Besides Tech N9ne, perhaps no two people have been more influential in shaping the sound of Strange Music more than Krizz Kaliko, hook-master and multi-talent, and producer extraordinaire Michael “Seven” Summers. Responsible for such classics as “Midwest Choppers”, “Bout Ta Bubble”, “Welcome To The Midwest” and much more, Seven has been a staple of the high-quality and exciting production that has affixed itself with Strange Music. We took some time to talk to Seven, who produced six tracks from Shock Treatment, to discuss his working relationship with Krizz Kaliko.
What kind of working relationship do you have with Krizz Kaliko?
We’ve been working together for several years now, ever since Everready. On Vitiligo is when we really started collaborating, putting together tracks. Krizz is a real creative artist. He hears things in a certain way. As we were working on Vitiligo I kind of figured out how to pick apart his brain and know exactly what he’s thinking and what he’s trying to come up with. It’s always really cool to work with Krizz: I always really understand what he’s going for and we always come out with some really cool stuff.
How is it working with him? He seems to know what he wants.
Absolutely. When he calls me with an idea for a song or a beat he knows exactly what he wants. Normally, like 90 percent of the time, he knows what the song should sound like, what direction he wants to go in, he knows what the hook should be before we have the music done–yeah, he knows exactly what he wants.
How often is it that he knows what the hook is before he gets the beat as opposed to getting a beat first?
Well a lot of times the song is actually built around the hook. He’ll come up with the hook idea everytime, but fifty percent of the time it’s just the hook and we build it from there, the other times he’ll know as a whole what the track should sound like: the different parts, the verses, what the bridge should be like, even what the intro should be like. It always starts with the hook though.
But there’s still some times where you just send him the track and he comes up with something?
Yeah some of the time he’ll already have the idea and the other times we’ll already be into the project and I’ll know what he wants to do musically. I’ll get a good feel about it and send him the tracks accordingly.
Do the tracks you give him usually have an overall feel based on the album he’s creating?
Yeah. With each album he’s changed what he wants to do throughout these three releases. Vitiligo was a little bit of the darker album, then Genius was an album where he tried out a bunch of different things–we tried out a bunch of different sounds and wanted to make sure that he had the rock element, the pop element, and the more street element. With Shock Treatment, of course we tried to go in a more pop-driven direction.
Give me an example of how a song gets crafted with Krizz Kaliko.
Normally what happens he’ll just call me up–and it could be in the middle of the night when he has an idea–and tell me he’s got something. What we used to do, he used to tell me over the phone exactly what it should sound like and we’d kind of go over everything. Now whenever he calls me he’ll say “I have an idea” and I’m just like “Cool, just send me a voicemail” and then he’ll just leave whatever he’s got on my voicemail: he’ll kind of have some rough ideas of the patterns. For the drums he’ll know what kind of drum sounds he wants to use, if there’s a synth part he’ll know what he wants that to sound like, and then he’ll just leave the hook idea with what he’s got written. It could just be a minute of ideas and I’ll just build the whole track around that.
From someone like Krizz who’s musically oriented, when you’re communicating is there ever a disconnect between what he’s trying to convey and how he explains it?
He might not know exactly what a part is called but he’ll describe the sound to me. If he wants a punchy synth for instance, or if he says he wants it to sound “airy”, I know exactly what he’s looking for because I know his language.
As far as Shock Treatment, how do you like how it came out?
As far as Krizz’s projects go this is my favorite. It seems like on this album he knew exactly what he wanted to target. He knew what he wanted to do on the other ones but on this one it was important that we created a defining sound for him. I think that was real important. I like this album the most because I think it’s the most definitive album for Krizz.