Grammy-Award winning producer, MyGuyMars, speaks on his new project, working on ‘Love Sick’ with Don Toliver, and advice for aspiring talent

Sophie Beeching

By Sophie Beeching

Sophie Beeching

10 May 2023

MyGuyMars boasts an impressive list of collaborators including Kanye West, Jay-Z, Frank Ocean, Nipsey Hussle, and Kendrick Lamar. His extensive contribution to the music industry has shaped the modern music landscape and earned him multiple Grammy awards. MyGuyMars is also a co-founder of the well-known production collective, 1500 or Nothin, which has worked with legendary artists including Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown, and T.I.

Having earned numerous accolades such as a Diamond certification for his work on Kanye West’s “Stronger,” which won him a GRAMMY for Best Rap Performance, MyGuyMars has achieved remarkable success in the music industry. His production on Chris Brown’s “Take You Down” earned him a Platinum certification and a GRAMMY nomination. Furthermore, he has won two more GRAMMY Awards, one for Best Rap Album for Kanye West’s “Graduation” and another for Best R&B Album for Chris Brown’s “F.A.M.E.”

In addition to producing for other artists, MyGuyMars recently released his own project, ‘No Days 2’, showcasing his versatility. In this interview, he discusses the creative process behind his project, compares producing for himself versus other artists, and shares his approach to working with various music genres and styles. With his wealth of knowledge and an extensive network of contacts, MyGuyMars is set to continue shaping the modern musical landscape while leading and educating the younger generation of aspiring stars.

Despite his already impressive career, MyGuyMars shows no hint of slowing down, eager to explore the next chapter of his journey as an artist. With a wealth of industry knowledge and an extensive network of contacts, there’s no question that Mars will continue to shape the modern musical landscape, forging a path uniquely his own while also guiding, educating and inspiring the next generation of rising stars.

You’ve worked with everyone from Kanye, Frank Ocean, Jay-Z, Kendrick, Nipsey and many more. Recently, you’ve worked with Saweetie and Don Toliver on top of releasing your own project in February, ‘No Days 2’. There have been no breaks! Can you talk about the creative process behind that project?

Absolutely. This project is very special to me because, at the time, I didn’t have my own studio. Nipsey had passed and was trying to hold onto a studio that I had in the same building with him for as long as I could remember. But everybody had moved out and the energy had gone, everybody was gone. So I ended up letting the studio go. During that time, I was just trying to record and just stay creative. To be honest, I was doing it in a therapeutic state so I could keep my mind together. I would rent studio time and just start coming up with songs.

I ended up in the studio three to five times a week, and my engineer said, ‘Yo, like, you’re going crazy’, but the songs were just coming out. It was really a rare thing for me to be able to, relate to all the other independent artists because people look at me and say, ‘Oh, you’re My Guy Mars, you have accomplished so much as a producer’, which, I’m thankful and I thank God for but in addition to that, I was taking the same steps that an artist would take to put out a song as an artist, you know what I mean? That was the dope and humbling part. I got to actually go grind and start as if I’ve never created anything before. I was treating myself as an artist and I think that’s how a lot of the music and creative process came about.

And you’ve got some great features on there, shoutout to my girl Azjah. What’s your favourite song from the project? If you have one?

Before it came out, it would vary. Now, I think I’m starting to like ‘Only You‘ a lot more and I love ‘Mamacita‘, as well. But there are a couple of favourites. How about yours? What’s your favourite? Have you had the chance to listen to it?

I’m gonna have to say the one with Azjah, ‘2 the Top’, but maybe I’m biased.

There it is, you’re on a vibe, you’re trying to pull up with the drop tops.

For sure, another LA native right?

Facts for sure. Princess of Compton.

How does working on your own project differ from working with other artists? Is there more pressure?

Yes. Absolutely. Oh, that’s a great question – I’m just now starting to implement a lot of the tools that I would use for other artists, you know what I mean? For example, the sequence of the album, making sure each song goes into the next song in the correct way. You know, deciding how I want the whole flow of the album to go, things like that.

Or, how I approach the record, I don’t sing the same on every song, ‘Right Away‘ sounds different than ‘Best Love‘. So it’s just playing with different tones and playing with different things as an artist myself that I would do as a producer for other artists. This was the first time I was able to experiment like that and it would be intentional so it was very fun. It was different, but it was very fun.

If you’re producing for other artists at the same time as working on your own project, do you ever make a really fire beat and want to hold it back and use it for your own? How do you decide what you’d be willing to collaborate on versus what you would want to keep back for your own project?

Yeah, I have, I have a few songs like that. I’m not really tripping though. I’m about the music, so I don’t really have an ego when it comes to making music, it’s about the song. Whatever is dope, if it’s gonna go on your project, cool, if it’s gonna go on my project, cool. I think the one underlying factor that people don’t know or think about is artists being signed to different labels and, due to legalities, that being the reason the music doesn’t come out.

It’s more so that than anything else. If I make a fire song and KALAN.FR.FR wants to use it for his project, but I want it on mine, we’re likely just gonna put it on both. But if not, you know, I’m not tripping because we could just make another one.

Yeah, good music is good music, that’s for sure. Recently, you worked on Don Toliver’s ‘Love Sick’ album. In terms of the different genres and styles of music on the album, it’s quite different from your previous work, especially the track ‘Slow Motion’ with Wizkid. How do you approach working or producing for different styles of genres?

Just being educated, you have to do your homework. It’s the same thing as a basketball or football game. If you’re going up against a team, you have to study what you’re supposed to be doing, so more importantly, studying the artist and studying the team. If we’re the Lakers, and we end the playoffs, we have to study Golden State, in order to be able to know how to beat them.

