/  07.07.2022

When you see Tre Trax’s production credits on songs from Saucy Santana, Latto, and LightSkinKeisha, just know they’re the result of years of building friendships with people who would go on to become the hottest artists in the game.

“You can quote me on this: Santana is the realest nigga I know. His confidence really influences me. It inspires me because he’s him day in, day out,” Tre Trax told REVOLT. “You’re not going to get anything fake or different with him. How you see him on the internet is how he is in real life.”

In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” Tre Trax talks about how Latto used to record in the back of her clothing store, how he was the first person to believe Santana’s “Walk” would be a hit, and his work on an upcoming T.I. country song collaboration. 

Who was the first artist you worked with who was major or went on to become major?

Before Latto, I produced a song in my senior year of high school called ‘Juice’ by Lil Donald. It blew up. One of those dancing songs blew up and took over the internet. Future picked up and signed Lil Donald to Freebandz off that song. I didn’t meet Lil Donald until I came down to Atlanta after the song came out. That’s when I decided to move from New York to Atlanta. I moved to Atlanta in 2015.

These last seven years of living in Atlanta have changed your life. When did you first connect with Latto?

I met Latto through my attorney in fall 2015 at Patchwerk [Recording Studios]. I played her a few beats. She rapped on a few beats. We went out to eat after. That was our initial meeting. After that, I was around for all her early shit when she was recording in the back of this shop she had out in Jonesboro. It was a clothing store. I did her cover art back then. 

Paint me a picture of what that clothing shop studio looked like?

The clothes were all in the front, and in the back was a section with a closet for a booth, a little desk setup, and a couch. It was nothing too crazy. It was really a home studio setup in a shop. One thing about Latto is she always wanted it. Some people eat, sleep and breathe this shit, and Latto is one of those people. That’s why we connected on that level to have that type of chemistry. There was never a doubt in her mind that she’d be a rapper.

What was the first song you and Latto created in the studio that made you realize you had chemistry?

We had a good friendship first. We were always cool. On her Time and Pressure EP, we had this one session for the song ‘Heart Broke.’ In that session, it was me, her, and the engineer Pharaoh. We were bouncing ideas off one another. I was telling her which parts were hard and which parts she should try something like this. We were going back and forth, and she was really listening. That was the session when everything clicked. 

You’ve produced “Heart Broke” and a few other songs for Latto over the years. How did you develop your sound with her?

Early on, Latto had a specific sound that was really southern but not too hard, so girls could really vibe to it and relate to it musically. So, I basically push her beats like that. For me, I try to give artists what they don’t have. When it came down to building Santana’s sound, I knew the shit he liked to listen to. Latto liked to listen to Gucci Mane, so I tried to give her tracks like that. I try to give them what they’re listening to but also something different at the same time. That’s the intricate part of it. I knew there was a lane that was really there, where uptempo beats were needed for girls to dance to and get into. At the time, the only popping songs were from Megan [Thee Stallion], which were kind of trappy, down south sounding. There was also Cardi [B] with ‘Bodak Yellow,’ which was really trappy and slowed down. The City Girls were out, but they weren’t all the way pushing that uptempo vibe. So, I came in and said, ‘Let’s run it like this.’

You seem very strategic with how you attack things. What is Latto’s creative process in the studio?

Latto just goes off of a vibe. Whatever her vibe is, you have to paint that picture for her. We’re friends first before anything. She’ll be kicking it at the studio; I’ll be there at the studio and ask her, ‘What you got going on?’ She’ll be like, ‘I got to work on this verse’ or ‘I have to work on this type of song.’ I’ll say, ‘Let’s do it,’ and we’ll go from there. She’s a studio rat just as much as me. Process-wise, she goes off the vibes at the moment. 

 

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You also worked with Saucy Santana early on in his career until now. Have you ever made a beat right in front of him for any of his songs?

‘Shisha’ with the City Girls. I’m from New York, and Santana’s from Connecticut but moved to north Florida early on in his life — so, he’s really a Florida person. We’re from two different cultures. I grew up listening to Bobby [Shmurda], Rowdy Rebel, and stuff like that. He listened to stuff by Trina. I’m not hip to that world, but he’ll send me records to listen to and vibe to. The song he sent me for ‘Shisha’ was ‘Get Fucked Up’ [by Iconz] and I was like, ‘I’ll make something with this in mind.’ I’m in the studio first, and Santana pulls up an hour or two later after being outside and catching a vibe. That’s how my sessions with Santana usually are. He came with Yung Miami. She had a session in the room over from us. I don’t know what happened with her session, but she just kept coming to our session to hang out. I had the hookah set up and the bottles; I’m setting the vibe and the atmosphere. Santana simply said, ‘Where’s the shisha?’ He told me, ‘Tre, make a beat from scratch.’ I just went straight to that song he had already sent me. I started cooking it up in front of him and he started saying, ‘Where’s the shisha?’ That’s where that song started. He began recording the hook when Yung Miami came in the room, heard it and went, ‘Oh, I like this. This is hard.’ That’s basically how that song came together. 

After making the beats for artists like Santana, what is the rest of your production process for records?

Any record you’ve heard from Santana, I’ve probably recorded it. I’m also mixing it down and helping with the mastering. I even help with the rollout. I’ll be very hands-on with every single thing. So, I’ll get the vocals from Miami, chop them up, and make them right. Then, I’ll get the vocals from JT. Then, I’ll pull up to the studio so we can shoot some content around the song and make sure it hits The Shade Room the next day. I’m very hands-on like that. 

