August Mapp had the opportunity to sit down with with Atlanta Music Producer JRob, in a Q&A about his life and love for music and projects he has in the works. J also had the opportunity to be a part of a photo shoot for the September Issue, which was shot by USL Magazine's Photo Dir. Karlos Matthews (www.karlosmatthews.com).
J, being pretty new on the scene, you made some serious connections already, considering that you don’t really hog the limelight. Tell us a bit about who J. Rob the producer is?
I’m a kid from Cincinnati and a man of God. I’m pretty laid back and I grew up with a love for music. I love being in the studio and creating.
You have worked with Grammy nominated artist Chrissette Michelle, how did that come about?
Well my manager Gary Jordan actually had her contact info from years ago. I had just made some tracks for an artist in the UK and he ended up passing on them. The tracks had a particular sound so we were trying to figure out who they would best fit. Gary and I found out Chrisette was working on a project overseas and he still had her email address. So we sent over some of the tracks and she ended up responding in about 10 minutes. She loved everything we sent. From there everything sort of fell into place.
Not only did you work with her on her first album, but you did the second one also. How does that feel to work with such a big emerging star?
It’s a blessing! It’s just a culmination of hard work and perseverance. I did four records on the Audrey Hepburn project and two for the album. I’ve always been a fan of Chrisette and she has been a part of some of my favorite records in hip-hop (Aston Martin Music with Rick Ross and Lost ones by Jay Z). So it’s an honor to work with someone of her caliber; someone who is a true artist and musician.
What other projects have you worked on or would like to be presented with?
I’ve been engineering professionally for years now. So on that front I’ve worked with artists and producers such as Rodney Jerkins, Bangladesh, Khalil, Pusha T, Ludacris, Lil Durk, Ma$e, Shekspere, Mary J Blige, Khalil, and K. Michelle to name a few. Production wise I’ve been working with a lot of new talent recently like Jade Alston, Alix Lupri, and Danielle Parente. I’ve also been submitting tracks to artists like Usher, Trey Songs, Jacob Latimore, and Christina Milian.
Production can be quite difficult, especially keeping your sound fresh and different. How do you keep your sounds current and do you have a trademark sound?
I listen to a lot of different types of music. I love the sound of the 90s like R Kelly, Janet Jackson, Blackstreet, TLC, Aaliyah, Guy etc. But I draw influences from all genres. I was a jazz major in college and I played all percussion instruments and piano. I also read music and know music theory. So, I’m always researching and learning. I always try to incorporate different sounds from different parts of the world… different types of music. Not just in genres like pop, rock, country, but Cuban, Brazilian, Asian and world music as well. I try to incorporate live instrumentation in my beats and I’m a huge fan of "old school" music. Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, Earth Wind and Fire all made major impression on me. What I love so much about “old school” music are the musicianship, the groove and feel that records gave you back then; it’s a magical feeling. So my big thing is drums and melody. I love making tracks that evoke emotions and make you feel a certain way. I feel music is meant to evoke emotion and set the mood. People often tell me my tracks sound like they should be in movies. I’m big into orchestral sounds, and just very dramatic buildups. I consider myself a composer of sorts because I want to take the listener through a journey. I never make beats that just loop!
Where do you draw your influences from when producing your music?
Some of my influences are Rodney Jerkins, Bryan Michael Cox, Stevie Wonder, Mike Will, The Runners, Ryan Leslie, Kanye West, Pharrell, Diddy, Pop & Oak . . . .I could go on and on.
As an artist, what sets you a part from all others in the industry?
What sets me a part as an artist is my story and my music. All my records are 100% me. I make the beats, write, record, and mix my records. So for me my music is very personal. I’m a pretty laidback dude naturally, so my music is about letting people into who I really am. It genuinely is all from the heart and it’s the type of music that I want to make with no outside influence. It’s a gift and a curse because it really puts everything on my shoulders, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
Where do you see yourself and your music within the next 5 years?
Within the next 5 years I see myself as the top producer in the game, period.
What is a typical day like for J.Robb, the producer?
Typically, a day for me is waking up around 9, make some coffee, check some emails . . . I usually pull up what I was working on the night before and finalize it. I’m usually the most creative first thing in the morning. From there I will start on some new music, prep for incoming sessions or start on a mix project; it depends on what’s on the schedule. I pretty much work all day unless I have an event to go to. I also still do freelance engineering work. So some day’s I’m at other studios engineering or working on mix projects for clients. But I work from my home studio a lot. So chances are if I’m a the crib, I’m making music.
As an established producer it is important to give back to the community? What are some of the things you have done to give back?
I’m involved in different charity events. Anything I can do to help someone or giveback I try and do. I am a big advocate for Autism; bringing awareness and educating people about it. It’s a serious issue for me and it hits very close to home for me. I also am involved in my community back home in Cincinnati. I’ve produced and written songs for the Center for Closing the Health Gap's "Do Right' Campaign, which deals with obesity in our children. I went back this year to support the convention and It was a great time. I want to also start my own non-profit one day. Philanthropy is very important to me. So music for me is more then just music. It’s a way for me to create a bigger platform so I can help others and spread awareness about things that are important to me.
Interview By August Mapp
Photographer Karlos Matthews
Hair/MUA Veronica Hernandez
Production Patrick Kelly, Christina Fernander
Producer Papa, August Mapp, Darius Church
& Stephen Williams
Photography also by Patrick Kelly &
Darius Church (behind-the-scene)
Videography by Patrick Kelly
Interviews by Chistina Fernander
Location Ambient Studios, Atlanta
Special Thanks Farrah Gilyard & Aisha Albritton
Copyright 2013 USL Magazine