Jul 6, 2003

Muneshine

by

Muneshine

A few years ago – give or take – a couple of young and rather handsome hip hop enthusiasts put together what would be but another unremarkable bedroom composition left to anguish in oblivion. Muneshine was down by law; I was on the cut. Since then, that tall redheaded guy has been working damn hard, honing his production skills and quietly making a name for himself at home and abroad. This year, Muneshine made his “official debut” with a little collective of rappers known as Lightheaded and I managed to catch up with him, getting the lowdown on shift work, J.C. and the wheelings and dealings of an indie rap sensation in the making.

soso: What’s up with the crazy shift work?

Muneshine: Man… it sucks. I can tell you right now I’d die young if I this was it, but it’s just a summer job, so I’ll be ok.

Do tell…

Well I recently decided what I wanna do with my life. that’s where the story begins. haha. I applied to this dope audio engineering school down east, and was one of 68 people accepted. soon as I heard the good news I had to figure out how I was actually gonna afford to go. That’s when fate stepped in and dropped this wonderful job in front of me. It’s not that bad though, you just caught me in an “off week”… I’ve been working the 3am to 11:30am shift to prepare for some big wig who’s doing a “walk through”… and that’s that. It’s all good though, I get paid decently and am on track to saving what I’ll need for fall.

When I’m not there I’m trying to stay focused on new projects and hangin out with my lady and friends.

Did she type that?

Haha, nah, but she may read this.

So you’re leaving the sun of Saskatchewan for things out east… do think living here has influenced your music productions in any way?

Hmmm… I’d say it’s definitely influenced the way I process certain things, at least with my writing and day to day life sort of stuff, but with my producing I don’t really know… that’s a good question. I’d say the music I grew up listening to had more of an influence on how I produce than where I listened to it.

I definitely hear an east coast influence

Yeah… you know what I like. premier, pete rock, spinna… stuff like that. although recently I’ve been told I have a distinct “west coast” sound… who knows.

This topsy turvy world

You’ve recently enjoyed success with the Lightheaded album. How did you hook that up?

Yeah, my first official release. ummm… we basically hooked up when Braille heard some of my music online. he contacted me and wanted to build on something for a possible single or ep. it really just snowballed from there, and he recruited Ohmega Watts and Othello to take part. I sent them all the beats and they just went to town with them. then I flew down to Portland last summer and we all met and hit the studio for 4 solid days and nights of recording. it was dope.

How did Day By Day get involved?

Well Braille and Ohmega watts had done a song for one of their early releases. Braille stayed in touch with dj fisher (the head honcho) and when we got the Lightheaded stuff underway they made the plans to release it. it was pretty much official before we even started recording… it was dope of dj because he got on board just on the strength of Braille’s word and what he had heard of my music.

So this truly is the indie rap industry success story.. haha

What’s the deal with the whole Christian thing?

Haha… I was waiting for this to come up. You mind if I get deep with this?

Shoot… just keep in mind my bible verses are kinda rusty…

Oh Troy. Ok… here goes…

Yes, Lightheaded are “Christian emcees”, no, we don’t like that label but yes, we understand labels are everywhere in music and life. No, we aren’t all practicing our beliefs in the same way, but yes, we have all come together with the common denominator of musical taste to form the group.

Now… my real problem with this subject is the whole “conflict of interest” theory I’ve had thrown at me from all kinds of people. On one hand I can understand choosing not to listen to music that gives reference to the man upstairs because it goes against what you believe, but where does it end? What about music talking about guns, drugs, disrespect of women and basic negativity? Is listening to that a conflict of interest, or is that the grey area where entertainment lives?

It’s tough for me because I’m different from the rest of the group in respect to how I choose to live my life. I don’t go to church, and haven’t for years. This almost makes me an outsider to the whole situation.

The other thing that bothers me about this subject is that people have preconceived ideas of what “Christian” music is all about, and instinctively decide it’s not “cool”.

