INTERVIEW: Music Genius, Amerigo Gazaway

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One Saturday afternoon, just around 2pm, HF® discovered a new definition to the term "remix". We stumbled upon Amerigo Gazaway’s Okayplayer.com single review discussing his new upcoming album titled "Yasiin | Gaye". 

Giving the song titled “Inner City Travelin’ Man” a go, we let the BOSE® speakers blast the soulful vibes of this mash up. About 20 minutes later, after repeating the song — at least 6 times.. maybe 7 — we were convinced enough to say to ourselves : “who is Amerigo Gazaway?”

Surely enough, our internet bloodhounds tracked the music producer down - no, we didn’t have dogs, silly.. computer nerds, actually — and a week later, we were reaching out to Amerigo’s management team, seeking an official interview. And here it is, in front of you today.

For those who don’t already know who this mastermind is, we will introduce you formally through this interview. The man behind previous classic remix albums like "Fela | Soul" and 'Bizzare | Tribe” ,does something amazingly special to his music - unlike anything we’ve ever listened to. He takes classic rappers/rap groups & musicians, recreates the music in a hip hop fashion, and blends the acapellas from some of your favorite songs growing up - perfectly into his reproduction. It’s almost as if the song you’re listening to is spankin brand new, fresh outta your local record store or iTunes.

Of course, we had tons of questions. However, time is of the essence for many - so we kept it brief, and succinct. Ladies & Gentlemen, we are proud to represent to you, HF® Exclusive Interview with Amerigo Gazaway.

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Your name is very unique & different… Especially for a music producer. Tell us a bit about your backstory and history.. How’d you get started?

I’m named after the explorer Amerigo Vespucci. I used to get a lot of flak for my name as a kid but as an adult, it’s turned out to be really fitting. A lot of what drives me as an artist is trying to discover new sounds, genres, concepts and ways to create so it sort of makes sense. I’m spending a lot of my time on the road traveling to new places these days as well (Aka the "Inner City Travelin Man”) so I guess there’s a tie in there as well.

When I was 13, I built my first computer and started creating music. I was actually into video games at the time and used to make beats on my playstation using a game called MTV Music Generator. At the time, I was creating music for imaginary video game soundtracks. It wasn’t until a couple years later when I got into Hip-Hop, bought a pair turntables and started digging for records that my musical style started to really take shape. Eventually, I started rapping on my own beats and adding verses/ acapellas from other artists that I liked. You could say the whole Soul Mates thing started then.

We were drawn into your style of production with your latest single with Mos Def (now known as Yassin Bey) “Yasin/Gaye”… Were really impressed with your sample work on that record. Most importantly we liked the use of the Marvin Gaye sample to incorporate the soul element & feel. Which leads us to our question: Is sampling your primary style of making your production? If so, why?

For me, sampling is an artistic choice. I enjoy it because it exposes me to so many other genres of music. If it weren’t for hip-hop & sampling, I’d likely never of known about some of my favorite artists today. If music is my “high”, then hip-hop was definitely the gateway drug. I mean, don’t get it twisted, while I love to sample, I can also play music. Im not a virtuoso musician, but I can sing, compose melodies, rap, I play keys, drums, and even rock an ill keytar solo every now and then.

I sample because I choose to, and not because I have to — which is a distinction that a lot of people don’t understand. Like any other artist, regardless of medium, how and what we create is up to us. I think that sometimes gets lost when looking at it through the lens of HipHop. Take a Picasso or Warhol for example - those dudes could paint a detailed portiait or a realistic still life/landscape if they wanted to, but instead chose to break the rules, and now they are looked at as innovators and pioneers. In 50 or so years, professors will be saying the same thing about people like Q-tip or Dilla. It’s already happening now.

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How did you Yasin Bey link up to work on the Yasin/Gaye record? What was that process like in the studio?

I was actually never in contact with him. The acapellas used came from either vinyl 12” singles or DIY acapellas created by my friend - The Goodwill Projects. We tried to get in touch with his camp before the album dropped but didn’t have much luck.

Name a few of your favorite music producers in the industry. Do any of them give you inspiration in your daily grind to create?

Obviously the originators like Q-tip, Dilla, Pete Rock, Premier, Diamond D, and the list goes on. But I am also inspired by forward thinkers/innovators like Questlove, 9th Wonder, Kutiman, Eclectic Method, Odd Future, Z-trip, Kid Koala, Daft Punk, etc. I respect these guys because they are constantly pushing the envelope and challenging the norms of what people think music should be. They are continuing the dialogue and propelling the debate on remix culture/copyright reform, and we need more people like that in the limelight.

Lastly, can we expect a follow up to Yasiin | Gaye? If so, give us the scoop..

Side 2 of Yasiin Gaye will be dropping sometime in the Spring. but we cannot announce a release date at this time. That said, we will be announcing a big update in the next few weeks so be sure to follow us on FB/twitter or sign up for the email list to stay updated.

If you missed the opportunity to listen to Yasiin | Gaye, you can stream the entire project at Amerigo’s websiteby clicking here. Support his music!

Follow Amerigo on Twitter:@amerigo615

Written & Interviewed By: Clark Kennedy, HF®

Graphic Design & Visual Inspiration By: Bryant Myers Jr, Ventileone.com