No matter how you feel about the current state of Soundcloud, if you dig hard enough you can still find some gems. During various digging sessions over the past year, I kept finding gold from a young producer out of Baltimore named J. Robb. The 18-year-old musician has been making music for the past 4 years and his output has been incredible for somebody his age.
With over a million plays on all his music, I'm clearly not the only person that has found this gold. Whether it's a remix of your favorite artist's song or a J. Robb original with an undeniable swing, he has something that everyone will like. I caught up with J. Robb on his recent trip to Los Angeles where he played Soulection's 6 Year Anniversary Party. I talked to him about his career achievements so far, securing placements, working with Soulection, the death of Mr Surf, and more! Read the full interview below.
You have various production styles. How do you approach an R&B song vs. a Hip-Hop song? Is there a consistent element in your creativity?
It all depends because on any given day, I'll have fifty ideas and get three done. But it usually starts with me playing on the keyboard and I'll go from there. For most of my music though, there's always that jazzy chord and I can do anything with that.
You've also made a name for yourself on SoundCloud by making some great remixes. What are some of your favorite?
One of my all-time favorites was the Travis Scott joint I did. It gave me a lot of exposure.
If you had to pick a song that helped you take your career to the next level, what would it be?
I had just started college and I put out this one track called, "Say What," that made me known to a lot of people.
That's tight. For me, your song, "Still Got It" is the one I send to everybody and they love it. How do you feel about that track?
That's a crazy track! I spent a good four months working on it because I knew exactly what I wanted to do but it just took a lot of time. That's an easy record to send to everybody because it's got a pop hook and rappers that aren't being overly aggressive (laughs).
What are you looking forward to this year?
How hard is it for a young producer to get placements?
It's weird. You can either make people pay for beats or give them free beats constantly to build a rapport so when they're ready to make an album, they'll hit you up. But It's really all about who you know. There's talent everywhere, so it's just a matter of getting in the right places and meeting the right people.
What's up with your debut album?
I've been working on it since the beginning of the year. I hope to have it done by July. I've put out one single from the album, it's the only song I've done and put out and it's doing well.
What are some of your favorite projects from last year?
The KAYTRANADA album was the only one that I actually heard and it was dope.
When you listen to another producer's project, what are you listening for?
Most people listen to the beats to see how it sounds. I don't view music as how dope the beat is or how intricate it is. I'm more concerned with how well put together it is. For example, if there is a vocalist on it, I listen to how well they match the keys and stuff like that.
What's been the greatest moment of your career so far?
It's weird because when stuff happens I tend to not get excited because I don't want to build up expectations. But looking back, I would say playing the Souelction 6 Year Anniversary was a big moment. I've looked up to those guys since I was 15 so being able to play the same stage and being able to hang out with them was tight.
How did you originally connect with Soulection?
They've been playing my stuff on their show for about a year. One day, Joe Kay reached out to me and we talked. He then introduced me to the rest of the crew. As time went on, we built a relationship and they ended up inviting me to come play their 6 Year anniversary show in LA. It was the biggest crowd I have ever played in front of and it was a sold-out show. The entire experience was tight.
You also did a song for their latest compilation, did you create something new for it or did you send an unreleased heater?
I made something specifically for it. Actually, they hit me up six days before the deadline and told me if I wanted to be on it, I had to hand them a song within six days. So I took that week and really honed in.
How did you find the features for it?
Well, the singer's my neighbor, so that was easy. We've performed together so I knew I could trust her to do a great job. And I've known IshDARR for a while so when I hit him up and asked if he wanted to be on a Soulection track, he sent me his part in a day (Laughs).
What other artists are you listening to right now?
Secretly, I'm into underground hip-hop, but the hard stuff (laughs). You probably couldn't tell though. Concept Jackson is one of my favorite artists of the past year.
What's next for you?
I would love to go on tour and get more placements. Everything is happening at a scary pace but I'm ready. I like living in Baltimore right now because given that there is not a whole lot to do, it's easier to focus. My work ethic is great right now.
Lastly, Who was Mr. Surf, and why did he have to die?
(Laughs) I made the Mr. Surf account in December of 2013. I was bored in college and made the account where I put all my remixes and all my slappy stuff. Next thing I know 15,000 people were following me! I wasn't expecting that so I just kept it going. It got to the point where people didn't know who Mr Surf was and people would ask me if I was friends with him. At some point I had to tell people it was me. But I have all that stuff linked to my Spotify now so it's a win- win (laughs).