[Photo cred: Micah Green]
DJ Burn One is a living legend. A producer and engineer who is seemingly glued behind the boards, he remains one of the most prolific and influential beatmakers residing in Atlanta. Having worked with artists like A$AP Rocky, Freddie Gibbs, Starlito, and others, Burn One is also a member of the Five Points Bakery, where he cooks up music with Go! Ricky Go!, Walt Live, and plenty of other artists coming and going from the studio. On top of solo work and production work, the three members are also part of the band iNDEEDFACE, featured later in the article. Like I said: prolific. Check out the interview below as I spoke with the talented musician about industry insight, multitasking, the importance of experimentation, and his heavily slept-on yoga album.
Candy Drips: How has this summer been treating you?
DJ Burn One: Pretty good, man. I signed a kid a few years back named Pi’erre Bourne. I met him at this iStandard event where they have folks come and play beats for me and I give ’em a critique. He did 6 records on Playboi Carti’s album, including “Magnolia” which just went platinum. As far as the rest of the crew, we’ve been heavy into making our own samples from scratch for the past few years. Supplying music to some of our favorite producers. We got a gang of stuff on deck but one thing that has come out recently was Ugly God’s album The Booty Tape. We did two samples on there: “Fuck Ugly God” and “Bitch”.
All In project:
CD: You’ve been making music nonstop for quite some time. What keeps you going?
DJ: My partners Go! Ricky Go! and Walt Live always keep me motivated. Watching them work along with our conversations about whatever we’ve learned recently is a constant source of inspiration. We’re always scouring the net for information. We constantly send each other links on everything from the latest plugins, mix tutorials, interviews and anything else we can learn from. We share a special curiosity for anything that can make our lives or music better. Knowing that there’s always something else out there that can improve what you’re doing keeps us searching and inspired.
CD: If the music industry has taught you one things, it’s ______________________.
DJ: Get your paperwork straight before you go all out on someone. There’s so many acts that I had a big hand in getting off the ground but I never saw the fruits of my labor because they just moved on. When I met Pi’erre I knew he was talented but needed some work. I’d never signed a producer before him and making sure we got our paperwork straight up front saved me from potential headaches I had in the past. Some folks will use you up in the industry, feel they got what they needed from you and keep it moving. Past missteps helped me get this situation right.
CD: Is it hard to split time between passion projects and making beats for other artists/vocalists?
DJ: Balancing is always difficult. We put out a yoga album called Thousand Fold two years ago and it essentially got ignored. But that doesn’t matter to me because the music touches my soul. I feel when you’re creating art it shouldn’t be strictly for commercial gain. If that comes then great but I enjoy doing the thing that warms my spirit more than anything else. A girl I practiced yoga with during the time that we were making it actually told me today how much it meant to her. That’s priceless. So I bounce back and forth but I’m really figuring all of this out as I go. Being open to changing my game plan has always been key.
CD: What’s the rest of the year looking like for you?
DJ: Hopefully a bunch of these samples we’ve been sending finally get released. We dropped Ricky’s sophomore album PLAID a few months back so we’re still getting people hip to that. I’ve been developing a new female singer named Anna Valena for the past 3 years and we’re close to being ready to roll her music out. I played her music for someone and they told me it sounds like kush and anguish. That’s probably right [laughs]. I honestly had been off just making beats just to make beats for a minute but I got my swag back and the new beats are sounding amazing. I feel like we’ve finally distilled all of our best qualities into our greatest production thus far. So I’m really excited to see who ends up getting on them.
CD: You’ve done everything from yoga instrumentals to concept beat tapes. Do these form organically or do you approach a beat with a certain vision in mind?
DJ: It’s always a mood. It depends on how we’re feeling and where we’re at at the time. Most rappers are a few years back musically so for awhile it was like beating a dead horse trying to give our musical stuff to guys who just wanted the trap bell. Luckily it seems there are a few catching up and even becoming forward thinking. Everything we do is organic so once we talk about an idea we just knock it out and give it to the world.
CD: Outside of your circle of musicians, what have you been listening to as of late?
DJ: Washed Out’s new record is beautiful, it does something to me. Kali Uchis is pretty fire. There’s a dope new crop of female artists coming up that I dig. On the rap side, not too much has moved me recently. Birds in the Trap was the last album that I consistently jammed. Tay k47’s “The Race” is probably the best song out right now.
CD: How has the Atlanta scene changed in the last year?
DJ: It’s constantly evolving. I think it’s becoming more open. There had always been an undercurrent of different types of music with trap being our main export of course. Now we got kids like 6lack and JID and others who are pushing the game forward. It’s a beautiful time to be here.
CD: Do you have any advice for producers working on their craft?
DJ: Stay learning! Never think you got it all figured out. Learn from the past and figure out how to distill that into what you’re doing. You don’t have to rip off Organized Noize but listen to it and understand what made that music have the impact that it did. I see a lot of kids using a couple stock sounds and wonder why they aren’t popping. It’s because they aren’t experimenting. I feel most of what we do is pure experimentation. We stumble on incredible ideas all the time just by trying shit. Be open to other genres of music and don’t be afraid to collaborate.
CD: Any final thoughts / words of wisdom?
DJ: Be a good person. I see so many people with talent but no awareness or they just want to use people to get to the next step up the ladder. That will only get you so far. I’ve been able to make a living off music since I was 16 because I understood that I needed to bring value to situations before I deserved anything. Be honest and be kind. It’s rare these days.
Fader Burn One playlist:
check out this episode of MASS APPEAL’s “rhythm roulette” featuring DJ BURN ONE and The 5 Points Bakery