“One key thing is, making sure your track is sonically correct. Like your highs, mids, and lows are all in the right place. Second, is having a solid melody and hook. It needs to be something catchy for people to get. Last, is song structure. It has to transition right.” – Elete Tracks (On The Key To A Hit Record) / Elete Tracks is a local producer here in Milwaukee, WI. He dabbles in all genres of music but specializes in Hip-Hop and R&B. He has been in the world of music for about 15 years and worked with his fair share of both local and mainstream artists. Artists he’s worked with include the likes of: King Kamonzi, Carl Thomas, Angie Stone, etc. His gifted ear and charismatic personality made him the ideal first producer to ever be featured on the site. Peep it as he talks about: his favorite fellow producers, working with Syleena Johnson, his dream gig, and more.
The Illixer: How did you come up with the name Elete Tracks?
Elete Tracks: Well I felt like if you produce at a high level you got to be elite. You know the best of the best. Of course I had to change the spelling. Though I’m not the only one who felt like they were elite (lol).
TI: What inspired you to want to make music?
ET: I think it started when my mom used to bring me and my older brother to my dad’s practice with his band Chocolate Ice. So music was kind of stamped in our brain and that’s a good thing. I learned a lot at a young age. I think that is the focal point of me making music.
TI: Growing up, you played various instruments and were part of a band. How do you feel that impacted your career as a producer?
ET: Playing various instruments and having the band background played as a big part of my career as a producer. I understand the theory of the instruments that I play and even the ones I don’t play but I like to use.
TI: Name your top five favorite producers of all time and explain why you chose them.
ET: This is probably left field but, my first favorite producer would be my best friend and fellow producer Brian “B-Luv” Watson out of Milwaukee. He showed me a lot about making a solid drum track and we have been producing for years together. Next would be DJ Quik on the West Coast. He just has this sound that nobody else has which sets him apart from other producers. Third I would say Timbaland. He has always been different with his style and he adds to his sound with his own voice which is very dope (lol). In the fourth slot I will go with Just Blaze. That brother is insane with how he flips samples with the live drums and under melodies he makes hits no doubt. Last but not least I’ll say Jazze Pha. He has that down home South funk but he modernized it and he can sing and that makes the songs that he produces A-1.
TI: Describe one of your most memorable experiences as a producer thus far?
ET: Wow! It’s a lot of memorable experiences but one that stands out is when I went to New York with a few friends and my uncle to meet Angie Stone who is definitely a diva in my eyes. That was my first look at what it would be like to have my foot in the door, so they say. We stayed in Newark, NJ and traveled to New York from there to Quad Studios in Times Square. We had to take the elevator to thirteenth floor but what’s crazy is you needed a key to get up there (lol)! When we actually met it was like she knew us already so that was a warm vibe to remember. And she liked our music which was a big boost to somebody who hadn’t landed an industry gig yet.
TI: How did you hook up with Syleena Johnson and what was it like working with her?
ET: I hooked up with Syleena with my other fellow producer’s camp by the name of Dirty Work. We got together and found out that she was taking submissions on MySpace. We all put our best material together and crossed our fingers. To me she is an R&B queen hands down. So when she got back to us and said she wanted to do eight songs with us, I was in another world for a minute (lol)! Working with her was awesome. She is a very professional artist and I respect that but she had a warm vibe too, she was funny and wasn’t afraid to let loose around us.
TI: What are some of the expectations that you have when working with an artist?
ET: I guess number one would be, know what lane you want to be in. Meaning know what sound you are trying to capture. Number two is, don’t be afraid of constructive criticism. Be open to suggestions. Lastly, don’t rush but be prompt if a deadline is set.
TI: Describe your process for creating songs.
ET: Usually I just let it come to me. I might start with some drums first or maybe a melody. If I’m using a sample I usually know what I want to do with it. Sometimes I don’t know what’s going to come out but whatever it is somehow I make it work (lol).
TI: What sets you apart from other producers out there?
ET: Well not to toot my own horn but, I’m versatile. I listen to different genres of music so I like to be all over the board with my music. So it might range from Hip-Hop all the way to Techno. So I feel like I’m not just set in one way.
TI: Your dream gig as a producer would be what?
ET: I would say working on a movie score with like Hans Zimmer or The RZA on a big budget film. And it’s not about the money either. I just know when you got a big budget you go for the best music arrangements. And they are big time guys that I would love to sit and pick their brains after the fact.
TI: With technology constantly growing and becoming more advanced, a lot more artists are starting to produce their own music. Do you ever worry that one day the role of the producer will become extinct? Why or why not?
ET: Not even, these artists better watch out for the producers because they can rock a mic too, including myself (lol)! Real talk, these programs can help you make a “beat” but they still don’t structure a song for you. A producer is still needed to get the format of what the artist is trying to do. Don’t get me wrong there are some artists that can do it all. But it’s only a few though so I think my job is still safe (lol).
TI: Are there any upcoming projects or events that you have that you would like to promote?
ET: Oh YEA! My guy Brian “B-Luv” Watson and myself are releasing a beat EP entitled In Tyme, coming soon. It will include a physical copy, as well as be released on ITunes. I appreciate you taking the time to find out what Elete Tracks is all about. Shout out to The Illixer. Keep it local, keep it real.
**My Two Cents: I think Elete is a dope producer. His music has a nice polished sound to it. And he is a very down to earth cat. To hear samples of Elete’s work, readers can check him out via his Reverb Nation page. Also, readers can catch up with Elete via Twitter. -MinM