Platinum Boy Music CEO and Bad Boy The Hitmen Producer Amadeus talks with The Mixx Magazine about his involvement in music from his childhood to the path he has carved thus far as a multi-platinum producer and Music Director for Trey Songz. Great read below, we'd like to thank NikkiMixx and the staff over at The Mixx Magazine for this interview:
Amadeus is quite a name to live up to if you look back in history. King Amadeus was one of Spain’s most famous rulers amidst assassination attempts and political uprising. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of the most prolific composers of the Classical era, composing over 600 works in a life that lasted less than 40 years. In fact, the name Amadeus has what I consider a ‘next level’ meaning: ‘love of God.’
Antwan ‘Amadeus’ Thompson is a musical king and quite prolific in his own right. His career started with a chance meeting with Foxy Brown and since then, he’s established himself as one of today’s most in-demand producers, working with over 50 artists that include 50 Cent, Fabolous, Danity Kane, Young Jeezy and even Justin Bieber.
If that weren’t enough, Amadeus also serves as a producer on Diddy's Bad Boy production team, The Hitmen, and R&B superstar Trey Songz’ tour drummer and musical director, further cementing his status as an all-around musical force. I had the chance to chat with him toward the end of his run on the Anticipation 2 Tour with Trey and Big Sean. No rock went unturned as he told me about how he turned his childhood dreams into a very successful reality:
Mixx: What was it like growing up in NYC? I know you fell in love with music at a young age, but do you think being in this city had anything to do with that?
A: That’s a great question. I’m really not sure because when I was introduced to music, it wasn’t on the hip-hop side of things. It was more universal in regards to being exposed to every genre, from R&B/soul to gospel to old school rock. My dad was a huge Bee Gees fan. My mom was a huge Grandmaster Flash and Kurtis Blow fan. So, I was exposed to a variety of things and a lot of the various artists that were played in my house weren’t from New York. In regards to the hip-hop side of things- as I got older and got into loving hip-hop and MC’s, that had its influences on me.
Mixx: Is there a genre of music that you gravitate towards more?
A: I’m just a music lover, period. Being a musician and a record producer, I like to broaden my horizons and allow myself to be exposed to all genres. I was just listening to The Doors last week and Pink Floyd. And while I was in Canada last week on the tour, we went to check out Jane’s Addiction. So, you’ll hear me checking out stuff like that. And then the other day, being that it was Sunday, I give reverence to God- I was listening to Kim Burrell and Fred Hammond. Sometimes getting ready and pumped for a show, I might put Rick Ross or Jay-Z on. So, I’m just all over the place with it. It doesn’t really matter. As long as it’s good music, I love and appreciate it.
Mixx: For the most part, you produce ‘urban music.’
A: Yea. Definitely, a lot of my resume consists of hip-hop artists with a touch of various R&B and pop artists.
Mixx: Is that done or purpose or is it a result of the opportunities placed in front of you when you were on your come-up?
A: I would have to say a mixture of both. In the start of my production career, I always created hip-hop beats and music. As time went on, I learned that it’s not too hard to create the other genres. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to land something with Chris Brown or Danity Kane or Justin Bieber. As I got older, I got to broaden my horizons in record producing. I started branching out and including my musicianship and bringing some colleagues in that play live guitar and add some keyboards. That’s how it all came about in regards to me spreading my wings.
Mixx: Do you think there’s an artist or group that people would be surprised to know you listen to?
A: Yea- I already mentioned The Doors and Pink Floyd. I really have a great appreciation for Adele and what she’s doing. I really love Imogen Heap. It’s when I listen to [these artists] that I get inspiration for my next sound.
Mixx: Would you say that it’s this kind of music that inspires your work? What inspires you every day in regards to what you create?
A: It’s a mixture of everything. Most importantly, I would definitely say my family; I have a wife and son at home. I consider myself a king and as a king, you got to take care of your kingdom and your household. When I started producing at the age of 15, and now being 31, my priorities have changed and the reasons for doing it change. Before it was just fun-not saying that the passion for it isn’t there-but knowing that I have a responsibility to provide and take care of my family just takes it to another level. That brings inspiration. Also, me traveling around the world and meeting people and just seeing how universal and worldwide music is; how much people have a special appreciation for it. That also inspires me as well.
Mixx: You’re in the middle of a tour right now. How often are you away from your family? How does that affect your state of mind and work?
