DotCom | Recording Thug on a Bus
A veteren of the music industry and the Atlanta music scene, Stephen "DotCom" Farrow is a Grammy nominated recording and mix engineer. His career began in the Alabama hip hop scene in the early 2000's. He went to Omnitech for digital media and in 2014 became recording engineer for Quailty Control Studios. He has worked with a vast array of rap and hip hop artists, including Lil Yachty, Migos, Lil Baby, Katt Williams, 21 Savage and Blac Youngsta.
What would you tell your younger self to help them get to where you are now faster?
I would definitely tell myself not to get to a point in time when I want to give up. I have to say that in my lifetime I worked the number of jobs from banker to warehouse. To stocking shelves so I've definitely you know had my fair share of giving up moments but I would definitely say don't give up. Stay loyal. Don't burn your bridges because that's what definitely helped me to get this far.
"And just be an all around good person. Being a good person, a loyal person will get you a long way."
How did you become a record producer?
When I was 15, 16 I was in high school. Me and a buddy of mine we had a group I don’t even remember the name. And basically we found a studio with real studio equipment in Montgomery, Alabama and went there to record the song. We didn't know what we were going to record we didn't have a beat. First time in the studio and they had a drum machine playing a drum beat. We went in and did a song. They charged us like $500 for like three hours. And from that period on I just realized that was what I wanted to do because of the money.
How do you use the studio as your musical instrument?
"Well I use the studio as my sanctuary, my retreat."
Like I say even though I have this beautiful facility to work here I have set up at home. And that's the first thing I did when I got home. I run up the stairs and go straight to the studio. Sometimes I don’t even check on my kid because she's 13 now so I know she’s probably on Snapchat. I don't know man it's just the smell and the hum of the studio equipment and just the solitude.
"Knowing that you know I can be as creative as I want to be and not have anybody judge me personally."
How important is the vocal to the track?
In my opinion, and I kind of say it is biased me because I was born in San Diego so I'm an 80's baby you know I was into jazz and rock and funk and all you know real live instruments. So in my opinion nowadays the vocal is really not as important as it used to be because as long as you have a beat along the beat slaps and you know they got a catchy hook, a lot of times you could just mumble through the verses and that was the birth of the mumble rap.
So it's like the kids nowadays they learn how to use their voice as an instrument more so than they did back in the day they used to talk about it back and they say use your voice as an instrument. But now these kids actually use their voice as their instrument.
"The moaning and the hums and you know just all those sounds, The vocal is very very important but the lyrical content is not as important as you might think."
How does the Eyeball play into the flow of recording?
These kids, they their strong point might not necessarily be their lyrical content but they might just be crazy with ad libs. Thug is a great example of that. I remember we were on tour with the Thug tour. We had set up a portable recording studio. And I had to record Thug in the bus and we had to use the Eyeball. And I didn't notice when we were recording. You know we were on the bus. I got on headphones. He’s got on headphones. But when I went back to the hotel and listened to the playback, just the warmth of his ad libs his breathing, you know the consonants he was saying. It was captured so well on the Kaotica Eyeball that that's really what excelled his career because if you think about it a lot of times people don't understand what Thug says but they just vibe with his melody because he rides the beats so well he uses voice as an instrument. The Eyeball is like the best mobile vocal booth.