Artist and producer Erick the Architect may be best known for his work with the Flatbush Zombies, but his music spans much farther than that. Having released music under his own name, including an upcoming album in the works, as well as collaborating with Joey Badass, Meechy Darko, and members of the A$AP Mob, Erick The Architect is hard to miss. Today, we caught up with the artist to talk about his recent gigs in the UK with Loyle Carner, his inspirations and his creative process when working with various artists.
Hey Erick ! How’s it going? You were in the UK earlier this year, how was that?
I love being in the UK— the first night I got into London I ordered Nando’s to the hotel I was staying at as I was en route from the airport, ha! The UK always shows me a lot of love so it feels really good to be back here once again.
While there, you performed with long time collaborator Loyle Carner during his sold out tour in London. What was that like? Did the crowd go crazy?
Honestly, the feeling of being heralded by so many people was unexplainable. I’ve been performing for a little over a decade now, and the energy from the crowds in London was truly magical. The crowd sang back the chorus to me which felt really good, and the initial surprise of me showing up was really special too. It was this sound of glee I haven’t really felt in a really long time.
Tell me about your name. How did you come up with Erick the Architect?
I’d say that my favourite movie of all time is The Matrix. One of the characters in it was named The Architect, and I always thought his role in the movie was one of the most visually appealing parts of the entire movie. He sat and watched everything happening while viewing it all through tons of screens— that kinda reminded me of what my studio looks like. A whole lotta shit going on. So the name initially came from that.
As time persisted, the name reigned true because of my musical process. I would never deem myself an actual architect, but a musical one. You trust an architect to build something that is super expensive and time consuming, starting initially from ideas on a paper. This is very similar to the trust and process I provide for an artist I’m working with/producing for. Let’s make this building!
Do you remember what the first sound you produced was like?
When I first started to produce I pulled a lot of influence from sample heavy producers, J Dilla, 9th Wonder, RZA, Madlib, Alchemist, etc. I was using a Roland MV8000 in High School, going to record shops and chopping up samples piece by piece. The memory in my drum machine was about 32MB or so, so the samples had to be really short – which forced me to be a bit more creative. All of my beats at the time all had samples in them.
You’ve produced for some many different artists from the Flatbush Zombies to James Blake. How do you know when a song or beat is right for you or for another artist?
Usually any record that stuck with an artist (made it to an actual release) was because I made the record right in front of them. Sometimes, I’ll have something in mind that reminds me of the person, and I’m willing to shape and shift it to cater to what the artist believes they need. I would say that awareness of sound is very instinctual. When something is made for me, I have total control of where it can go – though sometimes I like for another producer to chime in and add something that I may not have thought of on my own.
Do you usually create music with a specific artist in mind or do you create the sound as it comes to you and figure out the logistics later?
I always create first and then think of the artist it could be for later on. Unless I’m with the person in the room I normally will always create from what I feel naturally, and then sit with the ideas later on to see who could be a good fit for it.
You often link up with different artists for your own tracks, such as Ibrahim Maalouf on Money or Loyle Carner and Farr for Let It Go. What do you think makes for a great musical collaboration between different artists?
A collaboration should be easy. I think if all the people are conscious of what they bring to a record musically, you are unapologetically supposed to be doing just that. If 2 or more people get together, there is a lot of ground to cover on a song. My favourite thing about collaborating is that everyone who’s participating in it has the same goal, to get the record done. While working on something alone you can fall victim to overanalyzing/overthinking and the ideas just swim around in your head over and over. A great collaboration dispels the idea that you are alone, you are in fact giving a part of yourself and leaving room for someone else. That’s always really fun when you are in tune with your creativity. You most certainly spawn a brand new idea you may not have thought of on your own.
In Self Made, we can hear you rap the words “Gotta pay attention, this a hustle, not a trap / This is for my homies that are broken but adapt”. What do those lyrics mean to you?
In these lyrics I’m referring to the HUSTLE, the constant pursuit of trying to make something happen, versus a TRAP which is something that is holding you back from growing. The wordplay I used was pretty obvious, the trap we mostly refer to is directly related to drug dealing – which is impossible without hustling whatever it is you sell. Growing up in Brooklyn introduced these lifestyle choices to me, and I think we are all tempted to sell when you are broke. Ironically I titled the song Self Made because even in the most morbid acquisition of money, doing it on your own really guarantees that you are self made.
Have you got a favourite lyric you’ve written? Or a favourite beat you’ve produced?
I don’t have a single lyric that comes to mind as a favourite, but I really like this one from my upcoming album: “Your smile is pretty plus it match your purse/ It’s hard to pay attention when your hurt/ If I ain’t chilling with you then it’s worse/ If love is real, you know we’ll make it work, OK?!”
And I battle what my favourite beat is all the time – I’d say strictly as a beat alone I’d say Flatbush Zombies Jupiter Sound and for a production of an entire song I’d say, Clockwork Indigo Butterfly Effect.
Your style is so versatile, spanning from an inspirational, piano-accompanied speech or poetry-like track Alchemy Act One, to the trap sounding Overseas. Where would you say you find inspiration, whether in music or life in general?
All of my inspiration comes from all the things I experienced and fell in love with as a child. My parents and my brothers showed me a diversity I still carry with me to this day. I was raised listening to music from the Motown era, to 90’s hip-hop & RnB, to rock, electronic and so on. Life is a constant inspiration because I’m constantly coming across new soundscapes from browsing the internet, DJing, parties, and even a random record store purchase. Life is truly an oyster and I think I will always be able to pull inspiration from the things around me because I am always on a quest for knowledge. I love to learn and experience new things, especially when it comes to music. I think that plays a lot into my output and the diversity I bring with my sound.
What’s next for you? Are you cooking us up something special in the studio?
The next thing for me is my debut album. I’ve been working on it since I finished my Future Proof EP some years ago, and I’m really excited to have people have this piece of my story. I’m learning more about myself everyday and I think this music is a clear indication that I’m embarking on something new and really special.
More on CULTED
See: CULTED SOUNDS: PEARLY DROPS INVITES US INTO THEIR WHIMSICAL WORLD
See: CULTED SOUNDS: ASH OLSEN OPENS UP ABOUT PAST RELATIONSHIP & CONFIDENCE THROUGH MUSIC