in where you fit has been a historical piece of advice handed down by
Hip Hop greats, and a perfect example of heeding that motto are production
team Da Riffs. Zed Kelley and Eric Goldman werent always making music
together, but once they linked up the magic was undeniable and video
game giant Electronic Arts knew it.
producing music for several editions of Madden, NBA Live, Grand Theft
Auto and many more, their well-rounded Hip Hop renditions got a few
major album placements and gave them even more exposure to both industry
talent scouts and consumers. But after playing out their heavy role
in the video game world, and realizing that rap money isnt all that
reliable, Zed and Eroc are looking to branch out even further in the
realm of film scoring and television soundtracking.
doesnt mean you cant still catch them rocking their own Red Room
Studios in LA with notable emcees from across the map, performing live
shows with their rock/funk band The Return of Girth or DeeJaying at live
sporting events. All it means is that after more than six years of learning
the ins and outs of the entertainment industry, Da Riffs are finding
the niches that work best for them and enjoying the ride more than ever.
AllHipHop.com: Hows everything
going down at Red Room Studios these days?
Eroc: Its going good. Weve
been under a publishing deal with Cherry Lane for like three years and
we just got out of it. So its kind of exciting to get back on our
own and creatively do what we want and work as we please, and not get
all our money taken.
AllHipHop.com: So it was a
Eroc: Yeah we signed exclusively
for three years through them. It opened a bunch of doors, but it also
closed a bunch. We were doing stuff with TV people and film people,
but when we got the publishing deal a lot of those doors closed because
with a publishing deal youre obviously trying to take bigger amounts
Zed: And a lot of people dont
want to deal with that. But good things ended up happening out of it.
We ended up doing a movie trailer through them, the Step Up Too movie
trailer, so that really helped our resume. But now were back doing
stuff on our own. Our manager Abby actually ended up going to Universal
Music Publishing, so shes been hooking us up with stuff through there
AllHipHop.com: Shes the
one who originally put you two guys together right?
Eroc: Yeah she introduced us
in March 2003, and managed us for the first four years we were together.
Ever since its been a windy road of a journey through the entertainment
industry, but were at a pretty cool place right now where were
happy. The industry is kind of going in different directions where its
pulling people back and forth, so were happy with what were doing
AllHipHop.com: Getting down
with EA Sports and on the Grand Theft Auto soundtrack must have boosted
your networking in the industry.
Eroc: It was kind of a gift
and a curse honestly. We kind of got pigeonholed for a minute as video
game producers, but it was lucrative obviously because a lot of good
things were happening in that world. But we really just wanted to do
more Hip Hop stuff. We had the placement on the Chamillionaire album
which brought some stuff, and we had a bunch of hopeful placements on
G-Unit albums that ended up falling apart. But now were looking at
as a good avenue to go, because all that stuff on our
resume is actually helping us out now get more work with video game
companies and TV companies. So it was a good start.
AllHipHop.com: Zed, I read
before that you had always wanted to get your music into a video game.
Zed: Yeah it was kind of funny.
Before I came out to LA and was doing Hip Hop, I was just playing in
live bands and just trying to get into the production world, and video
games were one of the things I wanted to try out. So I did the research,
hooked up with Eroc, and I guess just by luck we hooked up with [Electronic
Arts] and did a lot of music with them.
Eroc: It is kind of funny now
that I think about it. Z used to come down to San Jose like every weekend
with 30 to 40 wild and crazy video game tracks, because hes crazy
talented and plays tons of instruments. I never even thought wed
be doing video game music, but he really came with it. I was trying
to do Hip Hop tracks, and he was doing first-person shooter fucking
techno and jungle bass. So it just came full circle.
AllHipHop.com: In a declining
music market, it seems like finding your niche as a producer is the
best way to build your bank. Is that how you guys felt?
Eroc: Were kind of burnt
out in the video game thing. We did so much stuff for EA and they needed
to change their sound, and we realized they cant do everything with
us. So we left on great terms and have a huge catalog of music that
they still solicit. We had a song on Fight Night that ended up on the
Failure To Launch movie, and they just continue to solicit our music
and help us out wherever they can. Then we moved over to Midway and
did some stuff with them, and now were working more with music licensing
companies and publishers directly. Were working with music supervisors
for TV and film doing custom songs or background scoring for all types
Its hard to do tracks for
rappers and get placements and get paid anymore, but were trying
to build up our library and get placed where we can.
Zed: We like to say TV and
movie checks come on time. And ASCAP pays every four months on the
four months. No phone calls to make and no fingers to break.
AllHipHop.com: I was checking
out DaRiffs.com, but it doesnt seem like youve updated it in a
Eroc: (Laughs) No, we need
to though. I dont think weve done an update for like three years.
We were never really the producers that felt we needed to go out and
promote ourselves, even though we probably should have. We just kept
getting work, and it was coming to us. Were thankful that we actually
have some fans that check up on us, so were actually in the process
of getting that updated and it should be soon. But not soon like
when we said soon in 2006! (Laughs) More like the next couple
AllHipHop.com: Going back to
what you were saying earlier about film and television, do you guys
see producing tracks for Hip Hop artists as more of a passion than the
actual focus at this point? Zed: A lot of the stuff were
doing for TV and film is Hip Hop based, and a lot of those people are
looking to us for Hip Hop stuff. But we still enjoy doing rock stuff
and everything else. So were not focused on meeting up with people
and doing tracks to get on albums. We are open to do that kind of thing,
but really right now its more doing Hip Hop or rock background tracks
and anything we can get our hands on.
Eroc: Hip Hop music today is
so popular. Three years ago we were trying to pitch track to G-Unit
cats and people who we actually appreciated their music, and Im not
naming any names but I cant listen to a lot of stuff on the radio.
Instead of selling out and making that kind of music and living off
that, Id rather make music that we enjoy that can be put in TV or
movies or whatever it may be. On the side well continue to work with
artists that we think are really talented.
Zed: Its tiring trying to
play the commercial radio Hip Hop game. Its really tiring. Its
nice to be able to branch out and do some other stuff, and with our
side projects doing something we love.
Eroc: Its not like us or
our six-year-old baby cousins couldnt make most of the beats that
are out today. So its kind of hard to dumb it down so much, wed
rather just make quality music and see what happens.
AllHipHop.com: Maybe you could
just run down the artists that you do mess with on a regular basis,
that will come through the studio or whatever.
Eroc: Pretty much everybody
we work with weve got a solid relationship with, right up to the
big names like Chamillionaire, or Young Buck who just released a track
of ours. Anybody weve ever worked with on a song, we can call them
up and theyre the homies, theyll come through and well do music.
Some of our close friends that well hang out with and go out to dinner
or whatever would be Ras Kass, Planet Asia, Rock from Heltah Skeltah,
Tech Nine is a good friend of ours. Actually Rock is coming out to LA
this weekend, so well probably hook up and record. Weve got a
mixtape coming out with DJ Whoo Kid that has a lot of the tracks weve
done, some people may have heard and some unreleased. Zed also has a
side project coming thats a rock band called The Return of Girth,
and they got placed on that Will Smith movie I Am Legend.
Zed: Its like Hip Hop/Soul/Funk.
Theres a couple singers on it, I play guitar and keys and Eroc scratches
on the tables. Its quite a production. And Eroc is DeeJaying fights now.
Eroc: Yeah, we got down with
this company called Elite Xtreme Combat, which is mixed martial arts
on Showtime. They just really blew up in the marketplace, Kimbo Slice
is their poster boy and theyre really doing their thing. Me and Zed
have been producing music for them for like a year now, just doing custom
songs for the fighters. They make DVDs of the fights I DeeJay and play all
our own music. Its an interesting experience not DeeJaying any Top 40
songs, just all our own music. And they actually just got acquired by
CBS, so May 31st itll be the first mixed martial arts
on prime time. So Ill be playing our music and representing Da Riffs
in the fighting world.
AllHipHop.com: I know you guys
got a whole lot planned for this year, but anything else you want to
add in closing?
Zed: We want to give big shouts
to our crew – Abby1ill, Dena Deadly, Pure Butter Crew NY, SFR , $kala
Drama , Victoria Lawson, all the companies keeping us fed and busy,
and all the dope artists out there we roll with doing the damn thing! Da Riffs Ft. Young Buck Da Riffs Ft. Bun BDa Riffs Ft. Chamillionaire