A: The longest I think I’ve been away from them is a little over 2 months. It’s very challenging because I wake up in a new city every day. I’m basically living out of a tour bus and hotel rooms. One thing I always say when I do return home is ‘There’s no place like home.’ I’ve stayed in some amazing hotels that were fancy, expensive, but it’s not my house. The key they give me to put in that door is temporary. But what I do appreciate is the technology that has been invented for us like Skype. I purchased an I-Phone specifically for the use of Facetime. It’s about having a plan. It’s about being a team player and understanding the bigger picture. And sometimes, sacrifices need to be made. I have a very understanding spouse and it works for us.
Mixx: Can you tell me about your early start in music? What was the turning point that made you decide that this is what you wanted to dedicate your life to?
A: I had the privilege of going to a catholic school and in fourth grade I was able to choose an instrument that I wanted to learn and study. It’s a funny story because I was absent the day that we were supposed to choose an instrument. I really wanted to learn to play the trumpet and the saxophone. But, like I said, I was absent on that day. And the next day when I returned, all the slots for those particular instruments were filled. The only two instruments that were available were the violin and what they called ‘percussion.’ So I said, ‘I don’t know what percussion is, but I’m definitely not playing the violin (laughs).’ Showed up in class and realized that percussion had everything to do with drums and congas and everything that has to do with rhythm and as the class went on, I would learn quickly. I would be able to play full beats. I realized I had coordination I had never had. And it became fun.
Until this one day, my mom took me to the church, and I heard this dude play with a live band and I said ‘Yo, one day, I can sound like that if I take this seriously and practice’. It was that day that I decided I’m going to go full speed with this drum thing and I did. I was playing drums from 4th grade to high school. I was the first freshmen to be in the senior band. It wasn’t a hard transition because I loved hip hop. I thought I was going to be a rapper. That plan turned out to be no good (laughs). And someone said, ‘Why don’t you be behind the scenes? Why don’t you be a producer?’ And I said, ‘Well what’s a producer?’ He said, ‘The producer is the guy that creates the beats that artists create songs over. It became a passion for me and I realized I love it. Let’s see how far I can go. And here I am 15 years later.
Mixx: How important would you say reading music is when it comes to producing?
A: It’s definitely a plus. It gives you an advantage. It hasn’t stopped any success as far as my musicianship is concerned, but if you can do it, I would recommend it because it takes it to a whole other level and allows you to enter different fields of music that not reading wouldn’t allow you to do. There’s Broadway, there’s film scoring. Never feel like you have to do it on your own. You can call in your fellow keyboard player. If you go to church, bring in the guy that’s playing the guitar to see what ideas you can bounce off of each other. Three minds are greater than one.
Mixx: Would you say that the church has played a big role in your development as a producer and musician?
A: Oh yes. Church is where you take time to be free musically. When a singer gets up to sing, when a musician gets up to play, it’s like tapping into your spirituality or a feeling versus someone telling you ‘Play this. Play that. I want this to go like that.’ There were no rules. That’s where I developed my identity as a drummer.
Mixx: Every producer has their ‘big break.’ How did you make your way into the industry?
A: It was a Foxy Brown record. It was actual the title track to Cradle To The Grave movie and soundtrack.
Mixx: That’s a big first break to have!
A: Yea, it’s crazy. A cousin of mine was actually great friends with Foxy’s older brother and he was the VP of A&R at Interscope Records at the time. So, he called me up and said ‘Hey man, Anton wants to hear some new music for his sister (Foxy). She’s working on a new album.’ So, I went up there and took a meeting with him. He was very impressed and he said, ‘You gonna be in the city tonight?’ And I said, ‘Well, I can (laughs),’ He said that Foxy was going to be in the studio and can I stop by and play these tracks that I played him. So I went down there, played a bunch of tracks for her. She picked about 5 or 7 tracks.
I got a call the following day…She had two songs done. So I went down to check them out…She played a song called ‘Get Off Me’ which was actually a diss record to the rapper Eve. I didn’t know what went on or happened, I just knew that my beat was used for this ugly feud that they had. It was this beef record that was hot in the streets- my first time hearing my song on the radio…It was crazy to pull up in front of my mom’s house and hear them announce the song and Funkmaster Flex is droppin’ bombs on it and I’m thinking, ‘Yo, I made this beat in my living room! (laughs).’
