Instrumental Insight + Interview • Sean Deaux (of THEMpeople)
Our newest addition to my weekly producer column, Instrumental Insight, is Sean Deaux. Most notably known as one of the four members of THEMpeople (not including honorary affiliates Via Rosa and Ben Hixon), Sean Deaux is both a producer and a vocalist who crafts his own unique sound. While he gained a great deal of new attention in 2015, Sean Deaux has been active in the Chicago production world for the last few years. Originally from St. Louis, the talented artist began working with THEMpeople members Michael Anthony (also originally from St. Louis), LBoogie, and theMIND while in college. Alongside their SmokeBreaks series (of which there are three), Sean Deaux was also at the instrumental forefront of the 2013 beat tape Bossadova which is "a 22 minute experience that captures the essence of Chicago's meticulously cultivated beat scene". Fast forward to last year, where on top of dropping his five song EP Vice City, one of my favorite releases of 2015, Sean Deaux (credited as part of THEMpeople) helped produce almost all of Mick Jenkins' The Wave[s] EP, as well as fully producing Jean Deaux's Outer Body EP. Even more recently, Deaux has given us the loose singles “The Ring” and “Drunk” all the while preparing to release Vice City 2. Because of this talent, this drive, his hustle, we felt it necessary to speak with the multi-faceted artist. Enjoy our 'Essential Listens' playlist for Sean Deaux while reading the Q+A below.
Hey man, how's it going?
What up brother. I’m good. Been really busy but I’m happy to finally be able to build with you.
How did 2015 treat you?
2015 was a pretty solid year for me, I can’t lie. I was able to drop Vice City which was pretty well received and I lucked up on a few big features. You know I had no expectations for Vice City. It was really exciting to see how many listened to it and understood it. Besides that THEMpeople made a lot of big moves in 2015 that are leading to even bigger moves as we speak.
What can we expect from you in 2016?
Take Over The World.
Are you working on something as a follow-up to Vice City?
Yeah man. we’re putting the finishing touches on it right now. I really want it to be five songs like the last one but I have a lot of material recorded you know. We’ve always been a “quality over quantity” collective you know so at this point, I just want to make sure I’m giving people the best records. That’s a task in itself, but a good problem to have. But honestly, I’ve been listening to the current version of it for about a month. I think it's hot so far.
What are some studio essentials?
Logic X is the current program I’m creating on. Though I’m sure you know I’m a fan of hardware considering you were the first one to pick up Bossadova when it dropped. I used the MPC 2000xl a lot around that time. I just picked up an SP 404sx recently too. Shit's getting brazy these days. Other than that, I really just need weed, water, and Backwoods preferably. Xan is always a plus when writing without paper but not a necessity. Gotta be careful with those shits, they aren’t for everyone.
What's the production process like when it's “(Prod. THEMpeople)”? Do you all assist on the tracks or do you fully produce most of your solo pieces?
Every member touches every record in some way. I don’t want to give away our process but just know Michael Anthony is the epitome of what it means to be an executive producer and arranger. Just listen to SmokeBreaks IV. LBoogie is the coldest producer/engineer under 30 in the city. No contest.
How do you approach a song?
Of course it depends. I tend to not write on paper. I like coming up with these ill ass stoic phrases in my head you know. But, I generally just let the beat tell me what to say or I’ll ask one of the guys what the beat sounds like to them. Recently I’ve been asking LBoogie to give me a word and I’ll build off that singular idea. That’s actually been a lot of fun. If I’m doing a feature I tend to spend more time meticulously putting the phrase together. Like actually writing it down and rehearsing it hella times. Mainly because I want to hit it in one or two takes you know. I hate spending long amounts of time to do one part and any artist you’re working with probably feels the same way. Time is money and you also want the other artist to feel as comfortable as possible about what you are doing. I didn’t do the Mick joint like that, though. That was God. After I recorded it, Saba was like, “You sound like an angel, man,” [laughs] true story.
Do you create every day or does it come in waves?
I definitely create music in waves. I would really like to create and record every day but considering I still live in the matrix (full time day job), there are some limitations. I will say that lately I've had to have the itch to make beats, but when I do get the itch, you get shit like my new record, “Drunk.” Which I think is bananas.
Outside of music, do you have any hobbies/interests?
I really like to smoke reefer. Like a lot. I hit my first blunt in 2005 and I was never the same [laughs]. Besides that, I collect and shop for records a lot and I go to shows when my friends are performing. Other than that, I’m usually just trying to chill, smoke, and record. Oh yea, I love the ladies.
Quick survey: favorite book / favorite movie / favorite video game.
48 Laws of Power / Saving Private Ryan / Vice City...of course.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
Once you figure out your angle, attack it and never stop working. Learn to dissect real criticism from hate and go with what you feel in your soul. You have to sleep with your decisions at night and I tend to sleep way better when I go with my first mind.
Any final words/thoughts/shout-outs?
Vice City 2 on the way very very soon. Until then, I’ll probably drop one more donut to hold you guys over. Besides that, to anyone that really digs my music, please know that I’m here for good and I encourage you to stick around for the ride because we’re really about to take off. This is only the beginning.