So how does a kid from Reston, Va hit it big as a Record producer? Just ask Benny Blanco. This twenty year old Reston native sat down with me for a quirky, hilarious and slightly risque phone call to chat about breaking into the music business as a producer and working with artists from Kylie Minogue and that girl kissin’ sensation Katy Perry to finagling his way into combining Spank Rock with 2 Live Crew. He also talks about what a major influence the late Disco D had on launch of his career.
EM: So how does a kid from Reston, Va become one of the hot new producers on the music scene?
BB: I started off rapping…blah, blah, blah…I feel like that’s how every white person starts out. After that you know the first beat I made was for a soft-core porno.
EM: Yeah, I read something about that hoped I’d get the dirt on that story.
BB: My mentor at the time this guy Jonathan Shecter, he started The Source magazine, had this company called Hip-Hop Honeys this dvd series and I was so horney I was like “yeah!” I was only 14 or 15 and that was amazing . So I made a beat for that they sent it to my house and my mom was like “what the fuck?” Typical neurotic Jewish mother stuff but I guess that started me off and I haven’t looked back. I just make beats, make songs, have fun.
EM: So you did an internship you did for Disco D, how did that happen? What was that like?
BB: Yeah, he did one of my favorite songs of all time, which is “Ski Mask Way” by 50 Cent. I mean 50’s great but there was just a music a change in the bridge that just like…I was just like holy shit. I looked up who did it and was like wow this dudes amazing so I looked up all his other stuff and I fell in love with the way he made beats and made songs. I’ve always had this thing where if I wanna do something I’m like, “alright I’m gonna do it”, and then I just go all the way in. I’ll call someone a hundred times until they shut their phone off so don’t give me your number. So then I hit him up on MySpace pretending like I wanted studio time or something and then I went up and chilled with him and he was like “Do you wanna work for me?” and I was like “alright” and I moved up there the second I finished high school.
Actually, I started working for him on the weekends while I was going to high school and he just taught me so much about music and beats and all that and he was definitely one the most influential people in my music. He really taught me how to be different you know. I was making beats and no one cared about me. He said you gotta be different and he introduced me to so many people. He introduced me to my manager who really made my career go from there.
EM: It sounds like Disco D was a pretty big influence. Is there anyone else musically that’s had a significant influence?
BB: You know when I was first in the studio as a rapper this guy Sam really helped me with making my sound and then D was the one that who really kind of taught me to be different and then working on that first Spank Rock project really helped diversify myself as a different guy. My manager played a big. He was like “You gotta do shit like Trent Reznor” and I was in the Hip Hop thing then I started branching off to that. Now I’m working with this guy Dr. Luke who’s a rock producer so I’m just trying to mix every style in one. I learn from everyone. I try to soak up everything.
EM: What’s your secret to combining Spank Rock with 2 Live Crew. How did you make that happen?
BB: Well first I remember I was sitting in school and I’m like fuck, I gotta do something. Nobody cares about my stupid Hip Hop beats and I was like what the hell am I gonna do so I just started thinking about stuff. It was right around the time of The Grey Album and that guy that did the Notorious B.I.G and Frank Sinatra album. So all those albums were coming out and I was alright I’m gonna do something. So I was thinking about it and I came up with this idea…at first I just sampled, I just made a beat with that song “Too Much Bootie in Those Pants” and I came up with that and me and my manager started talking and he was like “Yo, you should do shit like this” and I was like “yeah, we should do some shit like this” and the we were like “WE SHOULD DO SOME SHIT LIKE THIS!” It was like when you put your fist together with the other super hero then it explodes into one big thing. I was like “Nitro, unite!”
I called Spank, I was like “Yo, let’s do this shit” I never talked to him about music, I never even told him I made music I just knew him. He was like man that’s stupid and I was like…oh. Sorry. Then I called him like a hundred times and he was like alright fine. So we do one song in my manager’s studio in his house. We record that one song then we brought it to two people and we kind of made it come to life. We did all the rest of the songs and it was fun as hell. It was definitely a milestone for me where people started, where people actually took my phone calls.
EM: Well hey, that’s the first big step when somebody takes your phone call!
BB: They start taking my calls and I tell them my name and THEN they hang up. But they stay on the line long enough for me to say my name.
EM: What do you have in the works right now?
BB: Shit…working on God’s album…no uh, what do I have coming up? I just did these guys 303. They’re really cool. I did their single that’s out right now and I’m gonna do some more with them. Spank Rock has an LP coming out, I’m working with this new southern rapper but I don’t want to say anything yet but he’s gonna be really dope. I just did this thing for Kid Rock…I don’t know, a bunch of shit!
EM: So you’ve produced beats for Kylie Minogue, Lil’ Mama and one of my new favorites Katy Perry. Is it her album that just came out, “One of the Boys”, or are you in the studio now?
BB: Well I worked on that song with Dr. Luke. He kind of just brought me in. She actually works with him a lot. We get to work all the time she’s great, she’s one of the most talented artists…she’s really something. Me, Katy, and Luke are working on a track for Mickey Avalon’s new album right now and she’s on one of those tracks…she’s awesome! It’s really good to be around talented people.
For more information about Benny Blanco check out his MySpace page (www.myspace.com/bennybyoudig).
EM Interview by:
Tiffany N. D’Emidio