Friday, 23 March 2012

#FindOutFriday with Jerren 'J-Kits' Spruill & John 'SK' McGee

Jerren 'J-Kits' Spruill
John 'SK' McGee

A while back I had yet another wonderful, out of the norm opportunity for an everyday girl. You gotta love it when that happens! I met a lovely young lady by the name of Koko; one of four serious entrepreneurs on the rise from a collective known as the 'Dame du Show Productions'. International DJs, these multi-talented childhood friends, hailing from RussiaMorocco, Sri-Lanka and Australia; created a European events management company that specialises in hosting the crème de la crème of nights out in London, Paris and Berlin, that incorporate the diversity of all of their Cultural backgrounds.

To celebrate the company's second anniversary in November, they joined forces with an official fan club for a certain Romeo who's Songz are notorious for making R&B masses swoon...'Trey's Angels' undertook a significant amount of charity work in 2011 and the Superstar, in turn wanted to give back with a 'Fan Appreciation Day'.

Invited to cover the event and interview two representatives who have worked closely with the self-proclaimed Deliverer of 'Passion, Pain and Pleasure'; your favourite Jamerican Lekhem and I headed down to the swanky Agenda Bar in Central London for  video interviews. Unfortunately, some technicals meant the footage is not available (hey, it happens sometimes!), but I had such an amazing chat with these two surprisingly grounded and down to Earth fellas, that I couldn't not bring you the gems I managed to salvage from our chat. 

In this week's spotlight, meet Jerren 'J-Kits' Spruill and John 'SK' McGee...

1. Raleigh, North Carolina is your actual hometown, but I know that you call some other places your 'Musical Home'. Atlanta, New York, Brooklyn, Los Angeles and more...Where are you most at home 'Musically' and why?

Jerren 'J-Kits' Spruill
J-Kits: My hometown is not really big for music, it's really spread out so you need to go where the music is. Atlanta...there's a couple of places there, but New York, I love. It's like a completely different vibe there. I don't have a perfect place, because each one brings something different, the work ethic is different! But I'd probably say New York is my favourite. I like the pace. When I go to New York I get stuff done. When I go to Atlanta I get sleep! I work hard in both places but when I go to New York, I get my focus

2. SK, you're also from North Carolina. What was it about Music that took you so far away from home?

John 'SK' McGee
SK: I started playing the piano in Church from around 7 up until now, really. I'm from a small, rural area. There's no stoplight or anything...There's like, one intersection, one convenient mart; I'm from deep Country, it's like 30 miles to the nearest city! I would listen to songs on the radio, but I didn't start trying to make my own music until I was around 18. I heard Usher's 'Confessions' album, that's one of my favourite albums of all time. That's what really influenced me to start making music.

3. I read a quote of yours where you once said that your "only way of getting in the door was to make yourself useful". What did you mean by that and can you think of an example?

Nicki Minaj
J-Kits: You have to make yourself an asset in some form. Everyone has a different way of getting into the Music business and the opportunities and circumstances may not be the same for everybody. I guess my experience was, no one was buying my tracks. Even though they were good enough, you still need a connection and it's about that happening. So I was just like well...I need to make myself useful! I decided to think from the view of an Artist and "I said why not learn to engineer?" That was an asset I picked up in terms of just getting in. It helped me become a better Producer, to see the creative process from an Artist's point of view. So that's all it means - doing whatever you have to do, to get where you need to go! My Number 1 example? Nicki Minaj! Only because she's such a great person. She was very, very hardworking; her work ethic? It was crazy. I mean I didn't know that she was going to be so big then. She had just moved out to Atlanta and I was just recording her and stuff...That was a fun time.

4. SK - a few people have mentioned to me that Trey Songz' 'Anticipation' mixtape was a turning point for him musically and you both had something to do with that. At least five production credits are yours. What do you think that you brought to his music? Do you have a favourite track and what makes it so?

SK: A new sound. I think I gave him a new sound that really worked for him. Everybody loved it. 'You Belong To Me' would be my favourite because I did the beat in my bedroom, on a Sunday...I never knew that it would become that! It had radio play, it was a bonus track on the 'Ready' album - it was definitely a great moment.

