Prod By: Quincy
24 Nov 2020
Posing as one of the British Rap scene’s elite producers is, Quincy, whom you may otherwise know from his signature “Quincy Tell Em” tag. Primarily known for his work alongside UK hit-maker M Huncho, the ascending beat-smith has proved himself as a force to be reckoned with! To say this year has been a big one is an understatement, from collecting a variety of boast-worthy plaques, to production on M Huncho’s ‘Huncholini The 1st’, to the joint mixtape titled ‘DNA’ from both Nafe Smallz and M Huncho, Yxng Banes ‘Quarantime’, Nines’ number one album ‘Crabs In a Bucket’ and much more, Quincy is showing no signs of slowing down! Slowly but surely he is not only conquering British Rap but building his own recognizable brand and empire!
With what’s looking like a prosperous 2021 ahead, we caught up with Quincy to talk all things production, his journey, tips for aspiring producers and more!
How have you been? How have you found this pandemic?
To be honest, the first lockdown worked in my favour because when everyone was at home and didn’t know what to do, I just went to the studio. If you have followed my journey, it’s really kicked off this year. Last year I was building a brand and people were starting to know the name but they didn’t really know who I was, I was more known as M Huncho’s producer but this year, it’s more like “Rah, this guy is everywhere! He’s working with everyone!” and that was all during the first lockdown.
So, it didn’t stop you in any way creatively?
It didn’t stop me anyway whatsoever! I didn’t even feel it! With this lockdown it’s slightly different because I’m trying to take a break, but that’s just because I need a rest, it’s not anything to do with the lockdown. I’m actually going to lock myself down from now, relax and try and get the family down for Christmas.
Wouldn’t be a lockdown without a Netflix recommendation? Or even Amazon Prime?
The ‘Vikings’ is the best programme right now! It’s so good! I’m also trying to get into ‘The Crown’, I’ve heard that’s really good as well.
I want to take it back to the start, could you tell us a bit more about your upbringing in North West London and what music you were listening to growing up?
Growing up I was a normal kid, I wasn’t involved in anything – I was just an average kid in school. I was a bit of a class clown, but I came out of my shell around college times and that’s when I started figuring out what I wanted to do and who I was as a person. I just had to get out of the school environment I guess, it was around college that I really started taking a liking to music. My dad does music as well, but he’s in Portugal!
Does he?! What does he do then?
He plays piano and he used to be in a band back in the day, he used to play the drums and that! Music has been installed in me since early, but it wasn’t something I grew up thinking I was going to do. It was only until college that I thought I might give this a go.
What made you decide production specifically? What triggered that?
I couldn’t rap! *laughs* I never really liked my voice number one, and at the time there was no such thing as ‘wave’ or people singing with auto-tune, it wasn’t a thing like that! By the time that came about, I was already into production, so I didn’t try and change into an artist. Even now, I wouldn’t go in the booth and see how things go!
I had a laptop and I don’t know how I had Fruity Loops on there, but remember when you were bored and you’d go on paint and do random stuff – Fruity Loops was that for me! I was just trying things out, as you develop you learn new things and skills and from that I just took a liking to making beats and working on my sound. In terms of music, I didn’t listen to UK music until I started making it. I used to listen to artists like Lil Wayne and that, I had a friend in college and he used to bring me into old school; well at the time it was new, but he used to bring me in on UK Rap with people like Giggs and Squeeks.
How did you learn to produce then? YouTube tutorials or?
Nah it was just trial and error! I would spend hours in the studio, I found a studio that I would pay for monthly and I’d go and spend hours in there, or in my bedroom just practicing the piano, or programming etc. If you don’t have a teacher you just teach yourself, there’s people that play piano that are self-taught and play better than people with a teacher – it’s just about putting in the time and work.
So, was there a producer you looked up to or was it literally just you messing around with it?
I did look up to some producers 100%, but I didn’t try and emulate what they were doing. I used to find it mad difficult to make beats, so when I went onto YouTube, I used to watch this producer called Lex Luger who was massive at the time. I watched this video of him making a beat religiously, I’d watch it over and over again in college, and at the time I used to think he was a magician but now I can do those things for fun. It was things like that that made me want to get into it more, I never copied anyone though, I just saw what producers were doing.
You are known for your work with M Huncho, I heard you originally started going to college with his cousin and that’s how your friendship with him started? I think to some people that may be surprising because people will assume you met through music, but it was more organic for you both I guess.
It was yeah, when I started doing music it was roughly around the same time that he started doing music. I knew his cousin from college, that’s family, and that’s how we linked up. It was deeper than music from the beginning, even if we weren’t doing music right now, we’d probably still be friends.
