Amanda Ridinger sits down with Producer Avery “Avenue” Chambliss (best known for producing Drake’s “fancy” — he is also Swizz’s Beats protege) to get his thoughts on the music industry.
Amanda: Aside from talent, what qualities in an artist stand out for you?
Avery: Well, number one, lyrical content and confidence in self. I respect anybody confident in the music they’re doing. Whether it’s first-grade level or twelfth-grade level… it’s music, you know.
Am: Do you prefer originality over conformity, even if it won’t make you much money? So, is music being marketable more critical? Or original? What’s more important to you?
Ave: Well, to be successful…is… you’ve got to have a little of both. You’ve gotta know how to market yourself and still kinda do what you want musically, you know to where it’s like you still kind of get your message across, and you spoon-feed it to the people, you know. But uh, these days, I feel like I would love to choose to just be original, but a lot of times you can’t…you gotta just go with the program to satisfy that audience.
Am: So, on the next question… what’s the biggest struggle for you, or for producers in general, you think?
Av: Well, right now, the biggest struggle is the industry. I mean, producers will be who they are, you know, for years and years with people just making music, sometimes it’s a hit…a lot of times it’s a miss. So now, the industry is trying to make it disposable to where they’re just getting results every year…they don’t really care about the longevity of their product or anything they’re putting out enough, so there’s so many disposable artists and records coming out left and right every year, so it makes it hard for producers now to come up and really have a real stamp in life, because you know, right now they want us all to sound like the same producer, and it kind of doesn’t work out for some of us, because if you really have a style, you can’t really… it’s kind of hard…you can only update it…but you can’t just like…wear somebody else’s underwear, you know? You gotta like you know… that’s how I see it.
Am: You got to keep your stamp on it.
Av: Exactly. Keep your brand on it. And I encourage all the producers coming up, man. Like nowadays, you can learn on YouTube how to get your little trap beats going, and it’s like…that makes the game more of a challenge and makes it more entertaining and fun. Most producers out there, they’re so concerned with just being the next Swizz Beats, and they don’t really understand that if you don’t really got a passion… you’re just next… you’re just in the line. You’re really in the line with no purpose. And it’s like…I encourage people to try like, most producers to just try…if you’re out there, you’ve got your own sound. Just stick to it. Stick to it, and don’t let the industry like turn you around. Only time will tell that…the numbers tell the truth over time, you know. It’s sad, but it’s getting better, man. Shouts to Puff and cats like that trying to make a difference in the game.
Am: So, how much time do you think someone has to spend in the studio if they want to make it? Is that a hobby in your free time type of thing where you can still make it, or is that a twenty-four-seven endeavor?
Av: The way that works is…it goes back to the confidence in your music and in yourself. One thing is you’ve got to be level-headed. When you make a record, you’ve got to like know the people around you…make sure they’re not ‘yes’ men. But make sure you do have a ‘yes’ man’s opinion because unfortunately, the yes men are the people that do buy the albums, so you’ve got to kind of take in everybody’s opinion, but what I will say is…coming out with our own music and just making it happen is really… you’ve got to put the battery behind it nowadays, because the labels are not just putting you out there based on how much time you spent in the studio you know, like they’re just like, you can spend a lot of time in the studio doing nothing…so it’s like, just making the same type of record. A lot of times, cats’ll have their record already, and they don’t know how to put it out there, or the labels are just open them up, or just certain things happen, but you know if you’ve got the opportunity to be in the studio and keep making new records…do it. I actually can’t even answer this question…I can’t tell you how much time it will take. It takes more than your time, I guess…it takes a lot more push outside of just the talent side… you’ve just gotta have like…well for one, if you’re trying to do it on your own, you’ve got to have your money straight, you’ve got to have your team straight, and your whole plan gotta just be flawless…flawless. You know, you look at cats like Baby, Master P…they had the knowledge of the early generation, in the game, so it’s like they kind of came up and they did it correctly, so it’s still room for other people to do the same…you know, I encourage those people more you know…I encourage them.
Am: So, as far as being a producer, how do you market yourself? What kind of market is involved in that? How do you get your work basically? How would you recommend people starting out to get their stuff out there?
Av: It’s the future, and everybody wants to see what you’re doing. So, it’s a great thing to have everything documented, just do as many interviews and dock as much camera time as you can. In this day and age…producers used to be able to just be the shy dude in the back and get all the respect, but now the audience just wants to see so much more from the producer now, so you got to just be one-hundred percent you know, your image…everything. Whatever your image is, it’s got to work with your music and how you present it to your clients and the people.
Am: So, on that note, is there anything else specifically you’d recommend to an aspiring producer?
Av: Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Cause it’s a crowded game, you know my little brother’s producing and he’s not even…I want to say I don’t even got a little brother, like anybody can produce…you know, like anybody can produce. Everybody’s niece and nephew can produce these days, so you’ve got to just never give up and just keep working. It’s great that it grew so much, but some people do get discouraged because it’s so crowded that some people don’t get the shine they deserve. For those people, I just encourage them (to) keep going, man. Don’t let nobody turn your dreams to dust.
Am: With how you came into the game, was it still hard for you? Did you find yourself times where you had to talk yourself into keeping it moving?
Av: Well…yeah, I would have to say like up until recently, because at first, I was just amazed at the whole situation, so I was just letting things fly, but up until recently I started to take charge, and I started doing my own…aside from co-productions is great don’t get me wrong…but you kind of want people to respect you for you, and you know, you got to have certain things to make you get on your feet… it’s like that push. My situation, I was like, I was holding me and my team down, so it was just like…you know I’ve lived, and I’ve learned a lot. But I’m definitely on it now, just making sure I get these placements and definitely cross over from just having hip hop records and have different genres going on. A couple rock records, a couple country records, just different types of…crossing genres and just being all across the board.
Am: In your process of working with artists, you’ve had a hand in developing the sound or tweaking the sound of a few artists, and I’m sure you’ve also seen a lot of struggling artists out there. What’s your most significant piece of advice for an artist who’s still trying to make it?
Av: Keep your confidence at an all-time high. Be confident in everything you spit on that mic. Don’t take no for an answer…not to be so generic and cliché, but you can’t because you’re so vulnerable as an artist. Any kind of criticism will break you. Especially when you’re coming up, you be so hungry that you just want to be perfect, and a lot of times, it’s not even about your record; like I said earlier, it’s about who’s pushing you. Get your knowledge up for one thing…every artist…get your knowledge up, learn how to distribute your music yourself, and you’ll have no problems. That’s how I truly feel. Be confident in your music and support it yourself…put it out yourself.