For instance, as grateful as I am for getting a review in a certain hip hop magazine out of the states, I was pissed when I read: “make no mistake, this is NOT Christian rap.” indeed it IS Christian rap. They are Christian emcees talking about their personal experience (what I believe any real emcee does or should do).

Anyway, that’s my take on “the whole Christian thing”… haha… I could keep going on this for days. This process has really opened my eyes.

Thinking about Christian music though, the whole genre is really massive and often, commercially successful… is it possible to play it both ways?

I hope so, I’d love to be popular enough to live off my music, but these guys aren’t trying to use their faith as a gimmick. the way I look at it, we just make good hip hop. if people love it, dope… they can support us, if not, they’re free to listen to something else.

Very diplomatic… so what’s on the horizon?

Lots. I just finished producing a petestrumentals kinda project, half compilation, half instrumentals… for this label in the UK called RAW WAX… I’m really excited to get it out. it’s my first solo project, and it’s especially a land mark release for me since it’s my first appearance on vinyl, every producers dream. so yeah, that’s coming out in July if everything goes as planned.

I also just finished producing a full album for a very dope young emcee from Rochester, NY called sycorax one. together we’re called “focus”, and we’re in the process of putting together the final mixes and getting the artwork together. We plan to shop it to a few indie labels this summer, and have no doubt it’ll be dropping by fall. (if dj fisher reads this, get at me fool… we have some business to discuss… haha).

Besides those two, I’m working on the still life movement album (me on the rhymes, my man dminor on the crooning vocals and mphazes (a DOPE producer from Australia) on the beats… it’s been on the back burner for the past couple months, but it’s coming together nicely.

Yeah… there’s a lot going on. On top of these projects I’ve been doing a lot of production for various emcees, signed, and otherwise.

Muneshine

Sounds like an exercise in time management… how do you fit it all in?

Well before I took on this wonderful summer job I was a “student”… haha… you know how it goes. Actually, no, you were one of those focused students weren’t you? anyway, for the past year I’ve had a lot of free time.

So how long have these projects been in production?

I put the instrumental project (muneshine presents… some place real) VERY quickly. I’m using a few instrumentals from tracks I’ve produced for various people, and some new stuff… so it just came together itself. The focus album was a bit of a longer process as we really put it together through the internet. We’ve been working on it since August or so.

The still life movement album’s been going since last summer.

It seems as though the typical route, particularly for independent producers, has been to start up a label and put stuff out. You’ve taken a different approach. What are your thoughts on this?

It’s funny you ask, because eventually I would like to be completely independent like that. At the same time, since I am an independent producer, and not really pursuing too much of a solo career, I don’t think I’d be able to make it a success yet. My goal right now is to get my name out there for my production work both with the Lightheaded, and my side projects… then once I develop enough of a fanbase to financially support my own independent plans I’ll put them into action. On top of that, I still have a lot to learn about the business side of the industry and how to set myself apart from the countless others trying to succeed (besides having my own sound, and following).

On another note, somewhat related I have formed a production company called wax reform, of 7 DOPE producers from around the world. We’re in the process of getting our website finished, and finalizing plans for world domination.

You mentioned earlier about the day by day connection. Could you talk a bit about your various label wheelings and dealings? like how you hooked up with the UK label, experiences signing contracts etc.

I’ve been really lucky with my label experiences so far. I haven’t had any sour deals or anything. I guess that’s how it goes when you start out. As far as my wheelings and dealings and how I’ve hooked them up… they’ve really come to me. I haven’t had to do anything but put my name at the bottom on the line and make the beats. haha.

The UK stuff came together a lot like Lightheaded… the A&R over there heard some of my Lightheaded stuff, and a couple other beats from a temporary mp3 page I have up. he contacted me asking my thoughts on a petestrumentals kinda project, and once we worked out the financial side of things it just came together.

