In 2015 Audocs released a compilation called Origins: Audocs, Vol. 1. Rickochet (Fresno, California) kicked it off with a track called 'Veterans Minimuim'.
How did you first become involved with music?
For my 12th birthday we rented a beta-max player and MJ’s The Making of Thriller. Around that same time I bought my first hip-hop cassette which was Whodini Escape. Right after that the break dance scene got so heavy we’d have school assemblies for crew battles, no joke. All of that just sowed the seeds of love for the music and culture and by high school, after a few years of mostly Run DMC and LL in the Walkman, I was hitting up all the mom and pop record stores to find what the major chains wouldn’t carry out here…P.E. Yo! Bum Rush the Show, N.W.A and The Posse, BDP Criminal Minded, of course Eric & Ra Paid In Full, etc. But I’d say it was that next late 80’s/early 90’s wave of De La, Tribe, Nas, Com Sense and all of them that crystallized my ambition to make music myself. At that point I went in half (not a great decision in hindsight) with a friend on my first piece of equipment, which I still have to this day: an Ensoniq EPS 16-Plus Sampling Workstation Keyboard. And that was the jump.
Do you consider yourself a professional musician and if so, at what moment did you realize it?
Yes and no. Yes because I know I’ve worked with and contributed to the craft and the legacy with other professionals and have had an impact, however small, an imprint maybe, that can’t be removed from the history books. And I know the number of hours, blood sweat and tears I invested and sacrificed over the years. But at times no…out of sheer respect for those artists who have committed in a much more selfless and bold way than myself and live and die, eat and pay rent via their music…some of whom I know personally and have watched them grow from the beginning because we all started in the same place in the same city in the same era.
How long have you been interested in music?
Not coming from a Black household, music wasn’t as integrated into my childhood the way you hear many veteran deejays and emcees recollect from their own early years. My dad really only played Johnny Cash on vinyl which probably played its own role in my own personal gravitation toward melancholy and introspective records. My older sisters had me into the 70’s and 80’s pop from David Bowie and Elton John to Journey, Men at Work and Duran Duran, etc. I still love all that and can go on extended “all 80’s” listening binges frequently lol but like I said when I first came across that Whodini record, it turned my attention toward hip-hop and things have never been the same since.
Is music your day job? If not what is your occupation? If you care to share!
No sir, I wish I could say it was. That was the plan way back in the day lol. I always tell this story…my good homey Ridwan / OnBeats (Fanatik) once told me early on that he was working, going to school and making music, and realized that he had to let one go for the others to get their due attention. I heard him but only in retrospect did I really grasp that wisdom. By that point of course I was a father, husband, trying to make ends meet, get through school while working, etc. and I felt I couldn’t let any of that take a back seat, just on some grown man shit. So naturally, it was the art that suffered. In any case, the long, winding road led through barber college to CSU Hayward to finish my Bachelor’s to teaching bad ass kids in Sacramento lol to grad school with a Master’s Degree in Social Work. And then by the Most High’s plan somehow I ended up where I am now, working as an Electrical Design Engineer. Go figure. But looking in the mirror, ironically, I see an artist, a writer, a creator…before anything else. So the musician is in here somewhere plotting his escape from The Matrix I suppose lol.
What are some of the weirdest or obscure jobs you have had?
Yeah I cut hair for a number of years from Fresno to Oakland. That was a natural fit in a sense for a young artist but I was too undisciplined to make it work like I should have and ultimately was selling myself short in terms of the tools God gave me. I also worked for quite a while with Developmentally Disabled Adults. Now that was a tough gig but it most certainly gave me a healthy dose of humility, gratitude and empathy for those who come into this world facing the worst obstacles imaginable. Respect for those who do that work selflessly day in and day out. And I took a second job at Blockbuster fresh out of college to help pay for my daughter’s private school cuz that public neighborhood school at the time was not the business. But I’ve delivered pizzas, bagged groceries, all that shit. From the bottom lol but like Dirt said…”for the children”, right?
