'He Doesn’t Sleep': Producer Gordo Talks Drake’s Insane Three Album Run, ‘For All the Dogs,' and Their 12-Year Friendship

In an exclusive conversation with Complex, Gordo tells us the story behind the making of “Rich Baby Daddy,” “Gently,” and more.

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Around the time Drake announced he was working on a new album, GORDO—Drake’s close friend of over 12 years and one of the producer’s on Honestly, Nevermind—was touring the world, making stops at major festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza as a DJ. They would talk via phone when they had a chance, but with their busy schedules, they weren’t able to lock in on music at the time. Then, a couple months ago, GORDO got a request from Drake: “send me some stuff.” 

That’s how GORDO landed production credits on two tracks off Drake’s newly released album. The producer, whose credits on the album include “Gently” featuring Bad Bunny and “Rich Baby Daddy” with SZA and Sexyy Red, reveals Drake was on a mission to find something unique for his new project. “He told me that he needed something different,” he tells Complex. “Weeks and weeks and weeks… we sat there for a long time trying to figure out what I [could] bring to the table.” 

Over the last year, GORDO has worked on hit Latin records like Maluma’s “Parcera” and “Hombres y Mujeres” with Feid. He is also still on a high from the release when we chat over Zoom, but when asked about what’s next, he quotes a text message from Drake: “your album is next.” “[It’s coming] very, very soon,” the producer continues. “You already know how diverse I am, imagine my fucking album. And I have one of the greatest to ever do it on my side.” 

While we keep our eyes peeled for the producer’s forthcoming album, check out Drake’s For All The Dogs, and Complex’s interview with GORDO below. 

Around the beginning of the pandemic you changed your name from Carnage to GORDO. How have you grown into that persona in the last few years?
Instead of growing into GORDO, I think I shrunk into GORDO. Before the pandemic, I was really unhealthy. I was almost 400 pounds. I was really overweight. I was really sick. I had a complete lifestyle change, musically, mentally, spiritually, everything. I mean, it's really been night and day, you know. People make a big deal about losing 15 or 20 pounds. Imagine losing a grown man. Yeah, it's been a completely new outlook on life.

What do you think is the biggest defining trait of GORDO as an artist?
I used to characterize Carnage as obnoxious and loud. So the opposite of that would be emotional, caring, loving, sexy, maturity… I've matured. I think out of all those keywords, maturity is my favorite. I've grown sonically. It used to just be about how loud and how quick and how fast I can get you from zero to 100. Now it's about making love. I like taking my time with things and enjoying the process. 

I understand you and Drake have been friends for quite some time now, but how did you first link up?
Twelve years ago we met on Christian Mingle, and you know, he swiped up and we linked up. He liked my profile and liked his and we just hit it off… We met up once at a communion and it went great. [Laughs.]

I met this guy so long ago through one of my homies. It was like a Lil Wayne show. There's a photo out there somewhere of when we first met him. We've always had a lot of mutual friends. So we always stayed connected here and there. And then in 2017 [or] 2016, we started getting closer and closer. Then there was a long time that we didn't talk. But as of recently, we became really close musically. We never talked about music until last year and we've been friends for years. I think that's the coolest part of it, is it was never about music. We were just homies. We have the same brain. We always say that if we were in high school, we would have been best friends. 

"It used to just be about how loud and how quick and how fast I can get you from zero to 100. Now it's about making love."

With For All The Dogs, did Drake communicate what sound he was looking for?
No, not at all. I didn't know he was working on an album. Actually, he's always working on music. But it wasn't like a thing where we sat down and he was like, “this is what we're gonna do.” I hadn't seen him this entire year that he's been working. I've been touring. That's the thing, all his boys and all the homies that produce for him are always around him all the time. I'm kind of like the only one touring every day so I don't see him that much. I haven't been around, so I've been really out of the loop with this album. But he's always like, “send me some stuff,” and I always send him stuff. But a couple of months ago, he told me that he needed something different. Weeks and weeks and weeks, we were trying to find something different. And if you listen to “Rich Baby Daddy,” that's the only record on that album that's like that. It brings out the Miami bass vibe, that two-step vibe that you haven't heard from any artist in a long time. We sat there for a long time trying to figure out what I [could] bring to the table. 

