Boonie Mayfield, aka Boon Doc, is a Colorado-based hip-hop, soul and funk producer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist (his stage surname is a nod to Curtis Mayfield, a pioneer of funk and political consciousness). An internationally known producer, Boonie credits YouTube as part of his present day success. His highly esteemed YouTube videos have over 5 million views, including one of his MPC videos at over 900,000 views alone.
BBoyTechReport.com was fortunate enough to catch up with Boonie for this interview. We get into everything from his name to his gear and beat making techniques in this 2 part interview. Let’s get started.
Mr. Boonie Mayfield aka Boon Doc aka Season salt shaker tail feather… etc etc. Tell us how you came up with your name?
(lol) Okay, so, I was in the middle of a transition after I left a group I was in, and I kinda just wanted to leave it all behind and start over. So, that included changing my stage name. I wanted it to sound old school and soulful… like I could imagine it on an old rare record. I don’t know how I randomly thought of “Boonie”, but it just worked (lol). But, I needed a last name, and I was going through tons of ideas for about a week, but didn’t like any of them. Anyways, one morning, a friend of mine picked me up to go somewhere and I burned a CD with a bunch of Curtis Mayfield songs to bring. As soon as I got in the car, it hit me…. “Mayfield!!!… Boonie Mayfield!!! That’s it!!!!”. I kept saying it and loving the sound of it more. So, that’s how I came up with that. I came up with “Boon Doc” as a short nickname as well immediately after.
How did you get started making music?
I started writing rhymes around ’97 or ’98…. and around 1999 is when I started doing my first “recordings”. Back then, everyone was still on AOL (America Online) really heavy, and there used to be these forums where cats would upload their RealPlayer files of songs, verses, diss tracks and stuff. I’d download instrumental loops from undergroundhiphop.com and expand them in Cool Edit 96, and then write and record to them. I used to upload a new song almost every week. Those were the good ol’ ghetto recordings. My first time at a real studio was in 2000, where I got to see the actual process of beat-making and professional recording. I was truly hooked from that moment. I knew one day, I wanted to do it all…. be an artist, produce and record.
Are you a classically trained musician? Or do you play by ear?
I play by ear, but a few years ago, I took the time to study and learn what I was actually doing. I wanted to know exactly what chords I was playing, what keys I was playing in, how scales work and all the basic music theory stuff so I can better communicate with musicians I collaborate with and broaden my horizons.
Your YouTube beat making videos have taken on a life of their own. Tell us a bit about how that all got started?
To make a long story short, I bought a video camera and registered my Youtube account to prove to the Rocbattle.com community that one of the popular members there was jacking me and my former partner’s beats. Before then… I barely ever visited Youtube (lol). So, if it wasn’t for that dude stealing my beats and me wanting to prove it… my whole Youtube thing probably would’ve never happened. Months later I made 2 videos of me messing around on the MPC and had no expectations. I was just having fun. This cat named Psychomelody hit me up and wanted to feature one of the vids on the front page of Youtube, and that’s when things really kicked off.
My boys Severe Garcia and Cartoon talked me into trying Logic when I got my first iMac. They were dedicated MPC heads at one point too. They showed me all the things I could do with Logic, and I was hooked. Once I heard all the sounds and quality coming from all the software instruments like Kontakt, Trilian and others… I sold my Motif rack the following week (lol). After a while… I stopped putting equipment and programs on pedastals like so many people still do. At the end of the day… an MPC is a sequencer, just like all the DAWs are sequencers as well. I’m not worried about the object so much… I’m worried about my ideas coming to life.
Do you ever miss the MPC workflow?
If I was still sampling a lot, I’d probably say yes to some degree. But with me doing most of my work from scratch now… no. When I’m not chopping and manipulating samples… the MPC is simply a sequencer for me.
What’s your take on the new line of MPCs? Is there a MPC Ren in your future?
I’m excited. I’ll be doing tutorials with the MPC Studio when it comes out with mpctutorials.com. The MPC Ren is just WAY too big for my taste. I mean, come on… I’m a 1000 user, and felt no need to go bigger than that (lol). But, I’m curious as to how good the software is going to be. This is their first step into a full blown software program, if I’m not mistaken? When the Maschine first came out, I honestly found it frustrating, and I know a lot of others did too… But, once they updated the software, I didn’t hear one bad thing about it anymore (lol). So, that’s the upside to the MPCs being software based now… there’s so much more they’ll be able to do with features and updates, in my opinion. I don’t know if they’re gonna come with a bang as soon as it releases or not… but as it keeps developing… sky’s the limit.
What’s your favorite DAW? Why?
Right now, Logic… but it’s probably on the verge of changing soon. Logic to me, is the DAW that caters to composers and producers, while I feel Pro Tools caters more to the engineers. When I open Logic, I feel like I’ve walked in a room that was made for me to live in. But, my boy, Stro Elliot has recently converted to Studio One and showed me all kinds of things with it. He was a devout Logic user for years (lol). Even Xperiment was a Logic head and converted to fully producing on Ableton Live.
What are your top 5 favorite plug-ins and/or soft synths?
In no particular order; Battery, Spectrasonics Trilian, Neo-Soul Keys 3X, Vintage Organs and Abbey Road 70’s Drums
We mentioned your Boonie Mayfield Drum Kits in a previous post. What prompted you to begin making drum sample kits? Also, why stop at volume 3?
Basically, so many people asking me to put out a drum kit, so I figured why not. I stopped at volume 3 with the “Boonie Mayfield” named kits. There’s only so many more kicks, snares and hi-hats for that style and sound that I’m known for. I plan to put out some other types of kits in the future… but they won’t be titled “Boonie Mayfield Kit Part….”. For instance, there might be some kits specifically for loud, crowd-rockin’ anthem type beats that I call “Punch His Face Kit” or something (lol).
What spurred the Boonie Mayfield – Boon Documented series? And Why stop only a few episodes in?
It was my girlfriend, Giane’s idea. I knew I wanted to try something different with the Youtube channel, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. She came up with the documentary/reality show type concept and I liked it. She had just finished taking classes for video production, so she had the tools, and we figured we’d give it a shot.
The reason I’m stopping it for now is because it’s too much work for only 2 people. We both have video editing skills and experience… but we didn’t know what we were getting into (lol). The video editing isn’t difficult at all for us… but it’s sooooo time consuming. Trying to juggle this along with still doing beat-making videos, tutorial videos, producing music, working my album and my personal life…. is hard. Not to mention… it has made the year fly by faster than normal… Because it was like, as soon as we turned around it was time to edit another episode (lol). Our first episode was in February…. but it still feels like just a couple months ago to me… it’s already been HALF a year since then! (lol) We’re going to bring the show back next year sometime, but some things might change. For instance, it’ll probably be about 10-15 minutes shorter.
What does it take in terms of hardware and software to do a live Boonie Mayfield set?
Not much. A laptop, Ableton Live, Akai MPD24 (or 26) and Akai APC20.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this Boonie Mayfield interview as we dig a bit more into Boonie’s dream gear and his affinity for Electric Pianos.