Music returned to an artist’s-oriented medium last year, through new, original sounds from Adele, Katy Perry, Drake, Black Keys, Coldplay, Lady Antebellum and Florence + The Machine. But when it comes to mixing genres New York native Tristate goes one step further.
His new album Tristate of Mind album mixes classical music and hip-hop, creating a sound that is all his own.
The Albany native has been involved in creating his own music for quite some time; he well remembers producer Rockwilder (Jay Z, Christina Aguilera, Destiny’s Child, Janet Jackson) grooving out to his sounds during a showcase in New York City.
A preview performance of his album at Webster Hall late-last year involved a 12-piece orchestra, three rappers and an opera singer. It created an immediate underground-buzz. Listeners have compared it with Quincy Jones, with an artistic, singular sound running through it. He’s also just finished a project with Victoria’s Secret.
We sat down with the composer/musician at his midtown studios to talk about the progression of his music.
Improper: Classical and Hip-Hop is a rather transcendent mix. Tell us where the inspiration came from?
Tristate: The inspiration was rather spontaneous I would have to say. I asked myself, ‘What can I create that I don’t understand?’ Sometimes you can be at your most creative when you’re out of your comfort zone because you’re not bound by the chains of familiarity. I just wanted to challenge myself.
IM: You’ve said that you have no sound, and that you enjoy the energy an artist feeds you and create based on that. Emotion is your muse. Can you elaborate on that a bit more.
Tristate: I’ve heard of music producers who work on creating their own sound. It is said in the music industry that you are more successful if you have a sound, which I do agree with. I feel that if you create boundaries for yourself prematurely, you aren’t left with much room to breathe, especially after you’re categorized by the people. I try to create art without self-limitations and allow feelings and emotions to lead the way. I read once that the biggest mistake creators make is that they judge their art before it’s complete.
IM: What artists have resonated with you; I bet it’s a diverse selection.
Tristate: There are too many to name, but I do aspire to have a career similar to the likes of Quincy Jones. He is extremely talented, versatile and really cares about the music… all music.
IM: I know you have several projects going on at once; including a rock one. Can you tell us about them?
Tristate: I have Tristate of Mind, which most likely will be released in March of 2012. I also have a rock band that I produce named Live from Paris. We just premiered the video for our single, “Laugh at the Little Things.” You can view it at tristateinventory.com.
Our EP, Letters to Exes, will be released Jan. 31. I also partnered with a well known artist to produce a project that we’re working on in secret. That should also be coming sometime in March. Lastly, I scored a short film entitled, “Scraping Dirty Souls”. That should be out sometime early this spring.
IM: There’s no question you’re the artist on the album; do you want to produce other artists as well?
Tristate: Absolutely, I want work with other artists, creating music for their projects. I work with many different genres of music as well.
IM: Last year you performed at Webster Hall, Tristate of Mind Suite. What was the reception like? It seems to that if it can be performed as movingly as it is on the album, the reception will be fantastic.
Tristate: The reception was amazing! The performance consisted of a 12-piece orchestra ensemble, three rappers and an opera singer. I’m really excited to perform all of Tristate of Mind with a full orchestra in the future.
IM: You recently won the standard Beast of the Beats IV producer’s competition; how’d that feel?
Tristate: It was great. I got lots of love from the audience and many new opportunities from the win. It definitely exposed my music to a larger audience.
IM: What artists inspire you? Musically and visually?
Tristate: Again, there are too many to list, but more than any one artist, I’m inspired by greatness. Greatness is taking paintings from around the world, famous or unknown, and putting them in front of an audience; the majority of the audiences will gravitate towards particular paintings, even without knowing who created them. It’s greatness that draws people of different dialects and different cultures to particular pieces of art over and over again. That’s what I look for in art and that what I look to achieve with my art.
IM: Tell us a bit on the projects with Victoria’s Secret.
Tristate: All I can really say is that I’ve scored a piece for one of their upcoming campaigns. Hopefully, you will be hearing it soon.
IM: What did you listen to growing up?
Tristate: I listened to a lot of hip-hop and jazz. My parents were much younger than the parents of my friends, so I had a very eclectic and mature ear at a very young age. My parents were the first to put me on to A Tribe Called Quest. Their music changed my life!