Artist Spotlight Interview: Rodney Hazard

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As part of our Artist Spotlight series this month, we recently caught up with modern renaissance man Rodney Hazard to learn more about his creative process, get the lowdown on his new EP, and discuss music-making in the digital era. You can watch the video for Rodney’s latest single, “Sirens,” which was made using the INSTRUMENT 1 below and find it streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and iTunes now.

Artiphon: For those who may not know, can you tell us a bit about yourself and the path that led you to making music?

Rodney: My name is Rodney Hazard. I’m an artist and music producer based out of NYC. I’m on a unique mission to blend my love for music, film, and design to empower creatives and, of course, make some noise in the process. I started making music strictly for the love of the craft. I’m a child of hip-hop, reggae, kompa, etc., and the music I was around inspired me to start creating at the age of 14-15.

How would you describe your sound/overall vision?

I like to describe my sound as emotive and cinematic. I really create based off experience – I see myself as an instrument to the universe, and this is how I express myself to the world.

We’d love to hear more about the process behind your upcoming EP, What Keeps You Up At Night? What was the motivation behind this record?

What Keeps You Up At Night? really is a crowdsourced EP. I reached out to fans, friends, family, & followers and asked them, “What keeps you up at night?” The response was overwhelmingly positive – I received so many voice memos. It’s pretty interesting, the reaction I received, and seeing how important it is for people to be a part of something, no matter how big or small. From there, I created the sound and sequence of the album using the INSTRUMENT 1, creating in a way so that the performance was part of the process.

What are some of your favorite I1 presets? Go-to playing techniques? Places to create?

My favorite preset is the Smart Strum mode because of its versatility and how it lends to performing live using features like Tilt. And my favorite place to create probably is my home studio after traveling for a bit. Taking all of those experiences and being able to reflect on them usually adds so much to my process.

Some may be skeptical of using such a futuristic-looking controller on stage. What would you say to those people?

I’d tell them to stay for the entire show and make their evaluation after the fact. I think being able to bring a tool like this on stage can be truly groundbreaking in terms of how digital music producers perform, and I love the fact that the next time I step on stage it will be to introduce the world to this style of performing.

How does music-making in the digital age push you to differentiate yourself, your sound, and the marketing of your work?

Music-making in this era is very different. The frequency of new music is overwhelming for most people, but I think that’s an opportunity to capture organic fans that are truly tapped into whatever your niche may be. Furthermore, I think it pushes me more to be me, because I don’t think that can be replicated. I’m one of one. Part of me feels like most people spend their time trying to be someone else anyways, so I just stay true to what I know and my roots. I know there are plenty of people who can relate to my story.

You’ve worked with the likes of A$AP Mob, !llmind (Jay Z, Beyonce), and Chef Pasquale (Drake, Cardi B) – how does collaboration inform your creative process?

Collaboration is a huge part of my creative process, and I love working with other people, if it’s a fit. I really love music, and when you meet someone with that same level of love and it clicks, it’s amazing what can happen when two people bring their own sauce to the table to make a plate.

Anything you’d like to add? What’s next for Rodney Hazard?

I just want to say that I’m thankful for everyone listening out there, and please share it with the world, if you like what you see/hear! What’s next – more shows, more films, and of course, more music. I have a few collaborative projects in the works right now with some people I’ve worked with in the past as well as some new and noteworthy artists. What Keeps You Up At Night? is just the beginning of a new chapter.

This month, we’re proud to present Rodney Hazard for our new Artist Spotlight feature, a month-long series dedicated to the creative processes and personal journeys of musicians and makers in the Artiphon community. You can find previous entries from the Artist Spotlight series here, and stay tuned to the Artiphon blog and social media this month to see where Rodney is headed next.

jacob gordon