Imhotep, Leonardo da Vinci, Young Guru, Tech Supreme. What do these people have in common?
They’re all renaissance men, highly capable in different areas.
Tech Supreme is a producer, engineer, designer, DJ and definitely one of the people to look up to in the Saint Louis hip hop scene. (He’s also pretty nice on NBA2K.)
He’s worked with several great artists including:
Tech took the time to tell us how he started and how working with a diverse group of artists helped him develop.
You produce, engineer, DJ, and design. And do all of it at a high level. How did you get started in each of the 4 “hats” so to speak? Who are some of your influences as a producer? As an engineer?
As a producer I started when I was 15. I have been around music all of my life…my mother was a recording artist. She specialized in house music in NYC. I have childhood memories of her being played on the radio for the first time. So music was just always apart of my life. I started off rapping when I moved to St. Louis with a guy named Sci-Fi (eventually going under the name Young Thunder) and a few other kids. We needed production and I was always fascinated with the producer aspect. Around that time I kept having these really vivid dreams I would be sitting down talking to Timbaland or Jay-Z and they would say that I need to focus on being a producer. Those dreams really stuck out to me. Various people I ran across were also telling me that I need to listen for my calling. That, and the dreams, made me decide at an early age that I wasn’t going to rap and just focus on the beats. I dove right in and I haven’t looked back since.
The need to engineer just came from me being smart. Why would I pay so much money to record at someone else’s studio when I can build my own. I know how I want it to sound so if I just take my time and teach myself how to do it then I would save a ton of money, and make it possible to do more music. So Tef Poe and I went half on a pro tools box. Got some great knowledge from Jonathon Toth on the basics and kept working at it until I was happy. I don’t think we would have gone as far as we have come if we didn’t invest in ourselves like that. I’m a music fanatic so I already have an idea of how I want my records to sound. Once you paint with a picture already in mind, it becomes a game of how to get it there.
Now when it comes to DJ’ing I am a complete novice. I have many DJ buddies and I respect the fuck out of them. I had a roommate that had a setup and he would let me fuck around on his tables. I really started learning from my friend Trackstar the DJ. He would let me rock his tables every now and then when I was hosting Integrity at Blueberry Hill with him and Finsta. He taught me the basics of beat matching and pitch shifting. Then later DJ Spec showed me a lot, and he still shows me love on his gigs. That’s pretty much why you’ll see me hop behind the tables every now and then. I think I have a good understanding of what songs to play and when. That’s probably my best attribute as a DJ.
Now Design…I’ve been drawing my whole life. My high school art teacher claimed I was the son he never had. LOL. I can draw and paint well…but music was my focus. While I was sexing an art major at Wash U she introduced me to Photoshop. That was back in 2000. I instantly fell in love with the possibility and started making mixtape covers for the guys I was working with in music. Family Affair was the first ones that used my covers. Then B-Hollywood from Meta4 Experience. I noticed that our covers looked better than everyone else’s covers in the local section at Vintage Vinyl. At the time I was working for Ch’rewd Marketng and Promotions, and had built familiarity with a ton of St. Louis DJ’s. I saw a mixtape cover that they did, and thought it was trash, so I did a mock up of what I would have done. Sent it to Finsta, he sent it to the Derrty DJ’s and they went ape shit. I started doing flyers for Club Dreams based off of a friendship with the owners through music. I was quick and probably not as good as their main guy, but I could get it done quickly. It kind of just took off from there, slowly getting more and more clients. My eye, for graphics was simpler and cleaner than everyone else. Now it’s a full fledge business and I am forever grateful.
As a producer I was initially inspired by Timbaland. He was the king back in the 90’s. So unique and versatile. Then the Neptunes…their sound was so next level. That and Prince, and Sade. The music they made changed my life.
As an engineer, I am influenced by Young Guru. I had the opportunity to listen to him speak in Atlanta in October and he was just dropping gem after gem. I love a good engineer, and I don’t necessarily fancy myself as one yet. I just work out of necessity, one day I won’t have to engineer. I will have someone more trained do that for me.
You collaborate with a talented group of people known as The Force. How did The Force come about? How has working with a diverse group of talent helped you as a producer and as an engineer?
The Force was started by Black Spade. Flat out. If it wasn’t for Spade this shit wouldn’t exist. He extended his blessing to us in ways you cannot imagine. He basically put us in position with his act of kindness. Summer of 2009 underneath the arch, Spade gets a set opening for Lupe Fiasco in front of 30,000 people. What does he do? Lets Rockwell Knuckles perform Government Name; let Tef Poe perform Showstealers; and lets Corey Black perform Finger In My Nose. That to me was the beginning of The Force. We were all associates and friends anyway. Now it’s like, well lets pull our resources together and try to make something happen. I need a spot to record while I reupped my setup, hit up Indiana Rome, he said my studio is your studio. We record The Redeemer that January 2010. Two months and we were done. We just kept it moving after that. The Force is still strong and we still work collectively and independently on this music journey.
I’ve had the opportunity to record, mix, and produce records for some of the best artists in the Lou because of The Force. Theresa Payne, Teresa Jenee (no longer in The Force), Rockwell Knuckles, Black Spade (Revel), Indiana Rome, and of course my longtime collaborator Tef Poe. That’s just a few, and that’s a hell of a list of talent. They make me strive to make the best music I can make. You can’t come with wack beats to any one of these artists. They just won’t respond. It makes you step your game up.
What piece of engineering or production advice made the largest impact on you?
God puts people in your life for a reason, even if it’s a brief encounter. I met this older producer and I couldn’t tell you his name or nothing. We went to his studio when I was in college and he told me that he got a placement when he was in his 20’s and got a 10 grand check for it. He blew it on him and his girl and never rebounded. He said no matter what stay focused on music and be smart about your business. That conversation has always struck out to me. Stay focused, and stay on your business. That has made all the difference in my career.
What projects do you have coming down the pipeline?
Whiteout and RT-FaQ collab album is almost done. Gonna put some work in on Tef Poe’s War Machine 3, as well as anything else he needs. I’m about to start principal production on a compilation with DJ Trife Trizzil (amazing producer/DJ). Working with some new faces as well. Plus placements with national artists.
Where do we learn/hear more Tech Supreme?
I’m always on facebook, and twitter. For music downloads you can go to www.supremetechnique.com, and soundcloud.com/techsupreme