First and foremost your bio states that you are a lifetime musician. Would you mind sharing what a lifetime musician is?
Well, I was born into a family of musicians. As early as I can remember, there were various musical instruments around the house such as guitars, amps, drums, etc. My Dad was a blues guitar player and my uncle John was a rock guitarist. I was majorly inspired by them both, and started playing guitar at an extremely early age. I was never really interested in learning how to play other people’s music much; I always wanted to create my own sounds. I knew all the way back then that I would dedicate my life to being a musician in one form or another.
I spent the better part of my early youth either playing music with other musicians, or sitting in my room practicing by myself. At around 8 or 9 years old, I began to learn about the recording/mixing process when my uncle John had acquired a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder and a couple of drum machines. I was instantly fascinated by the engineering and mixing aspect of music. At this young age, I learned how to program drum machines and how to operate a small mixing console. I was hooked!
As I had gotten older, I started to learn about underground/alternative music styles that I hadn’t been exposed to as a kid. Learning about alternative music was a major turning point in my life as a young artist. I started to realize that most of the commercial music that I had been listening to growing up really didn’t have much substance. It was then that I realized that art has no boundaries and doesn’t have to fit into a mold. I really started to look down on commercial music and decided to immerse my brain into underground musical forms. Around this time I played in bands for years as a guitarist or bassist, performing live, writing songs and recording.
Somewhere around 1992, I started hearing some hip-hop music that was breaking through at the time such as Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, Showbiz & AG, Lord Finesse, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, etc. I fell in love with hip-hop instantly. Although I had been exposed to, and involved with various musical genres in the past, nothing hit me harder than that early 90’s New York sound. I loved it so much that I couldn’t really listen to anything else for years. I remember being in a band (playing a different style of music) at the time and starting to lose interest because hip-hop made me feel so much more inspired and motivated to create.
I was so inspired that it was a natural progression for me to attempt to produce hip-hop music. I already had experience with composing, recording, layering, engineering and producing. I also had been programming drum machines for almost a decade prior to making my first hip-hop beat. I already knew how to use all of the equipment from my prior experiences, so I dove in head-first.
Hip-hop production instantly felt as natural to me as taking up guitar as a young kid. However, this style of music allowed me to incorporate all of the skills that I had learned over the years, and combine all of my musical passions into one. All of the things that I had learned such as song writing, playing various musical instruments, recording, engineering and mixing could now be combined and used to produce hip-hop music. I knew this was the right path for me.
To this day, hip-hop production is my primary focus and I still incorporate my diverse musical background into everything I do. It’s not uncommon for me to use real instruments to create samples for my tracks. I’m really grateful that I was exposed to many musical genres growing up because it really helped to make me the well-rounded producer that I am today.
You have been making beats since 1992. What inspires you to continue to make beats today?
When executed properly, hip-hop is very exciting and artistic. That excitement and artistry is what had drawn me in over 2 decades ago. And you know what? I still feel that same excitement right now!
But I am also motivated by the fact that the art of sampling is really suffering and/or dying right now and the world needs a producer like me. My stuff doesn’t sound much like what most people are calling “hip-hop” these days, and that motivates me more than anything. I’m here to bring an alternative to the commercial sound, and I’m here to help bring the artistry back. I make music for the hip-hop purists that still want to hear that street vibe mixed with clever use of samples and artistic substance; the kind of intelligent hip-hop that sparks your imagination…
Also, I make all of my beats with vintage gear and try to keep computers out of the beat-making process as much as possible. My music is always grimy and organic. You’ll never hear a Keith Science production that sounds like some sparkly-clean computer sh*t. I’ve always strived to be different and I do now more than ever.
You released an album called Hypothalamus and the press clipping states that it is a "demonstration of sampling excellence." How does Keith Science attack a sample?
“Attack” is a great word to use because in most cases, I manhandle samples. My tracks usually consist of many layers of unfamiliar samples, cleverly placed rhythmically to produce an exciting reaction in the listener’s brain. I’ll take a sample from anywhere. But more often than not, I’ll edit and manipulate samples to the point where they are unrecognizable from their original form. Creating original sounds through sampling is what I am all about, and I feel like I really accomplished that goal on Hypothalamus.
There are so many different ways to edit and manipulate samples, but I think that a lot of producers have gotten lazy over the years. Many fans of real hip-hop live in a constant state of disappointment due to the lack of creativity these days and I’m here to be a part of the solution, not the problem.
A while back, I read a post on Twitter from some dude complaining that hip-hop producers no longer have any “sample game”. I never like to brag but... You want to hear sample game? Listen to Keith Science. I’m not the only one doing it, but I’m one of the dudes doing it right.
The latest song that you produced is called "I Never Fail" by Krumb Snatcha. Describe your relationship with Krumb, and detail what you look for in a collaborator.
Well first of all, I’ve been a fan of Krumb Snatcha’s music for years and years. I’m very familiar with his style and I always wanted to work with him. But, I never really felt like I had the right beat. One day, I made the beat for “I Never Fail” and realized that it was perfect for Krumb. I wasn’t sure if he’d be into it or not, so I contacted his manager and we began the process. Lucky for me, Krumb loved the beat and everything just went smooth from there. He wrote all of the lyrics, recorded them and then sent me all of the vocal files. I mixed the track at my studio and we had it mastered by David Torrey. I’m so proud of that single. I really feel like we generated an exciting vibe on that one and that’s what I was looking for. Evil Dee played it a couple of weeks ago on DJ Premier’s Live From HeadQCourterz Sirius/XM radio show and he cut the sh*t out of it! Shout out to Evil Dee!
I have to say that Krumb Snatcha is one of the nicest dudes that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He is a true professional, and working with him was a breeze. Those are traits that I look for in a collaborator. I like working with people that are focused on what they are trying to achieve and don’t need much help or direction to get things done and be productive. True emcees like Krumb can grab a microphone and make a miracle happen right on the spot. Those are the kind of people that I prefer to work with, if possible.
You have worked with a ton of artists during your lengthy career. What 5 artists would you love to collaborate with?
In no particular order:
2. Joell Ortiz
4. Roc Marciano
5. Prodigy (from Mobb Deep)
Thanks for the interview, and don’t forget to create a “Keith Science” station on Pandora! Peace.