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Views From The Studio: Meet Producer Brian "Peoples" Garcia

To learn how Fetty's self-titled debut album came together, read what producer Peoples had to say on the studio process.

In the music realm, it's hard to stumble upon a songwriter/producer/artist partnership that you know will create replay-worthy songs. There was Aaliyah mixed with Static Major, Timbaland and Missy Elliott in the old school, The Clipse and The Neptunes' otherworldly melodies, and within this age, you might look to Drake and Noah "40" Shebib to give you a cohesive body of tunes. Now, newcomer Fetty Wap has found a home within the charts and everyone's playlists with his bangers, and along for the successful ride is producer Brian "Peoples" Garcia.

The New Jersey native knew producing was a passion of his since his days at Passaic High School. His determination to make it in that realm prompted Garcia to intern "everywhere" and cement connections with those around him, a few being Vinylz, Spinkings and Alan Ritter. He eventually met Fetty one day in a studio through frequent collaborator Monty. From there, the pair crafted hits that live on the radio like "679," "Again," and the Grammy nominated "Trap Queen."

To learn how Fetty's self-titled debut album came together, read what Peoples had to say on creating a few of the tracks in the latest edition of "Views From the Studio."

VIBE: What was the studio process like putting together Fetty Wap's debut?
Every song was a different vibe. “Trap Queen” was just me and him and two other people in the studio when he recorded it. I mixed it in my house. It took me three days to mix that song. I did it in my bedroom and the other songs I did in two other studios. I only had two weeks to mix it because our process in the studio is he comes in and I present him the beat or he has a beat. He either sits down and writes it or he already has it. Like “679” he just went in the booth, I think that was his fourth take, the whole hook, everything was freestyle. It really depends on his feeling when he hears the beat. Sometimes he’ll call me and say, ‘I have this song,’ like “Again.” He had that written and I was already in a studio session. He said, ‘Please I need to record this song now, I think this is the best song I ever wrote,’ and then my boy Shy Boogs recorded him downstairs. Then they finished it and he leaked it. That leak ended up getting 70 million clicks on SoundCloud. Then I mixed it and I think it broke Top 40 records. On Rap/Urban I think it debuted at number 7.

We did “Time” from scratch, that’s the one everybody likes. We asked him ‘What kind of song don’t you have?’ He said, “I don’t know, we have everything.’ I said, ‘You know you don’t have any Drake-type of stuff,’ like that vibe. He wrote it, went in the booth, he did his first verse, the hook, and then he did the little breakdown. He left, and we did the rest of the song like the guitar part, added more drums, then he came back and heard it and said, ‘Wow, this is amazing.’ We added another part to the bridge and then Monty jumped on it. It’s not all at once, a lot of people think we do everything in one take, but it’s a long process.

What was the brainstorming session like when you guys were mapping out the sound or vibe of the album?
I wanted you to go through a roller coaster of feelings, that’s why I ended it with “Rewind,” that really sad song with the guitar at the end. I know it was a lot of songs but there was so much content already out. I just felt why not already give them the content mixed, that way they can enjoy it and give them a little bit of extra stuff. I really wanted the fancy stuff like “Trap Queen” first and then go into serious and street stuff like “No Days Off” which puts you in that thinking mode. I wanted to hit you with all of the feelings on the album. Every song gives you a different feeling. I know a lot of people probably think, ‘He’s in his comfort zone,’ but why not be in your comfort zone? If you’re comfortable with something why try something different? I think it gives you a bunch of different feelings. You start off with “Trap Queen” and it’s so amped up, “How We Do Things” is amped up, “679” is the party thing and it just keeps going. Then “Time” comes and it’s a break, then it starts up again. I don’t think albums nowadays have that balance anymore. I think all the songs on albums nowadays sound the same. They give you that same turn up feeling, that’s it. There’s no other feeling other than turn up, it doesn’t make you think. I’m from a different era of hip-hop. I used to listen to albums totally different than how these young kids listen to albums.

