Featured Producer of the Month Big Juice
Swing: First off, introduce yourself to the people and tell us where you’re from?
Big Juice: What’s good fam! My name is Alex Hitchens but tell any of my dudes that and they’ll say “who?!” (laughs). That’s because almost everyone I know refers to me as Juice or Big Juice. I am the sole proprietor of my music production company, SoundBreaker Musik out of great city of Cleveland, Ohio.
Swing: How long have you been producing?
Big Juice: I have been producing around 7 years now, but only have begun taking the craft seriously for about the last 3-4 years. I began between my freshman & sophomore year in high school with an old production partner of mine when we got our hands on an old freeware program called Hammerhead Drum Machine. When I say old, I mean OLD! That joint was straight drums, no melodies (laughs). We eventually were introduced to FL Studio where we began to self-educate ourselves on making music. To this day, mostly everything I know is from trial and error and teaching myself. I eventually branched off to my own production career after several personal convictions. I now use Reason 4 for the craft.Swing: Is producing your full time job at the moment and what would you say to those who are legit up and coming producers that are bouncing around the idea of going full time within CHH production?
Big Juice: Right now production is NOT my full time gig. With that said, I’m happily dealing with a full-time demand on a part-time schedule (laughs). God is good though… it’s a bangin’ issue to have and He’s really shown me a lot about myself and my time management through this process. As far as aspiring producers, I’m one of yall! (laughs)… I hardly feel like I’ve arrived, but I would say this to those who contemplate going full time, first thing you MUST do is:
a.) Seek the Lord. Pray as Nehemiah did (Nehemiah 1). The move to making production a full time job is such a huge vision, that we gotta understand that only God can accomplish it. b.) You have to also stay obedient to Him and communicate daily with him. (John 10:27) Communication is not only talking to Him but also hearing and listening to Him. Sometimes that’s through people, sometimes it’s through His Word. (1 Kings 19:11-12)c.) Perfect your craft! Nothing worse than being your only fan (laughs). Create a quality sound and get honest people around you to provide solid objective feedback. Russell Simmons once said, “I’ve been blessed to find people who are smarter than I am, and they help me to execute the vision I have.” This way, you avoid jumping into the gig full time and then free-falling because you can’t present a product that can support you. Gotta have something that people want and through the grace of God, it can often carry itself.I got to spend some time with Iz-real of Everyday Process last month in St. Louis, and he told me that it’s important establish close to full-time revenue before you make it a full-time career. I agreed wholeheartedly and believe that creating a snowball effect makes a transition that much more smoother.Swing: For those that don’t readily know your name as far as a producer but may be more familiar with your work; what recent projects have you worked on? Name drop for the family (laughs)
Big Juice: I love name droppin’! (laughs). Nah, but I’ve been honored to labor with some GREAT brothers within that last year or so. So much has happened so fast, and with it being my first full year in the genre, it’s humbling and overwhelming. First shouts though gotta go to my main ace boon coon, Thi’sl of X-Hustler Music and the 116 clique. Homie was one of the first dudes to reach out to me and build with me. I was privileged to help him bang out 7 tracks for his sophomore project CHRONICLES OF AN X-HUSTLER, including the main single “Windows Down”. From there Thiz, began putting in a good word for me which opened up opportunities to work with Reach Records artist Tedashii, producing the track “Work” on sophomore album IDENTITY CRISIS. I’ve gone on to do tracks for Flame (“Thanx”), Dillon Chase (THE PURSUIT: RE-RELEASE) and 3DRemedy (The GREAT-I-AM). I’ve also done production for Future (“The Body” featuring Young Josh, K-Drama and Fitzgerald), Jacob ‘Biz’ Morris (End In Mind EP), Born2Di (Apologia) along with numerous other indie cats whom I all love as brothers, sisters and artists. As for the future, right now I’m working on music with Trip Lee of Reach Records, J’son of Lampmode Records, Flame, Future, Japhia Life, Everyday Process, K-Drama, D-Maub, Bumps INF, Pastor AD3…the list goes on (laughs). Man it’s a super blessing yo.
Swing: What are your tools of choice? What equipment are you using these days?
Big Juice: Right now I’m using Reason 4 with too many refills to count. My personal favorites as of today are Miroslav’s Choir & String Ensamble refills, the Fantom XR refill and my new new, Pink Noise’s Virology & PRO.TON3 refills. Not gonna tell you which sounds I use from them though….(laughs) As far as external devices, I use a M-Audio Keystation 61es along with an Akai MPD24. Not much, but I make it do what it do. Vet producers will tell you that it’s not how much you have, but how good you are with what it is you do have. Be creative. Play with sounds, tweak them, combine them…
Swing: What’s your response to people outside and sometimes inside that say that CHH can’t be effective in reaching in the masses?
Big Juice: Masses as in the world? I would say it’s more than just a CHH artist’s responsibility. I believe it’s a duty of the body of Christ. A CD by itself normally won’t save a person. But a friend who, through a relationship can present the music and break it down to an unbeliever, could be super effective. Most of the cats I grind with would probably love to talk with every listener, but it’s unrealistic due to time and distance. And to be all they way 100, unbelievers ain’t checkin’ for no gospel hip-hop. It’s OUR job, musician or not, to push this thing. But I definitely feel the highest quality of our genre can be received. I see it at my own secular job.Swing: You seem to be working with some pretty big names right now. Do you still sell beats to indie artists?
Big Juice: Oh yeah, I love my independent artists! They have a hunger and grind that is unique. I don’t wanna be that dude who “cuffs” beats for certain people, because a lot of these indie dudes have talent and just need some quality music to complement it. It’s a challenge though, I ain’t gon lie.
Swing: For the people that want to learn more about you and possibly pick your brain, on the production side, how can people get in touch with you? Myspace, Facebook, Walkie Talkie, Carrier Pigeon, sign language?? (laughs) Let us know.
Big Juice: Well, I prefer smoke signals… (laugh) nah, I’m just kiddin. I am on Facebook (facebook.com/bigjuice216), Myspace (myspace.com/soundbreakermusik), Twitter (twitter.com/bigjuice216) and I have my new blogspot up and running at soundbreakermusik.blogspot.com. I’ve been told I’m way too socially accessible (laughs). But, aye it’s the nature of the grind though.
Swing: You had a very interesting way that God allowed your music to be heard by Thi’sl. It seems like a lot of producers may be going about having their music heard by the right people in the wrong way, even though it may be quality stuff. Knowing what you know now, how would you suggest indie producers get their music heard?
Big Juice: You gotta find these dudes in person man. Go to their shows and hang around afterwards. The great thing about our genre IS accessibility. No way you could find Wayne, Jeezy or Drake after a show to drop a demo to ’em but the great thing about artists like a LeCrae, a Tedashii, or a Thi’sl is that they ARE reachable. Normally after shows they sign autographs and take pictures which is the perfect time to chop it up with ’em and push your product. But I’ma keep it real right here… knowing a lot of these brothers personally, a producers character is crucial too. Unlike the world, what you do outside of music matters heavily. And it’s hard for these more well known artists to get to know someone thoroughly on a tour stop. So patience is key. If your music is banging, they’ll probably hit you up. But that call is probably begins the process of getting to know you. From there you build trust and eventually you can land your first major placement. After that, referrals will take care of you like rain takes care of grass (laughs).