IV The Polymath Interview
To start off, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself to the readers?
Peace! My name is IV the Polymath – I make music & eat plants.
When did you start making beats?
Well I’ve been playing various instruments since I was 2 years old – in bands & stuff so music has always been a huge part of my life, but it wasn’t until 2008 that I really got into the production side of things. I was always kind of a control freak, so when I learned that I could be every member of the band I was hyped! There was no turning back. It’s the ultimate rush.
Being an instrumental hip hop producer you must have a pretty extensive vinyl collection. What’s your most prized record?
Yea I guess compared to the average person I have quite a few records – about 3,000 or so. I really love them all so it’s hard to choose.
I guess if I had to had to I would say Y Society – Travel at Your Own Pace on Tres Records (2007). It’s one of my favorite hip hop albums of all time & since they aren’t available anymore it makes it even more special.
One time I was teaching my homie how to scratch on some old acapella records & I went upstairs to grab something to drink. While I was upstairs I heard him put the Y record on & then he started scratching the hell out of it! He didn’t know any better, but yo I was so mad! Luckily it still plays haha.
Congratulations on your dope recently released album “Spill” under i.deals with Jondis. Are there any noticeable differences in the process of producing beats for an MC versus producing solo?
Thanks! Yea it’s a lot different. I love to have lots of layers within my beats so the biggest adjustment was learning to make enough room for the emcee. You can’t have a piano solo or a really loud horn in the middle of a verse you know? That’s the biggest complaint I get when I send out beats is that there isn’t any room to rap on them. Nowadays I can tell pretty early on in the creation process if it is going to be a solo instrumental or a full song & then I adjust accordingly.
The adjustments are pretty simple like panning sounds off to the side so they have a presence, but the artist can still cut thru the mix. Formatting is also different. You usually want to have an intro, verses, hooks, bridges, & an outro for a full song. Also, if it’s an emcee cut, I might scratch in a hook whereas a solo track might have more involved leads & melodies. Things like that.
You founded Polymath Records. What’s the main goal of your label?
The goal is to release quality independent music. I want Polymath Records to be a breath of fresh air for people – something unique & original. After 4 well-received digital releases, we’re moving into releasing physical products starting with CDs next month & eventually vinyl.
Raising money for good causes is also an important goal of the label & has been an element of the last 3 releases. Finally, there’s a music licensing component that involves working with television & film companies on various projects. An example of this would be the some of the 2011 Dew Tour skateboard videos that we’ve done music for recently.
How much of an impact does the environment where you produce influence the sounds you create, if any?
Environment is everything. I always try to change it up. Some winter nights I’ll turn off all the lights, light a candle, & make a beat at 3am. Other days I’ll open all the windows & make a beat at 9am with the sun shining in. As you can imagine, those two beats will sound completely different.
Also, moods have a huge impact on the music. Push IVward was created during a really difficult winter, while Drum Machines Have No Soul was made during the summer when things weren’t so tough. You can feel the difference.
If you think of an awesome beat when you’re on the bus, at the grocery store, or brushing your teeth, how do you remember it?
I always write it down on the spot or email myself from my phone before I forget. My studio is literally covered in handwritten lists of ideas that I come up with & my inbox has dozens of emails that I sent to myself. I try to arrange the lists & work thru them as the time becomes available. It seems like a pretty erratic way to work, but it works for me.
If you had to recommend one song of yours to someone who was unfamiliar with your music what would it be?
IV The Polymath – Grey Area
(Grey Area is available on IV’s album “Drum Machines Have No Soul” which you can get as a name your price download here).
Tell us about the work you do with St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Well I don’t officially work with them or anything, but I do donate money from certain projects to them. I think it’s important to make sure my music is able to make a positive impact on the world no matter how small that impact is. I’ve gone thru some health issues in the last few years that have changed my life drastically & it’s opened up my eyes to the importance of helping others. What I go thru with my injuries is nothing compared to what the kids at St. Jude are dealing with so if I can help even just a little bit I consider the work worthwhile.
I’m actually working on an album right now that will donate 100% percent of the proceeds to St. Jude. We’re just getting started, but the goal is to have a dozen or so emcees get down with the cause & I’ll handle all of the production. My homie Chris Flocco actually came up with the whole idea & he’s doing all the artwork for it. He does art for K-Murdock of Panacea as well as Mega Ran & others. He’s really awesome & I’m thankful to be able to work with him on this.
What advice would you give to aspiring producers?
I would say just put in the time. There are no shortcuts.
Always challenge yourself. Try new things. Take risks. Listen to different music. Learn a new instrument or a new language or paint the walls in your studio a different color. Have fun.
Try to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Study your favorite producers, learn their methods & then invent your own. Carve your own lane.
Market yourself. Use technology, be persistent, & don’t be afraid of rejection. Set realistic goals & then set new ones when they are reached.
Above all else, just keep showing up. Work hard AND be patient. Other people will drop out, but you will still be standing. It might be 2 years or it might be 20 – just keep showing up.
Thanks for sitting down with us man! Is there any upcoming material we should look out for?
Thank you for the dope interview! Much appreciated. I’ve got a new instrumental album dropping before the end of the year on Polymath Records that I’m really excited about. Pre-orders for the CD will be up soon.
As for 2012, be on the lookout for albums with junclassic & Praverb the Wyse. I’m also going to do an EP with ParanormL. Another i.deals album will be on the menu of course & a handful of instrumental releases as well.
Thanks to everybody for reading this interview. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me for any reason. Peace!
Support IV on the links above. Check out our write up on IV The Polymath’s album, Drum Machines Have No Soul.