Hip Hop production is an art form. From laying the beats initial foundation to layering it with samples, hooks, live instrument or computer enhancement, to call yourself a true hip hop beat maker is a testament to the very essence of the elements of hip hop and not for the feint hearted. Melbourne producer and DJ M-Phazes is the pure embodiment of a true beat maker, having created stellar sounds for some of Aussie hip hop heavyweights such as Bliss n Eso, Phrase, Dialectrix and Muph & Plutonic to name a few. Widening that net to international acts with American hip hop artists Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli and Slaughterhouse and you begin to see the weight in this beat makers growing resume. From the Gold Coast home that birthed him to the Melbourne streets that groomed him, M-Phazes, or Mark Landon when you are writing him a cheque, has always been one of the urban industry’s most elusive, intriguing, multi-talented and hardworking producers in the game, whose work ethic and work grind has seen him create beats for artists from his hometown to the America’s, Britain, South Africa and beyond.
His recent co-production work on Eminem’s single “Bad Guy” off the new album The Marshall Mather’s LP 2 has seen him up the ante and deepen his working ties between Australia and US hip hop production, securing his role as one of the most in-demand and respected beat makers in Australia. With three solo albums under his belt (“Good Gracious” – 2010, Obese), (“Phazed Out” – 2012, Coalmine) and (“The Works” – 2013,Obese) M-Phazes is the definitive triple threat in our hip hop industry. A true DJ to the core, M-Phazes continues his reign on the 1s and 2s with live sets that take him from the national to international spectrum consistently and saw him most recently supporting the Rapture Tour with Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and J Cole in Australia earlier this year to an over 20,000 strong stadium crowd. Yet he makes it all seem so easy with an exterior that remains unfettered by the pressure uniquely preserved and pressed just for hip hop.
M-Phazes continues to work with both the local hip hop talent that Australia produces such as Illy & Drapht, as well flexing his skills in the international market with artists Kimbra, Gotye and Eskimo Joe to name a few. He needs a new word for busy as his hustle is redefined with the countless production, djing, recording projects he has going on the daily, but you will hear no complaints from him. M-Phazes is a DJ, Producer and an Artist, and he does it all through the fine art of balance, respect and humility. An ethos that keeps him focussed, challenged and authentic to his love of production, love of beats and ultimately love of Hip Hop!
Congrats on your recent success Mark for production credit on Eminem’s single ‘Bad Guy’ off his MMLP2 album what an amazing achievement. How did the whole idea and project come about to produce for Eminem in the first place?
I work with a producer who is based in the US, his name is S1, he is a pretty high profile producer. I sent him the initial idea, which was 3 synth parts, nothing fancy; he then took it and made the beat around it. The Em connect is through his relationship with Interscope.
M-Phazes & Eminem @ The Rapture Australian Tour, 2014
You have been in the production game for years, working with some of the rising talent in this country. What do you think makes the right balance for a successful and in-demand producer to stay that way?
Give the artist what they want, but also steer them in a direction that will appeal to their audience. That’s what I try to do anyway, I am a music fan first and foremost so I try and listen from that perspective when working on a song. Plus you always have to be learning, getting better with the tools you have, techniques, it all boils down to mastering your craft, which will never happen, but you aim for that, never get lazy.
You stay busy Mark, producing some of the illest beats to come out of our hip hop community in Australia. What would you say defines your sound and style?
I used to be able to say soulful hip-hop, but I do so much different shit now it’s really hard to define, one day I can be working on an indie rock idea, the next it could be a neo soul track. I guess what defines me more now is the sonic quality, how much stuff sounds, there’s always a bit of grit and dirt to my stuff, I hate that textbook clean sterile music.
Your production has spanned from individual tracks for artists, to albums to mix tapes. What and or how is the process different to each project you work on when it comes to making the perfect beat? Do you have any producer rituals you follow to get you in the zone?
Mixtape stuff is usually thrown away, artists don’t even ask to use a beat they found half the time, which sucks. I spend more time and effort on songs I connect with, if I don’t connect with the song, then I won’t own it and go the extra mile on it, I will do what’s required of me as a “producer for hire” and send you the song back. That’s not to say I don’t try to make everything I do sound good, I guess it’s just more a labour of love for songs I actually like.
As a producer in the Australian hip hop community, what are your thoughts on how our industry has evolved and progressed from when you first started your career to know?
I think it’s great; we finally have different sounds/textures with artists using influences other than 90’s NY hip-hop. That shit is cool but it got pretty boring for a while. There are still a lot of older guy’s whinging about the direction of hip-hop in Australia, but they will be forgotten and left behind, nothing wrong with some diversity and mainstream success.
M-Phazes & Aussie Hip Hop artist Illy
What are you currently working on now? Any new collaborations / albums coming out of your lab?
Right now I’m working with Daniel Johns, helped on a track for Kimbra’s new record, lots of stuff with S1 and my own album, among a few other projects.
Who would you say are your greatest inspirations that help you be who you are?
So many, Teddy Riley, Rick Ruben, Dre, Premo, Organized Noize, Pete Rock, Timbo, I could go on for days.
Your aspirations as a producer what¹s the next step for you in this industry?
I would like to work more in the US, that’s the plan after my album. I want to work a lot more with artists of other genres, not just hip-hop.
If you could take 5 albums with you into the afterlife, what would they be and why?
Outkast – Aquemini, D’angelo – Voodoo, Biggie – Ready to Die, Kanye West – Graduation, Kendrick Lamar – GKMC.
What do you hope will be your legacy one day in this hip hop game?
I hope I inspired a few kids to make beats and actually stick with it, pretty easy now days for kids to give up on stuff like that. I’m not fussed though, if people liked my music, cool, that will do!
For more information, beats and music from M-Phazes visit: www.mphazes.com
Always Hip Hop,