With Prozak’s We All Fall Down, producer Seven handled every single beat, and for the first time in Strange Music history an album has been crafted by one producer.
We talked to Seven to get his perspective on what he calls “his best album by miles,” Prozak’s We All Fall Down. In the interview below you will learn about the creation of the album, why Seven chose to be the sole producer and how live instrumentation made this album sound unlike anything they’ve ever done before.
Tell me about your history with Prozak.
I’ve worked with him for…forever. Even when he wasn’t on Strange, I still produced for him and, you know, I’m able to grasp what Prozak wants to do really easily – I get it. It’s really fun to work with Prozak.
What do you like about working with Prozak?
The thing about Prozak is he’s got ideas specifically for songs, but they’re a lot less specific than someone like Krizz. He’ll be like “I want to make a song about this,” or “This is the hook idea. I have this hook, but I don’t know what the rest of the beat should sound like, do what you think is best.” I’m like “Okay, I know exactly what to do.” He’ll send me just four or five voice memos of hook ideas and be like “Which do you like, which do you not like? These two I think are really cool, just make something around it.” He’s totally open creatively to things. I normally always can nail it. I get what he wants to do, so yeah that’s awesome.
You said you couldn’t wait for people to hear this album on our last podcast, why did you say that?
Back then I think I might’ve been actually talking about the EP we did, I think. We had this idea for the EP that I was really excited about, but we ended up not doing that. But right after we finished the EP we started working on this album. I guess at the beginning of the album we didn’t know going into it what we wanted to do, but once we figured it out I was really excited.
With Prozak he just records material. Prozak’s the only artist on Strange that just records material for no reason. He’ll have songs from like four years ago and from one month ago and then when we put an album together like Paranormal...and all the albums really, they’re like a collection of songs from all over the place. No one can really tell, only we know that, but I can listen to it and be like “That song’s really old, that one’s really new.” It’s like a gumbo of songs from all over the place.
He wasn’t really used to 1) having one producer do his whole album and 2) making songs right in the moment that are going to be used for an album, which is how I’m used to making albums. I like to work on an album where what we’re working on is going to be used for the album unless the song doesn’t turn out cool. We don’t’ take from like two years ago and say use this song, so after we figured out the direction…like he played me some old Johnny Cash songs and stuff that had this acoustic, southern-type of feel to it. I think that what happened is I started making some tracks that were in that vein and he loved them, but then it sort of hit me. I was like “We should do a whole album this way,” because the couple songs we had worked on were so different from anything I had ever done and definitely from what Strange has ever done. They were so different so I was like “How are we going to make those songs fit on a regular Prozak album?” They were too far out there, but we both loved them so I was like, “Dude let’s abandon everything we always do.” He was like “Are you sure?” He was scared about the whole process of the album and I was like “Trust me, let me do this. Let me just craft this album and it’ll be different from anything you or Strange has ever done. Let’s completely go against the grain in every way possible. What do we have to lose?” I was like “Fuck it dude, let’s experiment. As long as we love it, it shouldn’t matter!” That was my approach to that album, I really wanted to do something like that with Prozak, I didn’t want to do another album like what we’d been doing for the last decade, I was sick of it. So, yeah that’s exactly what happened. He let me control it.
He said he never really considers sales or numbers or anything but the music when he’s making album so that must’ve lent itself to this experimentation
It definitely did. It was definitely one of those things where we were just letting go. He was very vocally worried to me, like “Oh man, dude, I dunno. I dunno how everyone’s gonna take this.” I would just reassure him like “Dude just make music, just love it, just make it,” but inside I was like “I dunno what the fuck Travis or whoever is gonna say when they hear this. I dunno how they’re gonna take it,” but I was like “Let’s just go for it.”
A lot of these songs have more of a worldly feel to them. They’re more accessible than anything he’s ever done before. Was that intentional or did it just kind of happen?
Me and Prozak talked a lot about songs that everyone loves from him and the songs he loves also and some of the videos he’s done like “Million Miles Away” and those kind of songs where he kind of has a message. Prozak’s music always has a message. Sometimes it’s really buried under everything, but that’s sort of his thing. He always has a message and in those songs it’s just more in the forefront, so we decided that we just wanted to make more songs like that because we love them and everyone really seemed to like those songs a lot – and more importantly those are the songs that Prozak thought was truly him, like”I come across the best in those songs” and I was like “Well let’s do an album and embody that and make an album that you can sort of associate a sound and direction with that’s not ‘horrorcore.'” We just abandoned it. “Let’s do something different.”
