Stige, the soul voiced singer and lyric writer for producers the Pushers, sat down with Independent Grind to talk working with Bernz, writing the right songs, and future projects.
You were working with Bernz on this upcoming album See You On The Other Side, you have worked with ¡MAYDAY! and Tech N9ne in the past. You have three songs now with Strange, what kind of creative handle did you have with these two upcoming songs – “Sunday Sin” and “Quiet Place”?
Most of it is about getting in the room, then most of the energy takes care of itself. You get in the room and either the beat is already done or people are creating the beat, and as they are creating it, in my mind I am coming up with melodies. As a song writer, you are your best editor. You are constantly using checks and balances, and changing what you are saying as you are saying it. I will present it to whomever is there. It is kind of like a back and forth process of what the artist is looking for, and in Bernz’s case it would be the most interesting thing.
With “Sunday Sin” he was already on tour and he wanted one more record to wrap up. He started this beat and I got in the booth. Sometimes I have an idea and that one was fully formed in my head. I went in there and just blurted it out, and they were like “It sounds great.”
For “Quiet Place”, we were all in that session, Bernz, a couple other people, all of ¡MAYDAY!, and me. That was more of a group session. I came up with the melody, and from there, there were certain lines we made together in the creative process. There are so many different ways to do it. When someone tells you what they are going through at that moment and what they want to communicate, that is probably the easiest way. For “Know It”, Bernz was like “Yo, I just had a baby, I’m on the road all of the time, I want something that speaks to that.” So he sent it to me and I came up with it and sent it back. He was like “This is perfect.” It ended up becoming a !MAYDAY! record.
When it comes to making music with ¡MAYDAY! and Bernz, you are kind of the chorus guy. You have great hooks, but I’ve also heard you rap too, plus you do a lot of writing and producing. Is there a certain aspect that you like the best? Is there one thing that sticks out to you?
No, it is all therapeutic. That is what makes music what it is to me. If I did not make music, if I did not have my own set up at the house to get my thoughts and get my ideas out, I would go crazy. It is literally like therapy. I do not go to a therapist, but when I get on a track, when I commit my words to a beat, it’s basically me exhaling. The first thing I did was rap, then I did not have anybody to sing my hooks, so I learned to write hooks, and then I really wanted to get stuff done quick so I started making beats. I’m not as far in that process as I would like to be but I really do love writing. The process of writing and hearing the completed idea.
Who are some of the artist that inspired you to make music?
I am going to be honest with you. My Dad, he is Jamaican, — I was born in Jamaica, I was there till I was six — he listened to a lot of classic Jamaican music: Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, but what he really grew up on was 70s soul music.
In our household, every holiday we played these really powerful soul singers. My favorite of all time was Sam Cooke, the man who invented soul. He had this golden voice. So those are my influences: Teddy Pendergrass, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, I wish I could sing like them. I’m in the infancy stages of learning how to really sing. Those guys are real strong influences in my life. For the newer age, Kanye, OutKast, Mos Def, I am really into all that they do; like the multifaceted aspect of their music, not just rapping. Those guys are all more than just what a rapper is. I really like that.
It shows in your music. I was just listening to your EPs: Samples and 808s, parts 1 and 2, and you mesh various genres and the influences that you just mentioned. You have that Southern influence like OutKast, some Jamaican influence, you have some soul in there. Does that all just come naturally to you or are there particular songs where you consciously want to mix certain things.
It is a natural thing but it’s also something that you have to try. The project I am working on now with the Pushers, the sound is so organic and so different that at times you want to say “I can do this, I am capable of doing this”. You are capable of doing so much that you have to hone in on something that is going to be a distinct sound. When I am working with other artists in Miami, I will do the trendy current sound, but for mine I have to ignore that. It’s all about balance. Music is balance.
You have to find that right balance of sad and happy. I want to make the most depressing happy music. I want people to be like “This sounds really sad but I am happy because I can relate to it and it’s also speaking to me in another way that helps me get over it.” That was the music I used to listen to when I was a kid; all of those soul songs were so heart breaking. That is why Adele reaches so many people.
Outside of Strange I know that you have a lot of stuff in the works coming up in the future with the Pushers. I just heard the song with N.O.R.E. called “Get It”, how did you two get connected?
Yeah, it was through the producer of that song. He basically came to me with the song already done and he needed a hook. “I need it to say this and communicate this idea.” I am pretty quick at sending people the creation. That is basically how that one happened. ¡MAYDAY! and Strange are one of the only times you will be in the room creating with the artist. A lot of times you are through a third party.
I think you have a nice connection with ¡MAYDAY! when you are recording in the room. You can tell that when listening to it.
Yeah, you can not deny it. There is something about energy and chemistry that you cannot fake. If you are in a room with someone, sometimes it does not work and that is really awkward. When you are there and you are writing and you think “This is going nowhere, this guy does not like anything I am doing. Why am I here?” That happens too. It’s something as a songwriter that you always have to be ready for. You could have 900 different styles but that person wants the 901st style that you have not mastered yet.
Otherwise it’s something that you think is cool, but they think it’s corny. It’s a constant mind meld that you have to try to achieve. That is why I have the utmost respect for anyone that is a song writer and has done it at that level. If you are a professional song writer you are a therapist, a communication guru, a genius on many levels. You may have not of grown up yet and you are still irresponsible but when it comes to communication, you can write a book on it.
I worked on a song for my project, called “Afraid Of Heights”. I really cannot wait for people to hear it. I went in there with the Pushers and started it from the ground up. I was singing it in the bathroom. They were like “Oh man!” and they started doing their magic. It turned into this really vibe-able song. On the flip side of that you could have this idea and take it to maybe another producer and he turns it into something that you do not like. There is always a balance, the creative balance. That is why when you find the right group of people you seem to stick with them and continue to create with them. You can not take that for granted.
You just mentioned that song “Afraid Of Heights” and some other stuff with the Pushers. Is that stuff coming out this year? Do you have any plans about releasing more music?
Tentatively I want it to come out September or October. I have about 25 songs that I have completed about 40% of. Then I have two or three that I have completed 70% of. They all need to be recut vocally. I need to add other singers. That is a process. Since I am always kind of writing for other people as well, to get the time to build your own project sometimes can be rough, but it is coming together really well. Every time I do a new song for it, it becomes my favorite song which makes the process even harder.
I want it to be at most 7 clear cut concise interesting songs that can stand on their own and can also communicate the whole idea of the project. This is going to be my most focused project to date. I want it to be the launching pad. To have the Pushers at your disposal, they can do anything that you have in your head. There are no excuses. That is why I really want to get back and focus on that project. I want to finish it sometime in the summer so that I can get everything ready to release it in September or October.
Do you have anything you want to say about See You On The Other Side or anything else you want to let us know about?
I really appreciate everything from everyone that tunes in and listens. Music is nothing without people out there that listen and relate to it. You could listen to 100 songs a day and if you do not relate to any of them, what do you gain from that? But if there is a song that you play 100 times a day, that is amazing. Coming from the standpoint of an artist and songwriter who is also a fan of so much, I know how much that could mean to you in your daily life. I really appreciate everything that Strange has done for me and the Pushers. I look forward to continuing work with them, with Bernz, and all of these guys. At the end of the day it’s about making good music. Look out for the project It’s Different This Time! Keep looking out for the Pushers stuff!
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