Who are Blended Babies? That's the big question.
For those who don't know who they are, JP and Rich make up Blended Babies, a producing duo that met back in 2002 while attending Columbia College in Chicago. This pair has created sounds for some of your favorite artists such as Anthony Hamilton, Ab-Soul, The Cool Kids, Kid Cudi and more.
Erin: So you guys met in 2002 while you both were attending Columbia College in Chicago and based on what I’ve seen, you both started experimenting with your sound. What would you guys say is the sound that Blended Babies started out with back then and how has it evolved to what it is now? With people that you’re working with like Kid Cudi and The Cool Kids and so forth?
JP: Very 90s hip-hop inspired, very DJ premieresque stuff is what we were listening to. On the rap side of things, we listened to a lot of rock back then too but we didn’t really incorporate it into the music as heavily as we do now. I don’t think.
Rich: Yeah, definitely, that 90s hip-hop never really left us, its what it kind of feels like. It stayed with us throughout the whole 2000s.
JP: And all the bluesy stuff.
Rich: We incorporated that a lot later too, definitely. The Rock n' Roll more later nowadays for sure.
Erin: Okay, so have you guys evolved that sound? For example, I listened to “Make It Work” and it really still has that old school vibe but it also has that new school touch with Asher Roth and Donnie Trumpet. So how have you adjusted that sound, making it relevant but also making it unique to Blended Babies?
JP: Just putting ourselves around the right musicians and incorporating live instruments and pretty much every type we do. Whether it's synths or horns or guitars or live bass, we took what we were doing before and in the sample world and almost making our own samples now. We were creating live drum tracks, which we used on a lot of records, that nobody else has. Really evolving but at the same time finding a way to add live elements and make them make sense via futuristic EDM, Rock n’ Roll program world and just try to tie it all together with different layers. Plus whatever is going on now, whatever is going on nowadays, we make that shit bang. We just try to make it bang, you know?
Erin: You two came together in 2002, one of you was more of the engineer and multi-instrumentalist, and the other was moreso into the business side, how are you able to have opposites come together to become what you are now? How are you able to effectively complement each other to get both of you to where you are now, working with some of these top acts?
JP: We don’t really have competing skills sets necessarily. So it works really well.
Rich: More like a yin to a yang. Definitely complements one another. I just think it’s really natural.
JP: We’re both good at collecting files and ideas with artists. We both do that pretty thoroughly then we bring it to one another. What we have is another filter.
So Rich is another filter and I’m another filter, so he sends me something and it’s gotta go through my ear and then same for him. He won’t let anything wack go past his ear so that’s why I think our music is filled with good sounds more than if it was filled with just one producer. That’s been constant throughout all of the years.
We’ll speak up if we’re not feeling something or find a way to change it or make it better. Then live instruments throughout our whole career I think has brought out our music to the next level because human error is beautiful and it sounds different. That’s always been our music and I think that’s what makes it sound kind of samplesque. Me playing guitar and bass and Rich now plays guitar and bass, so we’re all just getting into this and playing everything we can and learning everything we can- synths and drums and all of that. Even if we’re playing it minimal, we’re trying to get it down so as far as what complements one another, it’s really everything. I think we’re just trying everything.
We’re trying to be very well-rounded as you know nowadays you have to be good at a lot of things not just to succeed, just to get by. That brought us to a new level. I even took business management, (I don’t think I’m the best at it) but I know a lot more than I did and it’s because of Rich and it’s because of what we both know and what we both learn by reading contracts. Now I’m not ashamed to say I know a little bit. We try to dabble in a lot of things.
Erin: I've mentioned before, I feel like you guys are behind the scenes, I don’t necessarily mean production work but you really kind of put yourselves behind the curtain and really focus on making the music and not so much putting yourself out there. Correct me If I’m wrong but, Do you feel like nowadays, especially with social media that it is harder to be able to do that? That you really have to put yourself out there? Or do you feel you’ve made an effective strategy to focus on music and just let the music be what the focus is and not you guys?
JP: Honestly, we really hate doing interviews- don’t take that as an offense (laugh), but we love making music. We didn’t really get into it initially to be ‘famous.’ We just do it because we love it.
Rich: You have fucking day jobs flippin burgers, we’d still do it you know? So I think it’s a blessing we’ve been able to make a pretty good living out of it and be attached and around such talented people. I think people focus a lot now on the fame and “I”ve got a million twitter followers” and this person said this shit on the Internet or dissed somebody on Instagram. That’s cool to me but don’t forget why everybody follows you. Don’t forget why you have a million followers. Don’t forget why people even care about what you say in the first place and I think that you know it’s a shame that a lot of really talented artists get lost in that nowadays. They don’t focus on the music. I think we are the opposite of that. We’re just like “fuck it.” We’re going to make the music and if you like us at all it’s definitely not because of some shit we said on Twitter. You know what I mean? It’s because you like our songs.
