In today’s DIY environment, true talent can sometimes be hard to find.
Gifted producers are identified by the demand for their work, their ability to transcend genres, remain current, and by their product’s timelessness.
Justin Smith, a.k.a. Just Blaze is such a producer. He produced for Jay-Z, Eminem and Mariah Carey, is releasing an EP on Fool Gold’s Records, and most recently created work for artists Drake and Kendrick Lamar over a career spanning two decades.
Just Blaze didn’t even have to think about the answer to the question of what’s the secret to becoming a great producer; because it is probably one he has been asked countless times before. His answer’s surprisingly simple, for someone who doesn’t have a set creative process because he finds inspiration from anything – a drum pattern, a great sample, a melody in his head.
“I always tell people, and I have said this for years,” he responds, “when people ask me how to make it as a producer, how to learn to be a producer or how to become one, I always give them the same answer.”
He wraps up his key production tip in a Mr. Myagi reference, explaining that learning the basics are the key to proficiency. What you might initially see as an unrelated skill eventually creates the tools that you need to be the best, to be at the top of your game – and that’s exactly where Just Blaze is.
Recently, Just Blaze has had time to work on his own projects, and we are seeing a side of him that many of us never fathomed. Those who stayed after his last Calgary performance and were lucky enough to see the hip-hop DJ seamlessly transition, throwing down an old-school Chicago House set making us feel like we were tripping balls in a time machine, can attest to the fact that we have barely seen the tip of what this great producer will do over time.
Less inclined towards house? Try what’s behind door number three – the Trap door (or trap-rave) with his newest track, “Higher”, co-produced by Baauer. “Higher”, originally created in support of Just Blaze and Baauer’s tour, had overwhelming response from fans and producers (with 12,000 plays in a few hours when first uploaded on Soundcloud). This track, created because they “needed to give people a reason to come see us” has cemented him again as a top producer for another generation of music appreciators.
Back to that one piece of midas production advice is, Just Blaze put it plain and simply – DJing. Why?
“When you DJ you are subliminally learning not just how to beat match records, but how to arrange records in a set, how to arrange music in general. How rhythm works how music affects people. You learn how to build up climaxes and peaks […] put music together.
“In different ways all of that will make the actual creation of your own original music even better. In my personal experience that is the best piece of advice that I can give to someone who wants to be a producer.”
Just Blaze performs on February 6 at Celebrities.
By Sheena Jardine-Olade
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/75794569″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]BC, British Columbia