Production of indie music encompasses multiple layers of talent, skill, and musical knowledge. Atlanta-based Tyler Grissom, aka "The Lokkz Music", spoke with us about his background, being born and raised in a musically iconic city, as well as about his expertise in music production.
The Fan Connection (TFC): Thanks for taking the time out to visit with us. Tell us a little bit about you and what you do?
The Lokkz Music: My name is Tyler Grissom, I go by the name "The Lokkz Music" I am a music producer mainly focused in Hip Hop. I was born and raised in Muscle Shoals, Alabama but I moved near Atlanta as a teenager. I have been producing hip hop beats for 10 years. I started playing guitar 3 years before that just looking to learn my favorite songs to play for friends.
TFC: Muscle Shoals is a small town known for its big musical history. How did that play a part in the development of your craft and talent?
The Lokkz Music: I never truly understood how important Muscle Shoals was until I went back to visit FAME Studios when I was 15. Music was always around me in a variety of styles. I have been interested in music since I was a young kid from hearing everything my family would listen to. I immediately fell in love and started collecting CDs of a plethora of different bands and artists. The main sounds that piqued my interest were Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Nirvana, 2Pac, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, The Doors, Eminem, Linkin Park, and many more. This gave me an understanding of multiples genres and helped me translate ideas into art in a more enlightened process.
TFC: Tell us about the Atlanta music scene. Has living and working in Atlanta changed or reinforced your musical mindset?
The Lokkz Music: Atlanta is definitely growing with creative and open-minded individuals that are just as passionate as I am of freedom of expression as well as respecting the art and culture. Living here has definitely opened a pathway to all of these artists to allow the creativity to flow and blossom throughout the world.
TFC: What are your favorite genres to listen to…and what are your favorite genres to produce?
The Lokkz Music: I love listening to music that moves me. Stuff that I can relate to. Concept albums are my favorite. I love projects that relay multiple messages where you have one that is obvious and another that is subliminal and takes an invested listener to point out. "Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd is probably one of my favorites that does this. Even though Hip Hop has been my main genre, I've always loved just creating what I felt whether it was Reggae or Jazz, if it was right for the mood and that's what I felt...that's what I made. I developed a particular interest in how music affects our mood and our overall mindset. When I would go through hard times in my life, there would be certain songs that would help me get through. Thats when I declared to spend my music career being that guidance for others and helping them persevere. I send out nothing but positive vibes to change the energy of the world to be more on the peaceful side.
TFC: That's awesome! Music is such a powerful art form. Tell us what kinds of projects you are currently working on.
The Lokkz Music: I recently launched my website to showcase my catalog of instrumentals so artists can use them for a decent price to build their buzz and get their name out more. There is no bigger struggle than being an artist but not having the funds to pursue your dreams, I've been there. Thats why I offer great music at a price we can both benefit from. Currently I am working on two projects with some great rappers that I am excited to share with everyone. My main goal for this year is to work with as many people as I can and just learn as much as I can from their vibes and translate that with my own inspiration. I will also be releasing three personal instrumental projects this year and I intend on updating my online catalog every week with a new beat.
"If you understand the power of your mind, you will never have the excuse that your project didn't get done because of gear limitations or skill limitations. All you need is a vision and a method and you can do whatever you want."
TFC: What do you feel that you as a producer can best offer an artist that you’re working with?
The Lokkz Music: I understand structure and fluidity very well in music. From being familiar with many styles, I can conjure an organic feel in whatever genre I am working on and really bring it to life. My tool of creation is my mind and my consciousness. If you understand the power of your mind, you will never have the excuse that your project didn't get done because of gear limitations or skill limitations. All you need is a vision and a method and you can do whatever you want.
TFC: That's a great way to look at not only music, but life in general. What has been a favorite, stand-out musical project that you’ve been involved with?
The Lokkz Music: I started out as a rap artist in a group called T-Note and T-Rae, later changed to the name Prodesti. We created 2 full projects...one being a mixtape of remixes and the 2nd being a completely original album produced, mixed, and mastered by us. These projects were very crucial to my learning and helped me put the work in that I needed to learn and grow substantially in my craft.
TFC: What advice would you give to indie artists who are trying to develop or refine their sound?
The Lokkz Music: Advice that I will give to other artists reaching for their dreams is to stay humble, stay hungry, stay positive, and learn something new every single day. These mindset characteristics are very crucial in being successful, especially something as tough as being an artist. Don't try something, and then you see you aren't good, so you just say you aren't good and give up. Just understand that you are learning and no one is good at something the first time they try it. It takes years of constant practice to get to the skill levels that you desire. That is where the mindset comes in. It is easy to give up, everyone has done that at some point. Just stand up and keep going and you will reap what you sow.
TFC: Wise words. If an artist wanted to work with you, or any producer, what is the best way to begin the artist/producer relationship to assure that the project is a successful one and everyone is on the same page musically?
The Lokkz Music: I like to start by getting to know the artist better by getting familiar with their vision and their background and anything they would like me to know about them. This establishes the trust and the initial bond that mentally allows both parties to start creating with no judgments and criticisms that aren't necessary in the early stages of the project.
TFC: As you know, The Fan Connection is a “social media meets e-commerce” platform for indie artists. Our upcoming features include fan clubs, a music player searchable by genres, live video streaming and chatrooms. What do you think would be most important feature that an indie artist could utilize to help build their career? Can you add anything else that would help TFC help the indie artist community?
The Lokkz Music: These all sound like helpful tools that will definitely boost artists' visibility and create more avenues for them to share their music with the world. It would be awesome to see an add-on that will allow artists to sell tickets to their show as well as a way for artists to connect with managers, agents, venues, and any other industry professionals that they are seeking to further their progression.
TFC: Great idea and something we want to explore in the future. Thank you for your time and your insights. We really appreciate it!
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