Erin: Is that why when anyone searches you guys, there’s really no photos of you both out there?
JP: I’m actually 750 pounds (laughs.)
Erin: But really.. I was doing my background information research and I don’t see any photos really. It helps me kind of gauge who you are as people and even I couldn’t find a picture of you both really.
Rich: Everytime we've tried to come up with an image with one another (we tried to do it), a Blended Babies logo or picture or something that represents us, we really kind of got frustrated and we were like you know what? It’s the freaking music that represents us and why are we spending so much time on this when we could spend it finishing a song or whatever? I think it really came down to that. We never really found anything solid that represented us. We just let all the artists that we worked with take the forefront like you said. As with the Anderson Paak team, we just moved our name from the producers side over to the artist side and I feel like we’re getting a different response. It’s kind of amazing. People have never really done that.
JP: For us it’s like we just moved the name over, you know?
Rich: We didn’t do anything different. But records like that nowadays we’ve been doing that for a long time we just really love letting the music get all the attention. We don’t really like being in the spotlight.
Erin: What has been the change in response from you guys moving your name into the "artist" position than production side?
JP: I think people get it a lot easier now, you know artists like a DJ Collin who gathers records and who’s not necessarily performing on every part of the record and just sort of creating the energy in the studio and setting stuff up. I think people understand. Than you have a Mike Will Made It releasing records. As artists, you have producers nowadays DJing in front of millions of people every year. People understand that now. I don’t think music was always ready for that. Nowadays it’s there, so it’s been really positive.
Erin: Like with anything, there are politics, even in the music industry .. how are you able to handle that?
JP: Every once in a while we have a good team around us. We have Nicole and Benji and our homie Chris who helps us with the label stuff and our publisher Evan Bogart. We have a little bit of experience doing the business side of things. It’s just part of the game. Politics is part of everything.
Erin: What’s one of the hardest things that you say is probably difficult not only for you both but also for anyone who's looking to do any production work?
JP: Keeping a positive attitude 100 percent of the time. Just cause there is so much bullshit that goes into records and egos and this person wants this sometimes and its not always the best interest of the records. It might be the best interest of the label, or the artists’ cousin or the manger, etc. It’s part of the game, you know? If you’re sitting in the middle of nowhere just making music for yourself, and you’re the only person that you don’t have to deal with any of that and that’s pure and what it’s all about, but part of having a bigger platform is dealing with all of that shit. The music business is kind of oxymoronic but it is unfortunately a part of what goes with a lot of people hearing stuff. It’s a whole lot easier now if you can just upload shit to the Internet, but no matter what there’s always a little bit of politics involved in it.
Rich: It’s not all black and white but you either have to decide right away or soon in your career whether you want it to be a hobby or a real job. If you want it to be a real job then you got to work super hard. But, I think some people try to say it’s their job and they quit their other jobs .. but I say don’t quit your day job too quickly. If you keep it a hobby though, that’s cool too. Then you can do whatever you want, you don’t have anything, it’s not stressful one point if you gotta pay a bill or something like that. It’s a different feeling when it’s a hobby, you know? People should just distinguish people the two at some point.
Erin:So people need to evaluate whether they should go all in or sit back and evaluate the situation?
JP: If it’s fun or if it’s super serious you’re going to put all of that weight on your shoulders in music you know?
Erin: It’s probably a scary feeling too.
JP: Yeah (laughs). But it’s also an awesome feeling too when you succeed in your own way, you know? It’s an amazing feeling.
Erin: What are five facts about Blended Babies that no one knows about?
JP: Wow. We have a lot of undercover albums that no body knows about with like legends like R&B legends.
Rich: I used to be the Cool Kids road manager. JP used to engineer all the Cool Kids mixtapes, everything from the bakes sales to actually anything they ever put out.
JP: I think we were the first people ever to record Donnie Trumpet’s music in the studio.
JP: I use to engineer for the “Kids These Days” as well I was their engineer before they basically came out here and came out to L.A.
Rich: Chance the Rapper used to come to our house when he was in high school before he even started rapping and just sit in on random sessions with some of his friends that were hanging out.
Erin: How did that come about?
Rich: JP used to do a lot of engineering for Kids These Days which was a band that Vic Mensa was in before he ever blew up and there was like, actually the majority of the Social Experiment, honestly, used to be in that group, Kids These Days. They used to come over and record stuff at our house. We just kinda had a cool spot to come to in Chicago. We had everyone from Raekwon come over to fucking Cudi coming through whenever they where in town. That’s a little bit of what the cultural center was like in Chicago. If you weren’t there in Chicago at the time, you probably wouldn’t know that.
Erin: Was it possible you could have influenced Chance’s sound in some way, shape or form?
JP: I would leave that up to the listener to decide, that’s not for us to say. Maybe? You should ask him that question, actually. I’d be curious to see what he says.