Strange Music producer Gianni Ca$h is a man of many talents. However in working with Mayday on Future Vintage Gianni says “I Don’t Have Boundaries Anymore”. In a recent interview with Strange Music’s Jeff Nelson, Ca$h talks the making of Mayday’s Future Vintage, and talks a little about Strange Music mastermind, Tech N9ne.
You’ve produced so much since the work you did on Take Me To Your Leader. How would you describe your growth as a producer since that album?
I think I started to care less about the little things and just concentrated more about the song in general. Before, I used to nitpick certain things, but now it’s like, “You know what? Let’s just make a great song,” instead of having a specific must-have sound, layer, or instrument. Basically what I’m trying to say is that less is better. I think that with growth, you start realizing that simplicity is the key.
I’m sure you’re still proud of your early work, but how do you like how that has resulted – the simplicity approach?
Yeah, I love my old work, obviously, and I love the new work as well. It all comes together. The new work is more free, I would say, than what I used to make. I don’t have boundaries anymore. I don’t have limitations on myself as a producer, which is always good because as a producer, you just want to do a great song. Before, as a younger producer, you tend to care about certain things that don’t really matter to the general public. You’re only doing it because you want to be this dope producer and you want to stand out. It doesn’t really matter anymore. The general public is not going to pick up on a certain snare or kick. It’s more about the song in general to me.
Were you always ready for the opportunity, whenever it came, to be such a depended on producer in the group? You’ve taken on an increasing amount of work as the years have gone by.
Hell yeah, I was always playing my part within the group. Since we became a smaller unit, the duties have increased. But I was ready…I’ve been ready. I’ve been producing for a long time so the transition was natural – also I work well under pressure. But all this comes with the turf – with the territory. You got to just be able to do the work and create. If you’re not doing the work, you’re not doing shit.
The title, Future Vintage, what does this title mean? Was the album titled before you guys started working on it?
The album was titled midway through the process. The meaning of the name, Future Vintage, is just us wanting to do something that would represent our old selves with our future selves – what we’ve gained through the process of these tours and these records that we’ve released, and just combining all that info and learning experience that we’ve had into this album. We’re like, “Look, man, we need to have something that’s like, future but vintage,” and boom.
That’s a good way to describe ¡MAYDAY!’s sound, because there’s a lot of things in the music that you don’t often hear, but also a lot of elements that remind you of old songs that you love. You guys have an interesting combination going on there.
Yeah, I think we’re able to tap into that vintage sound and make it sound new. I totally feel you in that aspect because our sound has those layers of old soulful or classic rock, and then combined with future shit.
Did you guys have any pre-set goals with the overall sound with the album or did it just come about pretty organically?
We usually sit down before we start creating a record – or maybe a few months before we begin the record, we’re like, “We need to do this, we need to do that. We need to have some hype songs. Maybe some slow songs. Use this type of sound or instrument,” and we have kind of an idea. Then we start working on the project and the material always changes. We have to adapt to what we’re creating at that moment, because music is very spontaneous and you really never know where the music is going to take you. When I start making a song, I kind of have an idea of what I’m making, but then during the process, it will change. That certain sound that I’m going for will take a different direction and then I adapt with what I’m doing at that moment and try to make it cool.
I guess there’s no reason to turn off that inspiration just because it doesn’t fit within a preconceived idea.
Do all of your albums have a lot of live playing?
Yes, they do, absolutely. Every album has a lot of live playing. Most likely guitar and bass and keys are mostly live. Obviously, the drum tracks are programmed. Percussion is played live as well.
I saw Wrek and Bernz do some bass-playing on the album. I did not see that coming. What can you tell us about that?
We’re very free when we’re at the studio, so anybody has access to any instrument. So, if Bernz feels like playing the guitar, he’ll play the guitar. If Wrek wants to play the keys, he could play the keys. If NonMS wants to play the bass, he’ll play the bass. If I want to play the percussion, I’ll do that. We’re pretty free in that aspect, but none of us have assigned roles except for bringing the creativity to the people. That’s what I like to pride ourselves on. We’re pretty free in that aspect, and anybody can do whatever they want musically. That’s really what it’s all about. Even though I play the bass, anyone can play the bass.
For sure. It’s not like, “You’re not a bass player, you can’t play the bass.”
Are we dealing with a whole group of musicians here? If you look at Wrek and Bernz, usually, from a fan’s standpoint, you’re just like, “Oh, those are the rappers”. But it seems like they do a lot more.
We all have a lot of different abilities, you know? Wrek is a producer himself. Bernz is also a producer himself. Bernz will have the tendency of picking up a bass and playing. He was doing that a lot during this album, which is cool. I don’t have to play the bass all the time. I could be behind the boards and produce, I like that too. NonMS, too. He plays the bass. NonMS is actually producing more as of now, too. He’s making beats and stuff. We have a whole crew of talented individuals. We have a tendency of doing a lot of shit other people don’t know when it comes to behind-the-scenes. We’re constantly creating and formatting beats and everybody’s involved. Wrek is chopping up and re-sequence beats and Bernz is playing the bass. I’m sitting back, letting them do the do, then I get in and tweak and make it sound fresh.
It sounds like it’s a pretty cool vibe that you guys are able to sustain for this long.
We’ve been able to do it because we fucking love it. That’s what it’s all about – we love this shit, but don’t get me wrong, a nice chunky paycheck with a lot of zeros would be awesome!
