An Exclusive Interview With Former Strange Music Engineer Rob Rebeck

Nov 22 2011

Rob RebeckThere are many important people that have helped make Strange Music what it is today. Tech N9ne, Travis O’Guin and all the other artists signed to the label of course, as well as Scenario, Brother Al and the road crew. We must mention all those that hold down the headquarters and Strange Music Store, like Penny (who has personally been more than helpful on several occasions).

Another piece that gets overlooked is the “Sound” of Strange Music. Tech and every other artist on the label have been able to continuously drop albums that feature new and intriguing instrumentals that complement their lyrical deliveries. From 2002 until around 2010, there was a mainstay in the studio on nearly every Strange Music album. His name is Rob Rebeck. He is the engineer for Chapman Recording Studios in Kansas City, where Strange has recorded most of their music.

In addition to being the man sitting at the board mixing from Absolute Power to Damn Fool and many in between, he has also provided production on several of them. He is responsible for one of Tech N9ne’s main staples: “I’m A Playa”.

I was able to get Mr. Rebeck to sit down and answer a few questions about his past, what he’s doing now and what the future holds. He was born on November 21, 1971 in Oswego, New York, but was raised in Shawnee, Kansas–about eight miles from Chapman Recording Studios, where he still works as an engineer.

Give us a brief look at your musical history.

I started playing guitar at age eleven. I was in my high school choir and played in bands.

Did you go to school for music?

Not formal music school. I did the choir and music theory in high school. Then I attended Full Sail Center for the recording Arts in 1992 for the recording.

Is guitar the only instrument that you play?

No. It’s my main instrument though. I can play drums, keyboards, and bass as well in varying degrees of proficiency.

How and when did you start working at Chapman Recording Studios?

I started at Chapman in 2001 after taking a two year hiatus from full-time engineering. I basically just heard through the grapevine that a job was available and contacted Chuck (Chapman – owner and engineer at the studio)

How did you get into making beats?

I was working at Chapman Recording and saw it as a way to make extra money.

What software do you use?

I work in Reason and Pro Tools. I will usually run them together.

What is the most important piece of equipment in the studio?

The engineer.

Do you think of artist first? Or does finished beat lead towards someone?

Both….I’ve made beats specifically for someone and also sold random beats

Ever get any off the wall requests for the music? Like, “This track needs to have this”?

Yes. I recorded three couples having sex at the same time once for a song. I’ve also recorded Tibetan mouth singing and all kinds of other weird stuff.

When you are done with a beat, what do you do with it next?

Just keep it until I play it for someone

Do you remember your first beat used by an artist?

Yes…”I’m A Playa”.

What was your first beat sold?

“I’m A Playa”.

How did you first connect with Strange?

I was working at Chapman Recording and they booked some sessions to finish the last few songs for Anghellic.

You played an important part of Strange. Is there one sound or album you are most proud of?

Everready: The Religion…I think it’s our best work together both creatively and sonically

What other artists have you work with?

On Strange, I worked with most of them. Outside of Strange there are too many to name. Bizzy, The Popper, B Double E, Mone E G, Rich the Factor, about everyone in KC rap at one time or another plus bands like Origin, Billy Goat, Room Full Of Walters, Black Oxygen, Puddle Of Mudd, a lot of bands in the Nineties.

Do you have a favorite artist to work with?

Not really…I have my favorites, but not a favorite. I am going to leave it a mystery.

Any projects you are working on now, that you are able to discuss?

I am working on a new mixtape for Bizzy and have been doing a lot of work with B Double E I have been working on some Gospel projects. I am working on a personal project tentatively called Dreamer that I will be putting on my website for free download sometime in the near future. It will be good music for the headphone crowd. People that like Pink Floyd would like it.

What is your favorite genre of music?

Singer/songwriter. Beatles meets Radiohead type stuff. I like experimental music in any capacity really.

Your album, Dreamer, will there be vocals on it, or instrumental?

Yes there will be vocals. It will be quite different from any of the Strange Music stuff. Very little electronic elemts. It’s mostly live instrumentation. I am playing everything, except I hired a drummer for one song I couldn’t really play the way I wanted…

How does someone contact you for beats?

We would like to thank Rob for everything he has taken part of in the past with Strange Music, and wish him the best in his future!

– Richard Lavall