Meet iO, a 26-year old producer from South London that has already worked with some of the UK’s biggest artist including Skepta, Loski and J Hus.
For this N-Studio Spotlight, we discussed what inspires him and what exactly he's got planned for the future!
So, who is iO?
My name is iO. I'm a 26 year old producer from South London. I've been making music for nearly 10 years now, but taking it seriously - I would say for the last 4/5 years. Yeah that's me really, just a producer!
How long have you been producing for?
I started producing when I was 14. I was just making loads of beats and then got to the point I started playing keys in the church and understanding actual musicalities. My brother can play - he's been playing keys for longer than I have been alive but I had no interest in learning until I was 14. I was just bored and I would teach myself at home. My second year of Uni when I was around 20, that's when I knew I wanted to take music seriously. So, as soon as I got back to London from Uni, I went full force in with the music.
How has it been the last two years working with bigger names?
There's a saying that it takes you 5-10 years to blow over night, so I have been working hard behind the scenes. 2018 is when everything with Loski started to release so I'd say that was the year my name started to get about. That and when 'Common Sense' came out with J Hus.
Who are you working with at the moment?
I can't disclose that right now. You see the way life works, some of the stuff I had out this year, I didn't know it was going to drop. This year, all I knew what was coming out were the Loski tracks. Obviously you have to stay consistent and keep working and put yourself in situation where you can benefit from, but I didn't know what was going to be released. I'm working on so much stuff and I don't know when or if it will even make it, but everything just happens at the right time. J Hus has a new album dropping soon; I'm on that too. But yeah, working on a lot of things really.
Who are you inspired by - 'producer-wise'?
First producer I saw was Timbaland. I have two older sisters and they used to watch MTV Base all the time and being the younger one I never got the chance to grab a remote control, so I just had to watch what my sisters would turn on. So I would always see this guy in the back and wanted to know who he was. I didn't know what he did and I wasn't really interested in music at that time. It wasn't until I started to really getting into music I realised who it was. It's Timbaland; who makes all these beats, so I started looking into him. This was also when YouTube started getting around, so I would just search loads of videos and see how he worked in the studio. So Timbaland was the first producer who I really got into.
I'd always been around American music a lot more than UK. I was born in London but moved to Manchester. Manchester didn't really have 'Grime' like that, so I was always around a lot more American music. My first UK influence would be 'Davinche'. I just thought he was hard; especially after listening to Kano's 'P's & Q's' and then straightaway came out with 'Brown Eyes'. I thought it was sick to see two different sounds but from the same person.
After that I would say 'Maniac'. Maniac was with Tinchy Stryder, who made the song 'Mainstream Money' That was a song that changed my point of view on a lot of things. I thought it was so hard; I wanted to know how to do that myself. 'Hmoney' - he was sick. His beats were so different to everyone else and caught my ear. Obviously Dr Dre, he's just gangster, but theres also Pharrell Williams and the Neptunes. They were like completely opposite to what was mainstream in the charts; but the sound they made, they managed to get it mainstreamed. For example, Britney Spears with 'I'm a slave 4 u' even just hearing this and Kellis' 'Milkshake'- it's just a sick sound.
Timbaland and Pharrell are gods really in the game, even down to the chords they use. How can I forget 'Dark Child', he is a G, from working with Destiny's Child to Michael Jackson's 'Rock My World'. He is a legend to me- so yeah all of them has to be my top producers.
Would you or have you ever thought of becoming an artist?
A lot of people do the whole producer/artist thing - at the end of the day; you want to be noticed for what you are doing. I'm naturally a home body, so my name got around before my face. For me/myself, I wouldn't want to be an artist.
Who is your favourite producer/rapper?
I guess it has to be Pharrell- but how could I forget Kanye - Oh My God! He is one of my top producer inspirations. If we are talking 50-50, for being an artist and producer, it has to be Kanye. He was so sick with it. But both of them are just on another level. I band out all of Kanye's albums. My favourite Kanye album has to be 'College Dropout', which had through the wire. But then, the album that had 'Good Life' - that album for me sonically was a great album. But after his 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' album I didn't take much in.
How would you describe your musical style?
When you are making music it can be like you are different person. So for example you would look at me and expect me to make a certain type of music, however I make the complete opposite to what you would think. Not that music and looks have any correlation but I guess I just make what I like. I literally can make the hardest 808-type beat, but then also make a soft R'n'B chilled song.
What is your favourite genre to produce?
I really like making R'n'B because its fun to make. You get to work with singers mainly and you can do a lot around the melody. I grew up playing keys in church. I'm very used to singers and you can do a lot around them so once they have done their thing, you can start playing around their vocals. So sweet stuff I guess!
Any goals you have for the next few years or any artist you would like to work with?
Artist I would like to work with... For me, it's just when I hear someone and I like it, then I'll know. I really like Rema; this guy is just so different. In regards to where I'd be in the years to come, I'd love to be the person to bring a whole sound to the UK: to be different, make different sounds and be able to leave a legacy as an undeniably good producer. Because a lot of producers make stuff and fizzle out couple of years later because they don't adapt to the times. So I just want to be able to stand the test of time, still making bangers with the new guys.
So far with everyone you have worked with, who have you had the best connection with making music?
It has to be J Hus! We have lot in common. He is fun to work with because he really challenges you. He's sick because he pushes you to your limits and makes you think. He has to be the easiest and funniest to work with.
And finally, where can we find you/your music?
You can find me on Instagram: @ioproducer and Twitter: @ioproducer. I post most of my music on my socials which you can always find via iTunes etc.
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