Do you have a memorable moment in the studio with Fetty?
The best time I think was when we did “Time” because it was the first time we ever made a record from the beginning. He usually comes in with an MP3 or says, ‘Peoples make me a beat,’ or ‘Send me a beat,' 'What beat you got this week?’ I’d play him some beats, and it’s usually the first or the second beat and he’s like, ‘Alright, let me get that one.’ “679” I was making that beat over when they walked into the studio. I was making it over, my boy Velous, he made “All Day” and he’s signed to Coke Boys, I made that beat for him, but I don’t think he paid attention to it so I wasn’t happy with the way he didn’t take heed to the beat when I played it. I thought maybe I need to change it around. The next day I went to the studio and I was changing it around and that’s when they walked in and Fetty said, ‘What is that?’ I said, ‘Oh just some beat I was making.’ He f**ked with it and I kept messing with it. When I got to the breakdown, the part that sounds like a little kid playing on a table, that’s when he said, ‘Just load it up.’ The beat wasn’t done. I loaded it up, he went in and by the fourth take that’s when we did that. He’s pretty cool in his process because I’m used to people writing. I’m in deep sessions where it’s 10 or 12 hours and there’s just one song. Eight hours with Fetty is like 10 songs, it’s crazy. He doesn’t have the same process as a lot of people do.

"Trap Queen" remains his crowning single. Share the background story behind that melody.
They brought me a different record to mix. I finished that record a little bit earlier and I knew I was going to mix the other songs so I was being nosey. I looked and I saw “Trap Queen” by Fetty Cash, that used to be his name. I opened it up, and I heard it. He didn’t have the “1738” in it yet. After I heard it, I called his manager Nit The Grit at the time, and I said, ‘He should record this sh*t with me.’ It was a Monday or Tuesday, I remember it vividly. By Saturday we were in the studio recording “Trap Queen.” That day he put it out, that’s why it said “Trap Queen (Rough).” I told them give me a couple of days to mix it so they can sell it on iTunes. I mixed it, and by the time I finished, it had about 100,000 plays. It grew instantly. We did it on March 28, by the end of June, early July he was already at 350,000. I think by mid-July or August, it was not even half a million, so that song really blew over. By like September it was by 2 million. That’s when he got the deal. Then when he got the deal he blew up bigger than life. If that Fast & Furious song ["See You Again"] wasn’t out, “Trap Queen” would’ve definitely been number one on the Top 100.

Did you think this song was going to catapult Fetty into the spotlight?
I didn’t know it would be this big, but I knew it would be a hit. I have a thing when you can make fun of a song that sh*t is dope. I was doing so much dumb sh*t to it that I thought this was a f**king hit. After mixing it and I didn’t have to listen to the record anymore, my son kept singing the song for like two weeks. I had to play it in the car for him. He was like six years old at the time. He said, ‘Dad, play the “Trap Queen” song.’ I’m like, 'This motherf**ker might have a hit on his hand.' I knew the record was big, the way it sounded coming through those studio speakers, and when he said, ‘I’m like hey, what’s up, hello,’ there were goosebumps. I still get goosebumps talking about it. I remember it, so dope. I didn’t have to do sh*t to his voice. It was just natural. I could’ve fixed the “hello” part, but that sh*t was fire. That little mistake made him, because you know that’s what catches you on the record. I feel like if I would’ve fixed it, I would’ve took away character on that part. There’s ways to fix it and I could’ve fixed it. I could make anybody sound like a singer, but not him. That’s his natural voice. If you’ve seen him live, that’s exactly how he sounds.

It’s a song that any type of listener kind of gravitates to.
I call it the “Weird Al” methods. He used to flip the songs back in the day. All the songs he used to flip were the really dope songs. You can even go back to the 80s, early 90s, Mobb Deep sh*t. All their songs that were dope, like “It’s the G.O.D. Father Pt. III.” You can make fun of all of those songs. I think I’m on to something (laughs).

You said there was something captivating about the original version of “Trap Queen.” What exactly do you look for when you’re producing an instrumental that’ll not only capture your attention but also the listener's?
I think drums are the main part of everything. If the drums aren’t hot, the beat isn’t hot. You can have the dopest melody, but if the drums aren’t hot I don’t think it’ll work. I think drums are the driver, the main thing to me. I tend to start my beats with sound, so I would say the main sound is trying to find that melody that'll catch people’s attention. I don’t try to bite other people’s sh*t so I don’t go into the studio like, ‘I’m going to find a song that sounds like Future.’ I just go in there and whatever my vibes are that day, that’s what I do. “Again” I was trying to make an up-tempo “Try Me.” It worked in a good way because it’s Top 40, but to me the sound and the drums have to be dope. The drums that Vinylz did on “Blessed,” that sh*t is… you can’t even catch them that’s how dope they are. It’s so weird, and people like weird stuff now. They’re more open to the weirdness, not like 10 years ago when everybody had the down South flute in their song with the same 909 or 808’s in their sh*t. I just think now people are way more open because of people like The Weeknd, PartyNextDoor, Drake, Travis Scott, so much different sh*t going on right now it’s so cool. A lot of old school people are like, ‘Where’s hip hop?’ There are so many sub-genres now it’s crazy. I think that’s dope that hip-hop is evolving that way because at one point we thought it wasn’t going to go anywhere like, ‘What are we going to do without big rope chains?’ Then Mobb Deep came out talking about shooting n***as. It’s like Rock N’ Roll that has punk, heavy metal and we have down South crunk music, Bay music, Chicago shoot-em-up music. Now we have New Jersey music that we can finally say we have a sound. I think that’s pretty dope.

