The infamous hip-hop and pop producer shared some couch wisdom in an in-depth conversation with Cadence Weapon
A CONVERSATION WITH SCOTT STORCH as part of RED BULL MUSIC FESTIVAL at Glenn Gould Studio, Monday, October 22.
If you grew up in the 90s and 2000s, chances are high that Scott Storch made the soundtrack to your youth. After playing piano in The Roots, the legendary, Grammy-winning record producer composed the famous piano chord melody on Dr. Dre’s Still D.R.E. He’s responsible for the addictive, Middle-Eastern inspired strings on 50 Cent’s Candy Shop. He also helped pave the way for the future sound of New York hip-hop with the unapologetic, booming snare on Terror Squad’s number one single Lean Back.
Musicians, fans and industry types gathered inside CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio on Monday night at Red Bull Music Festival to hear Storch speak about his prolific output of hit, his fall from grace and his comeback. Rapper and producer Cadence Weapon hosted the evening, encouraging Storch to speak candidly about his inspiration, drug addiction and reinvention during the hour-long interview. Here’s what you missed.
Many of Storch’s most groundbreaking songs took mere minutes to make. He created the beat for Lean Back just 15 minutes into a studio session with Fat Joe. 50 Cent’s Just A Lil Bit and Candy Shop were both born on the same day. Storch also composed Beyonce’s Naughty Girl, Baby Boy and Me Myself And I in a single week while working with the superstar in South Beach. “You can’t be ‘on’ everyday, no one is a hit machine all the time,” Storch explained. “But if you’re loving the music it will happen. It shouldn’t be laborious.”
Dr. Dre and Storch decided to take a studio break when Storch came up with the perfectly off-tempo, two-note backbone of Still D.R.E. “Dre went into the kitchen to eat a sandwich and I was just messing around on the keyboard,” Storch explained. “I started playing the chord and as soon as Dre heard it, he poked his head into the studio and said, ‘That’s it, that’s the one.’”
Storch attributes much of his success to studying international sounds. A heavy Middle Eastern influence became a hallmark of his production style in the mid-2000s, instantly setting him apart from other producers of the era. Just last week, though, during a session with Ariana Grande, Storch was asked to play neo-soul-inspired beats for the pop star, and he happily obliged. “You always want to be innovating and creating what’s next,” Storch said. “Versatility is also really important for a producer. You should be able to deliver what the artist you’re working with wants.”
It might not be obvious to the average listener, but many of the most memorable hits rely on repetitive single-note melodies that recur throughout a song. Storch encouraged producers in the audience to stay away from chords and focus on melody when trying to make a hit. “As soon as Still D.R.E. starts playing, you know what it is because of the melody,” Storch explained. “Most of the world’s biggest records are less chord-driven. They have that instantly recognizable sound.”
Storch’s career began to falter when he became addicted to cocaine and spent time partying with Hollywood royalty at his $10 million Palm Island mansion in 2006. He withdrew from music almost entirely during this time, squandering tens of millions of dollars on private jets, a 117-foot yacht and over a dozen luxury cars. The lifestyle forced Storch to officially file for bankruptcy in 2015.
Today he’s quit cocaine and – as evidenced by the blinding, diamond-encrusted watch and chain he wore during the interview – is steadily rebuilding his fortune. But Storch used his story as a warning to young artists who find themselves newly surrounded by drugs and money. “You have to take care of your money. Invest and spend it wisely,” he said. “And when it comes to drugs like cocaine, none of that stuff is going to help you in the studio. You can’t vibe on cocaine. Your mind is all over the place. Be smart and live within your means.”
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