First of all, I what to take the time out to appreciate all the artists who participated in the first season of WIB Meets. You guys were great from the jump and I must add that I learned quite a lot from asking such simple (sometimes silly) questions and for that I thank you all once again. In the year 2015, we at WIB will endeavour to bring more of this exposé your way a time and schedule permits. You have to understand that these artists run a pretty tight shift and to snatch just 5 minutes out of their time is nothing short of a blessing.
Without further ado, let’s kick off the 1st WIB Meets for the year 2015 *cue in drum roll*- Yes, we finally caught up with the Montreal based producer/deejay and sometime rapper Dr Mad. The man who crafted super excellent joints for emcees such as Green Hypnotic, Cee and several instrumental/remix tapes(check HERE). He definitely had a lot to share with us so lay back in the cut and peep the interview.
Don’t forget to cop his most recent release The Good, The Bad, The Remix HERE
For the benefit of anyone who’s been living in an underground bunker for the last ten years…who on earth are you?
I’m the guy that lives in the bunker right next to yours. My name is Mahdi, also known as Dr. MaD (DR.M∆D, Docteur Mad) when it comes to playing with sound. I’m first a music lover, beatmaker, DJ and sometimes producer.
How did you get started in music, and what drives you to continue?
My love for the music first came from my mother. She never studied music but to this day, she keeps singing and dancing and listening to new music when we’re home. You can tell it’s in her. When I was younger I wanted to take piano lessons. She was down with the idea…until she saw the prices. Eventually, after listening to some hip-hop albums and being influenced by Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, Timbaland, Dilla, Nujabes and so many, I wanted to become a music producer too. So I started making beats on Fruity Loops. Discovering hip-hop records and experimenting with samples made me discover new musical styles, from jazz, to soul, to funk, to boogie, to experimental, to reggae, to world music, African music, east European music, Latin rhythms, back to more hip-hop from Japan, Africa, etc. I’m still learning/listening/discovering. It was like studying the evolution of hip-hop in backward. Hip-hop raised me and opened for me so many doors.
Do you remember the first beat you ever made? How did you go about it?
I don’t want to. All I remember is it sucked much. I’m glad it’s gone with this old external hard drive I accidentally stepped on!!
All this to say…keep working! It might not sound right at first…but you’re different because you have your own flavor and you’re putting taste into what you’re doing. Just keep pushing.
If a movie about your life in music was to be made, what interesting/strange moments and stories would you share to make the movie cool?
So many moments. But it’ll definitely be with my homies…and the way we used to step in any bar/club and just fukk up the dance floor. We still doing it. I remember that night when we stepped in the bar at 2:54 and totally stole the show. No drinks needed. It’s all about the good vibes, and how you spread them. The rule is simple: 1. Step in. 2. Fukk shit up. 3. Leave. Yeh I’ve seen this somewhere but it’s totally my motto. It’s in my blood too.
Are there any other interesting facts about you that hardly anyone else knows?
I’m what I guess you can call a “youth educator”. I work at the NoBad Sound Studio (NBS) which is part of a youth center in Côte-des-Neiges (Montreal). I started by volunteering and giving beat-making workshops to the kids there. Then I slowly joined the team and worked on 3 musical projects, and many shows with the youth.
I’m the co-founder of the African students association when I was in university.
I’m also a brown belt in karate. I was too young to have the black belt. I’ve practiced for 8 years. Is that interesting ?
What is the greatest thing about working in the music industry? And what would you change if you had the opportunity?
Being free. Free to think, free to create, free to speak to the people and get heard. I’m also very grateful for the people who support what I do. This feeling is amazing.
It is also great to meet new people almost everyday in the music industry. Or just random people who stop you in the street, the subway, at the record shop, and call you by your AK.
Looking back, what have been the most important moments in your life so far?
Humbly, I’d say all the parties that I rocked at the DJ booth. I wasn’t really sure of what I was doing in the beginning. Especially because I’m not the one who necessarily plays the latest hits – and like every DJ I hate requests. But after getting so many props from the people, it made me realize that I had something. It was all about the vibes I was sharing on the moment. So this helped me keep pushing. Love is the fuel an artist needs to keep going. And I’m eternally grateful for that.
What have been the biggest highlights?
The fact that I made a vision come true. I was in Los Angeles in 2012, at a random Stones Throw party on a Thursday night. The DJ was really gangsta; leather coat, fly big boobed chik, Cadillac…you get the picture. He was playing the most serious boogie funk and modern funk songs I’ve ever heard. I couldn’t tell if the songs were from the 80’s or from the future. It sounded something like the Funkmosphere (also in LA). So timeless. I thought…how come we don’t have nights like these in Montreal? I was really determined to make it happen in my town.
It all made sense when I met the homie and big brother Walla P. What a great timing. He also wanted to create an 80’s themed night here in Montreal. A year later, Voyage Funktastique was born: a weekly radio show hosted by Walla P, a monthly night with both of us on the wheels of steel, Marley C as our funky host, and mostly, a room full of beautiful people.
