There’s nothing more beautiful than watching the sunset over the Hollywood Hills. Well, maybe not. The beautiful sounds of the production made by Lee TRBL can match that. Producing everything from EDM, House, R&B, Soul, Pop, Hip-Hop, Alternative, and Rock, TRBL’s sound knows no bounds. A devoted musician, he can play six instruments proficiently. He is also a sought-after songwriter and consultant for major labels. He has done production/songwriting work for Interscope, Warner, and Sony and fosters a collective talent of Arizona-based artists on his own KUTHAUS Records imprint: www.kuthausrecords.com.
I had the opportunity to have a conversation with the producer. He let me in on his new move to LA and who he believes is the greatest producer of all time. TRBL is the guy we all should pay attention to.
It’s been a minute since we last spoke, how has the industry been treating you?
Life is grand!! New year full of new beginnings. The industry is in a weird place right now. I actually did more by doing less this past year. I exceeded my own expectations with my label KUTHAUS Records and put out over 20 records that did well streaming wise. My album was played in 60 countries last year alone, so I’m humbled by everything that’s happened. Now, I’m focusing more on the business side of things, and carving out enough mental space to be productive musically. Being in LA now, I’m just taking my time and making sure I’m building genuine connections that can take my music to the next level.
As a producer, what trends do you wish you would just go away? Trends to come back?
Death to the lazy “sample 90s melody/trap beat” BS that’s all over the radio. Another trend I wish that would go away is the gospel progressions in R&B music. It’s like so OVERTLY obvious I can’t even get into the music. Also, producers need to be better GATEKEEPERS and not diminish quality for a check. Hold artists accountable for being pitchy, off-key, off-beat, etc. Labels are too busy chasing streams and sounds as opposed to pushing genres forward. I think we’re at the end of the Trap Beat era in Pop music and now Afrobeat is coming at the forefront in Pop music, which I enjoy. I would like to see more layered production and live instrumentation come back in music. The energy is better when you incorporate live elements into production, as was the case in the 60s/70s. I feel like Flying Lotus is ahead of everyone in regards to pushing musical boundaries to the limit.
You just made the big L.A. move. What do your fans have to look forward to?
People can look forward to higher quality music going forward. Being in LA, you’re surrounded by the best, and the creative energy here is unmatched. I’ve done my best work in LA for the past 4 years, and I plan on taking full advantage of the resources I have built. Hopefully I can be more prolific with my music while maintaining high quality. Also being in LA, EVERYBODY is here, so I look forward to getting some inspiration from my musical peers/heroes.
What upcoming collaborations do you have cooking?
I have some things in the works as usual. I’m dropping a new single called “I’M BIKE” ft. Lovesick. As far as other collabs, Asia Tyree is an artist like me who recently relocated to LA from Phoenix. We recently released a video for her single “See You” and are working on more releases soon. Cherice Love is an amazing singer from Phoenix, and we are finishing her EP very soon. Celena Santa Cruz is a star in the making as well. There are other things in works that hopefully will come to fruition soon. At this point, I’m going to be more selective about who and what to work on, since time is much more valuable here than anywhere else. The art itself is rewarding, but the business ensures it stays that way LOL.
You once said that one lesson you’ve learned in the industry is resources and relationships. Has there been any relationships that fizzled, but it taught you a lesson?
There has, especially lately. I started out the year pretty strong with my EP Saiyanman and was optimistic about the things I had lined up. Then life happened for me and my creative circle somewhat collapsed. It got smaller and less reliable, and forced me to re-evaluate everything I’ve done. I hit a low point creatively and wasn’t putting out great material, so I took a break from everything. I feel like I’ve always treated people fairly and been genuine, but sometimes that energy isn’t reciprocated despite things going well on the surface. The main lesson I learned is to not get too high or too low and keep expectations at a minimum. The other lesson is that people are in your life for a season and don’t try to extend that season in order to chase a creative high.
The Illixer was founded in Milwaukee. A small city with untapped talent. Seeing that you’re coming from Phoenix, can you say the same about Phoenix?
I can definitely say that about Phoenix. Kiana Lede is a recent example of someone from Phoenix who’s making waves in the industry right now. I’ve been a part of many creative circles there, and the musicians there are among the best in the country. It’s so transient, so things change often.
Since I know you have a great knowledge of music, in your opinion, who’s the greatest producer of all-time?
Quincy Jones is probably the popular answer, and he’s unrivaled, but I would like to give shine to Nile Rodgers. I feel like he’s had a bigger impact in the last 25 years in music. Especially in Hip-Hop and EDM. Diddy owes his entire career to the records he’s sampled from Nile (“Mo Money Mo Problems,” “Been Around The World,” etc). And the guitar magic he added to Daft Punk’s recent release secures his spot for me.
Be sure to show TRBL some love via the link at the start of the post and take a peek at the video as well. –Pooh Bailey