Capture the Creative w/ NameBrand
NameBrand, in my own opinion is Producer Goals. He has experience working with some of the top talent in Richmond VA and continues to grow his presence. From a young age, NameBrand has been surrounded by musical talent so there is no surprise he became interested in the art of music out of the gate. Creating sounds to spark inspiration in other artists is no doubt a challenge but it is easy to see the passion he has for his craft.
From the start I knew NameBrand was going to nail the shoot. Just from doing my research I could tell he had style and knew how to carry himself. Even looking at his website I noticed the attention to detail from start to finish. He obviously takes this same approach to his creative process while producing his tracks. I find myself listening to an artists entire SoundCloud page the day before their set drops. It’s sort of a ritual of mine. So do yourself a favor and visit NameBrand’s SoundCloud while viewing his feature. Get familiar with his project “Saturday Morning“. Vibe out, tune in.
STUDIGS: Introduce yourself. Tell everyone where you are from and what you do.
NAMEBRAND: I’m NameBrand, I’m from Richmond, Va, and I create art pieces using sound as my medium, and your ear as my canvas. Vibes.
Did you grow up in a musical household?
Kinda. My Parents met in High School in band class, they both played the flute. My Dad was also the lead singer in this group he performed with in college. When we were kids my Pops would play the flute at home and in church occasionally. He had tons of Jazz and R&B CD’s and Vinyl, ranging from Roy Ayers to Grover Washington to Luther Vandross to Diana Ross. He had a little Hip Hop sprinkled in there, but not much. When I first started making music I would go through his CD collection to find all my samples. So I guess you could say we grew up in a music household.
My goal as a producer is to be able to create soundscapes that will allow the artist to be themselves, yet at the same time challenge them to be better, creative, and to think deeper.
Did both you and your brother [Michael Millions] get into making music around the same time?
I started making beats around ’97-98 at the age of 13, he started a few years before me. We’re 18 months apart so I still had some growing up to do, and by the time I got involved he was already developing into a dope emcee. My goal was to support him, his music career, and I just wanted to play the background. Typical little brother role I guess.
Who did you grow up listening to?
I grew up listening to a lot of R&B and soul music before I really got into hip hop. Funny story, back in ’95 my brother and I were riding in the back of my mom’s van and Mike turns to me and said, “Yo I’m gonna be the next BIG and your gonna be the next Puffy!” Being that I was so ignorant to Hip Hop at the time I was offended, “Like who wants to be a “Puffy”? What is that? What does that mean?” He reassured me that Puffy was cool and he wasn’t trying to play me. Ironically, the first Hip Hop album I would purchase would be Puff Daddy and the Family “No Way Out” in ’97. That album was amazing.
When did you know you had honed in on “your sound” as a producer?
Tough question. I say this because I kinda pride myself on being dynamic with my “sound”. I don’t necessarily want people to be able to know which beat I made on an album. I’d rather them be surprised when they find out that I made the track. Overall my goal as a producer is to be able to create soundscapes that will allow the artist to be themselves, yet at the same time challenge them to be better, creative, and to think deeper. I don’t make just one type of sound, and I think that is due to being from Virginia, and being surrounded by different artist that like different music. I personally have an appreciation for all types of music, and there are elements that I use from each those different genres to help develop my “sound”.
Name some essentials you can not live without at the moment.
- My soon-to-be wife, she keeps me focused.
- Music and all of my equipment.
- Veggies… all part of a balanced diet.
How many hours would you say you are behind the keyboard making beats per week?
I cant give you a real answer to that, but I make music as much as possible. I probably don’t make as much music as when I was younger because there was so much to learn back then. I was more quantity vs quality focused in the beginning, now that focus has reversed. I also find that living life and experiencing different things helps me be creative so I take breaks from making music. I used to find myself forcing the music and I had to learn that I have to let the music come to me naturally. When I’m not making music I spend a lot of time sample searching and looking at different tutorial vids on YouTube. I feel that it’s important to keep learning, it’s the only way I will continue to get better.
You recently collaborated with Nickels F on the album Stretch Marks. Talk to us about that project and how you laid it out.
That project was fun. We actually started working on the project 2+ years before it came out, but we both were so busy with other projects that it got put on the back burner. One day I was going through my Dropbox and I came across the records that we had done, they were still dope and surprisingly relevant to current day. So, I hit Nick up and was like, “Yo, I’m thinking about just releasing those records on Soundcloud. What you think?” He took a listen to them and hit me back telling me to send him 3 to 4 more beats and we could make it a legit project. From this we created Stretch Marks. This was the first time we had worked together this extensively — it was great and we were extremely proud of the finished product. I think we pushed each other to explore different realms of our creativity. Nick is a creative genius in my opinion, and the way he approaches music is admirable. Because he also produces, we can speak the same language, this helped when it came to mixing the project and doing the post production work.
Going to school and getting my Bachelors (Norfolk State University) and Masters (Florida Institute of Technology) were the best decisions I have ever made. My degrees don’t directly help my music, but they lay the foundation for me to have a nice paying day job as a Software Engineer, which allows me to buy equipment to support my music. Being a Software Engineer also gives me the ability to have a fairly flexible schedule and work from home — that helps with the music as well.
With God’s grace, my music career will flourish and my ultimate goal is to be able to give back to the community through public speaking, specifically to children and young adults. I feel that too often kids are told that they have to make a choice between their dream and higher education — I want to disprove that ideology. I think it would be inspirational and quite frankly, dope as hell, to see someone with a Grammy (Lord willing) and a Masters degree show up at your school to tell you its possible to get your education while chasing your dreams.
If you could give the younger generation coming up any advice, what would it be?
- Be yourself. Don’t make music for other people, make music for yourself first. Make the music that makes you happy.
- Don’t be afraid of criticism; however, don’t allow the criticism to dictate who you are. It’s just an opinion, treat it as such.
- Have an appreciation for music, not just hip hop, but music in general. Back in the day I would read the album credits to see who the producer sampled, I would then research that artist and the producer.
- Never stop learning. The moment you decide to stop learning is the moment that you have made the conscience decision to become old and out dated. Move with the times, appreciate the younger generation just as much as you appreciate the older generation and vice versa.