What has been your biggest challenge…and how did you overcome it?
Being me. It’s not always easy not to compare yourself with others. Especially when you just started.
When I try too much, it just doesn’t work for me. The magic happens when I care less. And ironically, people love it. It’s called “justbeingyourself”. Trust me, it works. You just got to keep shaping this ability you have.
Who are your heroes? Why do they rock your world?
Thomas Sankara, Malcolm X, Che Guevara… Even death couldn’t stop them from defending their ideas, which is very inspiring. They were also very charismatic, I could listen to them talking for hours.
My grand pa too. He’s a legend in my heart. If I could be 10% of the man he was, I’d be forever accomplished.
Who have been the coolest, most memorable people you’ve met along the way, and how did they make an impact on your life?
A few people changed my life. Lou Piensa (member of Nomadic Massive) was my teacher in high school. He’s like a big brother now. I knew he had a band and was making beats. So I kept asking him questions about it, showing him my new beats after class, asking him about compressors, the mix, the gear, the swing on the drums, etc. I later joined him at a youth center (NBS Studio) where I’m still giving beat-making lessons and many other workshops. I find it funny that it’s now me who’s answering the youth’s questions I was asking Lou back in high school.
Another cool kat is definitely Walla P. Montreal DJ, founder of Voyage Funktastique. It’s like we’ve known each other for years. He’s the one who introduced me into deejaying with turntables and vinyls – in an era where the MIDI and digital is taking complete control.
When you’re sitting on the porch age 97 what would you like to look back on and smile having achieved?
Smile at making it at the age of 97 first.
Building a name with my ALAIZ brothers. We had in the SAME crew High-Klassified, Kaytranada, Da-P, J.u.D., Rami B., and so many other people. Look at how they’re all shining today. Our early days reminded me of the Native Tongues era. Or even the 501 posse in France with MC Solaar. I will never forget all these shows where half of the crowd was empty because all the team was rocking the stage. The best is yet to come.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
The first time I opened for Mos Def. I was deejayin’ for Nomadic Massive. Huge crowd. I was so stressed out. But my brother Paul – God rest his soul – had sent me a text and told me to stop stressing and “live the fkn awesome moment you got right now faggot”.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
It’s a 2 for 1.
I was in Washington D.C. with two of my friends. We attended the Rock The Bells festival the day before. We were about to leave the hotel and take the road back to Montreal. We had our luggage in the hall. One of my friends was on the computer. He started talking to the dude on the computer next to him. We joined them. This guy was in Montreal the day before! It happened that he was T-Lo, Shad’s DJ. I cannot describe you how BIG of a fan I was back then when he dropped his album “The Old Prince”. We talked for a few and all of a sudden, Shad popped off out of nowhere. (He had a Ziploc bag with his toothbrush in it. “Like why a brother needs a dentist? It’s expensiiiiiive!” (Heads know). We laughed about it.) His manager was there too. They were very humble and we spoke for very long. Shad was performing the day after at the Vans Wrapped Tour. They invited us to join them. So we counted our pennies and paid for another night at the hotel.
We kept talking and at some point another friend asked “hey is this Nas?”. It was him. He was leaving the hotel. I went outside with my two friends and we asked if it was possible to talk to him.
He closed up the festival the night before, brought Styles P, AZ, Pharoahe Monch as surprise guests and gave a crazy performance. He was so tired he gave me the softest handshake on planet Earth. I still love him.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Quasimoto. I’d probably serve him pizza just to see if he likes it.
What are the greatest songs, albums, books, movies, TV shows, websites you’ve ever come across?
“The Forty Rules of Love”, by Elif Shafak. I know the title sounds corny but this book changed my life and introduced me to Sufism.
“Les maigres blancs d’Amérique du Noir”. This album by Alaclaire Ensemble made me proud to be a Québécois and represent!! Lord knows it’s not always easy where you’re an immigrant. But this is what art is for.
I’m also a Star Wars geek. Don’t test me.
Name 5 songs (yours excluded) that we would expect to find on your iPod or Music Player
Let’s switch the question to playlists. I always have a playlists of :
– Music produced by The Neptunes;
– A Soulaquarians album at least;
– A Stones Throw artist;
– A Detroit music producer album at least;
– A random jazz record.
What special-hero type skills are you blessed with?
I’m very tall. I can change a light bulb in the blink of an eye.
Where can everyone reading this interview keep up with your adventures?
I say a lot of weird things on Twitter. I try not to. Mostly in French. @dctr_mad
Follow me on soundcloud.com/docmad !!
I post cool pictures on docmad.tumblr.com
Voyagefunktastique.com => :)
Any final thoughts?
Yes. Like Baatin [RIP] said : “SV dominates the industry for fun”.
That’s it. World domination. Just for fun. No big deal, we’re just having fun here.