Most people understand what artists and producers bring to the table, but what many people overlook is the work of the engineer. Just as important as the other two, engineering, or lack thereof, is why you have music that has good sound quality and some that isn’t up to par. One engineer whose been killing it this year is DMV’s KandiMan. Growing up in a military family, the engineer and producer has traveled around all around the country before eventually settling in the DMV. Since he’s been in the Washington D.C. area he’s been in putting in a ton of work, working with artists and locals like Wale, Fat Trel, Lightshow, and more.
“I got my start in music about 10 years ago. One of my father’s co-workers had a studio in his house. He taught me pro tools. Then I went to college for engineering and marketing at Full Sail Unviersity. Then I ended up coming here.”
KandiMan started producing at the young age of 16. Like with anyone in almost any field, he had inspiration. His included a few notable producers that were killing it in the 90s and early 2000s.
“Definitely Scott Storch, Pharrell, Neptunes, Just Blaze, Timbaland, all the big names.”
“It’s changed over the years, I pride myself of keeping up with the times,” he says about his style of producing. “When I started producing Snap Beats were big. So that’s what I was doing. Even being on the West Coast I was making that type of production.”
After college, he was looking to figure out how to get his foot in the door. Eventually he picked up engineering.
“When I was in Orlando for college I set up a studio in my house. After college I started applying to various studios. I spent time in Memphis, Atlanta, Orlando, Miami. I perfected my craft and then from there I came here and worked full time in Silver Spring and that’s when the engineering career took place.”
While many people understand what an artist or a producer does. Engineering is where they may not be as knowledgeable. KandiMan gave us a short description of what he does on the daily.
“What I usually do is record the vocals and get them mixed down nice enough to be listened to. We also do mastering to. But there’s different levels of engineering. Some focus on the recording, some on the mix, and some on the mastering and I do all three.”
Working with local DMV artists such as Wale, Fat Trel, Lightshow, Innanet James, Chaz French, and more, he has also used his talents on music from iHeartMemphis, Soulja Boy, and evne Jill Scott. Out of the artists named, he has a few favorites.
“Innanet. Me and him have great chemistry. But overall the most talented person I’ve worked with so far is Wale. It’s incredible how fast this man works and then goes away. He leaves me with this art and I have to turn it into a masterpiece. It’s beautiful. I haven’t really been a part of Grammy nominated work. But Wale is bringing me to the forefront and letting me know what it’s like.”
In 2012, the engineer/producer ended up signing what he describes as a “bad deal” with a label. Eventually getting out the deal and looking to avoid making the same mistake twice, he started one of his own.
“My label originally got started because I signed a bad deal in 2012. I finally got out of the deal and wondered what I was going to do. I started my own label solely focused on production and the crafting of artist. We also are a publishing label too. We want to bring the quality of other markets here because the talent is here. That was big for me. First step was finding the people who I want to build with, then I had to find where to start it. But now that we’ve got everything up and running it’s beautiful. So if we aren’t engineering or producing already, we’re creating pre-made songs already. We’re trying to do that in this area because it’s a lot of talent. We’re trying to showcase everything we’re a part of.”
Since KandiMan has been producing and engineering, he’s been a part of many different environments. One of the craziest ones he’s been in involved none other than Atlanta rap star 21 Savage.
“During my time in Orlando, I built a studio with my friend out of a storage unit. We had a lot of people come through. 21 Savage came through before he was 21 Savage. He came through but he didn’t like the vibe so he called 10 girls and they turned the studio up. It was pretty crazy. It’s kind of hard to focus with girls all in your face. That was probably the craziest it gets. I’m the type of person if you’re not working I’ll leave. Cause time is valuable to me. I’m real big on time movement.”
Staying focused on his work is what keeps his quality great. As an engineer that produces quality work, sometimes hearing a project that lacks a good mix can be irritating.
It’s one of the most irritating thing ever. Part of my whole movement is to bring a sort of standard in engineering in this area and I think it’s working. So what you’re seeing is a product of that ground work.“
Before we wrapped up our conversation, KandiMan also had some positive things to say about Music On The Dot.
“Shoutout to Music On The Dot. I’ve seen y’all work from Day 1, it’s great. Y’all are the first blog to understand it’s the trench work that matters. So shoutout to Music On The Dot.”
Follow KandiMan on Twitter.