An interview with two young Baltimore music producers

By: Matt Nickelson

I had the fortunate opportunity to discuss music with two local music producers: MYNDS (Collins Ukegbu) and Big-O (Austin Okafor), the creative minds behind 808Bit.

What genre would you classify your music in?

Big O: I primarily do hip-hop but I have dabbled in other genres like reggae, R&B, funk, and afro beat.

MYNDS: I do the same. It’s hard to say when listening to the other stuff we make, collectively and separately. Some can sound real hip-hop, others R&B or soul, and sometimes just real different.

How did you get interested in music production?

Big O: Back in high school, Lex Luger was killing it and I found the software he uses, FL Studios. So I downloaded it and the rest was history.

MYNDS: I didn’t start producing until a year into college. When I used to go to CCBC Essex, a good friend of mine convinced me to getting FL Studios because I was having conflicting thoughts with my major. I’ve played the trumpet since middle school and had a some experience in music theory.  I started off with a refresher course and for fun until I made a SoundCloud and linked up with other producers like Big O in the city.

Have you found your major/classes in college helpful in your music production?

Big O: Well, I go to Coppin State and I major in computer science. My classes don’t have much of an influence as far as my production goes, but I have learned life lessons that keep me motivated. If you’re going to do something do it 100%.

MYNDS: I’ve only been at UB for 3 semesters and I haven’t really taken any classes that are concentrated on my music, but I did learn a lot of tips as far as branding and marketing while taking CMAT 391 with Professor Roger Friskey. Oh, and I definitely had a good experience in creative writing with Professor Kendra. I was able to recite some poetry over my music and let the class hear it.

Who are your musical influences?  

Big O: Timbaland, Johnny Juliano, Lex Luger, DJ Dahi, Noah “40” Shebib, and Hit-Boy; just to name the few of many.

MYNDS: Pharrell Williams, OnGaud, The Alchemis , J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, J-Louis, Medasin, Lupe Fiasco, and Thelonius Martin

Where does the name 808Bit come from and what does it mean?

MYNDS: Back in 2014, I made my first beat project named “Success With No Accomplishments [S.W.N.A.]” and in fused a video game concept with it to create a small mini story. Just something to do really.

Big O: A year later after meeting up with me and just making a lot of stuff together, MYNDS and I were just talking about anime and video games one night in our music and thought we’d continue the concept in a sequel tape. 808Bit is a movement; just good energy and vibes that we want people to feel when they’re listening. Nostalgic 8-Bit/16-Bit era sounds mixed with hip-hop styles of today.

What gave you the idea to fuse 80’s and 90’s video game culture, trap music, and hip hop together?

Big O: MYNDS had already played with the idea in his tape, prior to using the PS1 as a focal point in instrument use and sound design.

MYNDS: The sound we naturally make when producing is like the way old video game intros used to sound. Only difference is we layer up the sound with things that are familiar with hip-hop today, like 808s and colorful sounding synthesizers.

Have you taken your music out to any dance clubs?

MYNDS: Uhhhh…..nope. I wonder how it would sound in the club. Not saying we wouldn’t want it to be played there. We just haven’t been given the opportunity.

How did you both meet and how did you form your group?

Big O: It was through a mutual friend. I heard his beats through her snapchat and sent him a beat to work on, which, in fact, is the intro to our tape, Level 5.

MYNDS: I didn’t even think of us as a group, but just two producers who know how to manipulate sound very well. But we have been thinking of a collaborative name. Maybe BigMYNDS…..I don’t know.

Please tell me anything else you would like me to mention in the article.

Big O: My name is Austin Okafar, I’m Nigerian and 20 years old.  I usually go to work, school, make beats, and play video games. We might put out another beat tape to sequel this year and I’m planning on cooking up some other collaborative beat tapes with other producers I work closely with. Also, I’m executive producing a project for the rapper Laws Famous called “I’ll Be Famous Later”.

MYNDS: My name is Collins Ukegbu, also Nigerian, and 21 years old. I write poetry, annoy my sisters on the regular, and look forward to my days off work and school. I’ve been closing out this dancehall/afrobeat ep I did with my good friend Chuck Ceasar. If you like to azonto, shoki, and vibe to afrobeat style music, be on the lookout for it. I’m a part of a group of musicians as well and we go by the Usual Suspak. Most of the members go to UB, like Kanard Brooks and Carlos Hamlin. They are the main reason why the tape came out so well, from the album artwork all the way to giving the tape a bigger sound then we expected. I’m glad to be working with a team with such talent. More music is coming out soon with the Usual Suspak, since…….we usually do this music thing.

More information about 808Bit can be found at UsualSus.com.

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