Detroit Producer Makes His Stance Known On The Conditions Of The Industry

Going behind the scenes of the copious stages of audio engineering, Kaleb The Intern sits down to talk with us!

This week we interviewed a “skeptic, amateur philosopher, and pro syllogist”, adding “really I’m a music producer, pianist and songwriter from Detroit, MI currently residing in Los Angeles, California”. Kalebtheintern is a creative genius who works amongst the likes of the Assemble Sound crew out of Detroit Michigan. His talent and published work can be heard on the tracks of Whiterosemoxie, Sam Austins, Tiny Jag and others. 

Here is what Kaleb has to say…

“The music industry is a rare career field. Much of working in the business requires you to build personal relationships. And once you reach any modicum of success, you have to learn to waltz the boundaries of business and personal relationships with grace. This can be tricky because most people who enter the industry usually have no prior knowledge or experience - so everyone begins by stepping on each other's toes. One of the difficult things to balance is learning how to operate with a business forward mindset while also maintaining those personal relationships. Unfortunately, there are quite a lot of artists who still don’t understand that although music is an art, it is a business as well. We wouldn’t have had Beethoven and Mozart if it wasn't for the princes, kings, and royalty that employed them back in the day to write their symphonies and great works. But don't get me wrong, the music is the most important part - you just can't leave out the business.”

“In a way, I was sort of ushered into music with an internship I had with Assemble Sound (Detroit's largest music organization) over half a decade ago. At the time, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do but I was an astute young classical pianist. I had been taking lessons from a very early age.”

“The majority of my influences come from either my dad or my piano teachers. From my father, I recall great jazz artists like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck and Horace Silver. I still remember falling asleep to these demi-gods on car rides home. 

My piano teachers introduced me to the great artists who quickly became my heroes - Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Bach, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, and Camille Saint Saens. From these I learned to adapt structure, musical analysis and harmony to modern day popular music.”

“I began creating music around the age of 10 or 12. At the time I was in love with Film music. I still am. Film music inspired me to create. I would compose the most elaborate and juvenile pieces of music you wished you had never heard. But I loved it. Somehow it allowed me to pass over into another world for brief moments. These times were very special to me.” 

“In ways, my heart has hardened towards creating music. For a long time, I was making music that I knew would do/play well. Although I was having fun, I was conforming myself to a standard that wasn't me musically. This drained me and took a lot of the fun out of creating. Within the past year, I’ve dialed back and have had the privilege to work with people like Sam Austins, Tiny Jag, and Jax Anderson who really strive to make something unique and unhinged, separate (but special) from all of the monotony you hear in music today.” 

“Nothing really. Seth Anderson A.K.A Syblyng (Assemble Sound Head of Music and Music Producer) taught me most everything I know about production from an early age. He was my only real exposure at the time. I come from an academically headstrong family such as lawyers, judges, mayors, sole proprietors, but no musicians.”

“For the most part I think artists today do a fair job in giving credit where it's due. There is a big issue in hip hop where labels are not paying out producers and that has to stop. 

Oftentimes, when a producer will write a song with/for an artist and the artist will take it to another producer who will replace most of the elements in the song (without changing the nature, structure or harmony) and then take away the original producer's credit. Luckily this hasn't happened to me but I’ve had several friends who have run into this problem.” 

“My best work is always done in a room with other artists, writers, or producers. I thrive off of collaboration.”

Kaleb adds:

“Back in Detroit, my friends and I (Jay Cribbs, Lex Lander, Thibault, Sam, etc.) would stay up all night in Assemble Sounds old studios, (these studios were in a 300 year old church) and we’d go around the entire church sampling every surface and object we could find. At one point there was also a large open room on the second floor with high ceilings and we would sample and record drums or anything we could put our hands on. I had the most fun at that church I’ve ever had making music.” 

“It’s funny. My biggest mental payoff is something I can’t really speak on. But I can say this - I was developing this incredible artist and we released a song that caught the ear of American Recording Publishing Company (Rick Rubin's publishing company). So first off, that was exciting to hear. Rick Rubin is one of my biggest inspirations in music. His versatility is unmatched, alongside Kanye West, Jay-Z, Black Sabbath, Eminem, Beastie Boys, Queen, Adele, Aero Smith, Run DMC, and the list goes on. He has an inane discernment for creating music that an artist will love but the average listener will also accept. This, to me, is one of the most difficult things to do as a producer. Anyway, come to find out, Rick Rubin himself had reached out to his own team to search for the artist and producer who had made this song that he had apparently come to love. This song was something I produced and had co-written and Rick Rubin the producer I look up to most liked it so much that he reached out. Easily one of my proudest moments.” 

Sam Austins unreleased music is hands down the best stuff I have ever made. He is easily one of the most talented artists I have ever worked with. Whiterosemoxie is probably the coolest artist in the world right now. He’s raw and full to the brim with talent. Working with him has been a joy. I could go on. Most everyone I work with are my favorite collaborations. Look for my discography playlist on Spotify or Instagram.”

“2 Grammys, 4 nominations. 3 indie Film scores. 1 Major film score. Billboard 100. 

Going back to school for law or international development economics.”

“I’m proud of my mindset when I was younger. The only advice I would give my younger self would be to take every leap, take every shot, and never waste time over contemplating.” 

Go follow @kalebtheintern on Instagram and us @engmtcent to keep up with this series!