Behind the Beats: Alex Da Kid Talks Working With Eminem, Rihanna and T.I.
Mon, 06 Dec 2010 06:59:27
Alex Da Kid is nominated for a boatload of Grammys. Funny, you never heard of him, right? Guess what? You have "heard him," since this hitsmith is all over the radio, having produced plenty of your favorite tracks in the past year.
So let me clarify. A boatload of songs that Da Kid, AKA Alexander Grant, worked on are nominated for Grammys. The UK-born producer and L.A. transplant, who produced "I Need a Doctor," the brand-new Dr. Dre jam, has produced the Eminem-Rihanna duet "Love the Way You Lie"; "Love the Way You Lie (Part II)," which is on Rihanna's Loud album and features Em; B.o.B's "Airplanes," which features Hayley Williams of Paramore. He also produced "Massive Attack" for Nicki Minaj, which features Sean Garrett. Kid's got his hands in a lot of pots and it's apparent those hands are magical and have the magic touch.
While Dr. Luke, Sean Garrett, Kevin Rudolf and The-Dream are the producers du jour garnering the lion's share of the media attention, Alex Da Kid is about to join their ranks. His resume is only going to get stronger and it's already impressive as fuck. ARTISTdirect.com contributor Amy Sciarretto spoke to Alex immediately after his Grammy nominations for our "Behind the Beats" producer series.
Please note: Da Kid has a very cheeky British sense of humor, so don't mistake Brit humor for cockiness.
How are you adjusting to life in L.A.? Culture shock?
I moved here like three months ago. There's no real culture shock. It's cool. I go where the work is, so I am always in the studio. The people are fine. Everyone makes a big deal about the people being fake, but I think they are fine. I like fake people. [Laughs] They are my favorite type. You always know where you stand with fake folks.
So you were awarded five Grammy nominations last week. How does it feel?
I feel terrible. Nah, just kidding. It's amazing. I remember growing up in England and watching the Grammys. I had an inkling that I might get nominated. I was feeling confident. I would have caused an uproar if I wasn't since I was there, at the announcement event.
What kind of uproar?
I was going to do something outrageous but I don't know what. I am a spirit of the moment type of guy.
What's the most special of the noms you received? I know, that's a tough question since they are all great songs and you don't want to "play favorites."
I can't pick. They are all like my children and I need people to still hire me, but 'Song of the Year' and 'Record of the Year' are big ones, but anything would be good. I am not picky.
Did you know some of these songs you were nominated for were going to be special while you were working on them in the studio?
I was confident, telling Eminem, 'This is going to be it. I am working on my Grammy speech,' but he gets funny about that. He doesn't like that; he thinks it's a jinx if you mention it. But I am super confident. Everything I do deserves a Grammy [laughs]. But I was not terribly surprised, but I am still blessed and humble.
What are you working on now that will be nominated for next year's Grammys, then?
I worked on the Christina Aguilera and T.I. single, which just leaked.
Any good stories about working with such big name acts like Eminem and Rihanna? They're all huge stars. What are they like?
No one has a bigger ego than me. No, I am just kidding. My character make up is that I don't get nervous or overwhelmed by anyone I meet. I just don't. There is no formula or weird things I do to prep to go in with these guys.
They can smell fear or fakeness, I can imagine. So, would you like to share any Alex Da Kid trade secrets?
This is top secret: if things don't go well, I take my top off to give the ladies inspiration. It's called the 'Alex Da Kid Take Your Top Off Technique' and it is very technical.
People like me or they don't. I am comfortable with who I am. Everyone is different. I have had people warn me that artists I would be working with have huge egos and to be careful, but most of them are down to earth.
The process with Em is like a regular dude. He is down to earth. We are friends. When we work, there are no drugs or alcohol or women in the studio; we work. Rihanna? She is down to earth and works hard. She is there before everyone and leaves after everyone. I am the craziest one.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I write the tracks and I love the process, like if a drum idea comes to me and I follow it through to a song and then it ends up with a Grammy nomination. I create the music, figure out which artist it is good for and then stalk them till they submit and take the song. [Laughs] It's not just making music but a lot of political stuff you navigate with labels, and I love that process, too. The songs are like having a kid and seeing it off to college.
What is on your holiday wish list?
I hope [my publicist] Felicia buys me a car. I need lessons and a driver. I don't know; I am a terrible driver. A car would be nice.
How the hell are you in LA without a car? You can't navigate L.A. without a car? That's damn near impossible.
I don't know. I am figuring it out as we speak. I beg people for lifts.
Who's your favorite producer?