Mixx: Once you had that big break, was there an overflow of people calling you or did you still have to hustle and get out there?
A: Definitely had to hustle. That was key- to bring awareness to the situation. Just because the album’s out, there’s still a million people out here that don’t know you did that record. I had to get out there to the labels, and use that as leverage in regards to getting new meetings and meetings with A&R’s and managers and artists.
Mixx: As a producer, when you meet with these higher ups, what exactly are you meeting about? You’re obviously not trying to get a record deal.
A: It depends. In the beginning, it was just meeting them and convincing them that I had what it takes musically and as a producer to be a part of whatever projects they were working on. Once you’re more established as a producer…then you can take meetings for production deals and label deals if you have artists signed to you.
Mixx: Have you had an ‘I Made It’ moment yet?
A: I think I’ve had a few of them. That moment of getting the first gold plaque and the first platinum plaque. That moment when you can purchase a home- you’re looking at it like ‘ I bought this and I live here because of what I do. ‘ And that’s crazy. I’m a young cat from the hood that just believed in the dreams that I had and just went for it. To be able to live for what you love to do is an amazing feeling. The most recent ‘I Made It’ moment was getting on the Justin Bieber Christmas album. That was a big moment because I know how big his fanbase is. That was monumental.
Mixx: How did your relationship with Trey Songz begin?
A: A long time ago when Mike Jones was huge as an artist, I produced one song off his debut album Who Is Mike Jones? , which actually brought me my first platinum plaque. I went back to work on his second album and we had this song called ‘I Know’ and he said ‘We need to put a dope R&B artist on this.’ So we threw out a few names…and Mike thought that Trey would be hot- plus they were on the same label. So, we all went out to Houston and recorded the song. In that session, we were just sitting there and I said ‘Yo, I play drums.’ Both Mike and Trey were like, ‘Man, you don’t play no drums!’ (laughs) and I’m like ‘Dude, this is how it started.’ So, I let Trey know that as he moved forward to call me to help him put a band together when he needed to. I didn’t think anything of it…a year later, I got a call from his manager saying ‘Yo, you ready to put the band together?’ And we’ve been the same band for 5 years- his first and only band. And I’ve been his musical director and drummer for five years.
Mixx: What is it about that job that makes you do it year after year?
A: It’s what I signed up for. Drumming is my first love. And it gives me an opportunity to play an instrument and some amazing music and work with an incredible artist. And I learn a lot from being on the road in regards to putting shows together. I’m learning so much with him that can help me for my artists and company…It’s amazing. There’s nothing like being able to travel all over the world doing what you love to do.
Mixx: Can you tell me more about your company and artists?
A: It’s called Platinum Boy Music…It started with just myself and then I turned it into a company. And now I have artists, producers and songwriters signed to it. It goes back to what I was saying earlier- you don’t have to do it alone. You can put together a dream team and make amazing records. So definitely look out for that.
Mixx: What is your advice from producers who have few resources and aren’t sure of what next steps to take?
A: The great thing nowadays is that there are so many musical outlets that are there for producers to take advantage of. Coming up, there weren’t that many conferences or producer battles and showcases. A lot of those events happen throughout the US. I recommend using all of the social media outlets. Do some things for free just to get your name out there and create more leverage for yourself. It’s difficult, but it’s possible. A lot of situations are created for these new guys just by being out there and paying attention. Just be real with who you are, what you do and what you bring to the table. Don’t copy someone else’s style- try to reinvent the sound. Add your own twist to it so that at the end of the day, noone’s questioning who produced it. Or surprise them so that it’s so different, they don’t even know you did it. That’s where I’m at as a producer. I want to shock you every time I do something.
PBM Profile: Amadeus
www.platinumboymusic.com e:firstname.lastname@example.org www.twitter.com/produceramadeus www.blazetrak.com/amadeus www.youtube.com/amadeustv www.myspace.com/produceramadeus
PBM Profile: Ro Garcia
President, Platinum Boy Music, Inc
www.platinumboymusic.com e:email@example.com www.twitter.com/ro_gar www.instagram.com/Ro_Gar
Amadeus On Blazetrak
You can submit to Amadeus by clicking on this Blazetrak link.
AKAI Pro & Amadeus
You can check out the Akai's artist page for Amadeus by clicking HERE
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