Travis Scott The Production Prodigy | The Report

Travis Scott The Production Prodigy | The Report


– [Narrator] One of Travis
Scott’s biggest strengths as an artist is his ear
for great production. Breaking in to the world of
music as a producer first and foremost gave him a
leg up against his peers. He was the kid who played
piano but then decided it wasn’t going to get him
any girls so he switched up and starting making beats. But those beats propelled
him into a world that anyone at his age or any age would kill for. What would propel Travis into
a higher stratosphere was as many mentors who took
him under their wings, already talented and proficient
with drum programming, Kanye found much use for
Scott in the production of “Cruel Summer” and later on, “Yeezus”. For someone like Kanye, who found drums to be his Achilles heel,
Scott’s drum programming was a breath of fresh air. – [Kanye] If you listen to my
sonics, they wouldn’t compare to anything that Dilla was
doing, anything that Dr. Dre was doing, or anything
that Swiss Beatz was doing or anything that Pharell was doing. My drums was actually my
Achilles heel, so what you guys got to understand it’s
like Yeezus is an exercise in drums and mixes. We still be redoing the drums to this day, we still redo the drums
to “Can’t Tell Me None”, “Can’t Tell Me” don’t
knock like Mike will, it don’t knock like Travis Scott. – [DJ Whoo Kid] Is it safe
to say that you are probably the influence behind Yeezy,
or, because he went super dark and I know Kanye never does
the same shit every year. – [Travis] Yeah. – [DJ Whoo Kid] He goes
like either he elevates it to some other shit, and
right now you’re like, your type of music is like, maybe 20 years ahead of our time. I said it before it’s like watching a fucking Star Wars
movie you had the beats in the fucking, in the bar, niggas is wiggling, I think
that’s where you guys at, but do you think like that,
do you think 20 years ahead? – [Travis] Yeah man, you
know with “Yeezus” man, I feel like that shit is like way ahead of what niggas thinking like
we’s having this argument the other day, I been,
with the “Yeezus” album, I know you got joints on there like “Guilt Trip”, I know
that I was like oh joint, I heard that joint for
the first time in Hawaii. – [DJ Whoo Kid] Get the fuck outta here – [Travis] Yeah yeah and
you know I did the drums, I re-did the drums, S1 did
the drums, original drums in there but like the
new drums are something I redid those and shit. – [Interviewer] Why
are drums hard for you? – [Kanye] Well now they not
hard because that Yeezus bang. – [Narrator] Scott was
someone who prided himself on using many digital
audio workstations except for Fruity Loops, as he felt
that the sounds that came out of the program were weak and oversaturated in the music coming out at the time. He has since seemingly
accepted the software for some situations. Anthony Kilhoffer, Kanye’s
longtime engineer was managing Travis early on in his career
and became his connection to Kanye which led to him
being signed to Good Music as a producer. And Travis’s production
hasn’t stopped at the Ye camp, he has production credits with
Jay-Z, Drake, TI, Madonna, John Legend and Rihanna
just to name a few. Travis emphasizes that
drums must come first in his music production. – [Interviewer] What is
the most long to take? – [Travis] Drums. The drums. I don’t give a fuck about
nothing else you hear me? Nothing bro, nothing. I don’t care. – [Interviewer] It’s all about the drums. – [Travis] The drums, bro.
Don’t fuck up the drums. You can do everything but
just don’t fuck up the drums. And then the melody and
shit and then we close out. Me and this guy Allen Ritter
made that, he made that beat, he started the “dum dum
dum”, he made it happen just on accident like we was
working on something else and the nigga like hit
the first two chords and I’m like no this is it
man it was like “bum bum bum” that’s why it’s just so I
went to the mike and was like ♪ She a porn star off in the valley ♪ and I was like ♪ And it dum dum uh give me ♪ I was like I need to make this
song for like when I travel, what is the vibe for when I travel from Texas to like LA like ♪ In that 90210 90210 ♪ – [Anthony] I also like look
at it like as an art piece like how do fit all these things in? It’s just not like 808,
snare, vocals, music stuck in the back, just like,
instead of having the synth that comes out of the
synthesizer it’s already made its stereo image right, maybe
it shouldn’t be that stereo because it’s going to hog up
too much space in your mix. Maybe it should be more mono,
maybe it should be 100% mono, maybe it should be a little bit more mono and lean to the left a little
bit and the other synth that is playing kind of the
same melody is a little bit or twice as wide and lean to the right. – [Narrator] Anthony Kilhoffer’s
viewpoint on production really falls in line with
the type of sounds that have been curated for Travis’s projects. This mentality was heavily
used in the production of “Yeezus” and Travis was
very much a part in executing that very philosophy of production. But great production is not simply limited to the instrumental itself. There is still much to
be done in the mixing and manipulating of vocal performances, especially in an age when the
use of autotune has basically become a rite of passage
for every new artist. Travis needed to do
something to stand out. Informed by his block
influences, Travis has employed a unique approach to
vocals by using autotune like harmonizing effects and
using just the right amount of overdrive and distortion,
tuning it to at times emulate the wailing of a guitar. This can be heard in this
performance in the song “The Ends” which is the opening track
