And you all built a studio, too?
Krucial:Right. We built the studio on Long Island—Oven Studios—and worked out of there. Because we started collecting gear. That was the whole thing. It was like, every time we got a check, we bought a Wurlitzer or we bought a harpsichord and different things. So we needed a place to put all that stuff.
Every time we got a check, we bought a Wurlitzer or we bought a harpsichord and different things. So we needed a place to put all that stuff.
—Kerry "Krucial" Brothers
Is that studio still there?
Krucial: No, that studio is not out there now. She actually relocated it to Manhattan now.
And you’re working out of which studio now?
Krucial: Well right now, I pretty much set up with a little satellite start-up in Jersey right now. At an undisclosed location, you know what I mean? [Laughs.] To branch off with Mateo and just start in a fresh, new environment. I still do work at Oven and also Jungle City Studios. And most of the time I’m working with Mateo. We did a lot in L.A. cause I’m staying in LA most of the time, staying in Raphael’s studio for about a year and a half—almost two years.
If I’m not mistaken, I saw a video of you where there were additional vocals from Alicia.
Krucial: Yeah. That was from “Say It’s So.” When we first got together, we did a mixtape as he spoke about, Love & Stadiums. And then we did the Love & Stadiums EP. We took all the songs that weren’t other people’s songs and made an EP. We did the song “Say It’s So.” I played the record for Alicia and asked her what she thinks. She [said she] loved the record. I was like, “Would you mind doing backgrounds?” I always like to model myself off the old-school labels, like Motown and Stax, where it’s like you had big names just singing background and not so much featuring them in your face.
Anybody who was in the studio at the time no matter how big—it was no egos involved. So that was the philosophy. It was like, “How about just putting her in the background but not really featuring her?” So she got on the record and Swizz was in the building. I said, “Hey, you wanna throw some ad-libs on this for me?” Everyone was all open.
So Swizz put some vocals on there, too?
Krucial: Yeah. He did some vocals on that too. It was just like a family affair. Cause they heard other music and they loved “Doubt.” They loved the other records and were like, “You got it. However I can help.” We put that record out independently in 2011—in the fourth quarter, mind you. It still charted. And that’s what got us the deal with Interscope.
Mateo:And when I came up, I was surprised. Cause I didn’t know [Krucial] got Alicia to do the record. So I flew in and you played it for me at Jungle. I almost fell out of my chair. It sounded so amazing. I mean, I idolize Alicia, so the fact she just jumped on a record, it was amazing and sounded so good. So perfect.
I still feel like I didn’t do my best work yet. That’s how I go in. Stevie got 26 Grammys. I only got two. I need to work harder. —Kerry "Krucial" Brothers
I believe that's what you call a great look.
Mateo: Yes sir.
Did Swizz also do beats on that?
Krucial: No, no. It was my production.
Did you do any work on this new Alicia album?
Krucial: Yeah, this one we’ve been working on for a while in the beginning. This album she’s done different from the other albums. She’s worked with a whole lot of different people this time. Really experimenting. But you know, I was definitely involved with a lot of it. I think with this album I’ll probably have a couple songs on it. And she’s going to do a follow-up album soon with probably some of the stuff we did earlier.
There was one song that I really liked we had done together. It’s called “Somewhere in the City” which we wrote during the time Japan had the earthquake and the tsunami. We were just inspired and wrote that in one day. Its also been featured in a documentary she had about “Keep A Child Alive.” She has amazing records on there. There’s one song that you probably heard already. She released “Not Even the King.”
That record is crazy.
Krucial: Amazing record. And also “101.” Those are my two favorite songs from the album right now.
I feel like she dug very deep on this record. Those two songs you mentioned and “Brand New Me”—they both had a rawness to them.
Krucial: Yeah. She’s genuine. It’s an amazing thing, with all the talent she has and with everything she does, she really puts her spirit into it. That’s what motivates me and motivates everybody. She’s not doing this because she has to make a record that everyone likes or [to make money]. It’s more like, “I want to express myself.”
That’s what I saw in Mateo, too. That’s the art part of it that really inspires me. We truly believe if you do great art, the riches and the money will come. You know what I mean? Just do great work and it will be timeless and always generate things. Just to see that after 10, 11 years in the business, she still keeps that spirit and keeps that vibe. It’s amazing. I’m very proud of her. It’s hard not to get jaded. Even me, I still feel like I’m starting new. I still feel like I didn’t do my best work yet. That’s how I go in. Like, “I didn’t do my best work yet.” Stevie got 26 Grammys. I only got two. I need to work harder. [Laughs.]