This up-and-coming beatsmith from Poughkipsee, NY was mentored by DJ Vance Right (Slick Rick’s DJ) and has production credits with Sadat X, AG and Chrisette Michelle to name a few. He is the Vice President and Director of Music Production for INASIRKL Music Group and sound coordinator for the Faces In Da Crowd and I Standard Producer showcases. His mixtape compilation, Zilla’s World Volume 2 is out now and it features his beats along with verses from some of the undergrounds best MCs. You can also hear his tracks on various Viacom television shows including MTV Cribs.
Drawzilla took a moment with Nodfactor to share how he came up and offer some some advice for getting the most bucks for your bangers.
Nodfactor: How did you get a name like Drawzilla?
My name wasn’t that at first. I changed it based on what they used to call me. My friends used to call me Baby Drawers. It was a big joke back in the day and after a while it got annoying. So I just added the Zilla and that’s what it became. I have a lot of funny friends, jokesters.
You were cooking in a kitchen before you were cooking beats, huh?
Yeah, in every nursing home in my area. I had to be to work at 6am every morning. I always loved to cook in the house with my parents and sisters. I never went to culinary school, I just met someone who had a job at one of the nursing homes. I had a boss who was real disciplined but really educated on cooking.
So how did you transition to making beats?
After a while I saved up a little bit of paper and bought some equipment so that I could have a small clientele to use the studio. At first I made up flyers and set my price at $25 an hour because there really weren’t any studios in the area that could give you quality. I was working the job and running the studio at the same time. The first year and a half was crazy but I kept persevering. Eventually I was making more money than I was on the job.
How did you know what equipment to buy for start a studio?
I’ve been into music since I was 8 years old. Before the MPC I had a small Casio and someone would loan me an MPC 3000 so I learned to work that. I also used to work with DJ Vance Wright, he’s Slick Rick’s DJ. He was my mentor coming up. I used to work out of his studio in New Rochelle. He had the big two-inch reels so I learned how to slice tape and everything. This was while I was still working so when I left the job I knew everything. I didn’t even rent out a space, I set it up right in my house.
How did you soundproof it?
At first I didn’t. I was really just winging it at the time trying to find out what everything sounded like in the room. I was able to get a decent, quality sound. God blessed me with a really good ear so when it came to my EQs and limiters and compression according to the room I was able to master that.
So how did you transition to making beats?
The first record I did was with AG from DITC. I had a friend who knew him and told me AG was looking for tracks. I put some tracks on CD and he liked a few joints, came to the studio and recorded ‘em. I recorded about maybe eight joints with AG. It was all independent projects. Right after that was Sadat X. It was the same friend who knew another person who knew Sadat. We went to the Bronx to get him and brought him up here to Pougkipsee to record.
It was unbelievable because I felt like a baby. I didn’t know anything about making records, recording and mixing but I knew how much I wanted this. Sadat was sitting in my living room writing. I was overwhelmed but once I got to vibe with him I got comfortable. The song came out hot.
How did you come to work with Chrisette Michelle?
We did one song called “Unconditionally” that iddn’t make the album. We knew her manger Biggs and she did one of our showcases, Faces In The Crowd. She came through a couple times. Eventually we had a relationship with her manager and I’d given him a beat CD. One day he called me up saying “yo, track 3. track 3!” I had flipped “The Benjamins” joint by replaying all the instruments. A week later he had me in a studio in Yonkers recording it with her.
Where is that record now? Is it leaked somewhere?
We decided we weren’t going to do anything like that because she was signed to Island Def Jam, Jay-Z and L.A Reid were handling her record…
How did you make the beat?
The guitar I had someone play live and then I played keys from the Roland X6 on top of it. I created a bridge and everything.
So what’s the one song people know you for right now?
Right now it’s the Mariah Carey remix with LL Cool J for “Lovin You Long Time.” If you googled Mariah Carey and Drawzilla you gonna see it on blog sites. I got the file from someone, remixed it and me and Hatch just leaked it. I had a friend in Brooklyn that called me and said someone is playing it in their car. DJ Vince has a radio show that’s syndicated and he gave it love.
Any word from Mariah’s people?
Not one word. I’m hoping they either black ball me or send me a check. Either or. Then I’ll get the attention I need.
I understand you also have some TV work with Viacom?
I have a blanket licensing deal with Viacom. I submit instrumentals to them with no samples and the music directors embed it in the television shows. For example, on Bow Wow’s “Cribs,” I have eight tracks in that show. Every time that the show airs that equals to a dollar amount. So MTV, MTV 2 or UPN send a Q sheet over to ASCAP. ASCAP puts the numbers in and they send checks every quarter. I also get a check monthly because I registered myself as a writer and a publisher. I want to tell producers and end writers, don’t think that you are only entitled to your writer’s share. The writer is the person who wrote or produced the song and the publisher is the person who owns the song. As soon as you do a record you own it, immediately. The publishing side is negotiable. If I wrote a record and Diddy wants it for Danity Kane he’s going to say ‘I want 30 % or 40% of the publishing and you keep your 60% and you’ll also keep your writers share, because he didn’t touch that. So a lot of producers and writers get into this mindf rame that I can only register as a writer. No, you register as both.
So how did you get the deal with Viacom?
Nicole Sanzio. She used to work for MTV and she came to one of our producer showcases and really loved it. She came to the booth and spoke to me and Hatch and told us she does licensing at MTV. We gave her tracks and she set us all up. And that’s something she didn’t have to do. I give her so much love and respect for that. I’m no better than any other producer out here it’s just that we had a relationship with her and she decided to do that for me.
That seems to be a running theme in your story. Your relationships have been key in your success.
If you have a relationship with someone they’ll do anything for you. Back in the day I used to get frustrated and confused as to why this guy is getting more work than this guy. It’s because of his relationships. I get so tired of artists coming to be saying “come play my joint” and I’m like “dog, there’s a million artists out here.” You have to have some humility. You gotta get out in the streets and make people feel comfortable with you.