Do you think sleep is important and if so, how many hours do you sleep per day?
You mean the cousin of Death? Lol…Hell yeah it is and I do not get nearly enough. Maybe 5 on average for me. I know plenty of cats who seem to do great with less, but I think the body needs it to repair cells, restore balance, etc. Like charging your iPhone. It’s an underrated method of self-preservation and the current Rat Race culture is forever designing new ways to intrude upon our private time to gain increased access to us as consumers. If they could buy ad space in our dreams trust me they would…or should I say when they can they will! lol
What’s the highest level of education you’ve achieved?
Yep that MSW which is collecting dust in a frame but for which I’m breaking off Sallie Mae every month for the foreseeable future. Sallie got a one track mind for real lol…like the 1st & 15th where’s my shit?! lol
What gives your music a distinction?
Hmmm…I’d be curious how listeners might answer question that but I guess I’m not wired to do so myself. I’m sure like every other producer I’m a composite of influence from the legends of the era I grew up on: Preem, PR, Extra P, etc. But not on that major league level of course…somewhere in the farm system maybe lol which still takes a serious degree of work.
How do you achieve that distinct sound?
I recently saw a video of Jake One making a beat and was mildly surprised he still rocks the ASR-10. That rejuvenated my spirit a bit in the sense that I’ve struggled making the instinctive leap to software-based production. So I guess what I’m saying is it’s always best to work in your comfort zone and for me the SP/MPC/keyboard sampler sound is where I still live and breathe. I think it maintains a degree of warmth and analog feel that can’t quite translate to strictly digital work environments. Damn that sounded hella pretentious can I go back and just say, “Cuz I fucks wit that 808 son!!”? lol
Do you consider yourself a composer, artist, emcee or lyricist?
All of the above, which is a dying breed if I may say so without sounding the bitter old guy in the room. Like in pro sports you now have the middle inning reliever in baseball, the 3rd down short yardage back in football, the lockdown defensive specialist in hoops…shit remember when cats used to have to play the whole game and do all that shit? Lol same with hip-hop. Not a lot of new renaissance-type cats coming up although I have been encouraged more so as of late.
Do you have any unusual tools in your arsenal or process?
Nothing special on the production side. On the writing side, I often will write out a whole song in my head before putting pen to paper and have it memorized in the process. Some people think that’s kinda odd.
What or who has been the greatest influence on your life or career as an artist?
Just the so-called Golden Era in general. Like I’m sure growing up listening to Coltrane and Miles left an indelible impression on Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea and them…how could it not? We were truly blessed to come up at that time and had no clue as to the historic and fleeting nature of the moment.
What different states or countries have you lived in? Have you noticed any differences in either?
Cali born and bred but I ‘ve been blessed to travel. Most of family is in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia and seeing them a couple of times was powerful. Munich, Salzburg, Prague, Dubrovnik…definitely opened my eyes to a different life perspective and pace and left me eager to disconnect from this craziness over here and reconnect to that vibe to which I felt much more naturally attuned. Some places I love here in the States as well, though, particularly New Orleans and Chicago.
What has been your biggest musical accomplishment?
I guess heads might know me best from my production on the first Cali Agents record and some early Planet Asia solo EP work. On the mic, Fanatik threw me on this crazy 20-minute posse cut with a slew of Bay Area legends and more recently on a track with my young homey Fashawn on the Higher Learning LP a few years back. Ironically I did a P.A. track that he only used to shop himself for his first deal that is my favorite piece of work, and he showed me a video way back of him rocking it at a show in Denver with Slick Rick breakin his neck on the side of the stage. Can’t beat that shit.
Are there any notable collaborations that stick out?
My man Fanatik put me on with his dudes The Planets in the UK and Nomadic P and myself are good to this day. Being able to stretch across the pond and lace two joints for their breakout LP was a blessing and just a dope experience and opportunity, no question.
Can you explain your best performance in front of an audience and how you felt?