How’d you describe New Jersey sound?
It’s like party music, I can’t explain it any other way than that. Every time someone comes to the studio, it’s party time, turn up. We got our own sh*t. We make you want to dance when we play our sh*t. It’s always been like that with our music, even with that club music. It was always dance. We know who’s partying over here. People have hoods and sh*t, but at the end of the day we’re trying to make party records. We’re trying to have the clubs rocking. We do it for the street, don’t get it twisted. Personally for me, I don’t. I make R&B music. When I make my beats, if you noticed with the “679” and “Again” have those little old school R&B nods with the new wave. That’s what I do. That’s why I try to incorporate street with R&B with Fetty. That’s why he started saying Trap N’ B because it’s trap, but R&B too.

What makes a song stand the test of time?
I think it’s the uniqueness of it. It’s not like anything else. “679” it sounds like a Mustard beat, but it has that East Coast bounce to it. I think that’s why people like it so much because it can feel West Coast-y, but it still has that East Coast feel. “My Way” is the same thing too. I think it’s about the originality of the record. It all boils down to originality. Nobody sound like Fetty. It really boils down to his voice, the beats he picks for his voice. He knows what range to go and not go, like ‘I know I can’t sing this way so I’m not going to go ahead and get that beat.’ I think he chooses his beats wisely and that’s what makes him so original. He picks the beats that match his voice and then his voice is already so unique that it’s like an instrument itself, it’s so melodic.

You’ve also received shout outs from industry heavyweights like Young Jeezy or Timbaland giving you your props. I wanted to know what is that feeling like?
It’s like I finally made it. I’m 35 years old and it’s crazy. That just smacked me as you asked me that question. I think that’s the first time I thought about it. I don’t let that sh*t get to me. I’m really humble. I don’t really care about the money. As long as my family is happy, my kids and my wife that’s what I give a f**k about. That’s what keeps me moving everyday. That’s what makes me go to the studio and make some dope sh*t that Timbaland is going to post on Instagram and say, ‘This is so f**king hard.’ That sh*t was amazing. That was dope as hell. That’s a person that I looked up to my whole career coming up and it’s like you just said my sh*t is dope. This the first time I actually smiled about that, thank you.

How do you balance family and industry life?
My wife is very supportive and that’s the way I was able to balance it. There’s no other way. It’s a 50/50 relationship. If she wasn’t supportive I don’t think I would’ve been able to do it because we struggled a lot. There was a point where it was bad, lights were getting shut off. We never got evicted, our parents never allowed that to happen, but it was bad. Now, to get all of these rewards, I guess God was like you struggled enough. She worked, and I was in the studio every day. I would make a little bit of money here and there. Vinylz would get some sessions and he was a nobody either at the time when I was working with him. He blew up with “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt," and the studio shut down six months later because the hurricane flooded us. You have to never give up, and my wife never gave up. We just had another baby and everything just started going good. Fetty came along and he was like, ‘I’m going to make you rich one day,’ and I said, ‘Everybody says that,’ and he made me rich (laughs). Thank you Fetty.

Do you think the lack of balance on some artist’s albums is due to the fact that they want to give their fans music right away, a quick turn around?
It’s definitely, ‘I’m hot right now I have to put it out.’ Ten years ago, they used to sit in a studio for like a year and record an album. These rock and pop dudes, they don’t sit in a studio for a month and then drop an album. That’s not what we do. We had a whole year to do it. Now people spend one or two months in the studio and say, ‘We have 10 songs, let’s put out an album.’ I’m more of the traditional method, sit back and make an amazing album that people are going to listen to for a long time and not just for the next six months. I want you to still listen to my album next year.

