This is the spot where you’ll see upcoming producers and Industry veterans in the game. A lot of people don’t know what goes into production. This will be the section where we feature the hottest producers in hip hop. Each month we’ll bring to you a new producer along with their background.
THIS MONTH’S FEATURE IS: Sir Clef
Born in Philadelphia in 1986, Derel “Sir Clef” Haynes knew from his background in church that he wanted to pursue music. Soon, he was taken under the wing of super producers Carvin “Ransum” Haggins and Keith Pelzer where he earned his stripes in music production, working with artists as varied as Will Smith, Floetry, Kenny Latimore, Timbaland, Lil Kim and Boys II Men, just to name a few.
But that wasn’t enough for Clef – he stepped up his production game, focusing on musicianship, taught himself to play keys by ear and moved to Atlanta to make his mark. With his own production set-up, he circulated beats he made in ProTools and Logic, landing him gigs with T.I., André 3000, Freeway, Charlie Baltimore, Robin Thicke, Keri Hilson and numerous others.
Clef classifies his sound as “unpredictable” with cultural influences that know no boundaries. Clef’s current focus is on nothing but the years of work ahead and constantly redefining himself. As he puts it, “Without faith nothing is possible, with it nothing’s impossible.”
You are orginally from Philly? How was that growing up?
Yes, North Philly….Philly is Philly what can I say, lol.
At what point did you know that music is something that you wanted to pursue?
Music was always around me …. growing up in my home church and family I was surrounded by musicians and producers… watching them grow into their craft I realized thats what I wanted to do.
What were some of your musical influences growing up?
ATOJ (CARVIN & IVAN, VIDAL & DRE,KEITH & DARREN),THE ROOTS CREW, Scott Storch, JAMES POYSER, Teddy Riley, JUST BLAZE, RICH HARRISON, TIM MOSLEY, Quincy Jones, Swiss Beatz, THE NEPTUNES, B.COX, DR DRE, Rockwilder , COOL & DRE, Dallas Austin, Jermaine Dupri, Babyface, Lil Jon, Rodney Jerkins, Ryan Leslie, Kanye West, Tim & BOB, Polow Da Don, Khao, T.I, DJ Quik, The Runners, Track Stars ,Heatmakers, Sean Combs, Kevin Liles, L.A Reid, Clive Davis, & Berry Gordy.
How has your Church background influenced you?
I went from playing drums to playing keys….. learned a lot of music theory and structure from it.
Who are your musical infuences now?
I’m a fan of music period….. I have respect for the real musicians and people who utilize their musicianship to the max.
How did you link up with producers Carvin “Ransum” Haggins and Keith Pelzer?
Carvin and Keith are like family …. they family were members of our church.
What artist(s) have been the most memorable to work with so far in your career?
I’ ve worked with alot of people… but the most memorable for me were working with the new artists and seeing what their careers became. That was the best feeling for me… but I mean doing a song with T.I. and Andre 3000 doesn’t hurt either, lol.
Who has the craziest work ethic you’ve seen so far in the studio?
The Dream… I was blessed enough to work with him in Vegas.. I’ve seen him write a whole song within 15 min and was ready to move to the next one. DJ Toomp too, He sits in-front of his keyboards for hrs banging out tracks.
In terms of production, what is your process? Do you use live instruments, etc..?
It really depends on the artist or what feel I’m going for on the track.
Do you use alot of samples, or do you like re-playing samples manually?
I’m not really a sample person but when I do I try to play over them to take them to another level or to the point where I can remove the sample.
Are you using mostly software or hardware?
Take us through a typical studio session with you..
Depending on who I’m working with, the sessions change but I’m a silly person I try to make a comfortable fun work enviroment.
Do you think an artist or producer can do it alone these days by just leveraging the internet, YouTube, etc?
Yes.. there are alot of people who are doing it.
What do you like to get into on your downtime? What do you do for fun?
I’m random. I’ll just think of something and wanna go do it….. from shooting pool to theme parks and depending on how I feel that may be the same day, lol.
What you got in the ipod right now?
Kendrick Lamar ,Big Sean, Kanye, T.I., Maroon 5, The Bird and the Bee, Andre 3000, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Adele, Brandy, Asap Rocky, Journey and so on… I listen to alot of different types of music.
So how did getting T.I. and Andre 3000 on the “Sorry” track come about?
I linked up with Jazze Pha a few months back and we were working on a a couple tracks for T.I.’s project and a few weeks ago we received a call saying that they picked 1 and that it was featuring Andre 3000…. my mouth dropped .. lol.
Will we see any more projects with you involved with Andre 3000?
Not as I know of but it would be an honor… he is one of the artist I’ve always wanted to work with.
So what else is on deck for you?
Working on a couple different projects .. a couple placements floating around.
Looking ahead, what are your long term goals?
I really didn’t set a goal… I just feel whatever blessing that God has waiting for m.e, i’ll accept them with open arms .