The Magic of Rick Rubin, American Songs and Shangri-La


BROCKHAMPTON, the group that not only signed with American Songs but also formed their own joint venture with the company called Video Store, created some of their best work in Shangri-La, including that of 2019. GINGER and that of April ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE. Just as El-P described it, Rubin’s mere presence guided the 13-member collective in certain musical directions.

“He’s my Jedi master,” says producer Romil Hemnani. “The thing with Rick is that he has a way of getting involved in our music by not really getting involved. He’s always one of the first people we’ll play a work in progress for, and he has a really good way to give us a big picture of the song and the project. We’re so into it and it’s our whole life and because it’s a very self-indulgent thing, you forget to take a step back and d ‘have an outside perspective, and it’s just great to see the song as a song and nothing else.

He continues, “It really forces you to agree with your opinion on this. There are times we played something for Rick and he didn’t like it, and we were like, “No, we think it’s fair.” There is an example of this on some of the earliest SATURATION songs where you have to explain yourself: ‘Why do we like that? Why do we want to turn this off? ‘ “

BROCKHAMPTON de facto frontman Kevin Abstract, who calls Rubin a “mentor and a light” in his life, adds: “When we played him ROAD RUNNER, he was super blown away by the way he focused on rap and rap. I think that conversation alone with him and seeing him get so excited about rapping made us want to do even harder songs. ‘DON’T SHOOTER THE PARTY’ and ‘THE LIGHT’, all of that stuff came after we met him.

The way Rubin lit up and how he reacted to the album really helped steer the ship.

“It made us want to continue down this path and delve deeper into this aspect of our music,” said Hemnani. “Because BROCKHAMPTON is so unique, we have so many people and so many different sides in the band, we were able to be versatile and varied with our music, but seeing Rick connect with these songs, it made us want to stay in it. this world a little longer and see how it felt.

“That’s what we mean by how he’s got a way of being involved in our music without being involved. He didn’t really work on the songs. He wasn’t in the studio with us, but this conversation with him got us to do these songs.

Hemnani and Abstract are inspired by Rubin and American Songs to create their own Video Store label.

“Seeing them let the artists lead and let the artists be the artists and then knowing when to step in and when to give space was probably the biggest thing I learned from them,” Hemnani says. “If you want to work with an artist, you want to work with him because of something he’s proposing. They are doing something unique that you are a fan of. Your role is to support and build that up, and if at times you need to take a step back and just let them play in the sandbox, you should. I think it’s about letting artists be artists to their full potential.


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