It’s the same thing with an artist, you got to study the artist, and you have to study their music to know what they don’t have. That’s where ‘MyGuyMars‘, my name, came from, that’s where my whole mindset is when I’m producing or creating. I think what hasn’t been done? How can we be disruptive? How can we bring an element that doesn’t exist and create something new?

That’s amazing. So that was the goal for that project.

Shoutout to my engineer, Derek. He told Don about me, and we jumped on the phone. Don pulled up to my studio and he literally came to the studio every day until it was done. I think we did three or four sessions. We did three songs on the first day and then finished up the last two tracks on the last day. It was a really fun, magical process because I was already a fan of Don. I’d told myself I wasn’t working on no other artists’ music because I’m working on my own artistry. But when Don called, I had to do it. It was a dope process and we were both learning from each other, as well as just seeing how relatable we are to each other with the music.

There are some other amazing people that you got to work with on that project, like Kaytranada on ‘Honeymoon‘. What was it like working with the other artists and producers involved?

To be honest, I did everything at my own studio but there was one session where I pulled up and got to meet Kaytranada. I talked to him and let him know I was a fan of his music and he let me know he was a fan of what I do. It was just all love. When you have those settings where you can just make music freely, you can make the best music.

You can just have fun, everybody’s in there trying to help each other be better, it’s like Disneyland. It was dope to be able to be a part of something like that. Working with artists that I love and respect, on top of the project being received so well, that’s something I actually love.

It’s an amazing body of work. We also have to talk about 1500 or Nothin’. Can you tell us about the collective? How did it start?

Absolutely. 1500 or Nothin’ is a church band of friends that didn’t know we were even a band. We were just playing at church and Bobby Valentino’s manager saw us perform. Long story short, he was like, ‘Yo, I got this artist, Bobby Valentino, he’s about to go showcase for BTP. Can y’all do it? I’ve seen y’all up there playing, can y’all be the band?’ We agreed to do it and after we did the showcase, Bobby and his team loved it. So, we negotiated and said ‘We need our $1500’.

They agreed but then said ‘Hold on, who do I make the check out to?’ My homeboy Chucc started pressing them, he says ‘Just 1500 or Nothin’. Bobby’s manager said ‘No, what’s the name of your band?’ Chucc kept cutting him off with ‘1500 or Nothin” just trying to get the money. Bobby’s team said ‘Man, I like that name’ and we looked at each other and after we got paid, we just kept the name the same. And that’s it. It happened organically like that and we just turned into a household name, obviously, without the same prices, a lot more zeros at the end now, but that’s how it started.

How have your sounds all evolved individually, or at least your own?

I’m a gospel boy so my sound has evolved from just being in the music industry. You’ll quickly learn what people like, what people don’t like and you’ll quickly learn what you get paid for and what you don’t get paid for. But after accomplishing certain things, I realised and understand that I have a responsibility for the people’s lives that I’m changing through my music. So if that’s the case, then I have to have more intention when I’m creating, as opposed to just doing anything and hoping something is going to be successful.

The music industry changed a lot over the course of your career. I mean, it’s completely different now, but being born and raised in Los Angeles, how have you seen the music scene change over the years?

Ah, man, it’s just so sad, to be honest. I’ve seen it go from Tupac, Dr Dre, and Snoop. We had another wave with the New West with artists like YG, Ty Dolla Sign, and Nipsey Hussle. Then we had another wave but that was more like a splash than a wave. I guess you could say, Roddy Rich, Blxst and KALAN.FRFR but outside of those three people, there’s not really anyone that’s making an international impact on the culture, not from my city anyway. That’s why I say it’s sad because I would say Nip is probably the last artist that had a full body of work that everybody respected. You understand his story, you understand who he is as an artist, and you love his music.

I would say get a great team. You need people that understand your vision as an artist. Get a great manager, a good publicist, just make sure that you have people that understand you. Don’t be afraid to do it by yourself. A lot of people feel like they need help. They think ‘Once I get this label, I’m gonna get this’ or ‘If I just had this deal’. You have to move now. Put that song out right now on SoundCloud, and YouTube, you can DM me, or you can tweet, there’s so much access today. You just have to start. So make sure you have the right team and don’t be afraid to start.

With the way the music industry is evolving, I have to ask this question. What’s your opinion on these Ai generated songs? How do you think that will impact the music industry?

Well, it’s already impacting it but as far as the technology, Ai is a tool right? And tools can always be used or misused. So it’s not what it is, it’s how you use it. I’m not opposed to Ai, I think it’s beautiful because it’s something that we can integrate into music production. It’s something that we’ll be able to teach our kids through education. It can teach people how to make beats, and what chord theory is, instead of just making a beat where you don’t know what you’ve made, what key you’re in and you don’t know the BPM. There are certain things that can be beneficial with Ai, that’s how I’m looking at it.

I see it as a tool to be able to further what’s already been done. But, you know, with everything, it can be used or misused and the misuse of it, I’m not rolling with. However, the way that it can be useful and help people learn how to write songs, structure format, and all of those things that I’ve been doing over my career, I think is really, really dope.

What’s next for MyGuyMars? Can we expect some shows coming up?

Absolutely! Did you talk to Sasha? Do you know you’re reading my mind? Hold on, supposed to be a secret? Well, I guess the cats out of the bag. Thank you. I have a MyGuyMars and friends show coming up in LA at Hotel Ziggy and that’s going to be amazing. I have a few more performances. I don’t want to say too much because they’re going to be surprises but definitely have a lot more performances that we’ll be seeing online as well as live shows that people can pull up to.

Amazing, any overseas?

Let’s work on it! I’m waiting on you, let’s get it together! Let’s come in and cut it out. Let’s do it right now.

London shows pending.

I’m with it.