With the signing of Darrein Safron, some people didn’t know what to think of Strange Music signing a singer.
Seven’s experience recording with the St. Louis talent has led him to conclude one thing: this kid’s got it. Working with Darrein on his song for Strangeulation Vol. II turned out to be a revelation for the multi-talented producer, and has him very excited for what’s to come.
Read the interview below and find out why Darrein Safron might be the most promising talent to represent for the Snake and Bat in quite some time.
What can you tell us about some of the newer features to appear on this record?
Darrein is the shit.
Alright, let’s start with Darrein. Now, from researching him, he’s been doing music since he was probably able to talk. It seems like he’s got music in every strand of his DNA. What was it like to work with him?
Well, I’ll be honest with you. At first I wasn’t sure about him, because I just didn’t…he came to us so quickly and I didn’t know anything about him. Didn’t know any of his background. Didn’t know where he came from or what he had done really – other than the hooks that he’s done for Stevie’s albums, and that was it. So, I kind of went into it, just not knowing, sort of skeptical about everything. It wasn’t until I actually…
Well this is what happened: I knew that we needed to make a track for him on the album, that was mainly his song, and I’ve never worked with him one on one before, ever. I’d really never even had a conversation with him, you know? But I gave him a call and told him I was going to send him something. I was going to make him something and send him something in St. Louis that he can work on. And for me, this was kind of like…honestly, it was like my test.
I put together a complicated beat, something that was a complicated arrangement. Something that’s true to what I do. My arrangements can be very daunting and very unorthodox. It can be the kind of thing where you don’t know, “Is this supposed to be a bridge?” or “Is this a hook?” or “Where do the verses even start? or “how do I even find my way through this track?” or, you know, “What is this?” So, it was complicated intentionally. I just wanted to see what would happen.
I sent it to him, didn’t really tell him too much about what I wanted him to do. Basically, “It’s yours, do whatever you wanna do with it.” This was on a Thursday night, and the next morning, he drove from St. Louis to Kansas City Friday morning. He was here at 10 AM, came in and wouldn’t even like, talk to me because he wanted to show me what he had written.
I was like “Okay, what did you write? A hook or a verse?” He said, “I wrote the whole song.” I was like, “You wrote the whole song when?” He said,”Last night. I wrote the whole song. I just did it.” He was like, “I wrote it right after you sent it to me.” I was like, “Okay, you wrote the whole song? Alright, let’s hear it.”He was like, “I’m gonna sing it for right now.” We couldn’t even talk about like “How was the drive up?” There was no warming up to each other or anything. He was just like, “Let me show it to you.” I was like, “Let me hear it.”
He blew me away dude. He fucking killed it. I was like “Holy shit, this is extremely, extremely, extremely good.” So from that point on, I was so totally like sold on it. I was like, “Man, this dude is the real deal.” I didn’t know. I really would have never thought it.
It was the writing that got me so excited for everything, because the writing was like really really good. And he didn’t have any questions about the arrangement, which was crazy to me. He knew exactly what every part was. He knew what the bridge was, he knew what the verses were, the hook. He knew everything and he executed perfectly. There was nothing I would have changed. I really didn’t have any advice for him at all. That was like a first ever – ever!
I mean, even with Tech I’m like, you know, “You could do this differently and that differently,” and I’m not saying that anybody’s a better writer than anybody else. I just feel like he really executed, you know? I never really have to tell a lot of these dudes a lot anyways, you know, on the label. They always like really kill it. But they’re used to my arrangements and used to my production. You know? Tech and Krizz and CES – everyone on the label. They understand this, but this is a kid that’s never had a beat from me – ever in his whole entire life – and knew exactly where everything was at without me telling him.
So that was pretty exciting – and the writing was really really great. He knew all the effects that he wanted to put on the vocals, like piece by piece. And all of the effects and things that he suggested were like things I would have done. Which was crazy.
He was like thinking the exact same way that I would think. I mean, I kind of like do crazy shit. Like, you know, let’s take a little tiny clip of a piece of a vocal or whatever and let’s chop out this one little syllable and pitch it way down and distort the hell out of it, and then like use it repeatedly throughout the beat. I do that kind of shit and he was like wanting to do those things, like suggesting those kind of ideas to me. So we were like in sync, you know from that moment.
After that, after he showed me what he wrote, I got a chance to really sit down and talk to him – and I just get it. I get it. He’s fucking good man. He’s really good.
What song was that?
“Real With Yourself”.
So the things that he suggested, to me, it means that he was in sync with the production and what you were sending him.
That has not happened to me very often. The time that that happened to me before was back in 2004 when I gave Tech “Come Gangsta”. That was that moment, like relived again – honestly, for me. No one’s really done that since then – you know, when I give them a track and they know exactly what to do with it.
Back in 2004, I couldn’t just sit down with Tech and say “You need to do this,” and “You need to do this,” and “You need to do this,” or whatever. That wouldn’t have been possible. So, when we did “Come Gangsta” obviously he did every single thing. I’ve told this story before, you know, how when I gave him the track, he did exactly, when I was making the beat, what I had envisioned him doing with it. He wrote the song that way. And Darrein did that with “Real With Yourself”.
