A Cuppa with Wizzow

Wisnu Prastowo a.k.a Wizzow is my mentor in music production. We first met in 2005 when we shared the stage to support our girl Yacko (but being an “old forgetful man” that he is, he doesn’t remember :p).

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At Yacko’s crib, preparing for her show.

We then met again in 2008 at Yacko’s concert. He was there with Batik Tribe and they asked me to do a collaboration with me. A few days after, I went to the studio to lay my vocals down to this awesome track that Wizzow produced. The track is called “Give Me Your Love (Global Warming)” and was one of the tracks in their debut album “Melangkah”.

I have never met a person as passionate as Wizzow when it comes to music. With no formal training and proper studio gear, he produced, mixed and mastered Ras Muhamad’s debut album which was released in 2006. Amazingly this album landed an Anugerah Musik Indonesia (AMI) nomination for Best Reggae Composition in 2008!

So far Wizzow have worked with big names in the industry such as Glenn Fredly, Afgan, Dewi Sandra, Tompi, Malaysian singer-songwriter Nadhira, and many more. After my collaboration with Batik Tribe, Wisnu and I became good friends and we also worked several times in some jingle projects.

What I like best from Wizzow is that he happily and patiently answers all my questions regarding music production, from how to set the EQ to how to do a quick mastering. Back then I thought I wouldn’t be able to mix and master my own track but with the help from him, I managed to record, produce, mix and master this track below.

Wow, that’s quite a long introduction. I think it’s time for you to read my conversation with him over my favorite drink from Sharetea to know more about this amazing self-taught MC/music producer 😉

Hi Wizzow! It’s been a while, huh? What are you up to now?

I just finished producing the debut album of a neo-soul singer, Bakhes. We were working on it for three years and finally it will be released this September. And I also just finished working on a religious compilation album entitled “Hidayah” with Glenn Fredly, featuring artists like Indra Lesmana and Kamila which was just released this month for the holy month of Ramadan. Right now I’m working on the debut album of Tiara Degrasia of The Voice Indonesia Season 1 and the soundtrack for the film “Ben & Jody (Filosofi Kopi 2)”.

You started your music career as an MC when you were a teenager. Why hip hop?  

I love basketball and the time I was a big fan of Shaquille O’Neal and Gary Payton. Every time I went to the court to practice, there’s always someone playing hip hop tunes. That’s how I fell in love with the music and started to learn how to rap. Besides practicing using the minus one inside the cassette that I bought for 10 thousand rupiahs (around 76 cents), I honed my skill by reading articles in magazines or newspapers in a fast pace, pretending like I’m rapping.

What made you intrigued to learn music production and how did you learn it? Were you relying on Internet and if so, was there any site that you frequented the most?

Back then I had a hip hop group and one of them was the producer. One day he looked at me and said, “Without me, you wouldn’t be able to make music”. I wanted to make music with other producers but couldn’t afford it. So I tried arranging music using a Technic KN 2000 keyboard and bought a computer afterwards. I made several tracks and sold each of them for 50 thousand rupiahs (around 3,80 dollars) that only covered for food. Having not enough money to hire a mixing engineer, I realized that I needed to learn it myself. So I gathered several different speakers in my room and learned the various characters of sound frequency by listening to Dr. Dre’s “2001” album using each speaker.

Do you have any music production mentor? What’s the one thing he taught you that you won’t forget?

Yudis Dwikorana. He taught me to compose song pattern and to differentiate the verse and chorus. For mixing, Nti told me that the first thing that needed to be mixed was the beat (kick, snare, hihat), followed by bass, other instruments, and vocals.

What is the most memorable experience in your music production career?

After listening to Ras Muhamad’s debut album, many thought that I did the recording and mixing in a professional studio when I actually didn’t use a proper studio speaker, only a simple stereo. We also only used a second-hand SM58 dynamic microphone during recording. That was truly memorable.

Do you consider yourself more of a analog or digital person?

Digital.

Who is your favorite producer and why?

Dr. Dre because he is a skillful MC and also really good in producing. With his good technical skills, all artists that he produced like Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Eminem & Mary J. Blige managed to go platinum.

What are the best three tracks produced by him?

Tupac feat. Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman – California Love

Snoop Dogg – Gin and Juice

Eminem feat. Dr. Dre – Guilty Conscience

You collaborated with Akil of Jurassic 5 for your solo album. I’m sure there are other artists you’d like to collaborate with. If you could choose, which artist would you feature in your next album and in which studio would you produce the track?

Talib Kweli, because he has a very cool flow and his lyrics are on point. It doesn’t matter in which studio I get to work with him.

What do you think about popular hip hop nowadays? 

I like new artists like Kendrick Lamar. He is really good. In general, the rapping style nowadays is more simple. Too bad most of the famous hip hop tracks now only expose fame, sex, fortune and drugs in the lyrics.

It’s obvious that you really enjoy producing hip hop, R&B and soul music. What genre of music that you surprisingly enjoyed producing?

EDM wasn’t my cup of tea before but I had to produce an EDM track for several projects and turned out I really enjoyed it.

Last but not least, do you enjoy the drink we had? What do you think of it on a scale of 10?

I had Avocado Coccoa Rocksalt & Cheese with additional pearl. I love how the smooth blend of Avocado mix well with the savory cheese cream. It’s really good so it gets 9,2 from me. Hahaha!

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I had a really good time catching up with Wizzow at his studio. It’s too bad that I had limited time. But hopefully I get to spend more time with him before he’s busy taking care of his baby boy who is due soon. Hope everything goes well before and during the D-day, Wizzow & Ivy!

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