What was the process like of trying to find something different?
The process is sending him stuff and him not saying anything and then sending him stuff and him being like, “oh my God, this is it.” That's literally the process. And then it's like, “maybe, try a different sample.” Then it's me hitting up all my homies and shit trying to see what homies have a new vibe and a new sound so I could touch that up and try to flip that into something. 

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How did “Gently” with Bad Bunny come together?
That was a record that OZ and Drake had started a while back. I was really out of the loop with this cause I'm constantly doing my own shit. But obviously he doesn't speak Spanish. So, one day he's like, “yo, me and [Bad] Bunny did a crazy record.” I'm like, “no way!” He's like, “I'm gonna send it to you,” and he sent it to me and he's singing in Spanish and shit. He's like, “I just sent it to Bad Bunny, let's see what he does with it.” So I had heard his verse, the original first part with him, and then a couple weeks later he's like, “Bunny did his verse, I don't understand shit. So I'm gonna send it to you.” And he sent it to me because obviously Spanish is my first language. Then I listen to it and I'm like, “holy shit, this is crazy!” And he's like, “yeah, but like, we need to take it to the next level.” So I got the stems for it. The Bunny part was the part that I produced. I sent it to him and he was like, “holy fucking shit,” and then he sent it to Bad Bunny, and he was like, “holy fucking shit.” 

So, Drake recorded the first part of the song prior to you hopping on the production side of it, but have you ever given him pointers on singing in Spanish?
No, but he’s a big fan of me, so he definitely looks at my Instagram sometimes just to get inspiration, just looks at my face and tries to channel his inner GORDO. No, but he speaks Spanish pretty well. I've never really been around him when he's in his writing. He usually just locks himself up and does everything by himself. And in the studio he just does everything and then you just wake up and he does like five songs in one night. It's just like a fucking genius crazy.

"As of recently, we became really close musically. We never talked about music until last year and we've been friends for years. I think that's the coolest part of it, is it was never about music."

Latin music is becoming more and more popular and mainstream with artists like Bad Bunny. What is something you hope to see for the genre as it continues to soar?
I actually don't really need to see more. I think where it's at right now is great. I think when things get too big that's when shit gets oversaturated and it goes to shit. So I think it's good. I mean, it's at the top right now. Latin music can't get bigger than what it is right now.

Some complaints from fans have been that it might already be getting oversaturated or bogged down by non-Latin artists. Do you have any thoughts about that or would you say that’s just a “fan complaint?”
Yeah, that's a fan thing. That happens with everything. That happens with your favorite doughnut shop down the street. You're like, “oh everyone knows that it's there and now it sucks.” It's whatever. That's people being upset that it's not their little secret anymore. That's just the way of life, everything recycles, everything goes in circles. So let's just enjoy it where it's at and then when it disappears, we'll talk about how great it was. So let's enjoy it and remember it.

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You spoke about trying to find something different and that’s how “Rich Baby Daddy” with SZA and Sexyy Red came about. But can you speak more on the process of producing that record?
Rich Baby Daddy” was a record that I did with Johan and Richard, my homies who I work a lot with. They did “Massive,” “Calling Your Name,” and a bunch of stuff from Honestly, Nevermind. And when Drake had reached out and was like, let's get some more shit done for this album, Those are the guys that I always hit up. I have over 12 years of doing this, so I’ve collected such an insane group of producers and guys that are next level. So, when I was doing Honestly, Nevermind, I hit up all my homies to see what everyone was working on. 