Damn. Now, you guys got to work on a few more things for this record after that?
Well after that, I was so impressed with his writing that I suggested to him that he should make that a part of his career also. I mean, I know he was already thinking that, but what I mean by that is he should focus on writing not only for himself, but for other people too, because he’s just so current in his way of thinking. The way he hears music and thinks about music – it’s extremely, extremely current, and it’s hard to find just writers that are naturally current like that. It doesn’t sound like he’s biting someone else or whatever. It’s not like he’s trying to be an artist that’s out now. It just sounds like he’s listening and absorbing everything that’s current now and sort of implementing it into his own writing style. I like that. I mean, that’s what I do with production.
Normally I can find a really great writer, but if they sound exactly like you know, this other person, it’s not as satisfying. It’s kind of like a one-trick pony, we can make a song like that, but then we can’t keep doing that. But what Darrein was doing wasn’t like that. He was really in tune. So I was immediately like, “Dude you should write for some other artists.” I immediately thought he should write for the song we do with Ryan [Bradley], which was “Praise K.O.D.”. So that was Darrein. Darrein wrote that.
Seven: Darrein wrote it in 12 minutes.
I sent him the beat on the phone. No, I sent him an email with the beat put together. It was actually a skeleton – and I never send people skeletons. I always work for a few days on a beat and then send it to them. Especially a beat as massive as “Praise K.O.D.” was. I mean that was a pretty massive beat for the album.
I made that track, I mean, I kind of worked on it for a few hours and had a skeleton. I called him and I’m like, “How do you feel about writing to a skeleton?” And he’s like, “Just send it to me.” And I’m like “Okay, just know that this is just barely enough for you to understand like what key it is, what tempo it is. It’s like enough to just get you going. Because I’d like to see what you’d do with that.”
I sent it to him and then he called me 12 minutes later and I remember, because I was in the car. I thought he was calling me to say that the attachment didn’t send through or he was having trouble downloading it. I had thought that’s what it was going to be like. Like, “Okay man, let me try to reforward it to you again.” But I answered the phone. I’m like “Hello?” he was like, “You wanna hear it?” I’m like, “Do I wanna hear…what?” And he was like, “The hook.” I’m like, (laughs) “Okay, you wrote the hook?” He was like, “Yeah, I just sat here and just wrote it. You just sent it to me right?” And I was like, “Yeah.” He was like, “Yeah, I just listened to it, I just wrote it.” I’m like, “Okay. I guess let me hear it.” And he sang that for me.
Over the phone?
Seven: Yeah, he sang it to me like that. He sang it to me over the phone and I was like, “Dude, it’s been 12 minutes.” And I was like, “It shouldn’t be that easy for you. Like, that seems like that was really easy.” And he was like, “Shit, music ain’t hard for me.” That’s all he said to me. And I was like, “Well, okay then. Alright. Thank you.”
That was that man. I mean, that was how that went down. It was perfect too, because I had to explain to him, you know how he’s writing for Ryan, who’s not the same kind of singer as him. You know, so I’m like, you can’t write the same kind of song for Ryan that you would write for yourself. Because that’s not going to work. Ryan can’t sing “Real With Yourself” you know what I mean? He’s not that kind of singer. That’s not his style. You need to keep that in mind, what Ryan is.
And he didn’t ask any questions. He didn’t really, he was just like, “Cool, I got it.” Well, let’s see what happens. And he wrote it exactly in Ryan’s style too. When we wrote “Praise K.O.D.” it was like not something he would sing. But it’s not something, it was something that he would write but not something that he would sing, which is exactly what you want a writer to do. You know, you want them to write in their style but be able to write it knowing that it’s going to be a different kind of vocal on this, you know. And it was perfect for Ryan.
I sent it to Ryan right after we got the, I finished the beat and had a scratch vocal of Darrein’s vocals, sent it to Ryan. And Ryan was like, “perfect, cool, it’s in my key, it’s exactly what I neeed. My vocal range.” And then Ryan killed it.
I mean, Darrein, he just knocked it out of the park. That kid is the real deal man. He really is.
It is hard to know that, from hearing his stuff with Stevie, I like it, but you don’t know what went into that.
Yeah, it’s really hard to judge. On that kind of song, it’s hard to know what someone’s capable of.
What their range is?
What their range is. Exactly. Off of that kind of song. Even though those hooks were good. They’re fine or whatever. It definitely doesn’t show like what he’s capable of.
That was the test. I mean, “Real With Yourself”, that beat was very complicated, on purpose. I kind of wanted it to be a challenge. I wanted him to be like, to hit me back and be like, “Man, I don’t know what to do with this,” or whatever. But he totally like fucking surprised me man. I would have never expected that, but he killed it man. Moving forward, I understand what he is, and he really is the real deal. I’m really impressed with him. I’m looking forward to working with him.
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