How was that experience for the both of you?
Really good. It was super-refreshing. Prozak was worried about making an album. We had just finished the EP and he’s the kind of guy that he likes to take time and do other things: he’ll work on movies, scripts and do videos and stuff like that in between music and then come back to music. He’s not doing music like 100% of the time.
So I could sense that he was wanting to not do an album, but since we were doing something totally different it was driving the album like “Wow, we’ve never done anything like this before,” and it would spark ideas. He’d hear tracks and be like “I’ve never done a track like this before and I have ideas because it’s so different. ” That was kind of driving the entire album.
Prozak said you did a lot of live instrumentation
It’s more live instrumentation than I’ve done on any album I’ve ever worked on. We did live everything on it, all the live guitars – we worked with a choir on “Blood Paved Road”. We worked with drummers and bass players, and I played a lot of live stuff on it, and there’s pianos and we re-tracked them live. It’s all live. I’ve always wanted to do an album like that, but I’ve never had the platform to do it.
What’s your favorite thing about this album?
Probably that it’s the closest thing to doing a band that I’ve ever been able to do, even though it wasn’t a band, and I was working with a lot of session musicians. I’ve always wanted to produce a band, and I’ve done it in the past, just never on Strange. This album was the closest thing to it because we really approached it that way. I would sit down sometimes with guitarists and we’d rewrite a guitar part and then write the rest of the song around that. It’s so different than just making a beat and sending it to an artist and then rapping to it, which is what kind of happened anyway, but the process and the way the beats were created I had all these different outside influences. I’d have somebody come in and be like “This song doesn’t have a bass line on it. What do you think? Do you have any input?” and they would just add to it. So there was a lot of – in a way – outside writers.
That reminds me a lot of how Dre produces.
Yeah, exactly like that. I would just bring people in and be like “Try some shit on this” and sometimes’ we’d use it, sometimes we wouldn’t. Sometimes them playing on one song would totally stem the idea for another beat and “Let’s stop working on this, let’s work on something else because it’s way cooler.” It was awesome. A lot of people were involved with this album.
That’s like a real producer’s hat, not just a beat maker.
Any favorite songs from the album?
Yeah, so many I really like. “Just Like Nothing” I think is one of the best Prozak songs ever. “Audio Barricade” was one we did right at the last second that turned out really cool. He’s got that song “Stress Call” on there that’s just like fucking madness. It’s amazing. We were doing this whole kind of acoustic thing with the album and towards the end of the album we started doing this hard metal shit on it because we were just kind of sick of having acoustic guitars on everything so we we’re like “Let’s try something different.” I really love this album. “Before We Say Goodbye” is an awesome song. “Fading Away” is a great song. “Blood Paved Road” was awesome because i’ve always wanted to work with a choir on something for Strange. I always wanted to do it for Tech and I wasn’t able to so I was like “Let’s do it on Prozak’s album.”
You’ve expanded your production in a lot of ways this year:
I’ve been able to. Strange has allowed me to kind of run these albums and the artists have allowed me to. It’s cool and they trust me enough to let me do that. Hopefully I don’t fuck anything up, but I love it, so I’m going with it.
How does this album compare to other Prozak projects?
It’s his best album by miles. It’s so much more focused and cohesive and what he wrote on this album is just awesome. He was really feeling creative on this album and you can tell. You can just listen to and tell that he’s totally at home.
Nothing was forced on this album. I always listen to albums by any artist, any album, and I can tell when it sounds forced or when their heart wasn’t in it. This album, Prozak was 100% there and into it creatively.
Anything else you want to say before we wrap this up?
I’m really proud of this album. It’s not an album for everybody, people are going to be caught off-guard by this album like “Woah. I wasn’t expecting this from Prozak!” but that was sort of the point. That’s what’s amazing about music is that you don’t have to do the same thing every time, and you can experiment and try new things. We totally did that on this album.