I see things getting a little more complicated in the near future as I’m hoping to get involved with my homie apathy’s album for Atlantic records. He’s picked out a couple beats he’s really feeling, so who knows where that’s gonna go. Once I get to that bridge I’ll really be learning about profit sharing, publishing rights and all that. It should be interesting.

And sample clearance! I had to alter a Rodney Dangerfield sample once cuz the record plant wouldn’t press it… given your liberal sampling policy, have you had any problems with copyright?

Haha… Rodney’s dope.

Yeah, my production is obviously sample based, but no, I haven’t had any problems with that. We’re in the process of clearing the new Lightheaded stuff, and I know my stuff for apathy will definitely have to be cleared due to the major label status and exposure the tracks’ll get.

One thing I’ve learned is that if you aren’t crossing the 10,000 copies barrier, most plants will happily press your stuff… as long as it isn’t TOO obvious who you’re sampling. I’ve also been working a lot harder to dig deeper for my samples and really manipulate them to make them untraceable.

You had mentioned your wax reform project earlier, what can you tell me about that?

Ok. wax reform is a collective of producers. I’ve always wanted to put something like this together, and in the past 2 years I’ve met, and become friends with a perfect line-up of up and comers from all over. I initially put it together with dminor (of Los Angeles, the other member of still life movement) and Ohmega watts (one of the emcees in Lightheaded). Once the three of us established the foundation we really started branching out. We brought in Illmind (of New Jersey, who recently produced the lead single off Boston emcee, Akrobatik’s, new album (“remind my soul”)), mphazes (the producer of still life movement, from Australia), presto (of the Netherlands) and Dela (of France). We’ve also started expanding outside the production realm as well, as we’ve taken on Supastition (of north Carolina) to be the first official emcee of the crew.

And you’ll release material as a group?

Soon, yes. we plan to put together a compilation album next year once we’ve all become a little more established individually.

We’re all working on a lot of stuff right now.

Issues of control seem to rear up now and again with collaborations of any kind. What is your approach in these kinds of situations? Have you had any problems?

Not yet… but who knows what’ll happen. Right now we all seem to be on the same page with everything we’ve collaborated on, and it’s been smooth sailing. since dminor, Ohmega and I are the core of the crew, when it comes down to the compilation we’ll be making the final decisions, but there’s no kind of dictatorship going on… we’ve assembled this group because we love EVERYTHING we’ve heard from them, and everyone’s in it for the greater good. when it comes time to start putting product out there, we’re gonna handle everything as a label would, contracts and everything, to keep everyone happy.

word…

We’ve focused quite a bit on your production projects, but you emcee as well… Do you give priority to producing or mc-ing or dj-ing? Do you identify more with one aspect than another?

Yeah I love emceeing, but I think it’s obvious I’m a producer first and foremost. I started in hip hop as a dj, and still do it, but basically just to accompany my production, and for mixtapes and stuff like that. I’m working on a solo album on top of my emcee work with still life movement, but I think that may be where I call it quits. I think I’ll always write, just cuz I love to and it’s fun, but I honestly think it’s hard to put the necessary focus into 2 or 3 things like these without one or two of them suffering. I enjoy producing the most, and think it’s what I’m best at it, so it’s my first priority. besides that, I’m not good looking, or ugly enough to be a successful emcee, and I’ve been told I sound like kermit the frog. How does one recover from that? haha.

Haha
it ain’t easy being green

You said it.

Anything you’d like to add?

Ummm… just shouts to everyone listed above, everyone in Saskatoon, my homies the Demigodz, 9th wonder and Little Brother, Slopfunkdust, and everyone else gettin down on my solo… and shouts to soso and ugsmag for the interview, I’m flattered.

AND… everyone should go out and grab the Lightheaded – Pure Thoughts album, Supastition’s – 7 Years of Bad Luck album, that new Akrobatik, Illmind produced single “Remind My Soul”, and my new instrumental album droppin this summer “Muneshine Presents… Some Place Real.”…

PEACE.

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