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.
Ekzakt doesn’t just make songs with artists, he builds relationships. His amenable behavior paired with a hunger to work has put him in rooms with Jamie Foxx, PartyNextDoor, Isiah Rashad, Kelly Rowland, and Guapdad 4000. It’s in the sessions with the latter where he saw how creativity can sprout anytime and anywhere.
“The session where we made ‘Scammin’ was pretty hilarious because we were all hella faded and he hit me up at two in the morning after being in the club. He came through and we were so wasted that he damn near didn’t remember he made the song the next day,” Ekzakt told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the producer explains what it’s like making music in PartyNextDoor’s home, how talented Jamie Foxx is, and how many unreleased songs he has with Guapdad. Read below.
How did you end up on PartyNextDoor’s album?
One of my frequent collaborators and homies Bizness Boi has been cooking up with me for years. About six years ago, when he first moved out to L.A., he introduced me to his homie Prep from Milwaukee. Prep is actually PartyNextDoor’s engineer... We’ve been cooking up over there the last two or three years. We’ve just been working, while Party’s been working. So, we’ll get together and cook up downstairs, while Party’s upstairs in the studio, and will send beats upstairs. He’ll cut them and they’ll sit wherever they are until time for release.
The most recent joint that we cut made the album. He recorded “Showing You” the same week that we made it. I sent the beat out to a couple of other writers to write songs to. I hit Bizness Boi about sending the beat out and he was like, “Oh yeah, bro. Hold off on that. I think Party cut something to it.” That was how that happened.
Did he make any adjustments to the beat?
He made a lot of adjustments, actually. He took away all of the drums, except the hi-hats that I did and didn’t let the drums drop until the outro. Even when they did drop, him and Prep did alternate versions of the drums that we did. Some of the percussion I did was slowed down and they kept one of the melody elements that I had added... Party really put his hands into that arrangement to make it his whole thing.
You and Party have some unreleased music. What’s happening with that?
He works so much and is so particular about his music. He also writes for other people. We have joints that could hit for a range of artists. They just haven’t found a home yet. It’s a constant working relationship. We got an old joint that I did with my boy Bizness Boi that sounds crazy on some trap shit. Another one is on some R&B stuff. Party doesn’t miss (chuckles).
What about Party’s sound influenced the beat you made?
He’s so versatile. There’s a certain style me, Prep and Biz know that he likes. He’s trying to be on the cutting edge, so I’ll send him everything. I’ll send him packs of all types of beats because he could be on some dance shit for Kygo or trying to find Rihanna’s next single. He’s always writing for a multitude of artists.
You said before that you have dozens of songs with Guapdad.
We have a bunch of songs. In between Scamboy Color and Dior Deposits, we were in the lab a ton. I have a folder of at least 20 different songs that are waiting to be finished or finalized on top of a few more that are going to be part of the next project.
What is he like in the studio?
Guap is unlocked. That kid is super talented. I can’t sing his praises enough. That’s little bro. He’s a fast learner. He went on tour this past summer and came back from tour a completely different artist. The first record we did, when he got back off tour at the end of last year, he was doing his own harmonies. He always had bars.
What’s the quickest you two ever made a song?
It was probably 40 minutes. This song is eventually going to come out one day. I don’t know when. It was a record where he told me, “Yo, I need some Memphis shit.” I instantly played a dirty, grimy string lick and made a beat with hi-hats, 808s and strings. It’s hella similar to “Scammin’.” It’s faster. I made the beat in 20 minutes and he freestyled the whole song in 20 minutes. Guap is crazy, especially when he gets some Hennessy in him.
When were those unreleased songs recorded?
It was mostly last summer before the album dropped. We did a few recent ones since November. But, most of those songs we recorded were over the summer before he went on any of the tours. That was before Rolling Loud or any of that.
What’s the funniest session you two ever had together?
Guap is hilarious. The session where we made “Scammin’” was pretty hilarious because we were all hella faded and he hit me up at two in the morning after being in the club. He came through and we were so wasted that he damn near didn’t remember he made the song the next day. He hit me like, “This is hard. We were going crazy last night. I was fucked up.” He’s hilarious. That’s why I fucked with Guapdad. A lot of these viral personalties put on a mask to be that person. Guapdad is Guapdad 24/7.
What was it like working with Jamie Foxx in the mid 2010s?
That was amazing. Jamie is a pleasure to work with. He’s super talented. My engineer partner Eric and I used to run Tank’s in-house studio. Through Tank, we met other R&B cats and I linked with this guy named Lonnie Bereal. He was the one who had me come in and engineer for Kelly Rowland. One day, after we did the Kelly Rowland stuff, he hit me like, “Hey, I’m over at Jamie Foxx’s house and the studio is not working. Would you be able to help us wire the studio up so that we can record?” I was like, “What? Of course.”
I helped them rewire the studio and a week later, he called me for the same thing again. I went over there like, “Bro, who is the engineer? Why does the studio keep coming undone. That’s not something that happens normally.” They were like, “We just be having people in here and they do whatever.” I was like, “Oh, that’s insane. Do y’all need an engineer?” They were like, “Yeah, we definitely need an engineer.” So, my homie Eric and I took turns every other day for probably three or four months working on Foxx’s last album Hollywood: A Story of a Dozen Roses. That was during summer 2014.
How much of Foxx’s last album did you record?
We worked on 12 different songs and only two of them ended up making the album. I recorded the “Dozen Roses” songs. “In Love By Now” was a piano ballad I engineered on and they did about 12 versions of that song with different people playing the piano. Foxx playing the piano, Tank playing the piano.
Is there something Jamie did during the recording that illustrated his talent?
Oh yeah. He can sing without tune. We were cutting some song that was in high falsetto and the autotune kept messing his voice [up]. So, I turned the autotune off, recorded him, and it sounded so much better. That really surprised me. He has real pristine vocals.
What do you need to make your best beats?
I just need my laptop. All the other stuff is cool, but it’s extra. I’m on Logic and sometimes Fruity Loops. I’ll probably make the transition to Fruity Loops.
So, you made “Showing You” for PartyNextDoor using just a computer?
I also had a midi controller. I could computer key it out. That’s how I started it. I honestly don’t need the midi controller 90% of the time. Most of the time, for drum, I’m solely using the computer keyboard.
How has Coronavirus affected you?
Coronavirus has shut a lot of things down. I was in a bunch of sessions with this artist named Katori Walker. We were supposed to do two weeks together. After the first day, Coronavirus shutdown everything and the label cancelled all of the sessions. As a producer, we don’t get hit as hard as an artist does. I know a ton of artists that have lost a large sum of money from cancelled shows. For producers, it’s the best time to send beats off to artists...