At the time, I was working with a different artist and trying to build an artist producer relationship with them, but things didn’t work out business wise, so I started doing my own thing. Huncho’s cousin hit me up because he needed beats for a mixtape he was putting out and that happened to be ‘Come Up’, that was the first song we made but the first song we officially put out was ‘Mediocre’ and from then on that’s when we started using “Quincy Tell Em” and built the sound. He already had a mixtape out; I came in just before ‘Utopia’.
How did your tag come about?!
If you go back to ‘Mediocre’, in the intro he mutters it in the background at the beginning of the song, we were in the studio, he said it randomly and I said “We might as well make that the tag you know” – I didn’t have a tag at the time and mine was dead! That is one thing I would say to all producers, is to get a memorable tag! The times where girls made it sound sexy, that’s played out now, try and get an artist to do it, or even one of your friends and make something memorable like a tag line. Look at Chris Rich, his is “I love Chris Rich” not just this person on the beat, that stuff isn’t going to get you anywhere.
What’s your favorite song that you and M Huncho have made together?
My favorite song from us right now isn’t even out yet!
Oh mad, had to come with that answer init! *laughs*
Honestly! *laughs* When this song comes out, it’s going to change the sound of Trap in the UK! Remember I said that!
When going to work with someone, do you prefer to have built a relationship with them prior? Or have you gotten to the stage where you can you work with anyone?
I’d say about 100% of the artists, bar Huncho, I have never met before until we’ve been in the studio. I’ve never met them or spoken to them before; I’ll ask my manager to get me in a session with someone or they will hit him up and ask for a session with me. 9 times out of 10, we build a vibe off of the energy straight away because I am a very positive and energetic person and people gravitate towards that. From the first session, it’s good because we’ve created music which is the most important thing but from the vibe, they’ll come back – I can get on with anyone really!
Do you think that it helps going in with that open minded and positive energy?
Yeah 100%! One thing a lot of producers do, they put artists that they deem to be big onto a mad pedestal of “I think this person is going to be this type of way” – you can’t even think like that, you just need to think that this person is here to make music, we are in the room for a reason and I must be good enough. If the energy is right you might make something that even if it isn’t there best song, they will come back to you because there’s potential there to make a banger and the chemistry is built. I wasn’t always like that though, at first, I always used to get nervous but after a few sessions with artists you get the “Oh, there just human” feeling, and it’s not that deep. If something comes out of the session then cool, if you don’t then at least you left the session with good energy and everyone’s happy.
I know in this industry there are a lot of ego’s and it can be intense at times. How do you go about approaching an artist and discussing rearrangements?
Communication, as long as you’re not taking the piss and you don’t cancel on me an hour before. If something has come up more time you know about it before the session is about to start, it has be a valid reason as well – you can’t just say “I’ve got something to do”, especially if it’s a big session. What people need to understand, especially as a producer, if you don’t take the opportunity then someone else will.
In terms of egos, me personally, I haven’t come across any! It really is about communication! If you don’t let me know, I’ll just burn the bridge I can’t lie, I have done it with a few artists where they haven’t taken it seriously or cancelled 30 minutes before the session and have asked me to send them beats instead. I don’t send beats, I’d rather build a relationship with the artist in the studio, especially if it’s someone I haven’t met. If Huncho asked me for beats now, I’d send them to him all day because I already know we’ll get into the studio and I have a relationship with him. If you are someone who I’ve never met you can’t ask me to send you beats because I might not even like you, to even work with you.
What about musically, if you wanted to change something? I’m sure there are plenty of producers that are up and coming that’ll be in a session with an artist, and they think what they are doing isn’t great but don’t have the confidence to say otherwise. How do you go about saying that?
You just have to break it to them nicely you know, I’ll be real with you! You’ll just have to say “Can you re-record this?” or, book another session in as if you are going to make another song and before just say “Can you re-do this?”. More time with artists, there humans like I said and they want there song to sound the best it can, they’ll take on board what the producer has to say because both their heads are on the line – if a songs shit it’s going to look bad on both ends. Some artists do have an ego, and will say it’s calm the way it is, they don’t mind sounding off beat – it’s down to the artist. Some of them do have ego’s but so do some producers.
Do you ever have moments where you have a creative block? If so, what do you do to overcome it?
I had one recently! I was in sessions almost ever other day throughout the summer and the first lockdown, I got to a point where I was so mentally drained. At first, I didn’t know how to get rid of it, I was trying to take inspiration to songs and listen to music but now I just take a break. I won’t go the studio for a bit or maybe go on holiday and it just refreshes your mind and your brain so that when you do come back, you’re ready to go back to the studio. Even now, I don’t go to the studio for the sake of it, I will only go if I need to go otherwise, I will just stay at home and chill.
Do you prefer to separate the studio from home, or do you work at home as well?