That element is gone. You don’t really get those albums like that. Those classics like the Magna Carta Holy Grail sh*t. You see how Jay Z sat in the studio and did everything. Everything was a process and that album came out later. I think the value of music at some point, people need to appreciate it or it’s going to depreciate. You can’t take the time out anymore, you have to come in the game with a body of stuff already made so they can say this is dope, sounding like you sat in the music studio for a long time making it. People make one hit record and say, ‘I want to put this whole album out. The label signed me so I have to recoup this money and I have two weeks to do it because my records are falling on the charts.’ That’s why everybody thought Fetty was a one-hit-wonder and then “My Way” came out, “679,” and then “Again” came out, then the album, and some people on that Billboard only have one hit.

Are you working with any other artists in the future?
I’m working with Red Café. I think I have some A$AP Ferg things going on. I want to work with Kehlani, Drake. I’m more of an R&B dude. I would love to be on a Beyonce record. I think that would be dope as hell. I can hear her on the stuff we do now. There’s a bunch of stuff that people haven’t heard, a lot of “Time” stuff, that R&B new wave stuff I think she’d sound amazing on. I would love to work with Alicia Keys. I just think I’m an R&B head. I think I’m supposed to work with Marsha Ambrosious next week, Trey Songz, a lot of R&B. I guess they want that Fetty sound.

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VIBE: Can you give us a rundown on how you selected these artists?

Pusha-T: It was a vetting process between us and 1800. I would look for guys that were a strong lyricist, guys who're into melody. Just, you know, small followings, but I thought they were dope.

That’s interesting because in this era of music people focus on the people with the massive followings on social media.

You know, you got to think, if it’s too big then it’s not really special to see it in this process.

Very true. Your music has pretty much always stayed true to your sound and brand. So did you find it challenging to work with this pool of new artists that follow so many of the new trends in hip-hop?

Nah, I think that this is part of my calling and how I’m supposed to mature in the music business. Man, I’m performing in front of 18 to 45 [years old] every night, and it trips me out to see the people get hype over “Grinding” and the people that just know me since 2013. But you know, with that being said, I think I have my hand on the pulse, on what’s going on musically out here. I’ve learned how to enjoy it. I enjoy all types of rap. People will listen to my raps and listen to my music and be like, “aww man, he ain’t going to rock with me.” And really, I do. I enjoy it. I mean, how could you not? To be in it like this, how could I not find appreciation in everything that’s going on?

The way you answered my last question seems like you’re considering retirement or at least exploring what that looks like. But you’re right in the thick of it all, so that’s very interesting.

Yeah, man. I don’t think lyric-driven hip-hop goes out of style. I think that stays around forever, and then I feel like you retire when you’re out of the mix of it and out of the culture and lifestyle of it. When you start not caring about hip-hop aesthetics and just being first and competing, then you supposed to be like, alright cool, I’m out. But until then, I still know what’s fresh to put on and so on and so forth.

One of the biggest differences between vets and new artists is the communities they live in and the things they witness as youth. Did you see some of those differences reflected in their music while working with them?

Yeah. As a veteran artist, I was speaking about what was going on outside at that very moment. I think the newer artists are more introspective. They’re more about themselves and trying to convey messages from their heart. They’re trying to sell you on them, whether they want to party [or] they’re heartbroken. It’s not so much looking out the project window and saying what’s going on. It’s like, I don’t even want to go outside. I’m in my room, and y'all don’t even know I’m writing and I’m going to show y’all one day. It’s all about that.

That seems kind of overwhelming or can come on too strong at times, no?

Nah. As a writer, you dial in on things… You know when somebody says something in a song like, “oh you meant that.” Or you were so intricate with the description of that, you had to get that off. So that’s a score as a writer, me listening to somebody like that. That’s a good thing.

What’s the greatest lesson that you have given this new generation?

I think the greatest lesson for me and the position I’m in right now is opening up these corporate opportunities. They do everything themselves. They’re shooting their own videos, recording themselves. They’re writing, producing, and recording themselves. They’re damn near engineering. One of the girls, [Nita Jonez], she was like, “Yeah, I just be knocking little stuff out while I’m at the crib.” I’m like, I don’t even do that. I don’t even know how to finesse all that. But they’re so self-sufficient. Only thing I could try to do is just package it for them the best way possible. They all got dreams of being huge. A lot of that has to do with the art and what they’re doing, but how it’s presented [as well]. And that’s what I try to show 'em and teach and help 'em with.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from them?

