• Steven Mainzer

NMV Sit Down: IKON

Multi-faceted music producer IKON speaks on his new project in the works, crossing over genres and connecting one on one with an artist.

We were fortunate enough to sit down with the Chicago genre--blending producer, as he gave us details about new collaborations, projects and the influences that drive him to who he is today.


SM: Steven Mainzer

SM: Hey Ikon whats up, what have you been up to lately?

IKON: Been working. Been working with a couple people, Melo Makes Music, my personal project, and Tatiana Hazel. Really what I have been up to is helping those guys out and in between that finishing up my project, and working on another one.

SM: Can you talk a little about your project?

IKON: My project is like a 4 or 5 song EP. Four of them are done already, but one of them we are finishing up tonight so that’s kind of cool. It’s dance, it’s up-tempo, it’s fun and I think that’s the new vibe that I’m on its a lot more dance and club sounding songs.

SM: How has your sound changed over the past couple years?

IKON: It started with Auragami. It started with that then after that I want to do something slightly different but still in that pop lane. So that developed into dance and me deejaying for Bugatti, we have been around a lot of the Latin community and gathering influences from that, and also where I want dance music to sound like as well.

SM: What influenced that change?

IKON: I have always been between the genres. I have always been between those hip-hop, dance and pop lanes. For me I wanted to merge those two together, I love Major Lazer, he is a huge influence, I been kind of doing that kind of wave lately, I want to be able to perform and deejay these records—so I want to make them more upbeat and club friendly.

SM: What have you been listening to lately?

IKON: Ozuna. A lot of that Latin wave, Billy Ilish, a little bit of Rico Nasty, some Doja Cat. As far as dance goes anything that’s been Latino from Ozuna to Bad Bunny, to Major Lazer. I have also been doing some more 80s sounding stuff because Tati is really into that stuff, like the early Lady Gaga, this girl Robin. Just listening to that type of dance too as well, there were some bops back then but we’re trying to put a modern twist to it.

SM: How do you plan to put a modern twist to it?

IKON: We live in 2019, which automatically will put a modern twist to it. Me adding my expertise, my two cents. I come from so many different backgrounds, so like me adding that modern twist, maybe making the drums a little heavier than they suppose to be, or just doing unorthodox things but still giving you that nostalgia feel at the same time.

SM: You talked about dance, hip-hop, and the world of production. What category do you consider your expertise? What do you feel most comfortable with?

IKON: I’m feeling most comfortable right now at this point with having a certain type of connection with the artist. Like really getting to know that person and understanding what they want to get out of this session.

I think that’s probably the most important thing for me at this moment. Helps me more behind the boards, so I can start with drums and you can start with chords or a melody, or the other way around, it just depends. I don’t have a set way with making music, it just happens. Or we’ll go grab a sample or something like that.

SM: Do you think that has developed your abilities?

IKON: Definitely being 1 on 1 or in the room with an artists helps you. Because now you are literally creating on the spot. Super organic and it’s like a blank canvas, you know.

SM: Who were your influences growing up?

IKON: When I was younger, Kanye, regardless of what he is doing now, he was a huge influence, Kanye was super huge. Timbaland, Pharrell. Seeing these guys jump into so many different genres.

Even Dr. Dre was an influence as well because he was doing so many different genres. I like the guys that are exploring and not being known for just one thing, and you have Timbaland. You have Pharrell when he was working with Gwen Stefani then you have Timbaland when he was working with One Republic.

Then I realize there is no limit to what I can do. Then there is like Mike Dean how he works with Travis Scott but he came up in backpack hip-hop but Travis Scott is rap and pop at the same time. That’s like how I see it. You see Skrillex and Diplo. The guys that are always moving genres forward.

SM: What got you into music, when did you realize you had an ear for making music?

IKON: Maybe like high school, college, sometime even in 8th grade. I was like man I think I kind of want to do this I think this is actually going to be fun. I graduated from Columbia so I made that choice early on, so I was just like I’m going to stick with it and go from there.

SM: What did you study at Colombia?

IKON: Music business.

SM: Has that helped you?

IKON: Yes definitely. It makes you ask questions, just having a background in the business or even just understanding how the business works because it’s always changing. Understanding certain things are important, like let’s make sure we have our contracts right, let’s make sure we’re having splits and that everything is fair. Those are the things that make a big difference when you have a slight background in the business.

SM: What special goals do you have to accomplish in your career?

IKON: I want to help whoever I’m working with get to the top. I think that’s a bigger accomplishment. Once you get that and you have these people like “Yo we did that sound together” or you created this sound together, all those other awards and accolades come eventually. Especially with Tati, I want to help her-- like radio hits to the very top. I think that’s when all the awards and accolades start coming because you’re not even thinking about it. If I keep continuing on this path and working even harder and traveling and helping Tatiana and things like that I think we can do some damage. She is one of the only artists in Chicago that is doing pop music.

SM: You’re definitely a talented producer. What got you interested in deejaying?

IKON: Probably me being interested in Diplo and Skrillex, and all those guys. That’s what made me really want to get into deejaying more. It kind of has to happen. It’s a very easy way to put the songs that you been working on in the studio in front of a larger audience.

SM: Can you talk about the Tatiana Hazel project or Melo Makes Music?

IKON: I have 5 songs on her next project, so I’m excited about that. She’s going to be also be producing some stuff on her own. There’s going to be a total around 10 records. I got like half of it. We been working since like August of last year. Now we’re in the mixing process. On Friday, Melo Makes Music and I have a song that I produced with Martin Sky.

SM: Dream collaborations? Dead or alive.

IKON: I got two. Lady Gaga and Kanye West.

SM: Any advice to up and coming independent producers in the game?

IKON: In general stick to what you love to do. If you feel like it’s something that you don’t want to do, and it makes you feel uncomfortable in any type of way, just don’t do it. Whatever energy you put into making music is the energy you get out.

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