Two weeks ago, we published an exclusive interview with Strange Music’s genius in-house producer Michael “Seven” Summers.
In the interview, Seven explained his history with Rittz. While there was little to no mention of Rittz new album, Last Call, it was important to set up the foundation of their relationship, because to build Last Call, they completely tore said foundation down.
Following up after establishing his history and relationship with Rittz, we got into what went into Last Call in another exclusive interview with one of the most talented producers in music.
What ideas and direction did Rittz give you before you began working on the album?
We talked about the overall sound and vibe. He said he wanted to get experimental, which always excites me.
We talked about some different stuff we wanted to use as inspiration. Pink Floyd actually came up. That was dope because whenever someone wants to do that I’m like “OK. Now we’re open to a lot.”
There were no rules this time. We talked about arrangements being unorthodox, and I’m super into that. We talked about not every song needing drums, it can be an atmosphere and textures, or letting songs build and build and build, or with every verse something dramatic can be introduced to make it dynamic.
To me it was like the songs can be experiences. The whole album can be like a journey rather than just making songs.
What was your process for creating beats that were experimental? How did you know where to “go”?
When I was working on his album wake up in the mornings as early as possible and see what happens. I normally worked on one idea from morning ’til night. Maybe eat dinner, take break, come back and make sure the mix is good and I’d email it to him. He’d hit me back about it. I could kind of tell where to go with things by doing it that way.
If I worked on something he doesn’t like I’d know that’s not the direction so four or five songs into it I could envision the album, and I could fill in the blanks with different sounds but still keep it cohesive.
I wouldn’t have made these beats for Rittz if I didn’t know him as an artist. When I was making them I thought let me not make a Rittz beat; let me not revisit anything I’ve ever done for Rittz before. Let me make a beat that is unlike anything he’s ever done, but I still think Rittz would be good on.
One of the first beats I sent him on this was either “Press Rewind” or “Indestructible.” It was either gonna be like “yeah I really like it” or “nah this isn’t it.” When he hit me back after he heard it and loved it. I was like okay cool. Now we can do this.
How did the experimental approach shape your process?
On this particular album there’s a lot of live instrumentals and tons of synths. As many synths as possible, real synths though. With those, whenever I queue up the sounds, I don’t save the presets. I use them, process them and never go back to them.
It’s good because with every song it’ll be something different. Even if I wanted to go back to that tone I really can’t. So then in the process of trying to recreate it, I come up with some and that’ll be the inspiration for the song.
With Rittz in a Atlanta and you here in Kansas City, how finished were the products you sent him? Did anything change?
Towards the end of the project, he brought some of his musicians in to play on stuff and that added another layer. He knows some amazing musicians. They killed it.
Whats that like, to hear people build off your base?
It can go good or bad. I’ve had some things where someone added to it and I hated it, but Rittz has really good taste and knows his shit. He has musician’s mind. I’m surprised he’s not a producer himself. He had them come in and record their parts, and he knows where to place them; that’s an art of itself. I don’t know a lot of artists can do that.
Is there a specific song where that’s the case?
There’s a song, “Shooting Star”, I like the beat that I sent, but what he did with it, I have to say it’s my top three favorite songs now. He made me love it.
Which beat or song are you most excited about?
“Press Rewind” blew me away. That beat, when I made it, was one my favorites of everything I did on the album and I kept wondering what he would write and do with it. When I heard the final it was mindblowing. It’s probably my favorite song he’s ever done.
As an artist, taking risks and doing things that you have never done is just that… a risk. You never know how it’s going to turn out, but when you have two artists committed to the craft, who relish in the challenges that tearing down the conventional brings, like Seven and Rittz, the results are well worth the risk because you end up with something as big, adventurous as Last Call.