JD Reid: the man behind the music – ‘I’m not quite there yet and I know that, but I’m still working towards it’
Have you ever attended a gig and much to your disappointment, the supporting act played better than the main? Thankfully it’s not a common occurrence. But every so often, it’s the backing vocalist, hidden drummer or accomplished guitarist that the spotlight happens to fall upon.
Such was my discovery of 23-year-old producer, JD Reid. While producing tracks for some the UK’s rising stars, he’s voluntarily taking a laid-back approach to promoting his burgeoning talent. But after stumbling upon a few songs he’s produced, it’s clear JD Reid has a gift that outshines his reluctance to the spotlight.
Hailing from North London, JD (real name Jordan Reid) soaks up the sounds surrounding him, toying with basslines and piano chords the way a lyricist would with words. “I started taking extra-curricular Music Technology classes at school, making Grime beats for playground MCs, ” he says. “There was something about producing that just clicked with me, so I went on to study it at college and university.”
With the support of his equally musical parents (his mum’s a former record label product manager and dad a keen percussionist), JD perfects his craft in a bedroom-turned-makeshift studio – with a growing portfolio of rappers and singers visiting for recording sessions. But while his parents would prefer to listen to Soul, Lover’s Rock and Reggae, JD goes against the grain to make music he describes as Hip Hop meets Electronic. “I’m definitely about the sub bass,” he says – and when listening to his most recent remixes, Dru Hill’s Tell Me and Has It Come To This by The Streets, this comes at no surprise. “I try to put all the things I like about other genres of music into a track… for example, I’m a big fan of how Dubstep is quite minimal, but every individual sound that’s in the beat serves a purpose.”
It’s Reid’s signature sound that has enticed a list of up-and-coming artists to work with him, including UK rappers Catch‘em, ItsNate, and a cartel of musicians under the group name Piff Gang. And just last year he attracted commercial interest too, when he was scouted to create a backing track for Sprite’s anti-bullying campaign, Stand Out.
But who are his favourite producers? Before the young producer even answers this inevitable question, his baseline-heavy music acts as a giveaway. It’s no big shock when he credits The Neptunes, Timberland and SBTRKT as his all-time favourites. According to JD, it’s not just their sounds that inspire him, but their career decisions, too.
“What they’ve all done with their careers is crazy inspirational for me. And the feeling I get from The Neptunes and Timberland when they were in their peak. It still inspires me today,” he shares.
And what about the creative process – how does the magic happen? “I try to put the listener somewhere when producing. I won’t think, ‘Does this bass sound too heavy?’ Instead it’s: ‘I want the bass to feel subtle and warm, for the song to take the listener here…” Does he achieve this? Well, yes. It’s impossible to listen to Shouts 2.0 without fantasising about the block party kind of summer we all wished we had in Britain.
Most refreshingly, despite JD Reid’s producing talent, which – in my honest opinion, can make an amateur rapper sound skillful – he’s incredibly humble. “I’m just trying to perfect my technique. I’m not quite there yet and I know that, but I’m still working towards it.”
Whether or not he aims for producer superstardom like Pharell, Kanye West or fellow Londoner Labrinth, is yet to be decided. “I’m happy to make my music… I’m not trying to force anything. If I become the face [of my brand] like those greats, I’m happy. Either way I just want to make more music and have people listening.”Tagged in: JD Reid, kanye west, Labrinth, Pharell
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