In the midst of the dazzling flows, clever wordplay and poignant poetry that ¡MAYDAY! brings to the table, it can be easy to forget that there’s men behind the boards that lay the groundwork for the emcee duo of Wrekonize and Bernz. Enter Gianni Ca$h, who has quickly risen from the status as a ¡MAYDAY! co-producer to a bonafide hit maker.
Listening to ¡MAYDAY! x MURS – ¡MURSDAY! is a testament not only to the chemistry that exists between MURS, Bernz and Wrek, but also to the production growth from Gianni Ca$h, as well as the rest of the beatsmiths that lend their hand to the ¡MAYDAY! sound.
We talked to Gianni to get his perspective on the making of the album and what went into the production, as well as spilling a few beans on solo projects from himself and Bernz.
Read on to find out.
I know MURS, Wrek and Bernz had a pre-conceived goal for making a bright, fun, light-hearted album. Did that philosophy also carry itself out into your production before you started? Did you know you were going to make a certain type of album or did it just kind of happen?
We had that idea already. We had spoken to MURS in a conference call and I think we were all on the same page that we wanted to make a fun album and so we went into this already thinking like we were going to throw things at the wall that were happy, uptempo and party-esque type of stuff.
There are a lot of textures and elements that are reminiscent of other ¡MAYDAY! productions but there’s also new stuff that we haven’t heard before. Did you rack up in your mind some new sounds or textures that you were going to use?
We were dabbling with the woodwind instruments, the horns and shit like that. So we kind of already had some stuff that we had made prior to the ¡MURSDAY! album that were just kind of sitting in a bucket that I kind of wanted to use for my own solo stuff because I’m planning to put a project out – like “Beast Out The Box”. It was sitting there and when MURS came to the studio we had kind of picked out a few songs that could work for this album. We write things on the dry erase wall and we kind of forgot about “Beast Out The Box”. Bernie was going through a bunch of songs and was like “Shit dude! We got fucking ‘Beast Out The Box’! This would be a perfect ¡MURSDAY! track.” I was like “Yeah, it could work.” So yeah, there’s textures that we kind of had in mind because we wanted to make uptempo stuff, so it kind of worked out for the ¡MURSDAY! project.
One thing that jumps out from looking at the credits is how versatile everybody is in the group. On one song I’ll see Wrek on the keys, another is Plex, another is you. It seems very interchangeable. What do you think this says about the group?
We just bring things to the table. When we start working on something, someone will pick it up or Wrek will bring something and he’ll be like “Damn Gio, I’m kind of stuck. Help me develop this.” That was the case with “Tabletops”. Wrek brought the piano stabs in the intro and he was like “Man we need to make this go into something crazy.” I was like “Alright, cool. I’ll take it.” So I took that and sequenced up drums and 808s and I arranged the horn section and then that’s when we brought the real horn section to play the parts that I did.
We just work together well because we bring things to the table and we’re free with our work. I’ll give it to Wrek, Wrek will give it back to me, Bernz is suggesting things to do. We work well together because we’re throwing ideas out and then we execute the ideas. That’s why there’s so many things happening. Everybody’s involved in everything.
It seems that in that process that there’s no concern about ownership of ideas.
No man. I think we gave that up a long time ago. There’s just this “Let’s have fun with it,” attitude. It’s better to have a few heads than just one. It’s better to have more ideas than just one person throwing at the wall. It’s fun that way because it sparks up ideas. That’s the thing about working with people, ideas get thrown at the wall and then you’re like “Yo, this works,” and then you go from there and you make it fucking hot.
What happens when something doesn’t work? Does it put that much of a damper on the process?
When it doesn’t work we don’t beat ourselves over the head with it. We might put it away for a minute and then we come back and let it breathe a little bit. We’ll get inspired to do something different or try to fix it or make it work or whatever. Usually it’s very easy though. It flows very naturally when we’re in the studio and we’re trying to make things happen.
So it’s pretty much gotten to the point where no one feels the need to assert themselves. There’s always that awkward phase towards the beginning of a band where people want to stake their claim as contributors and sometimes act out of their element.
Yeah totally. I think we’ve been making music for so long together that we just don’t care about that anymore. People know what’s going on. I’d like to think that people know what’s going on behind the scenes. I feel like our fans now understand what we do and they’re the kind of fans that I used to be as a kid growing up. I used to be into buying an album, reading the credits and knowing who did what. Me as a producer, that’s all I have. I have the credit. I’m not a singer so people don’t really know me as a singer. They know me as a DJ, the guy with the moustache. So to me, I always find it very interesting and get happy when people actually do read the credits and go “Yo, you fucking did this? That was amazing!” That puts a smile on my face because I know people are interested in what we’re doing. That’s fun to me. I feel super awesome and I used to be one of those kids that dug deeper into what I like and the group that I’m into. Now with these projects that we’re releasing, people are really into it and they’re digging deeper into what we’re doing. It’s refreshing to know that the fans are really into it.