Wow not too many…here’s a funny one…opening for E-40 and The Click here in the Grizzly back in like 1992. I know who woulda thunk it? lol
Is making music important? Can you rank it in your life?
Right after The Creator, my kids, and breathing. When I’m absent from it I can feel it.
Is there a next level or achievement you are trying to accomplish in music or other?
Well in music, if I don’t put together a definitive and complete work, an LP really, for posterity if nothing else…I will feel like I squandered a gift from above. I guess the clock’s ticking on that one. Beyond that, as a writer, I have a jones to get cracking on some script and screenplay business, but that’s another story.
Do you self-publish or are you (or have you been) affiliated with any major projects, labels or publishers?
Featured here and there, not the best at handling my B.I. lol. I need to take a class from you brutha.
Who do you think your audience is?
Cats who appreciate that classic shit. Pretty much that simple.
How do you think or see people responding to your music?
The illest is seeing a YouTube comment from Berlin or Paris or somewhere across the globe saying that your track was their favorite on a particular artist’s project. That kinda shit will keep you going more than one might think. You feel like you if reached someone that far away you must be tapping into something authentic.
What is your most recent project?
This one! Lol Also doing some work with my homeys Los Mas Chingones on some Cumbia/classic hip-hop flavored shit. They’re driving the ship though, I’m just along for the ride…lol.
What projects are on the horizon for you?
Only Allah knows. Maybe finally attack that album. Time will tell.
Have you ever been a part of a crew or team? How did or does that affect your music output?
Illogic 1995 shit salute!! Lol we did have a dope collective of cats many of whom I’m still close with and are still creating…Jihad Al-Nafs to name one. It was a talented and conscious core of young dudes who were definitely capable of greatness in my mind but life has different plans for each of us no doubt. I had a college radio show in the late 90’s and we had my local fam like Planet Asia, Shake Da Mayor, Turbin and all them cats through regularly to tear shit up. Rasco went to college down here so we also have shared roots. We go back to the early days and genesis of Stones Throw with Fanatik and Wolf and those cats. Fashawn of course is like the nephew who grew up on his uncles’ shit. The extended fam is crazy though. 559 gets it in belee dat!
How long do you see yourself making music?
Until I don’t feel motivated to or can’t use my arms to make beats. But by then I’m sure Google Glass will allow me to lace joints using mind control lol.
What are you attempting to achieve with music?
I just want to add on the legacy and patchwork of the music that gave me so much and literally saved my life, many times over.
What’s your favorite Television series?
I’m on the Walking Dead and True Detective type shit like everyone else but my sleeper joint is Vikings on the History Channel. The dude’s name is just ill…sometimes it makes me wanna say “Yo I’m bout to go Ragnar Lothbrok on muthafuckas!!” lol
What other music genres do you enjoy or listen to outside of your own?
Depends on the mood. I might be on my Art Laboe low-rider oldies tip or my 80’s Billy Idol, Tears for Fears thing or who knows? Probably not Country though. That’s a pretty safe bet. I might even be on some hair band metal Ratt and Quiet Riot shit but still no country. Unless it’s the Man in Black lol. And Reggae always, just because.
Has there been a major event, natural disaster or historical moment that defined or has defined your career or track you published?
Hard to say but I have this clear memory of the night the Rodney King verdict was announced. I was at a club where Various Blends (shout out to EB.f, Friz-B and Rasco) were performing watching this TV in the corner and it kinda shut me down for the night. Most everybody kept drinkin and getting phone numbers and shit lol but I was done. It was one of many moments that kind of cemented a correlation between music/art and politics, or better yet, social awareness.
Besides music what else do you enjoy doing?
Writing, cooking, traveling…damn I sound like a hip-hop Rick Steves lol…and just being with my kids bruh I’m a simple Aquarius dude trust me.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Stay focused on your goal…don’t take no for an answer. You might not be the dopest but if you work the hardest you will leave the dopest in the rear view mirror. But the game has changed a lot since we came up…I might have to tell em to just master Social Media and fuck the skills they don’t matter so much these days lol. You know you feel me!!