A lot of us grew up watching all of our favourite superstars on TV or hearing their music on the radio, and always aspire to be just as great. Whether it’s to drop a song that’s just as viral or even wearing clothes/jewellery just as expensive. I personally remember listening to Kanye’s West’s Through the Wire growing up. The actual song that got me hooked on hip-hop, or rather, what I’ve come to understand as hip-hop. Put simply, I didn’t know this guy, I didn’t know his background story, I didn’t know how he got signed and how he had Jay Z ‘chaining’ him on such a massive stage-with so many rappers on stage. (I feel like that last sentence is a subject on its own…but I digress) What I did understand though was that the story he told was sad, and had me feeling some type of way, I felt the pain…not sure what pain but I understood that he almost died and in this way, he was about to go hard. Understand that at that point I’m around 7…maybe 8, but the feeling was sent by that video. I felt like he was such a great human for being able to send a ‘feeling’ to me…on the other side of the world.
Ever since, my dreams have been to be able to do the same. Tell my story to someone out there and possibly be able to share the same feelings. Unfortunately between then and now, I’ll admit I haven’t been able to achieve…you haven’t heard of my music, and quite frankly, my story is yet to be written, but I find myself surrounded by those I’d consider experts at what they do, and were willing to share some wise words about the industry in which a lot of people seem to actually (as I’ve also come to find), have very little knowledge of.
From here on in, I aim to find the actual Kings of the Industry…the real people behind the scenes, who make your favourites work harder because they left a bar so high…that they are the pinnacle. First up is: Sithembiso “Instro” Herimbi Music Producer
You might know him: as the guy produced songs like ReasonHD’s Top 7, Kid X’s 88 King and Tumi (Stogie T)’s Visa.
Ace: If you had a microphone to leave a message on, to say something that you would love to tell up and coming engineers or beat makers or even something that you personally wish you could’ve been told when you entered the industry, what would it be?
Instro: “So, I don’t really have a lot…a lot of things to say but what I will say is that, one of the most important things that I wish I could’ve been told was “Always have something to fall back on”. You know, as much as there’s a lot of people who’ll tell you “No plan B”, “this is all I know”…As humans we’re not infallible. I think more importantly as human beings, we’re multi-talented. God has gifted us with more than one talent…each and every one of us. So I think it’s important to [yes] immerse yourself in what you love, but also explore what else there is out there. Discover what your interests are….besides what you love. You’d be surprised…look at J-Something. J-Something’s first love is music, he played music and he also had this cooking thing going, on the side…and he decided to explore it…just to see what would happen, and now everybody knows that…along with him being a singer, he’s also a great chef…you know what I’m saying, and it’s given him a lot of opportunities, business-wise. Just to express himself further as a creative…So uhm, as much as me saying ‘Have something to fall back on’ doesn’t sound right…what I mean by it is, explore each and every potential that you think you might have. Each and every interest. Be inquisitive as a person. Always try and find out how things that interest you work. You would be surprised at the opportunity you could create for yourself. So…that’s what I wish I would’ve known. All my life, I wanted to work for one record label, I wanted to be a music producer…that was it. For me, you know…I sort of wore those horse blinders, and just looked at that…for me, I don’t think that’s the wisest thing to do.”
Ace: Looking at the fact that you are a producer and you’ve reached your goal now, what happens afterwards? What happens after you reach your goals?
Instro: “Exactly! One of the biggest things about why I’m saying ‘I wish I’d known better’ is the fact that, when you’ve reached that place…the place that you’ve always imagined…it’s…it’s a confusion after that. You feeling around things like “Can I do this? Can I tap into this?” You know what I mean, and a lot of times…it’s not fulfilling because, you didn’t have that broad perspective in the beginning. You didn’t allow yourself to explore certain things. So…that what I would say man. The advantages of being young… [is that] you have a chance to fail…and to fail lots of times. The older you get…the more difficult, and the more risky it is to fail. I think it’s always important to explore. Always be inquisitive! Always…ask questions, always…try and see what you can get out of a situation. You know…Never be one directional. God has given us so many things…so many gifts that we NEED to explore…because…that’s where purpose lies. A lot of people don’t know what their purpose is but they’re not willing to try out…things. They’re not willing to be inquisitive about the things that interest them…and I think that’s where it lies. It lies in continuously being…curious. In continuously being interested in the things that you like…yea…that’s really what I would tell [myself]…and patience man! Patience! This generation, (which includes me, you know) millennial in general, are impatient. They want things, and they want them now…and I’m learning…that in order to be a master, you have to be patient. You have to put in the work…and practice…and before you know it…you’ll be the one.
You will be the one.
You’ll actually surprise yourself at how good you can get if you’re just patient with yourself…and you keep consistently practicing.
[I hope I’ve answered the question]”
Ace: “No dude! That was perfect…I’m just thinking that if this is just you….I’m imagining the type of people I’m planning on interviewing, because we’ve had this conversation before [off the record], and I kind of expected that I would get the same answers as then (which is okay as well because that’s reiteration for me for it to make sense), but now I’m thinking…if this is just you, I’ll have so much information…”
Instro: ”…and I don’t think you’re going to get the same answer because…everybody’s journey is different…and…when everyone looks back at how…they’re journey came up, they can never say that it was identical to this guy…everybody’s come up is different. It happens in a unique way…so-“
Ace: “-the lessons that you learn are probably going to be different-“
Instro: “Yea! They going to be different. AND ALSO, with the times…What Miles Davis and [what] Quincy Jones were dealing with back then, is not what I’m dealing with as a producer. So, the experiences are worlds apart…so I don’t think you’ll get the same answer. But…I think the most common thing that you’re probably going to get is…PAITIENCE. You have to just put in the work, and trust that one day, someone is going to recognise it. And think ‘its dope’. Also, as human beings, man, this life is BIG! It’s BIG! BIG! BIG! BIG! it’s such a big life…and contrary to popular belief, it’s LONG! You can’t be a rockstar forever bruh…well…you can be a rockstar forever…but in your occupation, you need to be able to do more than one thing…and that for me, it solidifies two things.
- You’re honouring the gift God gave you.
- You’re giving yourself wisdom.
You’re giving yourself experience, by tapping into different things, and you’re living, basically. You’re doing what you’re meant to do in this life…and that’s to gain as much knowledge as you can…and apply it”
Ace: “That explains the difference between ‘being alive’ and ‘living’”
Instro: “Yea! When you are continuously curious, dawg, you are living! ‘Cause you’re trying to find out…how things work on earth. You’re getting to know things you didn’t know…and more so in an internet age where information is all over the place, I don’t think ANYBODY has an excuse.”
I don’t think it would be right for me to say anything after that. That’s Instro.
Interview & article written by: Asanda ‘Ace’ Africander