Vangelis – “Rachel’s Song”
I’ve been listening to a lot of soundtrack stuff [lately]. I’ve been studying Blade Runner by Vangelis and A Clockwork Orange by Wendy Carlos, the trans keyboard player from back in the 70s. Really the whole Blade Runner soundtrack is fire, especially the chase scenes.
Blade Runner inspired me to buy a CS-80. The sound of Vangelis, basically, is the CS-80 Yamaha, the big, lush synth. It’s the rarest synth in the world to find. I got it from Michael Boddicker, who supplied keyboards for Thriller, so it’s actually the one that was used on Thriller. I paid like forty something thousand for it. I wanted to buy one twenty years ago and I was like, “Nah, I’m not paying ten grand for that.” Then like ten years ago I said, “No, I’m not paying twenty grand for that.” This year I finally just did it before they’re 100 grand.
Scarface – “I Seen a Man Die”
Z-Ro – “I Hate U Bitch”
[My older work] is still a part of me, part of my heritage or whatever you want to call it. The old Geto Boyz, the old Scarface, the Dogg Pound. Rap-A-Lot Records is where I cut my teeth producing, where I learned how to mix. [I think of] “I Seen a Man Die” by Scarface. Another good one was “I Hate U Bitch” by Z-Ro. They’re super raw, super me.
Sarah Schachner – “Danger Close” feat. Mike Dean
Another composer I really like is Sarah Schachner. She scores Assassin’s Creed and all the big games. I did Call of Duty with her. I think “Danger Close” is the best one off that. I was always amazed by what she would do with my tracks. I would send her over a beat, like an idea, and she would take it apart, add her things, and put it back together. She would turn my five minute thing into a fifteen minute adventure. Song three off my album, “From Death,” features Sarah.
Pink Floyd – “On the Run”
King Crimson – “21st Century Schizoid Man”
Jimi Hendrix – “Voodoo Chile”
I listen to a lot of Pink Floyd and King Crimson. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Hendrix. I like Electric Ladyland, and “Voodoo Chile” is my favorite on that one. My favorite Pink Floyd album is Dark Side of the Moon, I think. It’s kind of cliche, but, you know. “On the Run” is probably my favorite, with all the Moog modular things going on. And then “21st Century Schizoid Man.” That’s the one we used on “Power” by Kanye. Andrew Dawson, one of the engineers on that album, introduced that to him. That was his biggest contribution to that album, it was major.
Kanye West – “Hell of a Life”
On Dark Fantasy, my favorite song would probably be “Hell of a Life.” I kinda went crazy on the synths on that, with all the arpeggios and the crazy stuff. It’s just a weird song, the subject matter is great. It’s old Kanye, as they say.
George Clinton – “Quickie”
Selena – “La Tracalera”
I grew up playing hard rock, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, playing in those cover bands back in the 80s. I transitioned from that into hip-hop through funk, George Clinton and Parliament. In my late teens I got into that stuff real heavy. You Shouldn’t-Nuf Bit Fish, Mothership Connection.
I actually knew them when I was a teenager. When I was growing up in Houston I used to go to the projects and play in these parks in Fifth Ward and Third Ward. I used to play in funk bands and the guitar player from Parliament, Mike Hampton, would come down and jam with us sometimes. I remember we’d be in the studio and he would stop a guitar solo and say, “You do a synth solo instead.” I was supposed to take Bernie Worrell’s place in P-Funk when I graduated from high school. I was that deep into it.
GQ: Why didn’t you do it?
They offered me like $400 a week for the job, but I got a job with Selena for like $800 a week. I went for the money. I was 18 and I wanted to make money.
How did you land that job?
The music store I used to hang out at when I was a kid, Clyde’s Music, used to hook me up with little gigs, playing bass for country bands and different shit to make a couple hundred bucks a night. The guy there said, “You should check out this girl singer, she’s really good.” She was like 12 or something. Her father used to go to the music store and they’d give them free gear because they were kind of broke. Selena’s dad taught me a little bit about making records. Really the first time I was ever in a studio was with Selena.