of his sophomore album, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” ♪ I been on a long way drive ♪ ♪ Only you can stand my mind ♪ – [Narrator] The technique
was made popular after Kanye distorted his vocals in his
hit song “Runaway” mimicking a gritty guitar solo. (Runaway by Kanye West) – [Narrator] Mike Dean’s
veteran experience has guided Travis to great
sonic destinations as well. With the Dean’s instrumentation,
flourishing synthesizers and expert mixing, Dean has
demanded the best from Travis even so much as to delay the completion of “Birds in the Trap Sing
McKnight” emphasizing that he cares far more about a perfect mix rather than met deadlines or expectations. But his ear for composition
as well as traditional hip hop formed a satisfying hybrid,
his artistry being informed by classical background
has accented his new music. – [Mike] I mean I knew
music play from like when I was a little kid so
when I’m playing the notes I know what chords it’s making you know. – [Narrator] A live
instrumentalist who is not afraid of technology, Dean has
thought out of the box in many impressive ways. One of his signatures as of
late involves his guitar solo skills but his unique approaches including running electric guitars through autotune and other harmonizing effects
show his sense of innovation. – [Mike] I went on virtual
guitar live now and I mean play some labels and guitar rig and – [Voiceover] How cool is that? – [Mike] Harmony engine
and autotune and all kinds of crazy effects, autotune
looks good on guitar. – [Voiceover] The
flexibility must be insane. – [Mike] Can’t play a wrong
note, you can just hit the menu bar and go errrr
and it plays the skill. – [Narrator] He also
embraces modular synths and other analog equipment
so in the pursuit of innovation he has no
reservations against embracing the tried and true tools of the past. And this is something that
Travis has held onto as well. Being an artist who loves
analog musical instruments and tools as well as digital ones. – [Travis] You know we
come from that whole like, study of those times where
shit was just analog, and I love that I still
go with that to this day, even though I’m from the digital world I still think it’s important
of knowing analog shit and knowing how to do shit on hand. I still use it to this
day, like, it’s part of me, just my liking you know. – [Narrator] Mike Dean
has also played live in Travis’s shows, embellishing
his hits with improvised melodies on the keys that
have bolstered already captivating songs like “Goosebumps”. ♪ She fall through plenty
her and all her ginnies ♪ ♪ Yo, we at the top floor
right there off Doheny ♪ – [Narrator] Travis once thought he knew what being a producer was,
getting friends to rap over a beat and mixing it all together. But that was an engineer’s mindset. It wasn’t until he saw this
video of Kanye making beats that Travis realized how
hands on he needed to be. (hip hop beats) The fact that he has been able
to grow into a young artist living in the perfect
storm of mentorship by some of the greatest musical
minds in popular music is a privilege that many
could never dream to receive. And one of the greatest
mediums for Travis to showcase his music is through his live stage shows. His music is created, mixed, and mastered to be the lifeblood of
his energetic concerts. It sounds great in a car, and is also especially
captivating in person. As a result, Travis has fine
tuned a sound ever so lively but still steeped in the
most nocturnal moods, this side of Noah Forty’s
production with Drake. But this isn’t nocturnal
in the sense of being muted or subdued, this is
about the edgy nightlife, not the lullaby version. With it, Travis has
crafted his world with care and guidance but as much
of a well oiled machine his production team is,
Travis still has a soft spot for the do it yourself approach. – [Travis] If you can do
it by yourself, oh my god, do it by yourself. Home studios is the most
littest shit of all time dude, trust me I’m doing albums in my crib. I kind of like come up
with ideas and shit, in the most weirdest
places because I feel like that’s where it’s at. I genuinely hate studios nowadays. – [Woman] Why do you say that? – [Travis] Um, it’s cold
at all times, it’s like, shit don’t work fast
enough, it’s too much space. I just like shit loud
sometimes the sub is just like, you know, shit like that,
and it’s not true to sound. – [Woman] Um hmmm. – [Travis] I feel like it’s
kind of very misleading. You turn the music on very
loud there, sounds very good, then you go out in your car
and it sounds all fucking low. – [Man] And Mike, Mike just
told me about a plug in that he got, that Travis
Scott record is loud as everything I’ve ever heard,
I’m not gone mention it. – [Mike] It’s the loudest
album I’ve ever… (laughs) – [Man] We’re gonna talk,
we’re definitely gonna talk – [Mike] I remember back in
the day like, Chronic 2001 was the reference for how loud
to be, and it hit minus eight on the VU scale and that was
my reference for like 10 years then I started doing 7.5 then
7 and I thought was the best – [Man] Talking about RMS right? – [Mike] Yeah. Travis’s
album goes to like 4.5. – [Narrator] But it has
served him well as Travis has learned to create worlds
of sound but no longer by being the only one at the boards. His mentors have taught
him the art of curation, and it is this pillar of
creative direction that has been the greatest key to his success. Great production was on his side. His mentors and collaborators
began to overflow with ideas and potential which left
him with the greatest task of any prolific auteur of music, how to possibly put it all together. More about Travis and the art of curation next time in Part Four. (digital music tones)

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