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An interview with Music Producer, SAGE BEATS

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

My most recent blog post is an interview that I conducted with a different local music producer and so I am honoured to be given the opportunity to interview another talented creative and impassioned music producer again. This music producer's name is Connor Cullen, but he goes by the name SAGE BEATS.

Connor has been following South Sonder from the beginning and has been in support of my previous works for awhile now, so I was more than thrilled to be given the chance to interview him about his musical experiences, his passion for music producing, and the ins and outs that come along with being a creative in the arts industry.

As previously mentioned, music is something that I've always been able to lean on and learn to love throughout time because of its ability to connect with me regardless of what mood I'm in, what language it's in, or if there are any lyrics at all. As the classical Greek philosopher, Plato, once said, “music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” So, I'm glad to present this interview that I conducted with a very talented musician, producer, and multifaceted artist, SAGE BEATS! Please enjoy the responses below and let me know what you think!

1. How did you start producing and what gave you the motivation to stay with it?

I have always been into music, even at a young age, because I've played guitar pretty much all of my life. I wanted to become an artist myself, but I saw too many complications with working with other producers and trying to keep it original to my style, so I decided to start producing myself. I started making beats on a free software called LMMS which was very user friendly, but wasn’t capable of creating the type of beats that professional artists use. From there, I just kept creating and learning until I got to the point where I am today.

2. Who are you inspired by?

As a person, my real friends and family are probably my greatest inspirations. The people closest to me are always showing appreciation for what I do and I respect that because there are times where I need that motivation and support. As for musical inspirations, I would say one person who has inspired me to persevere would be Kanye West. His determination to keep his dream is definitely admirable and something I think every creative person strives to possess.

3. Please explain your creative process when creating the music you produce?

My creative process is very unique since I’ve been experiencing different forms of the arts all my life. I was always into music, and in high school I was very much into acting which I think is one of the reasons I call my process “unique”. I imagine each piece of music as a setting in my imagination; where every sound applies to an element of the piece. This helps to feel the vibe of the track so there aren’t any sounds that are out of place or do not “fit”. As for actual sound production, I start with the melody first because I believe there are endless possibilities when creating the melody first and it sets the vibe better than laying drums first does. After the melody is laid down and the theme has been identified, I add drums that fit that same vibe. Although you can be quite creative with drum patterns, many producers venture a little too far and it becomes difficult to vibe with so I always try to maintain a steady pattern. As most of my fellow artists know, I’m really into 808s and kick drums, so I always make sure they’re hitting right and not sounding too loud, but still giving a lot of punch.

Here is an example of SAGE BEATS' usage of 808s and Kick Drums on Youtube titled, "CLASS" Kanye West X Chance the Rapper Type Beat | Sage Beats | 2019 Trap Instrumentals"

4. What’s an average day like for you?

An average day for me would start out with me waking up and opening my laptop to start working on mixes or beats for my artists. I am always thinking of new ideas for music, so I spend the majority of my time sitting at my computer desk. I often video chat with people I’m working with so they have a say in the creative process as well. I enjoy a very calm day because I feel that when I get too caught up in my work and too rushed, the final product does not sound like the best it could have if I was in a relaxed state. I am usually creating about 3-4 beats each day so I have a lot stored in the vault.

5. Do you believe that there are certain characteristics needed to be successful in this field?

Yes, I think you must have at least some musical knowledge. Some people are just more musically inclined than others. Another major obstacle is using the technology. I have witnessed many artists and producers try to put an amazing idea onto their DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and it fails completely only because they don’t know how to use the program properly. I don’t want to discourage aspiring producers from trying it out, but just understand that music is a refined art and if you are not a professional musician or using professional equipment, there will be a noticeable difference.

6. Is there a hidden meaning or secret inspiration in any of the music you produce?

As an artist, it’s impossible to say there is no personal element to my work. I like to let the world around me influence my production, that way it is more unique and original. I wouldn’t say there is one definite “secret” inspiration, but sometimes my feelings get transcended into the music, whether it be feelings of love, hate, or just chill vibes. I believe the artist is the most expressive when they are transparent, no matter what the interpreters see.

Check out an example of SAGE BEATS' chill lo-fi music here. You can follow @sage_beatz for more examples of his soothing and ambient music here!

