March 29, 2012

ASCAP's "On the Come Up" Series - March Edition

Brian Warfield

Brian Warfield

Highlighting ASCAP's urban songwriters and composers, "On the Come Up" is designed to inspire our members to remember that success is only a song away.

Producer Brian Warfield shows “On the Come Up” why he is blowing the industry away.

You’re one-half of the Grammy-nominated production duo Fisticuffs. Why did you choose that particular name for your team?

Brian: I wish I had a crazy story like, Quincy Jones passed it down to us…but, it happened when Mac [my partner] and I were talking about how ridiculous it was for people to use that fighting style back in the day. Oddly enough, it had a nice ring to it. Plus, it beats people saying, “produced by Mac & Brian.” People seem to remember it. And I guess you can say it describes us in a way – old-timey, won’t take crap from anyone and doesn’t do things your average way.

What was your first introduction to the music industry?

B: I’ve been working on music and playing the trumpet ever since elementary school. My first major release was on Teedra Moses’ first album. I played the horn line on the song, “No More Tears.”

What was your inspiration for “Quickie” by Miguel?

B: “Quickie” was actually a record that Miguel did by himself originally. When we first started working together, we asked for his a cappella and then ended up doing our own thing to it. We wanted to keep the vibe that was laid out by his vocals. We wanted to keep it sexy, but still keep it sonically interesting and musical. We’re glad to see it work out the way it did.

How did you get the opportunity to work with Miguel? How was your experience working with him?

B: I’ve known Miguel since he was about 16. It wasn’t until several years later that our boy, Tazzo, came to our studio to cut a song and had Miguel on the hook. That’s when Mac met him. Once all there, we started vibing and the rest is history. We just started cutting songs. The chemistry was there. Working with Miguel is always fun. He’s such a talented guy and a true artist – one of the best out [there] if you ask me. It’s cool to see what he does to a track or an idea. He’ll take a track of ours to our back room and record himself. Next thing you know, he’ll be like, “Come check this out.” It’s like Christmas every time.

What are you currently working on?

B: We’re in the process of working on Miguel’s sophomore album. We’re also working with another incredible artist we’ve had the pleasure to work with from the ground up, Jhene Aiko. We put out a mixtape with her back in March 2011, and the response was incredible. She’s now working on her first major debut and we’ve been cutting records for that. We’ve got a couple other projects here and there. Just trying to stay busy and put out good music.

Who is your musical mentor and why?

B: First, I would have to say my father, Keith Warfield. Although he didn’t play any instruments, he always kept me around music. He had me playing in jazz bands and taking private lessons since elementary school. My other mentors would have to include Reggie Andrews (director of the L.A Multi School Jazz Band) and Fernando Pullum – a music teacher who formally taught at Washington Prep but now has his own performing arts high school in L.A. I’ve played in bands with both those guys since [I was] a youth and they’ve taught me so much about music and the business.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming producers?

B: Try to find and develop good artists. It helps when you have a face to your music. Next thing you know, people will be asking, “Who did the tracks?” Second, try to go out and meet people in the business. Not just artists, but writers, A&R’s, label people, etc. This business is all about who you know! And last, be ready to work hard! Things take time. Mac and I spent many years paying dues until we finally got our first major placement. You got to have genuine love for the music. It’s honestly one of the only things that’ll keep you going. Other than that, just have fun, be creative and turn it up loud! Music sounds so much better loud and not off those laptop speakers!

For more information on Brian Warfield, follow him on Twitter at @FisticuffsMusic.

Steven "Q-Beatz" Kubie

Steven "Q-Beatz" Kubie

Producer Steven “Q-Beatz” Kubie chats with “On the Come Up” about his exuding talent.

What was your inspiration for “Wet the Bed” by Chris Brown?

Steven: I was vibing with the producer of the track, Bigg D, at South Beach Studios. We were just going through some sounds in our library. The sound of a ticking clock caught our ears and we figured that it would make a good percussive element for an R&B ballad. Next, he liked this water droplet sound, which was actually a sound that I made with my mouth! Bigg D had me program the drums and then I laid some chords and melodies down. He liked what I played, so he decided to play some acoustic guitar throughout the song, as well as some electric guitar on the chorus sections. To give it the thump it needed, Bigg D added one of our top secret 808’s. We knew the track was something special when we finished it.

How did you get the opportunity to work with Chris Brown? How was your experience working with him?

S: I didn’t get to work with Chris in the studio this time around. I was already at work on our next placement down here in South Florida. As spontaneous as the industry has become, nowadays a lot of business is done through the internet or not in person because of conflicting schedules and long distances. Bigg D took the track with him out to Los Angeles, and he got in the studio with Chris and the rest of the songwriters to complete the record. Bigg D called me up from the studio and told me that we got one of the upcoming singles for Chris Brown’s next album. When the album went gold, Bigg D surprised me with my first plaque. It was a great moment when we learned the F.A.M.E. album won the Grammy for Best R&B Album.

According to your Twitter account, you are also an artist. Are you currently working on a solo project?