You produced his hit, “Walk.” Did you and Santana know that was going to be big?

I did. This is the story behind ‘Walk.’ I made the beat for ‘Walk’ in my bed at 7 a.m. At the time, the label was pushing me, saying, ‘We need another big song’ because ‘Walk ‘Em Like A Dog’ had about 1.5 million streams, which was his biggest song. We were trying to follow that up. We probably put out two projects before we put out ‘Walk,’ and that’s about 30-something songs. Nothing caught up to ‘Walk ‘Em Like A Dog’ so in my head, I’m like, ‘Yo, I need to do something to set the tone.’ I made the ‘Walk’ beat and knew it would go for Santana; all I needed was a dope hook on it. I called up the songwriter [Deandre Adrine Hunter], who did a lot of stuff for Santana and had him come up to the studio on a random night. I finessed a room somehow for 30 minutes, and then they kicked us out. We did the hook for ‘Walk’ and the first verse that Santana didn’t like. I held that song close. I didn’t send it to anybody else or play it for anybody else. I knew it would go to Santana; if he did it, it would be big.  

I got Santana to record it. The night we recorded it, JT was in the studio with us. It was just me, Santana, and JT with a couple of shots. I was recording him while he was in the booth. We all went back and forth about the song to put it together. ‘Walk’ comes together, and now it’s time to put the songs out. Before we dropped ‘Walk,’ people saw a snippet up on TikTok, and it started blowing up. The next day, I’m looking at The ShadeRoom, and the song is a hit. For the next couple of weeks, Kelly Rowland, Ciara, and everybody started doing the challenge. I told them, ‘I told y’all that was going to be the one.’

 

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What is Santana’s personality like at the studio compared to what we see on social media?

He’s the same person. You can quote me on this: Santana is the realest nigga I know. His confidence really influences me. It inspires me because he’s him day in, day out. You’re not going to get anything fake or different with him. How you see him on the internet is how he is in real life. We joke on the internet the same way we are in the studio and behind closed doors. He’s authentic all the way through. 

What do you need in the studio to make your best music?

It depends. You need to treat every song differently and approach it differently. I recently wrapped up Ann Marie’s project, and we have this dope R&B sound that’s a hit. At the time, I was really heartbroken when we wrote it. It was just her and I vibing in her home studio. It was her and I venting to each other. For that song, we were in our feelings and in our bag, and we just made that song. We didn’t need any hookah or anything. With Santana, if we’re going in to make a party song, I’ll have bottles, hookah and people pull up to be around to catch the energy. It’s the same thing with Latto. She might have Cam and Brooke pull up or certain people in the room. The atmosphere pertains to the song and what we’re trying to accomplish. 

Speaking of Latto, what was the game you all were playing in the studio when she beat you and bragged?

(Laughs) People don’t know that Latto is really competitive. She talks her shit in real life. During the pandemic, we started playing the game Anagrams because we had nothing to do but be in the studio and hang out. From sun up to sun down, Latto and I would play ten games three times a day, betting $100 a game. We’ll go back and forth on who’s winning. She’d beat me 7-3, or I’ll come in 10-0. We’d go back and forth for months on that game

 

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How has your working relationship with Latto changed over the years, especially since she’s making massive Billboard hits now?

Over the years, she’s progressed tremendously. Her process has progressed as well. At the same time, I love the fact she understands and gets that I know what I’m doing when it comes to production. That’s one of the things I appreciate about her. To this day, she stays on my ass about things I’m doing production-wise and musically. She’ll be quick to tell me, ‘You’re doing the damn thing’ or ‘You need to be doing this.’ On her last project, for the song ‘It’s Givin’,’ we were all hanging out at the studio, and she was going through records. I told her the part on ‘It’s Givin’’ that goes, ‘Stilettos … pumps … in … the club’ needed to be a chant. I told her, ‘You need to make that a big moment because that’s something girls can shout in the club standing on couches. They’ll feel that.’ She took that and said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ 

How did you first connect with LightSkinKeisha?

I connected with her in 2015 as well. I connected with all of these artists I work with — Ann Marie, Latto, and Keisha — in 2015. We all literally started from the bottom to what it is now. A typical Keisha session will have us drunk off Patròn. When Keisha and I were working nonstop, we drank straight Patròn, vibing and goofing around but still getting work done. We’ll kick it and eat after that. Everything was always fun. 

What is one of your most memorable sessions?

There was this one session for an unreleased Latto song. It was a fun song. At the time, Latto, Brandon [Farmer], [DJ] Von, and all of us were hanging out all of the time. We were in the clubs nonstop, partying and everything. So, Latto and I did a party song about how our nights go down. The lines were like, ‘Knocking over hookahs, everybody drunk as fuck.’ The session was special to me because it had been a minute since Latto and I recorded because she was working with bigger producers. During that session, it was back to basics. We locked in mentally, going back and forth with ideas. The songs came out dope. I have footage of it, so you’ll probably see it in a documentary (laughs). 

 

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What do you have coming for the rest of the year?

Ann Marie’s project is finished and really dope. I’m really proud of what we created. I have a country song with T.I. and Blanco Brown. I have my company Trax SZN and a couple of artists under it. Makya is my R&B queen, and Yasmine Bateman is my pop princess. So that’s where my focus is, as well as connecting with Santana to keep it coming. 

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