Da Riffs: Steady to Rise..From Young Buck to Chamillionaire

da_riffs

Getting

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 weren’t always making music

together, but once they linked up the magic was undeniable and video

game giant Electronic Arts knew it.

After

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 isn’t all that

reliable, Zed and Eroc are looking to branch out even further in the

realm of film scoring and television soundtracking.

That

doesn’t mean you can’t 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: How’s everything

going down at Red Room Studios these days? 

Eroc: It’s going good. We’ve

been under a publishing deal with Cherry Lane for like three years and

we just got out of it. So it’s 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

limited situation? 

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 you’re obviously trying to take bigger amounts

of money. 

Zed: And a lot of people don’t

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 we’re back doing

stuff on our own. Our manager Abby actually ended up going to Universal

Music Publishing, so she’s been hooking us up with stuff through there

now. 

AllHipHop.com: She’s 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 it’s been a windy road of a journey through the entertainment

industry, but we’re at a pretty cool place right now where we’re

happy. The industry is kind of going in different directions where it’s

pulling people back and forth, so we’re happy with what we’re doing

right now. 

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 we’re 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 he’s crazy

talented and plays tons of instruments. I never even thought we’d

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: We’re 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 can’t 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 we’re working more with music licensing

companies and publishers directly. We’re working with music supervisors

for TV and film doing custom songs or background scoring for all types

of stuff.

It’s hard to do tracks for

rappers and get placements and get paid anymore, but we’re 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 doesn’t seem like you’ve updated it in a

while. 

Eroc: (Laughs) No, we need

to though. I don’t think we’ve 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. We’re thankful that we actually

have some fans that check up on us, so we’re 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

months. 

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 we’re

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 we’re 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 it’s 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 I’m not

naming any names but I can’t listen to a lot of stuff on the radio.

Instead of selling out and making that kind of music and living off

that, I’d rather make music that we enjoy that can be put in TV or

movies or whatever it may be. On the side we’ll continue to work with

artists that we think are really talented. 

Zed: It’s tiring trying to

play the commercial radio Hip Hop game. It’s really tiring. It’s

nice to be able to branch out and do some other stuff, and with our

side projects doing something we love. 

Eroc: It’s not like us or

our six-year-old baby cousins couldn’t make most of the beats that

are out today. So it’s kind of hard to dumb it down so much, we’d

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 we’ve got a solid relationship with, right up to the

big names like Chamillionaire, or Young Buck who just released a track

of ours. Anybody we’ve ever worked with on a song, we can call them

up and they’re the homies, they’ll come through and we’ll do music.

Some of our close friends that we’ll 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 we’ll probably hook up and record. We’ve got a

mixtape coming out with DJ Whoo Kid that has a lot of the tracks we’ve

done, some people may have heard and some unreleased. Zed also has a

side project coming that’s a rock band called The Return of Girth,

and they got placed on that Will Smith movie I Am Legend. 

Zed: It’s like Hip Hop/Soul/Funk.

There’s a couple singers on it, I play guitar and keys and Eroc scratches

on the tables. It’s 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 they’re 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. It’s 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 it’ll be the first mixed martial arts

on prime time. So I’ll 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

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