S: I have been working on some artist material in my spare time – when I do have some spare time! It started out as something I did for fun, but I began to take it more seriously as I’ve progressed in other aspects of my career. I am one-half of a songwriting/artist duo called “The Kubies” with my brother, Adam Scott. One of our songs, “Volcanic,” was recently featured on an episode of NBC’s Parks & Recreation. We are currently working on more Pop/Rap/R&B/Dance songs for television synchronizations. We might release some of our material commercially in the near future – whether solo or as a group. We do look forward to eventually writing for other artists, as well. If you go to, you can hear some of my original material, as well as some remixes and other crazy random stuff that comes out of my brain!

What other projects are you currently working on?

S: Bigg D and I have some major projects that we are currently working on, but I can’t disclose anything just yet. I suggest you stay tuned and be on the lookout!  We are always in the studio, either working on new track ideas or in sessions with songwriters and/or artists.

What was your first introduction into the music industry?

S: I’ve been involved with music since I was in middle school, making tracks for local artists and recording them in my bedroom closet. After high school, I enrolled in the Audio Engineering program at SAE Institute of Miami. Upon graduation in 2007, I landed a six-month internship at Circle House in North Miami. I actually got to see how producers and songwriters interacted with each other in “real” sessions. I had the opportunity to assist and engineer for Bad Boy Records as they were recording and demoing songs for Danity Kane, Day 26, and Donnie Klang. It was inspiring to watch the songwriters recording the demo tracks and then coaching the artists on how to get the same intensity out of their performance. Through this project, I connected with Seven Aurelius who was one of the producers involved with the Bad Boy sessions. I became his assistant for some time after my internship at Circle House ended.

Who is your musical mentor and why?

S: My musical mentor is Bigg D. Even before I got the opportunity to work with him, I was a fan of his production style and his signature sound. He has produced for everyone from Jay-Z to Jamie Foxx to Lil’ Wayne. Bigg D signed me to his production company Dadetown Music, and I have been working with him since 2010. Being in the studio with him is always a crazy experience; I never know what’s in store for me! He has knowledge on virtually any musical subject and he constantly challenges me in the studio to make me ultimately better at what I do. I am always learning something new.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming songwriters and producers?

S: I still consider myself up-and-coming in this field. The best advice I can give is to not be too high on yourself and think you’re above everyone else in your position; be humble and be willing to pay your dues. Be prepared to put in a lot of time and dedication, as it [success] does not happen overnight. You will most likely have to make sacrifices in areas of your life, like friendships and relationships. You must study the game; stay up-to-date with the current trends in music and software and be able to anticipate what’s going to happen next. Be open to listening to all kinds of music. Getting an internship opportunity at a studio or even a record company is helpful, but you must be prepared to work for days on end without sleep. You most definitely will be doing things like scrubbing toilets, baking cookies, going on food runs, and going shopping for studio clients in the middle of the night, so you must put your feelings aside and do your job. With all the social media sites out there, it is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to broadcast your every move and every “smash record” you are making. Don’t make the mistake of hyping yourself up or patting yourself on the back too much with stuff like, “all I do is make hits.” Do not spend all of your time hanging out in the club trying to catch a glimpse or a photo opportunity with your favorite artist in VIP for your Facebook page, because while you’re out partying, people that are really dedicated in this industry are in the studio working towards making tracks and writing for that favorite artist of yours.

For more information on Steven “Q-Beatz” Kubie, follow him on Twitter at @StevenQBeatz.

Ursula Yancy

Ursula Yancy

Songwriter Ursula Yancy talks to “On the Come Up” about her rising career.

Where are you originally from?

Ursula: I’m from California.

What inspires you to write music?

U: I played in the band during my school years, specifically brass instruments. I didn’t start writing music until I moved to Atlanta. The music scene was really big and I was thrown into it.

What was your first introduction into the music industry?

U: I was introduced to a guy and he asked me, if I could sing. I responded by saying, “I don’t know.” Thereafter, I was signed to an independent record deal. When I started, there wasn’t any previous material for me to sing. I was presented with instrumentals and had to create my own lyrics. It was the beginning of my songwriting career. I can’t lie and say I had a long sob story; it just happened for me.

What are you currently working on?

U: I’m currently working on several projects. I just finished up with Akon, J Holiday, and Tulisa from The X Factor (UK). Akon is a genius, so it was easy working with him and J Holiday has a wonderful voice. Also, I’m working with producer Lil Ronnie.

Who do you aspire to work with, in the future?

U: I’m blessed to work with talented artists. I can’t really discriminate, but my favorite artist is Stevie Wonder. If I get to write a song with him, I will have bragging rights. Until then, I have a long way to go.

Who is your musical mentor and why?

U: I don’t have a musical mentor. I’m guiding myself through the process with my manager, Marlin. I’m the first songwriter that he’s managed. We’ve been through a lot together. Also, Max Gousse has been helping me out a lot and I just signed my first publishing deal with LA Reid.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming songwriters?

U: Keep living the dream and don’t give up. There are going to be a lot of people that try to discourage you, it happened to me. You just have to show them proof and be able to handle constructive criticism.

For more information on Ursula Yancy, follow her on Twitter at @Ursverse.