Antwon La Great is a 21 year old producer from Washington who started making music at 16. He has just released his first EP on apple, Spotify, and Tidal independently.
- When and how did you get started producing music?
Antwon La Great: I started producing music at 16 using garage band and this program called Soundation.
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and producer, and the transition towards your own style?
Antwon La Great: When I first started producing it actually wasn’t even hip hop, I was making techno and electronic with my friend Taylor from high school back in 2012. We were listening to a lot of Daft Punk, Justice, and The Toxic Avenger at the time. Fast forward to my transition of producing hip hop today and my influences would be 808’s & Heartbreaks by ye, Relapse by Eminem, and all the Halloween mixes RL Grime was putting out on sound cloud. Finding my own style in producing wasn’t easy and that’s why I’ve spent years working on it and I’m just now finally putting out my first EP because I had to make sure that my own style was really mine and wasn’t emulated.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Antwon La Great: I remember hearing light my fire by the doors when I was really young and being obsessed with that song. Jim Morrison and his entire band created music with an energy that’s unmatched to this day.
- What do you feel are the key elements people should be getting out of your music?
Antwon La Great: If you’re listening to my music it should give you a feeling. Everything you hear from the beats to the vocals is all done by me; I even created the cover art for Restless.
- What do you think separates you from the crowd of producers emerging right now?
Antwon La Great: A lot of producers will make beats and put them on YouTube as “type beats” or sell beats to artists and get no credit for them. I personally take the Metro Boomin approach and create a project with a roster of artists and have my production be the focal point rather than it being all about the artist.
- What is your process when composing a beat? Where do the ideas come from?
Antwon La Great: I head into the studio in my house and make sure to leave all phones and other electronics out of the room. As Nikola Tesla said “Be Alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born.” I really believe in this, when I’m truly isolated my imagination runs wild and the ideas for beats start flowing. My ideas from beats would come from listening to music, looking at art from painters, or watching films. I draw inspiration from a lot of sources.
- How strict are you with genres? Are you comfortable working with most genres and styles and what is your preferred style?
Antwon La Great: I’m not very strict when it comes to genres because I listen to most of them. Like I said before, I started producing electronic music to begin with and then moved over to hip hop. So I always keep an open mind when it comes to new artists or making new beats.
- What key ingredients do you always try and infuse into your beats?
Antwon La Great: Melodies and drums are the top priority when creating a beat. The melody has to be catchy or unique in a way. For the drums and 808 they have to knock because I feel that’s what gives a beat a sound that’ll make your head nod when listening to it.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music so far?
Antwon La Great: Negativity and criticism. The amount of people who will laugh at you for pursuing music or tell you to go get a 9-5 job like everyone else is astonishing. Yet it’s those same people that’ll hit you up on social media once you have a good project out and say they love it.
- What would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?
Antwon La Great: At 21 I have a very respectable job in the medical field, but I’ve never stopped working on my true passion which is music. This EP I just released on major streaming platforms is a moment in my music career that I’m very proud about. No one else from my city has done something like this before and a lot of people have reached out to me telling me that they liked it and to keep up the grind.
- What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as an producer and how have they changed over time? What is it about making music for others that makes it interesting for you?
Antwon La Great: Some of the big challenges would be having people take you serious. I made it happen by countless years of grinding and working on my music, rather than talking about it all day on social media. When I started out in music I remember that getting signed to a major label was a huge deal for me, now I’d rather just be an independent artist. With all of the resources I have available to me today why would I need a label taking ten percent of my earnings? Making music for others is interesting because you never know the direction they’ll take on the beat you made, and there’s nothing better than getting back a really good song you know people will love.
- What was your first hardware/software set-up as a producer like? Has your setup evolved since then, and what for you is currently the most important piece of gear in your production process?
- Which aspect of being an independent producer excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Antwon La Great: Being an independent producer gives me so much freedom in terms of who I work with artist wise, when I release music, and what I want to make music wise. The discouraging part is I’m not getting the main stream advertisement and attention I would get with a label. But I’m okay with that because I know the music I’m putting out is good and eventually it’ll find its way to the main stream market.
- Are you satisfied about the way the music business works in today’s digital age with platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Beatport and Soundcloud, or are there any improvements you’d like to see to get your music out there?
Antwon La Great: I’d say yes! Spotify gave me a verified profile within my first week of being on the platform. Yet there are some aspects of the current music business I feel are a skewed. One of those being Spotify playlists to get more eyes on your music, the owners of these playlists want money in exchange to get on them. What happened to sharing quality music that others might like? Instead they monetize on the fact they have playlists with a lot of followers.
- In general, do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?
Antwon La Great: Social media is huge right now if you want people to look at your music and I have to start interacting on it a lot more than before. I’m glad that we have these mediums and platforms to reach a bigger audience but also this is just another avenue I feel as if bigger players have the upper hand in.
- If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
Antwon La Great: Personal, Unique, and a whole damn vibe.
- Could you tell us something about the making of your latest release – “Restless”?
Antwon La Great: I spent months working on this release and a lot of those being sleepless nights. Hence why the release is called restless. It’s my best effort put forward in music so far, and if you liked it stay tuned for what’ll be following it this year.
- Do you have a favorite track on your latest project, and does it have a specific backstory and/or message?
Antwon La Great: My favorite track on the project would be “On the phone” with TJ Dizzle. A couple months ago my good friend showed me his track “china town” on YouTube and I was really rocking with it. Once I got started on this project I messaged him on Instagram and he was with it from the beginning and the track came out better than I could’ve expected.
- If you could work with any artist of your choice today, who would that be?
Antwon La Great: Get me in the studio with Yeezy and we’ll make a hit song the same night.
- Do you have a specific vision or goal that you would like to achieve in 2019?
Antwon La Great: Back to back project releases, personal growth and development, and working with up and coming artists to give advice and help them get out to the market.