As far as your production goes and what you did on the album, what are you proudest of?
I have a few records that I’m pretty proud of, man. I’m proud of this record “Antenna”. I love it. It’s very funky and it’s got guitar. It’s got a feel-good vibe. It’s got an old-school, hip-hop instrumental vibe as well. It reminds me of what I would have done in the past if I had the ability to produce a record like that when I was a younger producer. Now that I’m more musically inclined, I was able to make that record and it felt good. I also love “Know It”, the record that features Tech N9ne. I think it’s a super-fresh track on the album. It’s going to hit nice with our fans. That record was originally going to be on my album, but I thought it would be a nice addition for Future Vintage. This record means a lot to me because I made it while I was on the road during the ¡MURSDAY! tour. I was really missing my family and my children, so the record is about us being away on the road and alway thinking about them. It also features Stige on the hook, which is a good friends of ours. I contacted him and I basically told him what I wanted the hook to be about, and it was about me being away from my kids. He executed it very nicely so this record has a special place for me.
We had to get Tech N9ne on it, being that he’s on the road so much he would be a perfect fit and he kills it. What was cool about that was Tech hit us up saying that this was his first love letter on a song. He thanked us for giving him the opportunity to write his first love letter on a record. I was kind of like, “Oh, shit! Tech N9ne has never written a love letter on record? For real?!” “Oh, shit, man. That’s cool. If we got that out of you to do that, it’s really cool and special.”
You guys take him to different places than he’s used to going to, and he totally goes with it. I love what you guys bring out of him.
It’s funny how you say that, because he said that as well. We were texting back and forth and he’s like, “Man, thank you for giving me beats that I usually wouldn’t rap over. Thank you so much, I really enjoy that. You guys do that for me where I get to be creative in a different platform musically.” So, that’s cool. That’s definitely cool when Tech tells you shit like that.
Let’s talk about the features because there’s not many on this album, but there’s a few new ones popping up. You guys have Femi Kuti on the record.
Yeah. Fela Kuti’s son. He’s like the Bob Marley of Africa, he’s that big. He’s a legend within the Afrobeat culture. He’s a human rights activist, he’s a pioneer – there’s a very cool documentary, I forget the name of it, but if you have Netflix, just look him up. It’s so fresh that we were able to get his son to play the sax and sing on the record. It’s called, “Something In The Air” it came out super cool. It’s like a summer joint.
That’s awesome. Another thing about this album is that you guys have different producers. What led to that decision?
Various factors. K-Salaam and Beatnick, had worked with Wrek on The War Within. During this process, Wrek had a few left over beats from them, and “Something In The Air” was one of those beats. We also have Seven – he also produced two cuts on the album. Seven is just an extension of the Strange family, and he also produced some stuff for Wrek before. I guess we were looking for certain vibes that we didn’t have at the moment. That’s how that came about. It’s totally cool, man. I think they added a different dynamic, but it all comes together nicely. It’s not very left-wing. It’s not like a DJ Mustard beat, which would be like, “What the fuck is this DJ Mustard beat doing on a ¡MAYDAY! CD?”
I did notice the other producers, from the stuff I heard, it does fit in very nicely. You can tell they know your guys’ sound. I don’t know, it just worked out so it was super cool.
Yeah. Not only that, but for “Something In The Air”, was a song that came later in the process, I told Bernz they would be slipping if they didn’t write something to it. I was like, “Yo, you guys have to rap over this shit. This shit is super dope. If you guys don’t do something to this, I’m going to be pissed.” Even though I didn’t produce it, I encourage them to do shit that might not be produced by me.
That’s the overall goal. You guys are trying to create an album – a piece of art.
I did have scratches on that song, by the way. Nonms also played percussion So, we’re still on the record.
Oh yeah, for sure. I want to ask – what do you think about the album now that it’s all said and done and sequenced? What are your thoughts on it?
I love it, man. It takes you through a voyage, a journey. It definitely opens up very nicely with “Jettison”. It’s a super cool record, all the way through to the last track, man. It rides just like all the other albums, if not better than the other albums. There’s a lot of layers. We hit some emotional points, some hype and up-tempo stuff. There’s some acoustic guitar stuff as well. There’s a lot of layers in there, we have a lot of stuff on this album that the other albums don’t have. I love it. I love the sequence, and it’s definitely something that you need to pop in and just listen and dissect. There’s a lot of dissecting going on. A lot of our fans really like to do that: they dissect lyrics and instruments. I get hit up like, “Yo, how do you play this? How do you play that? I hear this in this song,” and it’s fucking cool to hear that people are listening that close.
It definitely demands it, man, it demands that personally. I still go back to your guys’ shit and listen to it and still feel a sense of discovery, which is super cool.
Yeah, that’s cool because I used to do that with The Roots. The Roots, to me, is like, I would hear something new every time I listen to it and I used to love that about them. So if someone comes and tells me or writes me an e-mail or messages me on Facebook saying shit like that, I feel proud inside. I’m like, “Yo, I was able to do shit like that.” It’s fucking cool.
Is there anything you want to say about Future Vintage before we close out this portion?
Fucking Future Vintage, man. Fucking preorder that shit or buy when it comes out September 18th. because if you don’t, I will find you and torture you by strapping headphones and blasting it at full level for three days straight! So don’t fuck around and slip, I’ll be watching!