Low End QnA #2: The Away Team

Today MC Sean Boog and producer Khrysis, collectively known as The Away Team, drop their sophomore album, Training Day on Hall of Justus Records. Even if you are unfamiliar with the group, you know their sound. Khrysis has laid tracks for Little Brother (“Watch Me”, “After The Party”) Sean Price (“Onion Head,” “Stop”) and countless other Justus League tracks. Their first single and video “Greedy” is already spreading like a dirty rumor across the web, so I got them on the phone to re-introduce themselves to my people and talk a little bit about twisting knobs until they squeal just right.

JLB: So why the name The Away Team? Homefield advantage is where it’s at, just ask The Red Sox.

Sean Boog: We’re the visitors no matter where we go, but we’re going to win no matter what. We’re the underdogs fighting our way to the top.

So how is this project different from your debut?

Sean Boog: Training Day is really us coming into our own as artists. On National Anthem we was babies when we made that album so we didn’t know our direction. [Now] we’re really getting out what The Away Team is. It’s a bang you in the head album. We call it good old fashion rap music. If you’re fuckin with the Away Team leave your problems at home.

Your compatriots Little Brother got a big boost from a cosign from ?uest Love. So do you think it’ll take a cosign to get The Away Team to the next level?

SB: Co-signs are always good but I don’t’ see why it would HAVE to happen. It’s not our mission to go find a co-sign, the music speaks for itself.

Khrysis: I don’t need nobody to tell us that we’re dope.

What are some of your favorite cuts on Training Day?

Khrysis: “The Odds” and “Chitter Chatter” with Black Milk. “Don’t Wait” is my shit too.

Groups with one producer are becoming less common, what do you like about Khrysis’s style?

SB: He’s one of the top producers out there. His style is not really defined, he can do anything. He doesn’t make one type of beat. Plus his shit is aggressive, that’s the type of shit I like.

When did you first start producing Khrysis?

K: Producing or making beats? I made my first beat on a pause tape when I was 16. Rigging shit up with the dual cassette deck box and a little Yamaha keyboard. I used to make filters by turning the tone knob down and going back and forth on two different tape decks. I’d just keep going back and forth until I had a nice muffled bassline. That was my filter technique. I was doing that when I was 14 or 15. The first computer software I got was called Saw, I was working with when I was like 16 or 17. I didn’t get into Fruity Loops until I got to Winston Salem State. I went to school with Novay from the Allies, he introduced me to FL in 2000, then I met 9th Wonder and he gave me the full version. I’d been using the demo version before then. I didn’t start PRODUCING until I got with the Justus League. Boog was the first artist I sat in the studio and started producing for. Then working in the studio with Little Brother, even if I didn’t make the beat I always had two cents to put in. Producing is making a song, I feel like people get that confused a lot. The song making has come from working with Boog. That’s been going on since 2000, 2001 with National Anthem.

When you were in the studio, did you just go in and start turning knobs?

At first I just sat back and watch. I’d watch 9th Wonder to get the mechanics of it. Then I’d start twisting the knobs. I’d sit in front of Cool Edit for like six hours and not even make a beat, just trying to find out what all of the effects are and what does what.

I spent two hours messing with just the Arpeggiator in Fruity Loops…

That Arp is…I love that thing…We about to start speaking Pig Latin [Laughs]

You started out with Fruity Loops but recently have begun using more hardware. You had an Ozone keyboard and an MPC 1000 last year, correct?

The Ozone wasn’t mine, I just borrowed it. But I went out and bought a different midi controller. Most of this album is off the MPC. There’s maybe two songs done on FL and one that’s a mix of the MPC and Fruity Loops. A lot of the songs we did on Training Day, we did on the spot. He’d write and then I’d tweak some shit and build it around his verse and bong. Once you get past all the technical stuff everything is easy…

But that technical stuff makes all the difference. Sometimes I can’t decide between using the Low Pass filter on FL or the one in Adobe Audition.

It’s a matter of personal preference. Fuck the industry standard. Make your own sound. Do you. If we all went industry standard we’d all be robots and it wouldn’t be hip-hop. What do you think made the Neptunes, Timbaland and Premier pop? They went against the grain of what is supposed to be beat-making. We have souls and our own taste in music. But people don’t look at it that way. Be yourself…Training Day October 30th. [laughs]

You’re right though. I’ve watched Youtube videos of guys using FL and no one uses it the same.

There’s a lot of stuff on FL that I don’t use and there’s stuff I do. Everybody uses it differently. 9th uses it differently from me. There’s another producer out here, K-Hill, he uses it totally different. Some people have the pattern board five bars long, I don’t wanna do that shit. It’s all personal preference. I tried to use the Slicer and that shit ain’t work for me. It don’t slice the way I want to.

That’s interesting because you’re the one who told me about the Slicer.

I used it for “After The Party” (from Little Brother’s Get Back) but I got tired of the shit. It wasn’t chopping the part I wanted to chop.

Yeah, I had to learn how to right click and “undo slice” so I could manually change it. But when you told me a few months ago to “learn your equipment” I just started going at that little Channel Settings box.

Word, it’s a lot of shit. Training Day October 30th. [laughs]

So what happened to that track you did for Ness?

It was the first song on his Gangsta Grillz, Next Best Thing. Ness is a very dope MC and he’s slept on…Training Day October 30th.

Shameless in the art of self promotion. So talk about the making of three of my favorite Khrysis beats: “The Blah Blah” “On The Line” and “The Huckabuck.”

The “Blah Blah” sample is from the live version of “Summer Madness.” They got a sequel to it called “Winter Madness,” too. I heard something and started chopping. That was the second song me and Boog ever recorded. I always wanted to do a song like that, like the Afrika Bambataa “zz, zz, zz ,zz zzuuu.”…We need to start having fun again.

“On The Line” I can’t explain. A lot of people have that problem with me in the studio, I just hear things and start chopping. That’s what came out. We had a whole bunch of people in the studio. “Huckabuck” I made with Sean Price in mind. I heard that record and said that’s the sound I’m looking for.

You still sample from actual vinyl, CDs or MP3s?

I’ll sample the shirt off your back if I think it’s dope. I don’t give a fuck. The song I did with Joe Scudda and Big Pooh from Chitlin Circuit “Third Party” was from a Sesame Street record. That’s the Count chopped and screwed.

Word, I’ll pitch shift the hell out of Isaac Hayes just to get a bass sound.

That’s the thing about chopping vocals, I never listen to them as vocals. It’s just another instrument….Training Day October 30th.

 


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