I love that you actually remember exactly what day it was, where you were...! Of course - I'm still living the dream! I'm humble. Even this right here with you is like a dream, because look what that song did - I'm in London!

5. You have done more than a few collaborations yourself, J! The list so far is absolutely crazy, especially for someone so young. Which stands out to you the most and how did it come about?

J-Kits: I have to remember which one! I'll say the very first thing that stood out, was when I remixed 'I Kissed A Girl' by Katy Perry

I never got to meet her, but it was just an opportunity that seemed so big, because I didn't have a lot at the time. So it literally took like, two weeks for the record label to even want it! Just because, I was a new Producer, it was already a huge record at the time so they weren't too sure about me. Finally, I could say I got something good. It was just a very proud moment for myself. It made everything make sense up to that point. How did it come about? Shout out to TNT! He's one of my partners in New York. I ended up meeting him through my Manager at the time. One day we were vibin' in the studio and he said "Let me hear your stuff". So I said "Cool" and played him like, a million tracks...He said "Y'know Katy Perry's looking for someone to do a remix, you wanna give it a shot?" Well I didn't have anything else to do, so I said "Sure, let's do it!" He gave me an opportunity to get my first placement.

6. SK, for people who aren't quite as familiar with your work by name alone, what would you say is the 'Signature' in your sound?

SK: When it comes to slow R&B, I kinda have like a dark, petty sound. I don't just do R&B, I have a lot of stuff pending right now as far as Rap goes. But for the R&B music that I'm "known for"; it's very dark, very sweet, piano sounds.

7: J, in your opinion, what makes a good Producer?

J-Kits: I think, for me, what makes a great Producer is doing what it is you do to the fullest. You don't have to know how to do everything to be a good Producer. Personally, Swizz Beatz is one of my favourite Producers because he just knows how to create a vibe with the Artist in the studio, he can do a hook and that'll be it! The initial idea that I get from him, is just doing whatever it is that you're good at. Don't ever let anybody tell you that you have to do what you do best, differently. 

8. We talked about this being your first trip to London. SK -What have you found to be the biggest difference between here and the US?

SK: Really it would be the clubs. he clubs are what I love, just because of the variety of music! In America, we have one DJ who plays the entire thing; you all have like, 6 DJs, like every hour - that's crazy to me! The club scene is just great.

9. You both have quite a long-standing relationship with Troy Taylor, how did that come about?

J-Kits: I was hitting up everybody in the entire Music Industry on MySpace. Troy was one of the first people that actually listened to my music and gave me constructive criticism. Really, he gave me a lot of validation in what I was ready to do. He's really a great Mentor. I mean, he knows everything from Producing, Writing, Vocal Producing, Managing, just everything. He's one of the Generals in this Business that you just have to love and learn from. It doesn't matter whether you're signed with Troy or not; you always have to keep learning something and for that, Troy's 'The Guy'. He helped me a lot to grow as an Artist and as a person

10: Have you worked with anyone yet that's an Icon to you?

SK: 'The Icon', to me, is the guy that discovered me, Troy Taylor. He's an Icon to me because I studied his music, I wrote him on MySpace and that's how we got in contact. From then on, he's taught me so much. Everything I know about the Music Industry, I learned from him.

Troy Taylor of Songbook Entertainment

I'd just like to say a MASSIVE Thank You to Jerren (J-Kits) and John (SK) for taking the time out to speak with me, also the wonderful Ladies of Dame du Show Productions for extending their kind invitation - we got there in the end!

Keep up to date with the latest from both hugely talented Gents:

J-Kits: Twitter / Blogspot / MySpace

SK: Twitter / Facebook  / MySpace

Dame Du Show Productions 

The Ladies next awesome event 'RAW', takes place next Saturday:

'RAW' at AGENDA, 31st March
Be sure to get your tickets!

Hope you enjoyed this week's feature - I know I did! Until next time...Sharing is Caring!

ES ;)