Musical producer

Producer IzyBeats talks transitioning from soundboard to microphone as an artist – DancehallMag

Grammy-winning producer Andron “IzyBeats” Cross has certainly made his mark on the music industry, during his 17-year career as a beatsmith for local and international bands. Many may know him for his producer tag, “Yo Izy, are you kidding me?” which finds an echo in his early productions, such as Koffee’s hit single, Grill. Interestingly, IzyBeats says it’s all down to his nephew, who he spontaneously asked to come into the recording booth and say whatever. It just so happened that the child chained this rhetorical question – and here we are today.

For the first time in nearly two decades, Hellshire native St. Catherine, who is now based in Florida, has taken on a new challenge. Not only is he a standout producer, but a recording artist will be added to his resume once he releases his debut album in the coming months.

DancehallMag sat down with Izy to discuss her transition from soundboard to microphone.

What inspired the decision to make a debut album?

I’m still working with people and helping people over the years, ever since I’ve been making music and everyone over the years has been like, ‘Yo, you gotta work on your album.’ And I always turn away from it because I didn’t feel ready yet. But now, with all the success of the production, I feel like it’s the right time, it’s the right space. I’m inspired by everything that’s happened over the years and I’m just enjoying the weather right now, and running it.

Do you already have a name for it?

I don’t have an official title yet. I think a bit about law… I want it to come naturally to me. I’m not there yet. I have a few ideas in mind, but haven’t selected anything yet, so I’m still working on them.

In the next two months or so is when the label [UK-based Believe Music] is looking to release the first single. I think about eight or nine o’clock, more or less.

Did you produce it independently?

I’m the producer of the album, along with other people, of course. But like, they are a distribution company.

Would you describe yourself as a DJ or a singjay?

I’m everywhere. I grew up in dancehall, (but) was heavily influenced by R&B when I came to America. So I sing a lot. I can sing. I’m more R&B/deejay, kinda mix. Just like you’d hear some of my productions, you’d be like, ‘Okay, it’s all mixed up. There’s a mix of islands and R&B and everything.

For this project, how would you describe it? what kind is it?

It’s a mix. That’s what we’re trying to figure out now, because in that time I’ve done so many different styles. We are trying to see what will work best. So, mix of a bit of R&B, Afro-sounding stuff, mix of Dancehall, with a bunch of featured artists. I just do probably 40/50 songs, and I’ll pick eight of the 40.

How long have you been working on the project?

I would say three to four months now, around that.

Izy Beats

What are the best bands you’ve worked with?

I would say Jorja Smith would probably be on top because she’s one of the greatest, and Burna Boy. [Be Honest] Sure, Koffee, Kranium…I’ve done stuff with HER. I’ve worked with Ne-yo, Masego. Vybz Kartel was one of my first songs. A lot of people don’t know that I worked with him. That’s what I can think of, so far.

How would you describe your childhood in Jamaica? Would you say this influenced your love for music and music production?

Oh absolutely! Absoutely. One of my first influences was Dancehall music in Jamaica. It was the first kind of music that I really heard and listened to. You know you don’t know Reggae and Dancehall growing up in Jamaica. It’s a big influence for me. It is part of all my production and my musical history.

Are there other artists or producers who inspire you?

The producer I studied the most was Timberland. I used to listen to his production; listening to Aaliyah… I was listening to all that. Listening to Dr. Dre, trying to figure out how they make that kind of music. With dancehall I used to listen to a lot of Ward 21 stuff. Snowcone was a great producer too…Sly & Robbie…people like that, I used to study their model and understand how they did it.

It’s such a huge, almost endless industry. What makes Izy unique as a producer?

What makes me unique is simply the opportunity for me to live in both worlds for quite a while. And just taking a piece of the culture (of both)… America, and being in Jamaica when I was growing up. I just learned to mix the two sounds together, and then what makes me unique is also me as a person. I’m always the happy person in the studio and people are quite attracted to that kind of atmosphere. I bring good energy all the time.

Izy Beats

you produced Silver Tongue Devil and Yebo/Week on Masego’s Grammy-nominated album, Study abroad: extended stay. How do you feel about that?

Oh, that’s amazing! To be nominated for the second time is crazy for me in this short time I’ve been in the business, professionally. It’s incredible. I never thought I would be in this position when I was riding.

How did the collaboration with Masego come about?

Me and Masego had mutual friends for a while now but never connected. It was recently that we were like, let’s do it and me and it was just good vibes. He has really good energy. Really good vibe, so when me and him met it was just natural and it worked from there. It’s more than music to me now. I’ve been to his house, he’s been in my space and it’s really cool.

Are you sure it’s going to win in the Best Progressive R&B Album category?

Oh man! I’m rooting for my guy. I’m really confident he’s going to win because he’s worked so hard, and it shows. And I feel like God got it. He will definitely have this one.

What words of encouragement would you give to budding producers or artists…or those who would like to pursue both, like you?

I would say work hard. Be hungrier than those already in the game. You have to work harder than them. Stay consistent, stay humble, and you have to be ready when that moment comes.

Besides your own project, are you working on anything else with another artist?

I’m working on stuff on the HER album, I’m working on stuff on the Kranium album… Masego stuff… lots of different things.