Man, there are just absolutely no rules. No rules at all. They’re such free spirits. They don’t even record how I do. I come in a with a new notepad, pen, and I write like that. I have to see it. It helps me memorize it. They come in and run straight to the mic and just be who they are. And they find themselves through it all. Not everybody; there were some other writers in there, like, Hass and Tyler. Tyler [is] so good at it. It comes out just that precise or damn near close. And then he’ll go and chop it up, make it right a little bit. But they just have that unorthodox attack in the studio. I’m more like, I want to sit down, chill… I don’t even like being in the studio that long. I probably write at home, then I’ll come here and figure out the rest. It’s a very formatted type of thing. And some of the spontaneity and some of the energy probably gets lost in my way because they come in and vibe immediately. Things that may just happen on the spur of the moment, they catch it. When I come in, it’s just all there. Either I’ve written it already or I’m writing it and that’s just what it is. I may lose an adlib. I may lose something that’s quirky in a song that just happens that probably won’t happen for me, but they’ll catch every time.

Do you think there’s a way to balance that incorporates both of those worlds – yours and theirs – to make that ideal way to create?

Well, I think it would have to come from practice. Certain people learn a certain way. Honestly, there’s no difference in what they do than what Jay-Z does. He just practices so much that way that his mind works and processes things really fast. And you know, he’s just really confident in not seeing anything and catching the vibe and going at it. Theirs is just unorthodox. It’s the same thing though. And then as they do it more and better, it’ll get more concise.

In any field, with mentorship there’s only so much you’re willing to take from your mentor before you’re ready to do it yourself. Who were your mentors, and what were some of the things you did and didn’t take from them?

From afar, it would have to be Teddy Riley. Him moving to the area, Virginia Beach, where I’m from – him alone was like wait a minute, music is a real thing. Oh man, there’s a Ferrari down my street. I can’t believe this. I’m seeing Jay-Z’s here. Michael Jackson’s in Virginia Beach for what? You know, shooting a video, all of these things that happened, let me know that this is a real thing and not just for the people on TV. Now in arm’s reach, you got Pharrell and Chad. You got my brother [Malice] who taught me how to write. He actually taught me that MC Hammer wasn’t a rapper when I thought he was. Pharrell literally taught me how to count bars. It’s just been so many lessons between those guys; they taught me everything. They taught me to look at a song, try to see it the whole way through and not just get up and write for the sake of writing. Pharrell always told me, “you may not have something to say today.” Like if I get stuck, “It’s fine. You’ll get to it. We’ll find it another day.” Never force it though.

There’s a huge divide in the genre as far as rookies vs. vets go. This project is so good because it’s paying it forward. Do you think that’s both a necessary and important part of the culture that needs to be restored?

Yes. Well, no. You know what? It’s not for everyone. It’s not for everybody to do. Some people are so stuck in their heyday that they can’t even see what’s going on outside. Everybody that I’ve ever liked in rap music, I probably have had a longer career than all of them. Like whoever I thought was the greatest in my time, I be like, bro, wait a minute they only have five years, five albums? What? When I really think about it, it’s because they all got stuck in their heyday. And that was a hell of a time. The greatest of all great raps, but you know, they couldn’t see any further than that. And when something new came up, they was like, “Yeah, but y’all don’t like us because we…” They just start getting washed and their jeans start fitting differently and they pick the wrong size. They just get stuck in that time period and before you know it, it’s skinny jean time and they got on fucking size 42s and they weigh a buck 50 and they look crazy. And it’s wrong because you get stuck because you don’t embrace and try to help and learn from what’s coming in next. And you should. This is music. You can never stop learning. You have to continuously learn with this forever. It’s just what it is until you just say I’m done. It’s not for everybody man. If you’re not trying to push hip-hop forward, then no, you’re going to be washed and you should be. You should be. I think it’s corny. This is the youngest genre of music. The youngest, most powerful, most influential. We should not be at a point where the elders are knocking the rookies. It’s corny. That’s an effort to stunt the growth of the genre. And that is just totally wrong, 100 percent.

READ MORE: Pusha T And No Malice 'My Brother's Keeper' (Digital Cover)

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