For “Studios Sessions,” we delve into the stories behind the long hours in the studio and all that goes into making an album by talking with artists, producers, engineers, photographers, and more who are intimately connected to the recording process with some of the biggest artists in the world. These are the stories that rarely leave the booth.
As owner of both Twelve Studios and 700 Studios in Atlanta, Saad Amin’s phone rings whenever artists like Meek Mill, Blac Youngsta, Jim Jones and others touch down. So, when the pandemic hit, it didn’t take long for those stars to want things back to business.
“At first, we would slow it down. We wouldn’t let more than five people in a session. After a while, artists were like, ‘Nah, I need everybody in here.’ I think Blac Youngsta took the studio for the most time during the pandemic,” Amin told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the Atlanta recording studio owner details what Jones and Future need in the studio, the untold story of how part of Roddy Ricch’s “The Box” beat was made, and more. Read below!
When did you purchase your studios? Who has been in them?
700 Studios was K. Camp’s old studio. That’s more like home base, so we mostly have our artists in there. But, we’ve had Rod Wave, Lil Durk, Trouble, Moneybagg Yo, and Hoodrich Pablo Juan. I got Twelve Studios around June 2019 and 700 about two years before that, but Twelve is a different animal. When I got to it, Warner [Music Group] had it locked down, so I had to buy it from Dina [Marto]. I guess she really wanted to get rid of it and Warner was taking too long to do the purchase. This is the first studio I really started working at when I started coming to Atlanta doing music. She said, “Saad, I know you wanted the studio.” I was a little hesitant because I had just got 700 and she was like, “This is a better situation for you and you’ll be purchasing a piece of history.” We went and did the deal. At the time, 30 Rocc [was renting] a room in there. I was like, “Let’s keep 30 Rocc there.” He actually made Roddy Ricch’s “The Box” in Twelve. Actually, you want to hear the story behind that?
Actually, there’s a 13-year-old kid in there that was interning for me. His father brought him here and was like, “He really wants to do music.” We were like, “Oh, alright. We’ll give him a chance.” We let him start coming there and his beats are crazy. So, 30 Rocc starts taking a liking to him and that kid actually made part of [“The Box”] beat.
How did the pandemic affect the studio’s operations? Who came to the studio?
This is Atlanta, so we were the only people closed for two weeks. We’ve been open ever since (laughs). I hate to say it, but the clubs and everything was back open after two weeks. Atlanta hasn’t really felt the pandemic. You don’t really notice the pandemic when you live in Atlanta until you go outside of Atlanta. I’m in the gym right now and no one has a mask on in the gym. That’s just how it is right now. At first, we would slow it down. We wouldn’t let more than five people in a session. After a while, artists were like, “Nah, I need everybody in here.” I think Blac Youngsta took the studio for the most time during the pandemic.
What’s the most impressive act you’ve seen done?
I’ve seen artists make a song and shoot a video right then and there, and get it uploaded the next day. That’s very impressive to me. I’ve seen Youngsta do that plenty of times. I’ve seen Durk do that.
What do you make sure to have in the studio for artists like Future?
Future just needs a lot of weed. Whatever other stuff he has going on is his business. But, I know he needs dark lights, the mic next to the engineer, and he needs his weed. Also, a [USB-C to 3.55mm] dongle is the most important thing in the studio right now. If you don’t have one of those, it’s hard because then they don’t have a way to play their music. A dongle is essential. It’s the piece that connects to aux chord because aux chords aren’t around anymore. That’s how you plug it into your phone. A lot of studios don’t have that piece.
You also own the SL Lounge. How does that help bring artists to your studios?
That’s a no-brainer. That’s how it usually happens. Or, they’ll go from the studio to SL. One time it was Durk, Trav, Tracy T and all of us in the studio and they were like, “Let’s get some food from SL.” ...We went, got some food, and came back to the studio. Jim Jones loves going to SL and then heading to the studio for the rest of the night.
I’ve waited in the studio to interview Jim Jones and he loves to record late.
Vampire life. That’s where the concept of the Vamp Life clothing line came about. Jim listens to the beat for two or three hours and then goes records. Sometimes I leave the room because I can’t listen to the same beat for two to three hours. I just come back when he records or he’ll play it for and ask, “You like that?” I might tell him, “Nah, you need to change this or add that.” He really trusts my ear.
You executive produced his Miami Vampin’ and We Own The Night Pt 2 albums. What did you do for those?
When you executive produce, you’re not the actual producer. Puff [Daddy] is an executive producer. Jermaine Dupri is an executive producer. You’re sometimes putting the producer with the artist from the jump and then from there, you’re taking what songs you think will actually hit on the tape. Then, you’re saying, “I think Trey Songz would sound good on this. I think [Yo] Gotti would sound good on this. I think you should put Cam’ron and Juelz [Santana] on this.” Jim’s connections are already crazy. So, he would ask me, “Who do you think I should put on the song?” I would tell him, “Let’s get Trey [Songz] on a song.” I got a lot of my connections in hip hop by doing things with Jim, Juelz, Cam and them.
Anything funny you’ve seen Jim do in the studio?
I can’t think of anything in the studio other than Jim gambling and losing all of his money, and it being funny to me (laughs). We’ve had so many funny nights because he’s one of the people he’s able to be funny with.
Your label 1865 Black Flag has partnerships with Interscope and Atlantic. Which of your artists have you connected with bigger ones?
Meek Mill always listens to my ideas. If I bring it to him, more than likely he’ll listen to it. He likes 5am and posted him. Jim put 5am on a song with Yo Gotti. I always connect them.
What is the future of studios?
I think the days of the big fancy studios with SL boards is over. I don’t really see a lot of artists ask for an SL board or anything like that because everything’s digital. Unless you’re Dr. Dre, but he’s an OG. But, for the younger generation and producers, they don’t use any of that stuff. I think it may go to smaller spaces.