Welcome to part 2 of the Boonie Mayfield interview.
In 2009, Boonie Mayfield won the first place title in the Red Bull Big Tune producer’s competition (the highly respected national hip-hop producer battle) and is now the reigning two-time champion of Red Bull Big Tune – Denver after winning the top spot again in 2010. Denver’s Westword Magazine also named Boonie the Best Hip-Hop Producer for 2010. On September 5, 2011, Boonie independently released his highly anticipated debut instrumental album, Black Koolaid.
Before we go any further let’s check out one of my favorite Boonie Mayfield tracks “Mario’s Revenge”. The story goes something like this… Boonie Mayfield made this track after his studio was robbed. He was scheduled to be in a beat battle and most of his gear and beats were stolen with his new iMac. After a friend loaned him a laptop with Propellerhead Reason on it, Boon Doc came up with this…
What is Boonie Mayfield’s favorite piece of gear ?
Hmmmm, if I had to choose my favorite piece…. It would have to be between the Fender J Bass my girl got me for my b-day and my electric pianos.
Electric Pianos, plural? Which EPs do you have?
I have both. I have a Rhodes Mark I and a Wurlitzer 200.
Oh, you have a Wurli and a Rhodes, what makes them different for you? I mean some people would think an EP is an EP is an EP.
There is definitely a noticeable difference in the sound and feel. I have an 88 key Rhodes, which already sounds different from a 73′ key. From what I’ve been told, the 88’s tend to have a more smooth, mellow tone. Even when I hit the keys hard, it still remains pretty mellow. My Wurlitzer has a little more bite and grit in the sound… BUT it can sound smooth too if you play it gently. The Rhodes has more body in sound, it’s rounder (especially with the Bass boost knob)… while the Wurli is more hollow. They both sound great. I will say this… the action is much better on the Wurli though (lol). If you’re not used to it… the Rhodes will definitely make your fingers sore quick.
So you obviously have an affinity for the vintage EP sound, what is your favorite software emulation of the Rhodes and how does it compare to your real Rhodes?
Neo Soul Keys 3X, which just came out. The Stage piano instrument is so close in comparison to my real Stage, it’s crazy. I also like the “Mr. Ray 73” plug in too, because it sounds really good and it barely uses much CPU.
It’ll never happen (lol). I want a machine that will sync with my brain (with no side effects or pain) and record the audio that goes on in my head. If I could get the samples I make up in my head into actual audio… I’d go crazy in the lab, I’d get no sleep!!! I can’t afford an orchestra to play the string parts I hear in my head… and these plug-ins rarely do justice for me either… But, if I could record the string arrangements, the background vocal arrangements and stuff from my head….. that would be insane! (lol)
Oh my… lol. That’s dope! What would you call this mystical magical piece of gear?
Man, oh, man! I wish I had a clever answer to that question, but I don’t (lol). So, I guess I’d just called it a “Dinglehopper” for now.
Cool! “Dinglehopper” it is. You should commission Roger Linn and the spirits of Bob Moog & Steve Jobs to build a prototype. That’s absolute Genius! lol…
Okay… What sort of techniques can you share with us about your drum programming and processing that make that classic Boonie feel, swing and bump?
I go over several techniques in the tutorials I’ve done for mpctutorials.com. I’m not sure when those will be up though. But, I’m all about using accented notes and ghost notes. As far as swing, rhythms etc…. I was a dancer before I started making music… so, I tend to program my drums to the way my body wants to move. You have to kinda decide how you want bodies to move. That’s why different styles of latin music makes you move in certain ways, rock n’ roll makes you move a certain way, hip-hop makes you move a certain way. Whether you want to bounce, knod, sway etc., it depends. Notice how Ray Charles used to always sway and rock side-to-side with certain songs? Listen to “The Nighttime is the Right Time” again and see if that rhythm doesn’t make you knock your head or rock side-to-side instead of fourth and back. I swear every time I play that song my whole head knod changes lol.
When it comes to beat battles what was your favorite beat that you’ve played in a battle? Give us a little background on how that beat came about.
“Horrorcore” is my all-time favorite battle beat of mine. I was making it in 2009 for the Red Bull Big Tune national finals being held in Atlanta. One of the contenders of that year, Hannibal the Beat Animal, always wore Halloween styled masks in his battles. Also, the event was going to take place during the Halloween weekend. So, I drove out to a costume shop and bought the Ghostface mask from the movie Scream. When I came up with the beat, I wanted it to sound Halloween-ish and just blow people away. So, I made the beat incase I battled Hannibal, so I can dig in my backpack, put on the mask and bust out that beat. Unfortunately though, my first round against G-Mo turned into a tie-breaker 3rd round…. So, I had to play my best beat in order to try and advance. I played the “Horrorcore” beat without the mask. It was one of those beats that a lot of people liked, but it went over some heads at first, I think.
What’s up with the Play Cousin record? Will we ever get the full on album from you guys?
I will be honest and say that it’s totally my fault why it’s not completed yet. Trying to make an album as an artist, whether solo or in a group has always been a challenge for me. In fact, not just a challenge… a fear. I think in order for the Play Cousin project to finish, I have to get my album out of the way first. I’ve been trying to put out an album since before I was making beats (lol), so that’s 12 years now. You know the saying, that you can’t be in a happy relationship if you’re not happy by yourself first? Well, I think it applies the same way for me in this case. I can’t fully commit to finishing an entire album with others until I finally buckle down and accomplish this goal I’ve had since the beginning. I have to free myself from this inner-pressure first and then I think so many projects will start flowing easily after that.
“Remember When” – Boonie Mayfield & Jordan Craft (Play Cousin)
Finally, Your 2011 release “Boonie Mayfield | Black Koolaid” was met with great reviews and I often see tweets from random music lovers sighting Black Koolaid as one of the best internet releases in recent time. How about a Black Koolaid Part 2?
I don’t think there will be another Black Koolaid, but there will definitely be more instrumental albums. Black Koolaid was a project that I felt was a knod to all the styles I’ve developed over the years. It showcased a lot of the boom-bap, the neo-soul, etc. that I’m known for… but towards the end, tracks like “Heartbreak Therapy”, “Sprang Time Soul” and “Drugs in the Chicken” were placed there to make a statement. I was basically showing that I’m on the verge of branching off into other things outside of what everyone is used to hearing from me. I wanted to show that I have more to offer than just one style…. and not everybody likes the other things I have to offer…. but I don’t care (lol), it’s my duty as an artist is to express myself… not to express what others suggest.
Thanks Boonie. Its been a pleasure. Be sure to keep us posted on your future endeavors.