Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Interview: cuscino + d.o.f. + dunn deal promotions
Los Angeles producer/deejay CUSCINO presents “Saucy”, his collaboration single with rapper and fellow Los Angeles native Nuutrino, also featuring J-Doe of Busta Rhymes’ Conglomerate camp as well as Roc Nation artist Troy NoKA. CUSCINO recently dropped his single “Bane” () on his Fashion Sells Musiq imprint, has scored films featuring Adrienne Lovette and Edwin Bravo, and is host/producer of the weekly radio show “FutureSound” which airs every Saturday night at 11pm (PST) on 91.3FM (San Diego) and iHeartRadio. Troy NoKA worked on Chris Brown’s Grammy-winning album and has productions credits on records with Frank Ocean, Miguel, Chris Brown, Ciara and Tyga. “I want my tracks to take you somewhere,” says CUSCINO about the new single. “They aren’t just tracks, I’m making movies. Sure, you can party to it, you can ride to it, but when you listen, I also want you to think. I rep Los Angeles and West Coast bass all day, but I’m also in the business of bringing something new to the game with everything I create.” Similarly, Nuutrino says “When I make music, I always want it to embody who I am. This is me, and what my team represents as a collective mind.”
You encompass many genres. Which style of music did you begin your career producing? How did you get into the other?
I began producing electronic music in the late 90’s, back when guys like Pharrell and Timbaland were just starting to get some shine in hip-hop and making waves in being a little left of center in their own production styes. I read mags like URB back then and still remember when Timbaland was on the cover for his “space beats”, normally the mag covered the UK scene (trip-hop, drum and bass, UK hip-hop, and dance/house before it ever was lumped into the “EDM” category). My style has always been a combination of several “genres”, and I understand all the subsets of genres, but that’s never been my focus to just aim at a single one, like “I’m going to produce a progressive electro track today” or “this doesn’t sound like enough of a typical trap track so I’m going to trash it” aren’t really things to come to my mind when I’m working. I focusing on creating, and naturally what comes out is my sound and the sum of my influences across the many genres I’m into and/or have been influenced by over the years…that ranges really broad, from bass music to metalcore to hip-hop to trap to progressive EDM. So I’ve got into producing cross-genre naturally really — I’m not, and never intend to be, a one-trick pony. I think that’s the main problem when a producer gets real hot, then disappears into the ether…because they boxed themselves in — whether they were aiming for that, or just really limited in their skills — from the start.
In what way do you feel your different genres rub off on each other musically?
Good question…I have a real fascination with creating songs almost as storylines, I’m a big film / visual / comic fan, and all those things take you somewhere. When I create a new track I often measure it by how much I can feel it. Does it take you somewhere? Could a story/video be attached to this? That’s both a sonic measurement, and a mental / emotional one for me. My influences are always rubbing off on each other I think…I’m big into bass right now, bass frequencies, space and how to balance all those to get that insane bottom end without losing the melody and having that snare slap all at the same time. But it still needs to be a well-rounded track and all the layers need to fit for balance. The game needs some variety, and that’s how I see my part — kinda like those early days, you knew when JDilla produced it, when Just Blaze produced it, when Pharrell produced it, when Timbaland produced it — you immediately knew who made that track. The flavor of the minute producers, and newer producers we’re hearing a lot of on commercial radio right now, seem to just want to copy the old ones for the most part. I’m in my own lane, and am sticking with carving out my own niche, not copying others’ vibes or making any derivative stuff (way too many people don’t realize that Jidenna’s “Classic Man” sounds exactly like a DJ Mustard track, except that it wasn’t produced by Mustard…I wouldn’t want any part of that). I want people to hear a track I produced, regardless of the genre, and think “man, that’s that CUSCINO sound right there…I recognize that vibe”.
What track of yours do you think you should go down in history for and why?
Man, that’s a tough question — I’m not sure if I’ve released it yet, but it’s coming. At the moment, I think “Saucy” that I produced for Nuutrino (Los Angeles) with J-Doe (from Busta Rhymes’ Conglomerate label) and Troy NoKA (RocNation) though is something special. We’ll see if history and the masses agree when we hit commercial FM radio with it in the months ahead…there’s a wave coming with that from my label (Fashion Sells Musiq - http://fashionsellsmusiq.com) leading the charge. We’ve gotten nothing but incredible feedback from people — those who matter most, the fans, the everyday listeners — on the track so far. Beyond that, I’m sitting on a completed album that’ll be released as 1 LP or 2 EPs later this year. It is its own thing in its own lane…part progressive bass music, EDM, ethereal, grime, hip-hop all rolled into my unique recipe…it is tough to judge your own work, but it really takes you somewhere, that much I can confidently say. It’s unlike what’s trending right now, but not unrelated. I almost see it as the start of the next chapter of my music career — it really stands on its own, it’s a bookend to the next era and my previous era.
How did you get your start producing?
My musical journey is as diverse as my influences. I started really early playing and learning music and music theory, mostly on the guitar. Eventually I started taking classical guitar lessons in my early teen years, then got into shoegazer, metalcore as a skate kid — stuff that was real “wall of sound” type of material. I quickly got into hip-hop (came to me first through the early MTV days), and electronic music when it was really hot in Europe (well, it always has been), before the first “electronica” fad ever hit U.S. shores. I quickly got into more progressive stuff, so I was listening electro acts like Underworld, Metalheadz crew (like Grooverider and Goldie), Roni Size, LTJ Bukem, and harder hitting stuff like Dieselboy plus a ton of drum’n’bass music. Being a creative person, I quickly began writing, recording and producing tracks, EPs, and albums with a few different bands and an electronic production outfit I was a part of in my early years. We’d put that stuff out, record in proper studios, play shows — the whole shebang. I was also creating all of the packaging, promo pieces, flyers and so on that went along with the albums. It’s all continued on from there, spanning more than a decade. Then I began scoring films in the past 5 or so years, while also producing new music not related to scoring (http://imdb.me/CUSCINO). Scoring was a natural bridge to me — as I was essentially painting the music to pre-made visuals, which again played into the visually way I “see” a track when I’m creating it. Then more tracks continued to come, I met Nuutrino in a chance meeting at a legendary studio (Private Island) in Los Angeles that he worked at while I was producing for another mutual friend/MC of ours, and he and I started doing some work together (while I was also working on, and releasing, numerous other tracks, EPs and singles).
What’s your favorite non-rap album of all time and why?
I can't narrow it down to one, but I’ll give you three:
Nine Inch Nails - “The Fragile” (Nothing / Interscope)
The first album I really cared about from NIN…when Reznor & Co. really broke free from their initial "mold" and created a really diverse double-LP that I could see, real wall of sound stuff that I played a million times over. I was never into their stuff before, like Pretty Hate Machine, but this one really grabbed me out of nowhere and is still something I go back to from time to time.
Flying Lotus - "Los Angeles" (Brainfeeder)
Not the first from FlyLo that I completely ate up, but definitely one of my favorite, cohesive albums from him. I really felt like it captured the sound of Los Angeles from a unique perspective, and encapsulated ground zero in LA at Low End Theory like nothing I’d ever heard before. I’m still a huge fan to this day, "Reset EP" to "You’re Dead” are all must-haves in my book.
Underoath - “Define the Great Line” (Tooth and Nail)
This was a real defining album for metalcore, released on a relatively small indie label…so much of what you hear today in this genre is inspired by these guys and their superb attention to detail, craftsmanship and storylines. I had this on repeat through the darkest days of my life, and I often think it might’ve been the only thing left that saved me from losing my sanity in that period. This will forever be in the top 5 albums of all time for me personally.