Back in the day when I was doing the Carnage stuff, EDM is a place where producers get the recognition they deserve. And it's funny because producers in the hip-hop world, they're respected, because it's the rapper and the beat, there are two portions of the song. But in EDM, you have the producer who produced the music and the producer is also an artist. So it’s all lights on the DJ because that's his song, so back in the day, I would try to finish everything myself. There was always a stigma of if you did this with this other guy, it's like he's a ghost producer. So for the longest time, I would produce stuff, mix and master everything myself, and obviously that would diminish how great a song is gonna be. Look at the greatest artists out there. Look at Kanye. Kanye is a producer. We all know he's a genius producer, but if you look at his songs, there's like seven or eight producers on every song because he's finding the best of the best of the best… You have to put your ego to the side. It's not all about just you doing everything. Obviously there are producers out there that do everything and we all wish we could be those guys. But Kanye, Dr. Dre and all these guys, they have no problem saying let me bring this guy over here. 

So when Drake reaches out to me do I just try to do it all myself or do I fucking try to make the best music possible? With “Rich Baby Daddy,” we were trying to find this new sound. I was making a bunch of stuff, and it wasn't happening. I needed to find something. So when we were sitting there and he was like we need a new vibe, I remembered earlier that day, I had listened to [K.P. & Envyi’s “Swing My Way”], and I was like, no one's done that in a long time. So then I hit him and I was like, maybe we should do something like that. I reached out to Richard and Johan and we, and they made 10, 18 beats. I made a couple beats and we compiled a bunch of these bounces and I sent it to him. He was like, “this is it! But let's try different samples.” Then I went back to drawing board with Richard and Johan and we tried a couple of different things and boom, this is the fucking one. 

Gotta love the collaborative effort. Having worked on Drake’s most recent solo albums, what’s something you’ve learned about him in this era of his artistry?  
He’s a mad man. He's insane. He doesn't sleep. He just works, works, works, works. He'll call me at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. in the morning. I'm like, bro, “go to bed. You're insane.” So that's what I learned. 

You said in a 2022 interview with Billboard that you’ve felt like an outsider even with your previous success. How are you feeling about your position or status with the release of For All The Dogs today?
It's funny, because the record that we put out, Drake and Bad Bunny and then you have Drake, SZA, and Sexyy Red on a record and it's a hip-hop record. And if you look at my discography and all these records I put out, they're all very special and different records. I've never fit this mold. If you think of fire hip-hop producers you don't think of GORDO or Carnage. If you think of who's a fire Latin producer, you don’t think of GORDO or Carnage. If you think who's a guy that had the Soundcloud era on lit with Lil Pump and Lil Yachty and Famous Dex, or the Mac Miller songs with Cole Bennett, or Lil Uzi… If you go back and look at all those songs, you can't categorize any of those. I'm like this floating thing that's floating around from realm to realm. You can't really categorize me. So I guess that's what makes me an outsider. I'm completely OK with being an outsider and creating my own little world.

"He’s a mad man. He's insane. He doesn't sleep. He just works, works, works, works. He'll call me at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. in the morning. I'm like, bro, “go to bed. "

Are titles like Best Producer Alive or Producer of the Year important to you?
No. No, not at all. The only title I'd be proud of would be most diverse.

House and dance music saw a rise in popularity over the last few years thanks to projects like Honestly, Nevermind and Beyonce’s Renaissance. Are you seeing that trend falling off or growing? 
Dance music fell off a couple of years ago, and I think it's having a resurgence now. It's bigger than it's ever been. Music recycles itself, so everything is in the ‘90s right now. With the Weeknd, we were in the ‘80s, but I think right we're entering the ‘90s. If you really look at dance music, it's very ‘90s dance right now. And if you look at hip-hop, all the really mainstream stuff is sizzling away right now. There's a lot of more boom bap rap that's really big right now. Even internationally, look at guys like Santa Fe Klan, he’s like the biggest rapper in Mexico and selling out stadiums and he's rapping on old Ice Cube type beats like boom bap, West coast, Dr. Dre type beats. This is what kids are listening to. 

What else are you working on that you can share with us?
I'm gonna quote Drake right now. He says, “your album is next.” And of course, Drake is a big part of it. So it's going to be very special. [It’s coming] very, very soon. So, you already know  how diverse I am, imagine my fucking album. And I have the one of the greatest to ever do it on my side. Now that I finished all the Drake stuff, I’m focused on GORDO now 100 percent. So, we’ll see what happens. 

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