Dr. Khil - “Khilgore Trout”
Posted by Justin Boland on Jun 09, 2011 | 0 Comments
Came across an excellent beat tape from a producer I first crossed paths with many, many moons ago in the Myspace days. Rather than simply re-posting it, I hit up Dr. Khil for an interview about his process and DIY hustle. This cat is focused and talented, and it’s a safe bet you’ll be hearing a lot more about him in 2011…
Meet Dr. Khil…
AH: What is your daily routine like in 2011? How do you organize + prioritize all the projects you juggle?
Dr. Khil: Well, as of now the week days I work a 9 to 5, then I come home and usually make or mix a beat. On the weekends my wife works, so I spend a majority of the days making beats, mixing beats and recording or mixing vocals. I recently purchased a laptop so I have been traveling to friends houses to collaborate on beats with other producers, that has been a lot of fun. My organization and prioritizing is very low-tech, I use Post-It Notes, my desk is covered in them! When I’m working on a project with an emcee I try to work with their schedule, I try to not take on a lot of projects at one time so I can focus on only a few at one time.
AH: Did you ever do any formal schooling on the dark science of mixology and proper mastering or are you mostly a self-taught monster?
Dr. Khil: I attended a formal school for Recording Arts that will remain nameless, they taught me the basics of how equipment works and some mixing techniques. I applied those at the beginning then created my own sound and style. Mastering I did learn myself, it took a lot of time and tinkering to find a good way to do it, it is difficult to do right.
AH: In terms of self-promotion, what’s been working best for you in the past year? Are there any websites or tools you’ve given up that you used to rely on?
Dr. Khil: Honestly, Twitter has opened many doors for me, it makes it easier to connect with other artists and makes you accessible to your supporters. I used to use Myspace but, that site is nothing but a bunch spammers desperate to have anyone listen to their music. I tried to get into Reverb Nation, Soundclick and Facebook, they just waste your time with the fan pages and customization. I have just started a Tumblr account, I’m trying to use it to document studio time and different project I am working on, it seems to be working out pretty well so far.
AH: When you’re working with emcees, do you prefer to do all the finishing work on the tracks yourself, or are you generally just passing them stems for their engineer?
Dr. Khil: I prefer to do the final touches and most of the time I do, sometimes it is just not possible though. When you work with an artist who lives far away or has to pay for studio time, it can be difficult to get the vocals, I really enjoy mixing vocals and taking things out of the beat to actuate the vocals.
AH: How much do you plot out your career moves in advance? Have you been working from a long-term plan or playing it by ear?
Dr. Khil: Honestly, I’m just playing it by ear. I am kind of learning about promoting and marketing as I go, I try to focus on my product. I’ve seen artists be really aggressive about their promoting and then you hear their product and it is garbage. So, I want to make sure my art is good enough to promote. I have been very lucky as of late, I have gained a bunch of supporters who help me so much, it is just amazing, word of mouth works much better than anything else I have tried.
AH: A question I get a lot from engineers: how do you seek work? Is it mostly through word of mouth and referrals? (Or is this a “secret sauce” area?)
Dr. Khil: HAHAHA! No, no secret. I honestly used to only work with local artists, but then I stopped. I have so many projects of my own that I really don’t have time to work on other peoples projects. I mean, I wouldn’t turn down an offer to mix and master a project, but I am not activley looking for work. I would much rather sell beats.
AH: For hip hop production, do you think formal schooling is worth the investment or should novices dive right in and learn face first?
Dr. Khil: It was worth it for me, I’m a tactile learner so I need to actually do the task in order to understand it. If people want to just jump in thats cool, but they need to understand how these tools work. If you don’t understand how they work, you will never know the correct way to use them.