By Danny Sheahan
Transcribed By Tashia Antoine
Star Producer, Richard Rodwell, aka Maximum 60 is no stranger to Canada’s Urban Music scene. He has worked with many legendary artists who broke barriers in Toronto’s Hip Hop industry during the late 80s and early 90s. Today, Richard Rodwell continues to pursue his passion by working with the young and up-and-coming talent of the North.
In Part II of this Northern Touch Spotlight interview by Correspondent Danny Sheahan, we continue our discussion with Richard Rodwell and find out exactly how much influence he has had in the Canadian Hip Hop Movement.
Danny: Do you prefer to compose music for visual media like Television or is it more fulfilling to produce music as an independent producer?
Richard: That is a really good question. It's kind of like comparing apples to oranges. Both of them have their challenges and both of them have their rewards. I think with television, you have a little more freedom to go into territories you've never went before. Because, the music is supporting the picture. The picture evokes the emotions. When you see the picture, the picture dictates to me as to how I’m going to do the music. Whereas, when you are working with an artist, you are sort of starting right from square one. Everybody works differently, but for me TV is a little easier because the picture has already got the creative juices flowing. They are both great, I like working with artists and I like working with the energies of people and getting ideas. What I truly love about creating music is that sometimes you start off by just going to the computer, opening it up, and start messing around. And then thirty minutes later, something not even remotely close to what you started off with, but ten times cooler than what you started off with.
Danny: With regards to your work as a producer now, what has changed in producing in the industry today compared to when you started back in the late eighties and early nineties? Are there particular things that producers do today that you either like or dislike?
Richard: Another great question! Technology has just made everything so much easier. I remember doing commercials before, because I’ve done commercials for catalogs and all these things. I remember doing the music in my studio and then having to take all of the equipment down into the big studio, and having to lay down all the tracks and sync it up with timecode and all this stuff. Now music is so accessible. I mean the technology is there, but now you've got literally seven-year-old and eight-year-old kids pumping out stuff in their bedrooms. And that's why things right now kind of have this homogenous sound. There are some people who are doing some really different stuff, but I mean a lot of it is just: “Okay, hey I’ve done it.” Ten minutes later spit it out, upload it in MP3. There is just that very quick sort of copy/paste, disposable feel to a lot of the stuff, as opposed to having to get the bass players and what not. It is just a different feel.
Danny: How do you feel about working with Hip Hop artists or singers from around the area today? I assume you mostly work with people based in Toronto, correct?
Richard: Yeah, actually I am working with a couple of different artists right now. There is a new artist by the name of Orville Grant, who is a seventeen-year-old kid out of Brampton. I think he is just incredible. Really just a very, very different style. Some people may not find it pleasing to the ear when you first hear it, but he is really ahead of his time as to what he’s doing vocally. I am trying to work with him, get something happening. I’m also working with a couple of other artists as well. But the distance thing isn't so much of an issue right now. I am working with somebody who is in Cambridge. So they will lay down vocals and send it to me. I’ll do a groove and I’ll send it back and sort of collaborate that way, and then I’ll do all the mixing. So distance isn't really an issue, I can work with people pretty much from all over the world. It doesn't have to be right here in Toronto.
Danny: What would you say is your favorite thing about music in the city of Toronto?
Richard: Wow, that’s a great question. There is always heart. It is hard to explain but there is always something in the music that you can tell it is Canadian, as opposed to American. I think because we are from a British Colony, so I think a lot of times subconsciously we are drawing from European roots and doing things from a different perspective. Rather than somebody who sort of grew up in New York or Nebraska. I just feel that the music from Canada always has this certain extra little edge. This sort of left of center direction that’s just really cool. Look at stuff like what The Weeknd is doing, it’s just amazing.
Danny: Now would you say that The Weeknd is one of your personal favorites in Toronto?
Richard: Of course. I like what he is doing and Doc McKinney who is his producer. I actually worked with Doc some time ago. What those guys are doing is just great, it's very different. Drake of course, is pushing the envelope. 40; 40 is a genius. Yeah I think those guys are coming out with some really cool stuff. But there are some young and upcoming guys that are just doing some amazing stuff as well. It’s an exciting time! I think that: “Oh, we’re from Toronto, we are kind of shy,” time is just so finished. We are out there! We are going for it! We are giving it all we’ve got, so it's exciting.
Danny: Richard, is there anything recent that you’ve been working on or projects that you are currently working on now that you would like to promote here on Northern Touch?
Richard: Again, at this present moment the Orville Grant album. He is on iTunes and all the digital stores. The album is called: Outside the Box. And for any other up and coming artists, I’m always looking for talent. I am always looking to help them produce stuff. If you want to reach out, you can always get a hold of me on my website.
Danny: One last question about your producer name, Maximum 60. What was the origin of that?
Richard: We were in the studio one day and Louie (Dream Warriors) said to me: “You control everything, you’re like the speed limit.” Maximum 60 is the speed limit in rural areas and that was it, it was ‘Maximum 60’ and that’s just how it came up. I wanted to give a shout out if I could, to of course my boy Orville Grant. Also, the album wouldn’t sound the way it does without my boy Dante Winkler from Winkler Sound. He did the mastering on the album and just killed it. It just really, really sounds good and brought all the songs to life. A shout out to all my peoples, Thrust. Michee Mee, I did the first Michee Mee stuff, Jamaican Funk. Before Beat Factory even started, I was doing this stuff out of my mom's basement in Pickering and everybody came there. Maestro did his first demo there. Maestro, Thrust, Michee Mee, Kenny Krush, JD Era. All these people kind of came through and did their demos and it sort of just went from there.
Richard Rodwell (Maximum 60) was extremely influential to the groundbreaking Canadian Urban music scene of the early nineties and with new productions rolling out regularly, he surely isn’t stopping now.
Download Richard Rodwell’s latest production, from Orville Grant’s new album, Outside The Box. Available on iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify.