Production Breeding Ground: Versatile

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If you listen to popular music enough, It’s not uncommon to be able to name the producer who designed that particular track, without reading the credits.  Simply by studying the patterns,  keyboard sounds, and grooves, you can often place a trackmaster with it. Hip-Hop producers can pigeonhole themselves into a certain style that they can end up struggling to escape from.  Such is not the case with Versatile. The New Jersey native has been scorching the industry and keeping listeners off balance with his various styles of production.  From club- rockers and dance music to melodic R and B tracks, Versatile is proving that he is capable of delivering hits.  But don’t take my word for it, just ask Fabolous, Method Man, Jay Z, and Uncle Murder.  With influences that range from The Neptunes to Led Zeppelin, and an extensive background in music theory and audio engineering, Versatile is primed and ready to ascend to the ranks of the production elite.  He took time out with AllHipHop.com to discuss everything form his start in the industry to why it’s important to have a strong education in music to be successful.  Take notes producers…AllHipHop.com: Explain why you chose the name Versatile Versatile:  I started making music like five years ago when I was going to school in New York City.  I would basically try to make music for anybody and for everybody that I was going to school with. They either wanted to be recording engineers , producers, or break through as an artist. I would try to make music for anybody whether they were a rapper, or a dance artist, or maybe a new age sound.  I felt I could make music for anyone and do it successfully, so I decided to call myself Versatile.AllHipHop.com: Are you primarily Hip-Hop right now or are you producing other forms of music?Versatile: Primarily right now I’m making my way through Hip-Hop.  I always loved dance music, but it was always difficult to make money or make a living doing dance music.  Right now I’m in the process of signing and developing my first dance artist, this girl named Arielle.  AllHipHop.com:  After you got out of school, how did you get started in the business?Versatile:  When I got out of school, I started looking for internships in New York City. It was actually my second internship at a recording studio in Manhattan. I started interning more to do engineer work, although in the back of my mind I really wanted to do production.  It just so happened that there was a group called Shatak and Monkey that worked there. It was three guys and they were engineers, and they were also a production team. They would do remixes for all sorts of artists, but they were really good engineers. I really saw and opportunity with them. My job was to clean the studio, so I would knock on their door and say “Yo, can I take your garbage out?” That elevated into “Hey what do you think of this?” Next think you know they say “Oh I gotta do something tonight, can you run the session?”  But that was my first opportunity to see people that were kind of in the game.AllHipHop.com:  You describe yourself as a true producer and musician, what does that mean to you?Versatile:  A true producer is someone who can make a record, a finished product.  You could put me in the studio with anybody and I could make a good finished product.  A record with a concept, with a good chorus. It sounds so simple, yet it’s really not.  I got my first taste of that working with Posta Boy, me and this other producer Dilemma. It was the first project we did about two years ago. It was the first time I was in the studio with an artist, we worked nine months putting records together. Before that I was just making beats and shopping beats.AllHipHop.com:  How do you make that transition from just selling beats to actually being in the studio with an artist?Versatile:  I’m like kind of in the middle of that transition.  There are some artists that have been in the game for a while like Method Man, Fabolous, Pittsburgh Slim, and some of these guys I’m allowed to go to the studio with them. Like Method Man was the first project that I worked on and they allowed me to go into the studio.  It was my first placement so I just kind of fell back. And RZA was there, so I didn’t really say anything, even though it was my track. Just the history that they have, they knew how to make a record. Same with Fabolous, this was album number four for him. I heard what he did with the record and I let him go. Some of the newer artist, for instance I’m about to go to the studio tonight with an artist called Asia. This is a different situation because she doesn’t have an album out yet. So tonight, I might feel like [saying] ” Maybe you should try this.”  Before I worked with Posta Boy, I was shopping beats. I said “I keep shopping beats but I don’t go into anybody’s office with a finished product.” I was shopping beats for three or four years with no placements. I was like “I don’t have anything with my name on it that I’ve accomplished.” I hadn’t worked with anybody. I felt like I had to do that to get more respect.AllHipHop.com:  Do you play instruments?Versatile: Yeah, I play guitar which I taught myself to play. I also play piano, which I still take lessons to this day. I practice every day, that’s part of my job.  I’m not gonna sit down and play Mozart for you, but I really take theory classes, arrangement classes. It’s really a study, it’s about song writing also.AllHipHop.com: Some people feel like playing instruments boxes you in to certain structures.  How do you feel about that?Versatile: I always take that as the wrong way to look at it. What we’re doing is music. At the end of this month I have a session with a Warner Brothers artist. In the session will be me, the song writer Janice Robinson, the artist Chris Mann, and a piano. If I can’t play a piano, I might as well not even go.  What am I gonna do with him? Pretend? there is no real getting by when he tells you to play a G Minor seven and go to an B Flat. Now that I’m doing all sorts of music, I need to have that kind of education.  AllHipHop.com:  You’ve worked with Method Man, Jay-Z, Fabolous, Uncle Murder, and others. How do you go about designing a track for a particular artist?Versatile:  I kind of do my homework. I find any music that they’ve previously done and just hear what they’re about.  So I’ll buy the album on Itunes and just live with it.  I find out what kind of keys they like. The second thing is my connection. If my manager has a great connection with who I’m shopping to, I’m gonna take it more serious. AllHipHop.com:  What kind of projects do you have coming up?Versatile:  I’m starting to get ready to work on new stuff with Fab. I’m in the process of signing my first two artists. One’s a dance artist name Arielle, and another artist, her name is Blair and she plays piano and sings. Other than that, I’m still looking for new artists to develop and stuff.  Check out some of Versatiles music

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