7. Do you collaborate with others? What is that process like?

I do collaborate with many artists, as well as, producers. Mainly, I do a lot of the work for Kingsize Collective in producing beats and mixing for the various artists within the group such as KZE, Plamedi, Guru and many more. The process in collaborating with these artists almost feels like collaborating with producers because they are so into the music and they understand almost exactly what they want, there is just the obstacle of learning the technology for them. Although it is sometimes difficult the end product is always very rewarding which is the main reason why we have had so much success.

You can listen to SAGE BEATS' most recent collaboration titled 'Phone Booth' with up-and-coming r&b singer, KSEA, here!

8. What are some things that you would like to improve on (either on yourself or in your line of work) for the future?

I would say the main thing I would need to improve on would be being able to understand the ideas of others and adapting them correctly. It’s easy to make a beat that I would think is good, but it's not as easy to create something with another person with an idea that is completely theirs.

9. What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? Why?

My favourite part of this line of work would probably be seeing the finished product. The feeling of playing the beat and everyone going nuts is definitely something I strive to accomplish every time. You almost feel like the magician behind the illusion because you understand every single component of the piece, but the listeners just hear a great sounding beat. I would probably say that this is also of my least favourite parts of the work. Since the producer is responsible for creating the sound and the vibe, it loses that same “magic” when you are playing it over and over and constantly adding new sounds and removing things so it does not become as exciting as just listening to a beat and being able to experience all those new sounds perfectly in key and in rhythm.

10. Do you experience anxiety at all after releasing your music to the general public?

Definitely, yes. I feel like anxious feelings accompany anybody who is fully into the arts because it is a universe of uncertainty. It takes a lot of courage to set your work out for people to judge so anyone who is able to do this is admirable.

11. What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

My advice would be to keep the dream that you have. I literally couldn’t make music on my computer for the life of me about 2 years ago and now I’m at the spot I am right now. Society doesn’t take kindly to dreamers because they can’t see their vision, so my advice would be to keep working until you can say “I told you so”.

12. Do you have any doubts in your mind about being successful? How do you deal with this?

Of course, there are many anxious feelings about success. I think that is fundamental for creatives. Some days I work on beats and they just sound like garbage to me that day, which is very discouraging. The main way that I combat these feelings is by telling myself that if they take over, then I won’t be successful. There are a lot of producers out there so the main concern is being able to stand out from the crowd, but in a good way so that you are recognized.

Check out this short video created by SAGE BEATS to get a taste of what his music is like!

13. What do you do to prevent yourself from giving up?

One thing that I do to prevent myself from giving up is to look at my past accomplishments. I think many people accomplish great things, but don’t appreciate their own work and instead move onto the next thing. If you don’t give yourself that acknowledgment and no one else does, you might become discouraged. If I know it won’t be a good day for production then I’ll find something else to do like spend time with family or friends to absorb my environment again. When I think I’ve given myself enough time away from my music, I’m right back into it.

14. What steps do you take to advertise and get your business out to the people?

In our generation, social media is one of the largest influences on society. For this reason, I like to focus the majority of my advertisement on social media that way it is easy to access and view. I advertise for $5 beat leases and $15 exclusives through e-transfer so it is affordable for younger audiences and it’s simple. I use my Youtube channel to show off certain beats with visuals to add to the experience so please subscribe and check out some of the videos even just to play and vibe to them. During the summer, Kingsize Collective, as well as myself, will be working on many projects and performing at different venues and we will be sure to advertise on our respective social media accounts. Today, May 10th, KZE will be performing at the Rockstar Music Hall for Drop the Mic so buy your tickets ($10) and come out and support our local artists.

15. Where can the readers find out more about you and the songs you produce?

As for things I’ve produced, I have released a Lo-Fi tape titled “As Winter Approaches” that is available on Spotify, Apple Music and other platforms. I’ve recently worked with one fellow artist KZE with the production of the song Street Lights Calling so make sure you check that out on ALL streaming platforms! I will be releasing another Lo-Fi tape within the next month as well as many other projects that I have been working on for the summer so stay tuned!

Thank you so much South Sonder for giving me the time here and make sure to spread the word in support of this page and local artists everywhere!

You can listen to SAGE BEATS' music on Spotify here!

Thanks for reading this interview with SAGE BEATS (Connor Cullen). Please make sure to follow his Instagram page here and check out his Spotify here!

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