On top of that you guys have all these other contributors as of late and it all forms one cohesive sound. How does that work out?
A lot of the guys we work with are professional musicians, like jazz players, and they’re guys from our scene. We have to bring them in to our lair because they could easily go into this jazz solo and sometimes you have to be like “No, no, no, you’re doing too much. Let’s have fun. Let it breathe. More sparse.” Even though these guys are amazing, we still have to bring them into the ¡MAYDAY! vibe and the sound. We always have a texture and layers that we feel like are our signature sound.
About that signature sound, I could be off but it sounds like golden era from the future, if that makes any sense. You have a lot of those classic hip hop elements but they’re wrapped in a package that’s very musical, with lots of flourishes and live instrumentation.
That’s definitely right man. We grew up in the golden era of hip hop so that is a very big influence and at the same time we’re inspired by so much music: from classical rock to reggae and new wave. There’s so much music that we’re open to. We take little things from those things and we try to make our music original. That’s the bottom line.
I don’t want to sound like everybody, especially with ¡MAYDAY!. When we do a project it needs to be original and that’s the bottom line. My goal is to make us stand out. That’s my job. My job is to make sure our music can compete with anybody in the industry, from pop to grimey ass hip hop. I need it to be up there with the rest of the guys in the industry – Timbaland, whoever. There’s so many people out there. My goal is to be better or – yeah I need to be better than those guys. So that’s my whole thing. I want to be original and it needs to sound great.
To track your growth individually as a musician and producer it’s pretty staggering how far you’ve come. Do you think there’s still a lot more territory for you to discover?
Oh absolutely man. I’m always inspired, so definitely. I’m trying to come out with a project in the near future. I want to start releasing music because I haven’t really released anything solo. So I think it’s time for me to step out a little bit and start giving the people some of my shit. That in itself is a new territory for me because I haven’t done that. I’ve always been behind the boards on the ¡MAYDAY! stuff, so I’m kind of excited about that. As we go into next year we have a few projects but I want to definitely focus on delivering some solo stuff to the people.
When I do my own shit I don’t want to do what I do with ¡MAYDAY!. I want to do different things. I want to use different textures, because it wouldn’t be fun. Why would I give you what I give you with ¡MAYDAY!? I want to keep it fun and I want to keep it different. So yeah that excites me and it’s going to make me grow as an artist. There’s so many things that come with that and that’s going to be working with different people, using different instrumentation and through the process I’ll probably learn way more than I have already learned.
That’d be sick. You have guys like Alchemist, Timbaland, Statik Selektah who go about making solo albums it’s dope.
Yeah man I want to work with different artists, maybe even from my scene. Some up and coming artists. I want to work with some of the Strange label artists. I’ve already talked to CES Cru, Stevie Stone and shit like that. And people that I’ve met along the way, I want to make something special, you know? But yeah it’ll definitely be a production or instrumental or like an EP of songs that I put together with different artists. I’m not sure exactly but I just need to start working on it.
One thing I do love about ¡MAYDAY!, it reminds me of Wu-Tang, in that they’re awesome as a group but also individually and everyone is encouraged to follow their individual musical voice. There’s never any weirdness or animosity about it.
Yeah man. Music is all love bro. I can’t be mad at the next man for wanting to create. It’s a natural progression for people to want to do their own shit. We helped and encouraged Wrek to really do The War Within and then we’re also getting situated to start working on Bernz’s project as well. That’s our next big thing. My thing is, my solo stuff, I think I just need to get my foundation together before I release something, so I’m going to start little by little. So while we’re working on projects and trying to work on Bernz’s stuff I’m just going to be throwing things out there for free, just like instrumentals and shit like that. We’ll see where it goes man. Hopefully in 2o15 or 2o16 I’ll have something solid.
It’s very intriguing to think about a Bernz solo project. He’s the brainchild of the whole operation and someone who’s heavily involved in all facets of what you guys do.
From the videos to a lot of the production. From talking to him he’s like “I do stuff but I don’t really care about the credit.” To a fan there’s a lot we don’t even realize that he’s a part of. For him to do a solo album, I’m expecting a lot.
Oh yeah, his solo album is going to be great man. I’ve heard some of the stuff already. He’s got a few things lined up already and they sound great. Yeah, people don’t really know that he is like the brainchild of the operation, like you said, so he sparks many ideas up in the studio. He’s always throwing things at the wall and that encourages us to do more things or have a different approach. It’s fun having him in the studio just throwing things at the wall. Just ideas and shit like that. Yeah, Bernz’s project is going to be something else man.
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