Music Producing runs in the blood of Los Angeles, CA producer Runway Star. As the daughter of Richard West who worked with Deke Richards of the Motown Records producing group The Corporation, Runway Star was practically raised in a recording studio and sure enough she followed in the footsteps of her father. The recent winner of a BMI award for the Cali Swag District hit “Teach Me How To Dougie,” Runway Star is in a rare category in Hip-Hop – a female producer. There are many female rappers and DJ's but coming across a female producer is pretty rare in Hip-Hop. AllHipHop.com sat down with this young talent to discuss her career and more. Hopefully this will inspire other females to develop their studio skills to do the same.
AllHipHop.com: Congratulations on your BMI Award.
Runway Star: Thank you. It was a fun experience. It was my first time at an event like that. When they brought us (Cali Swag District) on stage to accept our award, the hosts asked us to teach them how to Dougie, but right after that they announced Drake and nobody directed us off of the stage. We were standing up there when Drake came up to get his award. So he came up on stage while we were there and we all felt kind of awkward. But he was real nice about it and even congratulated us for our award.
AllHipHop.com: It was your first event. You live and learn. Did you get any surprised reactions when people found out that you produced the “Teach Me How To Dougie” song?
Runway Star: Yes! People were pretty stoked – especially at the BMI Awards. Kurupt came up to me and expressed total shock. Dawn Richard from Dirty Money was pumped about the whole thing. Kreayshawn tweeted me a shout-out saying that she was totally excited that I'm a female producer. It caused chaos on my Twitter account. I'm getting so many followers.
AllHipHop.com: Has anybody asked to work with you?
Runway Star: Kreayshawn, YG, Dawn Richard and a few others have expressed interest.
AllHipHop.com: I've been on the look-out for a female Hip-Hop producer and I've never encountered one until now. There has to be more out there but I don't know of any. Do you?
Runway Star: I honestly can't name anybody else but I'm sure that there are others out there working. I was just fortunate enough to have a record that went completely out of this world. I'm sure there are other girls out there getting it in.
AllHipHop.com: Why do you think that females haven't crossed over to the producing side of the business like they have done for the emcee side of it?
Runway Star: I don't know. I haven't been able to identify what it could be. I'm stumped on that one. It's really interesting that you don't really hear of any females producing. You might hear about Alicia Keys doing a piano part on a track and getting a producers credit but you never hear of anybody going in there and knocking out tracks. I haven't heard of anybody since Missy Elliott.
I grew up in the studio running around with my dad – learning all of the different gear. Over time I took interest in actually wanting to pursue this as a career. I picked up on different keyboards and learned how to EQ a track.
AllHipHop.com: At what age did you start learning the ins and outs of the studio?
Runway Star: I can remember as far back as five years old. That's when I received my first Casio keyboard. It would play those cheesy little tunes and I would sit on the floor toying with it.
AllHipHop.com: Your dad must be happy.
Runway Star: My father was happy – even now with all of the stuff that I'm currently doing. He would always call to tell me that he heard “Dougie” on the radio. He would drive me crazy (laughs).
AllHipHop.com: Do you remember the first record that you sampled? Or the first beat that you made?
Runway Star: The first record was Betty Wright's “I'll Be The Other Woman.” That was a long time ago. As far as the first beat? That's a cool question. I can remember way back being in the studio and learning how to work on MPC. I made a little beat to learn the gear but it wasn't anything special. I made it just to get familiar with the machine. I really can't remember the first actual beat that I made because I've been in the studio tinkering with the equipment forever.
AllHipHop.com: You made the “Teach Me How To Dougie” beat. Most people rock with a high-tempo beat when it comes to a song about a dance. You took a smooth approach.
Runway Star: That was my vibe for that day. I'm a big fan of The Neptunes and they keep things simple. They let the artist build the beat up with the vocals. That was the stance that I had when creating that beat. I used Reasons and Pro-Tools together. For the drums I used the Tom Tom's and the 808. I just flipped it all together to make it work.
AllHipHop.com: Since then you've teamed up with another producer to form a Production group called The Makerz.
Runway Star: I teamed up with Nigel Starr. Nigel is really good with melodies and playing the piano. I can play the piano just a little bit – not the way he can. He's also an engineer so his ears are as tuned as mine. It made sense for me. Together it just works out amazing.
AllHipHop.com: Why not stay solo?
Runway Star: I just love our effort together. It's so hard when you have to do things by yourself. It's so much more fun when you have someone you can work with and share that energy together.
AllHipHop.com: What tracks are you two working on for other artists right now?
Runway Star: Me and Nigel are working on an EP for an artist named Young De. We're also working with another named Ceekay Jones who just released a new song that we produced called “Gucci Punk” with Taxman from The Kottonmouth Kingz. Nigel and I directed the video for that song also.
AllHipHop.com: That's right. I read that you went to Film school.
Runway Star: Yep. We did everything for that song - produced it, directed and edited the video.
AllHipHop.com: I understand that you've come out from behind the boards and in front of the mic as an artist.
Runway Star: Yes. It's pretty darn cool and pretty darn scary (laughs). I have a song out called “All Spaced Out.” We are getting ready to shoot the video for that in a couple of weeks.
AllHipHop.com: Was it your plan all along to become an artist?
Runway Star: I honestly just wanted to be a successful female music producer. When you are in the studio, it does cross your mind. You wonder if you can try being an artist. It kind of just parlayed in to that. Growing up though, my mind was just on producing. When I was young, Missy Elliott was the Queen of the world making beats and songs. That's a whole other side of the world to be the person making that track and not having to be the person performing. That was my train of thought. After time I become comfortable with the idea of taking that step in becoming an artist.
AllHipHop.com: Was it awkward for you being the person that gives direction to the person that takes direction?
Runway Star: It's definitely easier when you're telling someone else what to do. But that's where Nigel and I work together well. We feed off of each other and it's a comfortable environment. I guess I'm open to the critiquing.