Home > Drew Spence, Interviews and Views, Producer's Edge > Kelvin Wooten interview Producer’s Edge Magazine

Kelvin Wooten interview Producer’s Edge Magazine

Kelvin Wooten

interview with Drew Spence Producer’s Edge Magazine

 

Kelvin Wooten

Kelvin Wooten has a key for all of us.

 

Those of us familiar with your story might appreciate the idea that Raphael Saadiq was on a phone call and overheard you going to town on a keyboard, in the background, and decided then, that you were a talent verse adding to his sound. But I find it more important to know, to gain insight on how an artist should treat their passion before being discovered that allows blessings to happen. If I am driven and do have desire what should I be doing, every day, to bring opportunities closer?

 

The opportunities just come, I believe. Whatever is driving you should stay in the driver’s seat… at least until you get to your destination. However, when starting out, I think it’s good to not know [the destination] sometimes. Take the time to hone in what you THINK you want to do…you may discover that it’s not what you thought. Once you know what it is, the opportunities come by being in the right place at the right time. And by right I mean the opportunity lining up with your passion. You will know. Everyone that knew me in 90s knew I was the biggest Tonies fan there was…and then Raphael calls…it was just right, and I knew it.

 

 

As a multi-instrument player, aside from the common traits of each, what attracts you to each piece?

 

Curiosity, I think. I always desire to find a common thread with each instrument I play. Basses and guitar have a similar makeup, but I relate them to the piano in my mind.

 

A guitar or piano seems like a natural addition to any session, but what about the more unique instruments, like the tuba and even acoustic drums in such an electronically tilted scene?

 

Kelvin Wooten

Play on player!

When done in good taste, sounds from anywhere can really work well together. Sound is sound, and texture is texture. You get that texture however you can. In my case it’s with a tuba, a fuzz box on a P-bass, or a saw-wave bass from Massive. In many ways I like where music is heading when I hear acoustic with the digital. It always refreshing on the first listen because you never know what could work together until you actually hear it.

 

Kelvin's Guitars

Stringed Things!

And I do see the balance. True musicianship will always be valued but the advances of technology opens up so many doors. How are you able to incorporate a live musician aspect with programming and even gear pieces like NI Maschine?

 

It’s crazy, because the Maschine is the backbone of my workflow now. I just play it with feeling, trying not to quantize too much, and also using organic or real drum samples. Sometimes hearing the right acoustic kick or hi-hat on pad will dictate how it should be played. I will approach the sound as a real drummer would most of the time. I like the fact that the sounds are act my fingers sometimes and not turning on the console and miking the kit. It’s easier in my opinion to get the idea out and on to the next thing. Sometimes I may replace with the real thing and sometimes it’s fine how it is.

 

 

Is it okay to just play or does the modern scene demand a knowledge of computers and digital workstations? Do I need to know both; a musician’s language and now the techie jargon, just to get my creative ideas down?

 

Being a musician, it sure helps to know both sides. Modern advances are tools, and if used correctly the opportunities open up greatly. Just so long as you never forsake one for the other. I can spend more time being creative on axe when I’m not devastated by the computer screen. Shucks, the computer can play something I hear in my head that I can’t physically do sometimes. I’m not out for an award to be the most proficient on my instrument. I’m trying to make a track feel good. And the computer helps a lot when it’s just me and it. I’ll shred the lick when it’s time to do it live….

 

I’ve always felt players add a unique aspect to any session and offer a greater creative contribution – beyond the instrument they play. What advice would you give new producers, when considering going that next step and adding a session player or musician to their productions?

 

At whatever level, I think it’s important to hire the right musician for the job. Having a musician in his or her element means you don’t work as hard and pull teeth in the session. The morale stays high and everyone has a sense of worth and accomplishment. You’re more likely to be that much more respected in the musician community when that musician leaves telling their peers how much fun they had working with you as a producer.

 

Kelvin Wooten in studio

Kelvin Wooten changing degrees from Celsius to…

And, at what level should the production be at before adding outside help? Is it about a gear level, a sound that should already be in place and is the mind set a factor?

 

It depends. You should be able to at least convey your idea to the player and they understand. If it’s a drummer, make sure the click track works for that drummer. If it’s a trumpet playing a super specific line, see if you can record a dummy track of it for reference…especially if you can’t write it out or don’t know your notes. When I’m the producer, I handle all the techie stuff so a player can play and relax.

 

Does the base musician skill set translate over generations or do you feel like you need to update your sound or technique every few years? Does a Jill Scott want the same artistic contribution that, say an Anthony Hamilton or Chrisette Michele would?

 

I think if the want you as the producer, they want what you can contribute from the base. While working with Saadiq for years, we’d get new toys and sounds for us, but wind up playing the same ole lines that people like. We knew we had our own vibe and that’s what artists liked. We tried to stay as relevant as possible by adding new soundsets every now and then.

 

 

Do you listen to modern tracks and allow the current sound to influence you or is it always about tapping in to your own voice and staying with what you naturally lean towards?

 

Oh, I listen. I listen to be heard and to be relevant. To adapt means to embrace the changes, at the same time not leaving what you do.

 

 

 

WoodaWorx

 

Control Room with Daniel Beard

Beard of the engineer

A studio is more than a room with equipment- It’s about the attitude and atmosphere. A studio should create a comfortable space that allows artists the freedom to tap into their most creative energies. Please tell us a bit about WoodaWorx and how you came to have such a diverse clientele.

 

I really like a lot of different music. I never know where my musical endeavors may lead, so I create a space for all to feel at home. From country to hip-hop, gospel to alt-pop… I want everyone to feel a sense of creativity from the room itself.

 

And what is the working system there? Is it more of a family tone where creative ideas are tossed about at leisure, or is it more directed towards a productive work ethic? Would you say there’s a general vibe or does it vary from artist to artist?

 

It changes and adapts to the artist or the client. If it were left up to me, I’d watch stupid and senseless Youtube videos 50% of the time! Those videos are icebreakers for a dull and dry session.

 

 

Anthony Hamilton Home for the Holidays

Bring this Home for the Holidays

Let’s close with a little talk about your relationship with Anthony Hamilton and how that chemistry creates Home for the Holidays.

 

Me and Anthony are like brothers in and out of the studio. We rarely have any notions prior to recording or writing…if it comes, we seize it. If not, we’ll go eat and watch more Youtube videos. The music has to breathe, I believe. Laughter is place where we feel comfortable and can breathe. Once we aren’t thinking about the music, we make the best music.

 

Kelvin Wooten and Anthony Hamilton

Kelvin Chemistry and Anthony Alchemy

And my final thought is about what kind of advice you offer the readership and what lessons you’ve learned about unlocking the creative potential by working alongside musicians and other talents that share our interests.

 

I’d say don’t think about it so much and just do it. It’s easy to unlock if you never lock it up. Don’t ever think you have to be at some super high level to be heard. You never know what resonates with people. Do it and get it out.

 

PE Mag would like to thank Kelvin Wooten for taking the time to talk to us.

You can bring home Anthony Hamilton’s Home for the Holidays this Holiday and make sure it’s locked in for every year as a new favorite. We have!

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