Question in the Form of An Answer: Frankie P (Hazy Nights In The Heights)

It’s rare that you randomly stumble upon something on Soundcloud that truly grabs your interest, but New York native and Washington Heights resident Frankie P’s recent release “Hazy Nights...
By    October 31, 2011

It’s rare that you randomly stumble upon something on Soundcloud that truly grabs your interest, but New York native and Washington Heights resident Frankie P’s recent release “Hazy Nights In The Heights” did just that. A self-proclaimed “instrumental journey through the mind of Frankie P,” the album is produced with maturity, incorporating live instrumentation and software solutions in a sophisticated way.

It’s jazz with a hip hop sensibility and some latin flavor thrown in for good measure. In short, it’s excellent, and you should take the time out to listen. I caught up with Frankie in the Heights to talk about the project. –Dan Love

Hazy Nights In The Heights has a very high production value. Tell me how you reached that point.

I pretty much been doing it for over 10 years. A friend of mine put me on in high school on Fruity Loops and I ran with it. I fell in love with the software and focused all my time on the art of production, the layering of sound, drums, samples, playing over samples… it became an addiction. I was 14 at the time and now I’m 25.

From your website, it’s clear that you’ve experimented with different styles and some sampling. Was that the root for you?

I learned how to produce by sampling. I had an MPC 1000 and my friend took me under his wing and taught me how to do it. That’s how I started. But as time goes on and you learn the business of music you want to profit off it and make it a career. If I sample a Miles Davis song and it comes out amazing and they want to use it for a CD they’re gonna tell me that they want 90% and that’s that. It’s just evolved, from sampling other people’s music to wanting to make my own music. I built a lot of relationships with musicians over the years. I realized I didn’t need to sample any more, I could just recreate the sound or make a new sound and still keep that feeling.

Are you classically trained?

I play piano. I took two years in college for music theory and I graduated with a Music Business degree and an Audio Arts minor. I took some guitar classes there too. When I came back to the city I took some piano classes for about a year or so but it’s expensive… I’ve been playing by ear as well.

So let’s talk about this project specifically. It’s all live instruments?

For the most part. Yes, it’s live instruments but there’s also a lot of computer-based stuff. Most of the drums were done on Fruity Loops but the way I produce now I can manipulate the sounds to be more real. If I’m doing drums I don’t leave the velocities hitting at the same speed because that isn’t real. I’ll shift certain hits so they don’t hit directly where they should and it’ll have a certain amount of swing to it. People have been complimenting me on the whole drumming aspect of the CD but all of that stuff was done on computer. There were still some live drums and a plug-in called Contact that has really great drum sounds. I’ve been collecting drum sounds for years so I have a catalogue. Once I’d laid down the framework of the song I brought in a bass player, guitar player, I have trumpet on there, I have tenor sax on there, some live vocals, some acoustic piano… On a lot of the tracks if you listen carefully you can hear me talking shit in the background and I left that in there on purpose because I wanted it to sound as live as possible.

Do you just let musicians improvise freely and chop it up later or do you provide some initial direction?

I didn’t want to tell anyone what to do. The person that I collaborated with the most was my guitar player Carlos Bermon. We already know each others sound… He’s got a latin base and I’m more hip hop. I give him a track with drums and chords and the I’ll let him layer it and then I would chop up stuff and move it around. For the most part it’s just wherever the music is taking you: go there, and then I’ll figure it out afterwards.

ZIP: Frankie P – Hazy Nights in the Heights

Hazy Nights In The Heights – An Instrumental Ride Through The Mind Of Frankie P by HazyNightsInTheHeights

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