I started producing and tinkering with sounds under the alias Terminill in 2002, after being completely enamored with Jedi Mind Trick’s “Violent By Design” album. Up until that point I had been a big fan of all styles of hip hop. I was eager to soak in as much of this culture from all regions of the US that I could find. File sharing had just started becoming easily accessible and Audio Galaxy was my source of all things “underground”. I was given my first drum machine, the MPC2000xl, for Christmas and started sampling records to try and emulate the stuff I had heard Stoupe doing.
The first album I produced entirely was in 2006 with an artist by the name of Amsterdam. The album, “Terminology,” would prove to be a big learning experience for me and a shift in perspective. Going to those studio sessions every weekend when Amsterdam would come to Portland from Bend, put the idea of expanding my engineering skillset in me. I knew I could get my own equipment and produce and mix the songs that I was currently just making instrumentals for. Control freak? Probably. I also saw that it took money to invest in equipment and learning how to engineer and not every beatmaker or producer was willing to do that. There was really only a couple of studios that did all the rap music. It made sense to me to supplement my income with recording to reinvest back into my production equipment.
But, engineering has made me a much better producer because I could now see how to make instrumentals and still leave room in the music for a lyricist. I started training my ear to hear what frequencies a vocalist could be at and not clash with the music. How to take what is primarily a series of loops and make them sound like a band worked with the lyricist the whole time. I went on to record several albums for Amsterdam including Earth and Sky, It’s Not You It’s Me, The Good Hurt, and Heroes Eventually Die.
Here I was with no classical musical training and trying to be a one man band! Like anyone who practices something enough times, I got better and my instincts helped me spot mistakes faster. Music is so much about feeling and our brains have a way of tricking us into believing something is great when we get caught in the moment of the music. The music you just made can be intoxicating and exciting. The idea is fresh and you feel accomplished with having composed something! With experience I learned to follow my instincts and reduce all the extraneous bits of melody that often can crowd the percussive rhythms of an MC.
Later, in 2007, after meeting with Cool Nutz in a local bar, I was engineering and producing his projects from my studio. The first full album I engineered and mixed with some production was his, “King Cool Nutz” project. I subsequently went on to produce and engineer our album, Incredible as well as record and do some mixing and production for The Miracle, The Cook Up, and Bars. Through Cool Nutz’ introduction, I would go on to produce and record for Kenny Mack, Double 00, T Soprano, Mikey Vegaz, Arjay, and Maniac Lok.
A little while later, in ’08, I did all the instrumentals for a Kid Espi , JG, and Lo (as the Wright Family) album entitled The World’s Happiest Gremlin. In 2010, I thought it would be something different for me to collaborate with another Portland producer by the name of Willie “Sonny” Horton. Under the name Northe’n Lights, we produced Cut ‘Em Or Pay ‘Em: a collective album featuring artists from across the nation, primarily the best and brightest from the Northwest region. The album garnered both local and national attention, and was well-received as a groundbreaking and decisively commercial record coming from a haven of underground music. As Willamette Weekly’s Casey Jarman put it, “The young producers have, admirably, developed a sound of their own – slick and blunt beats with videogame touches…”. Coincidentally, after that review came out, our song Overdrive was licensed for the Iphone/Ipad app Nightclub Story. I have also had music licensed by MTV for their show True Life and Black Ink.
Two years later, I digitally released three collaboration projects. The first, Flatline Studios Vol. 1, was a collection of hip hop music that was recorded over the course of the first year that Flatline was open in its new Portland location. The second, Stone Face was an instrumental piece I arranged to reflect the spiritual and mental transformation I was going through in my life at that time. My wife had my twin girls around that time and I started looking at making music as work a whole lot differently. More stress!!
The producers that participated in the effort all submitted music for me to re design and make fit into this twelve track musical to encapsulate how their music struck me personally. I aimed to take that feeling and turn it back on the listener with abrupt music scapes. The third, Service Without A Smile, was a cooperative effort between the artist Serge Severe and myself. It was the first album of a trilogy of albums that Serge would go onto make with other Portland producers and subsequently toured Europe to promote the albums.
Having produced or mixed for hip hop artists such as Joey Bada$$, Rapper Big Pooh, Philthy Rich, Kirk Knight, Spice 1, Messy Marv, King Los, Cool Nutz, Playboy Tre, Braille, Luck-One, Liv Warfield, Meyhem Lauren, The Jacka, Grayskul, Cassow, Illmaculate, Pigeon John, Grynch, Moka Only, and Mistah Fab. I’m happy to have worked with and helped all of the artists that I have so far. Still, there’s so much more that I want to accomplish with my art. Assembling teams of artists based on their strengths is what fuels me to keep creating. I also enjoy teaching others and coming up with new ways to experiment with sound in the studio.
I am a re designer of sound, an audiophile, a perfectionist. I am fascinated with the way that the vibrations of sound can affect us emotionally. Terminillmusic.com is an platform for me to share the things I come across everyday on the internet as well as some new tunes being made here at Flatline.