s Theme”. It had such a heavy drop, and I thought again “Damn I REALLY wanna do that”. So I started focusing more and more on production. I was always a huge fan of Pharrell’s and Timbaland’s productions, so they definitely influenced and made me want to get into more hip hop/electronic production as well. I started taking producing seriously when I was 19, and I am 22 now, so about 3 years.
You’ve mentioned previously you were an audio engineer before you became a producer. How much does it benefit you to be able to mix and master your own tracks?
Growing up, I was under the impression you had to know every piece of the production process; mix, master, produce, everything. I had no idea that most times there is an entire team behind one track. I feel like I committed a lot of time learning how to mix, because I spent a lot of time recording for bands. Out of the 4 years I’ve been involved in music, the first 2 years were almost strictly on the engineering side, while these past two years I’ve focused almost exclusively on the production side. Looking back, I am grateful I spent as much time as I did on mixing, because I believe that is its own art form. Since I can mix my own tracks, I am able to get them sounding exactly how I want them to sound, and I think that plays a big part in why people say my tracks sound so unique.
You were apart of the group known as “The Fresh Republic” with fellow producer I.V, how did this come about and is this group still active?
We actually started out in a Rock Band called “The New Escape”. We were actually doing pretty well, we had management and everything. It’s kind of embarrassing to say now, but we basically sounded like Limp Bizkit (Laughs). We had a lot of electronic influences, and even had “drops” in our songs. Isaac (I.V) would be rapping over this all the while. Slowly, Isaac and I would get together and just work on stuff. Eventually, we started making beats together under the Moniker, “The Fresh Republic”. We attracted a lot of attention within the industry, but we felt like we hadn’t maximized our potential yet, even though people would hype us up. If you would put my beat next to Timbaland, for instance, it would sound amateur at best. So Isaac and I decided to just do our own things until we thought the Fresh Republic could work. Since I was going to be working on my own, I needed my own moniker, and thus “Royal” was born. That was back in August 2012.
I haven’t really heard anything like your style of music before. How would you describe it, if you had to give it a “genre”?
I really don’t know to be honest. I would say I am very hip hop influenced, but I also like big ass synths and electronic sounds. The feel and vibe is definitely hip hop over house though. Overall, I like to make music that anybody can jam to. Finding a balance between artistic integrity and mass appeal is extremely important. I want to be able to have my record right in the middle, so I can play it for my favorite producer and they’ll love it, but I can turn around and play it for my mom and she’ll love it. In the long run, I would love to go into pop music production, there is a real art behind it that not many people understand. My favorite producers are Pharrell and Timbaland, they’re geniuses. Nobody can say they aren’t dope producers. They have the perfect balance of uniqueness and mass appeal, which is exactly what I strive towards. I usually test my records on people with “normal ears”, somebody that enjoys listening to music, but isn’t embedded within the trenches of Soundcloud all day. If they vibe with a track I play for them, then I know I am on the right track.
You’ve had a number of successful remixes, or “refixes”, from cult classic “Suga Suga” by Baby Bash, to “Dirty Paws” by Of Monsters & Men. How do you decide what you’re going to do a refix of, and what is your creative process behind a refix?
It’s different every time. If I hear a track and it resonates with me, that’s how I decide if I’ll do a refix of it. For instance, with my “Crave You” refix, I was in a hookah bar with this one girl. Crave You came on, and she started singing it. So I did a little research to see if anybody had touched it recently, and since nobody had except for Adventure Club doing a dubstep remix, I went for it. The same goes for “Suga Suga”, that refix made itself in a sitting. I really don’t do a lot with my refixes, I like put my own flavor on a particular sample that really reasonates with me and build around that. I try to keep them as straightforward and simple as possible.
Speaking of your music, you just dropped "Royal's Theme", off your upcoming EP.
The E.P is hopefully going to drop this November. I made Royal’s theme at a friend of mine’s apartment. He went out for class, and I just whipped it out in one sitting, about 7 hours. It really just came out of me. Once I finished it, I decided I was ready to put out some (more) original work. Most people hadn’t heard of me before this year, even though I’ve had s Soundcloud since 2012. I’ve been sitting on Royal’s Theme for abut 4 months, not sure if I wanted to put it out. Once I listened again, I decided I was gonna put it out.
The only thing I can compare it to his "Flickr" off of Porter Robinson's new album.
Yea, I made this before Worlds even came out. For me, Flume and Porter are leading the electronic music world. They’re able to create dope music without it being “drop oriented”, and really push the boundaries. Its weird you know, I went through a cycle of the type of music I would create, where I was a rock band, then hip hop beats, and then drop oriented music. Two songs on my EP have a “drop”, but only in the sense where the track becomes a lot darker and intense, while the others are more just regular-esque songs.
How many songs should we expect on the EP, and does it have a name yet?
Right now I have 6 songs that are basically ready to go, and I think I will stay at 6 tracks. Its called the “Cycles” EP. It’s based on the process we go through as people, where you realize you aren’t as close to someone as you thought you were, and you find yourself in an emotional rut. You want to move away from that person, but your still afraid of the unknown. You’re aware of the situation, that your relationship with this person has become toxic, but you’re scared shitless to put yourself out there and meet another person. Each track on the EP will cover a different phase in this “Cycle”, and I think people will really connect with it.
Since we can't hear the whole EP ourselves, could you tell us what you're vibing to right now?
Get rich or die trying. But actually. I’ve been listening to a lot of records from 2005. I remember growing up and loving it, but not knowing why I loved it. Now, I can go back and listen to it and figure out why I loved those tracks. At the end of a day, a good song is a good song. Justin Timberlake is a monster, his tracks are timeless. “Cry Me A River” came out over 10 years ago, and if it came out now, it would still instantly hit #1. “Future Love/Sex Sounds” was a monster of an album. That’s really where Im trying to go production wise, I don’t wanna make music that sort of just follows the trend, artist that do that die out in a couple years. I want to make music that will become timeless.
But even JT wasn't apart of Autonomous Booking Agency, which you just signed to.
Yes, It’s really the perfect fit for me. They have a very unique selection of artists, from Emancipator to Paper Diamond. Some other agencies have ridiculous rosters, with artists like Coldplay, and while that’s awesome, I feel like I wouldn’t get the attention I need. They’ve already been putting in a bunch of work for me, which is awesome, and have supported every track I’ve sent them this far. I also need to thank my friend Dillon who does all my PR work, as well as all the blogs that have been giving me constant support, and Hype Machine of course. So yeah, go internet.
Do you have any advice for up and coming producers?
Stay Hungry. You need to have the right intentions if you’re going to get into this. If you want to be the best at your craft, and be the best producer just to be the best, then you’re on the right track. Strive to be the best, don’t just follow a trend, you’ll die off in 2-3 years. Push Boundaries and trust your ears. If it sounds good to you, then that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
What can we expect from you in the future?
My EP is slated to drop in November, as I mentioned before, and I will have an OFFICIAL refix coming out in the fall as well. Touring wise, I have a bunch of shows lined up, as well as a few festivals! I am beyond excited to get out and start playing.
Be sure to follow Royal on all forms of social media, and keep an eye out for his EP this upcoming fall! Check out his mix for Dancing Astronaut here.