Now with this new lockdown I don’t want to go to the studio so I have a little set up at home but I like being in the studio because of the environment. When you’re in the studio you feel like you are actually there to work, and at home I like to have my peace time, I don’t listen to too much music at home. If I speak to Huncho, I don’t like to talk about music with him unless we’re in the studio – it’s not healthy! You don’t want to feel like music is a chore or a job because remember it starts off like a hobby, so you want to keep that energy!
Once you fall out of love with something in music, it is very hard to get that love back and I have seen it happen with producers; they sign their deals and it’s all happy, then they start getting put in sessions and things aren’t really working out so they lose their love for music and before you know it, they are going crazy! I always separate my personal life with music!
What are your current thoughts on the UK scene as it stands?
I think this is the best place it’s been since I’ve ever listened to UK music! The fact that Street Rap is going to number one with Nines, or Potter going top five – we are comfortably getting top ten’s now! Even down to female rap, female rap is so prevalent – people have their eyes more on female rap than they do with males at the moment!It’s in a decent place, it’s still not in the best place but people are starting to warm up to the fact that the females can come up against the heavy weights now.
What do you think about quality over quantity, and the quality of music coming out now?
That’s a tough one! I am always going to prefer quality over quantity. You see with Americans, someone like Future can drop 4 mixtapes in a year but we have nothing to say about that but if artists here want to do the same thing, it’s like “Why are they dropping so much music?” – we need to be happy that people are dropping music! I don’t see anybody in the UK dropping shit music to be honest, it’s just what your preference is!The only thing that the UK is missing is R&B –
Would you ever do R&B?
I would yeah! There are a couple artists that I fuck with in the UK, but I don’t think the UK is ready for proper R&B, I think everyone wants energy right now with Rap! There are artists like Geovarn and a couple females – I might get into R&B, but I need to find the right artist personally!
A lot of producers think that making money is through PRS and getting a fee, but you can get money off Royalties, YouTube, SoundCloud – you can get money off of everything!– Quincy
What advice would you give to aspiring producers? Are there any common misconceptions people should be aware of? Is there a software they should start with or?
The first bit of advice is to stop annoying artists! I see a lot of producers that hound artist emails and it’s actually weird. The first thing I would suggest is get a manager, it is important, if you have already built a bit of a platform then you might not need one but you can’t do everything by yourself. The second thing is, don’t feel disheartened because not all producers get big cuts. If you don’t get a cut on someone’s album it is not the end of the world, there are plenty of songs that I have made with artists; I might have five songs with them but only one will come out.
What about in terms of business plans? Do you recommend that people really look and research into the industry?
100%! Producers get the least money, aside of engineers, they get cut out of a lot of things. A lot of producers think that making money is through PRS and getting a fee, but you can get money off Royalties, YouTube, SoundCloud – you can get money off of everything! It is very important that you get clued up on your business! When I first started doing music, a track I did hit a few million streams in a month maybe three or four years ago, the artist made over £20,000 and I got zero because I didn’t know anything about it!
In what ways would you say is the best way to build your brand, aside of having a memorable tag?
Use social media! I wasn’t a person to post pictures of myself, so I thought “What can I do to post pictures of myself but still be relevant to music?”, so I just started taking pictures with artists. That became a thing, I use the same pose every time! *laughs* Social media is a whole world within itself, you can reach people in Bangladesh – you can reach the whole world with one post. You need to flood social media, comment on pages and DM people – you have to stay active!
With a lot of producers, they build a YouTube channel and put there beats on there. There are so many platforms to get your music out there, it does not have to be emailing an artist 24/7. For example, with Chris Rich, he started on YouTube and another platform where you can sell beats; people liked his beats so much, he has now become a producer and not just a YouTube producer. He is one of the main Drill producers in music this year, his name is everywhere! Use social media, go to events and network with other artists, A&R’s and managers – the possibilities are endless man!
Is there anyone you would like to work with maybe in the UK or overseas that you haven’t had the chance to work with yet?
I want to work with everyone overseas! *laughs* My favourite artist is Gunna, as soon as I hit America that is the person I am going for! Aside from America, I want to conquer Europe, there is such a big market in Germany, France and Holland – I need to knock out places closer to home first before I go overseas. In America, there is literally a million producers and on top of that, they make the sound that I make already, so what’s going to make me stand out? The only that will is if a I come with a profile, I can go into a room with Gunna now and I’ll just be a producer from the UK, but if I knock out England, Holland and Germany etc, I will be known as the guy that’s knocking out Europe – you know what I’m trying to say?
You have spoken briefly before about your own project coming out next year? Is there anything we can expect? What was your vision when creating this project?
Next year, I am building a platform with Nyge; we are going to set up a podcast for producers because there is nothing like that here in the UK. I have three joint tapes with artists, one is already done and we’re looking to put that out early next year and others are in progress! I am trying to do things that have never been done, they might have been done here and there but nothing memorable to a level where it’s like “Okay, this guy is really trying to takeover now“ – next year I am going to put myself out there as more of an actual brand!