Who Makes Those Bangers That People Like Wiz Khalifa Rap Over?
Drew Drucker is the perfect example of how far hard work, and the right amount of opportunity, can take you. He started out as an assistant engineer (which is pretty much a glorified runner) and ended up working as the main engineer by chance because a session ran long and the engineer called it quits. After a few sessions like this with Hip Hop producer and household name at the time Scott Storch, his luck took another fortuitous turn.
This is how the conversation that launched Drucker’s his career went down:
Drucker shares, “Mind you I was like a runner assistant 24hrs prior [to this conversation].”
Scott Storch says to Drucker, “You should mix this song. People are getting like three grand to mix nowadays…”
Drucker is like, “Right, okay.”
A week later the label calls Drucker and says, “So Scott says you’re his mixer…”
Drucker responds, “Uh yeah. I’m his mixer.”
Drucker laughs, recalling the very fortunate series of events that jump started his impressive career.
Fast forward to 2017 and Drucker has worked with everyone from Wiz Khalifa, The Game and Snoop Dogg to The Weeknd, Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars. He also has six Grammy nominations and multiple Platinum and Gold records under his belt, rightly so. Drucker has a long history of musical prowess. He picked up guitar in the fourth grade and the rest, as they say, is history. “I just wanted to make beats and write music and be around music so the studio was kind of the natural path,” Drucker explains while detailing his path to production, which has changed tremendously since he stepped onto the scene.
There are a lot of up and coming producers that through modern technology have skipped the training and studio time—that Drucker put in during his earlier years—and are producing full albums and touring worldwide. That hasn’t changed the way Drucker perceives the value of studio time. “To be a world renowned chef you need that training. You need to be in the kitchen, you know what I mean? So, if you’re not in a real studio coming up it’s gonna be hard for you to get those world renowned skills.” Drucker explains, “That’s who’s coming through those big studios. Big producers, big engineers. Everybody leaves a little knowledge for you and how you put everything together is on you… going into a studio even though you’re not gonna learn how to calibrate a tape machine anymore, it’s still very important to start from the bottom in a big studio if you’re trying to be an engineer or producer, and do it right.”
“A studio is not a studio if they don’t let you smoke in the control room … it’s like going to a bar that only serves soda …”
Drucker has skillfully placed himself comfortably between the old and new schools of thought when it comes to production, changing with the times and utilizing the new tools at his disposal. So, when I asked him what production software he is using now, he eagerly went into detail. “I’ve been using ableton a lot for the beat making process. I’ve also been using Universal Audio plugins. They have these outboard satellites and you can plug them into your computer and they work like a ram booster. They take the processing power off of the computer and put it onto this little device that allows you to run more of their plugins.” Drucker, obviously beginning to go down the wormhole of plugins continues enthusiastically, “They make plugins that are supposed to be like an older gear and they do a really good job at it. It can give you that analog, that old school sound but still 100 percent in a digital format. For production there is this one plugin called Cthulhu, and it’s a search engine. The guy who designed it mapped all of these Bach pieces of music from the 1800s or whatever, so every key you press creates a chord. It’s just how you work the sounds and arrangements but it’s definitely a powerful tool. I use a splice too. It’s like Netflix for producers.”
After listening to him geek out about his favorite new tech I was curious to hear about studio life. Drucker tweeted “A studio is not a studio if they don’t let you smoke in the control room … it’s like going to a bar that only serves soda …” which begs the question, does the stigma behind cannabis cross genre lines as well?
According to Drucker, it does. “There are a couple studio’s in LA that have made new rules recently about no smoking in the studio and I kinda feel like it’s to keep rap music out of the studio. It just feels like some kind of weird segregation in the studio game.” Rap and hip hop music has had a healthy relationship with cannabis since its inception. Fan of the genre or not, I am sure a good portion of people can sing along to Afroman’s, “Because I got high,” without thinking twice about it.
While the acceptance of cannabis in the studio is a thorn in Drucker’s side, he didn’t seem too bothered by it. Addressing the tweet, “Gotta love not getting credited. Recorded a whole song, artist and management reach out for the session, connected with A&R, still no credit,” Drucker points to a real issue in the music industry—proper crediting. “I did this song. It was “Drink That” on Thundercat’s new album which is most likely going to be a Grammy-nominated album. Album comes out, no credit. It’s a critically acclaimed album too that’s why it’s a little frustrating.” Rightly so. Drucker continues, explaining the issue with streaming apps like Spotify, “When you go to Spotify or something there is no way to check album credits on these songs. That’s just wrong. You should be able to check the album credits and for some reason the music industry didn’t get their crediting together like the film industry did by utilizing IMDb.”
Credit or not, Drucker’s passion for music and production is indisputable. He recently decided to take his passion on the road starting a TV show, “In Tune Out of Bounds.” The pilot episode was shot in the Philippines. Drucker describes it as “…a travel show kinda like Anthony Bourdain. Instead of around food, it’s around music.”
Right now it is in the post-production phases and hasn’t been picked up by network television just yet but he is hoping to get funding for the first season. “Unlike some of these other travel shows, what I do is make music, so we’re filming us doing that. We’re showing us actually recording and setting up the microphones with these artists and people. It’s an introspective, new take on a travel show.” The show, naturally, includes footage of all of the shenanigans in between. “I went and refed a wrestling match at this one bar. We went to the red light district. We kind of ran the gambit of weird experiences. It was definitely an adventure and we’re planning on doing that wherever we go. It’s a little more adventurous. A little more crazy, a little more counterculture.”
Drucker may not be a household name but chances are you’ve heard music he’s worked on and hopefully soon you’ll be able to watch “In Tune Out of Bounds” and get to know the man behind the music on screen.
Instagram: @drewdrucker | Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/madelinelauer/to-the-side-goosebumps-remix-madeline-lauer