Chaps: Introduce yourself, crews, affiliations and what you have done.
Omid: Omid, a producer from Los Angeles. I began making beats in 1992, started doing the Goodlife open mic in 1993, that’s where I met most of the emcees I work with today. I am in a production team with Nobody called “Bomb Zombies”.
Why did you change your name from OD to Omid? Was it to escape the shadow of Beneath the Surface?
I just decided to go by my real name, “OD” seems to have a negative connotation. I didn’t want to escape the shadow of Beneath the Surface, I was actually concerned that fans of that album might not recognize my name when I changed it, so I always try to put the “producer of BTS” near my name on press releases.
Was it hard to make music after the insanely successful Beneath the Surface?
It was hard to make instrumental music after BTS, since making a track for one of your favorite emcees is much more fun than having to make up a track that can stand on it’s own and not need an emcee to tell a story, so it took a while to get my beats more layered and to learn how to create more changes in the music.
If I was to say Beneath the Surface was your life’s work what would you say? (Please be nice, haha.)
That’s a compliment. I think I was lucky to document a very fertile scene that I loved and that was for the most part untapped at the time. I meet people all the time that tell me they were introduced to underground hip hop through BTS, so it’s an honor to be able to contribute that.
How did Beneath the Surface come together?
In 1996 I was in a studio where Fish, Riddlore, 2Mex, Peace, Sesquipedalian, and Longevity (Darkleaf) were all kicking it. I made a beat right there in the studio and the song turned out to be “What Up,” which was on the original version of BTS. I had so much fun creating that song and was so hype that some of my favorite emcees were down to record with me that it inspired me to make a full album where I get my favorite emcees together, including emcees that never worked together before.
You really hit the listeners hard with Distant Drummer. Where did you draw your inspiration from for that album from and how would you describe that album? What does it say about you?
At that time I was trying to figure out how to make instrumental hip hop and have it not sound like Shadow and all the other heavyweights of that genre, so I drew inspiration from a sci-fi novel I was reading at the time called “Hyperion,” so most of the songs are inspired by things in that book.
What did you try to achieve with Distant Drummer and did you achieve it?
For awhile I thought I’d never be able to complete an instrumental album, but I was able to do it. I’ve grown a lot since then and it’s easy now, but back then I was a little intimidated to do an album all by myself. The funny thing is, I like all the melodies and sounds and ideas of Distant Drummer, the only thing I wish I would have done better is the drum work! Fitting title, huh!
Do you think instrumental hip hop is well received by the masses? Is it possible for a producer to captivate the hip hop listener without an emcee?
Not as much as it used to be, because the market is flooded now by instrumental hip hop albums, so someone has to really do something beyond the norm to get noticed. But you can say a lot musically that you can’t lyrically through instrumentals, so you can reach audiences on different levels through the music.
Monolith is filled with feature emcees on half the tracks. Is this to appeal to a wider base of listeners?
Yes and no. For example the hymnal songs and the spoon of iodine song are cuts that I personally wanted to do, but songs like “Live From Tokyo” are attempts to reach a wider audience, even though the nature of the song isn’t exactly my favorite.
Did the short time between the release of Distant Drummer and Monolith hurt or hinder sales? In your opinion did one overshadow the other?
I was glad to do Monolith soon after, because I think on Distant Drummer I strayed too far from hip hop on some of the songs, so it was nice to bring it back on Monolith. I think I confused some fans on Distant Drummer.
What do you use to make your beats?
I use old vinyl, an ASR-10, a Yamaha CS-1 as a filter and for some sounds, and Protools to mix.
What is your favourite beat that you have produced and why?
I really like this beat I made on the new Ellay Khule record that is coming out next year, it’s called “Needle Skipping,” because it can be played at a club but it’s still creative and musical. I also like the “Who’s Keeping Time” beat, it’s cool to chill to.
What do you want to be known for in the perils of hip hop history?
I think that’ll be seen in the future, it’s hard to tell now, but hopefully as contributing good music to the art form.
What is the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome to get your music out there?
Record labels that don’t show love or interest, even though they put out artists that are influenced by your stuff or the Project Blowed / Goodlife scene. It’s all good though, it forced me to learn the business side of the game myself.
What are your strengths and weakness as a producer?
Strengths are that I’m diverse – in my humble opinion. Weakness is that I don’t make tracks as fast as other producers I look up to.
What motivates you to continually make music?
I love and breathe music, always have, always will. I always have a tune in my head.
Bus Driver suggests that “Underground hip hop happened ten years ago.” What do you think about that statement? What do you think about current independent hip hop?
I think he is referring to the fact that the Project Blowed open mic opened in 1994, which is 10 years ago, so [he’s] letting kids know that there are cats that have been doing this for awhile. Underground hip hop isn’t new. It actually started at the Goodlife as far as L.A. is concerned, in 1989.
What is your favorite thing about making music?
When sounds come together in a good way after hours of hard work, it all pays off once you create something nice.
What are you currently working on and when will we hear it?
I produced a whole album for Sach, formerly of the Nonce, it’s called “Sach 5th Ave.” Nobody and myself produced an album for Ellay Khule called “Califormula” which we are shopping right now. Nobody and I are also working on an album with Chris Gunst, former singer from Beachwood Sparks. I’m really excited about that.
Do you have any last words?
Look out for the Bomb zombies! omidpage.com