Friday, September 14, 2012
On Da Right Trak Productions
Today’s Side Note: On Da Right Trak is not just a name; it is a way of doing business.
Under the leadership of Lance “Pee Wee” Arnold, ODRT, as they are known around northeast Wisconsin, has been blazing a path in the local music scene for over a decade, and have shown no signs of slowing down.
Along with Pee Wee, Ken “Kenfolk” Tresvant, Claude Robinson and Anthony “PC” Owens make up the power structure of ODRT. Their goal: To make sure all artists under their umbrella are “on the right track.” Be it a musical track that gets them noticed, or a complete package of an artist trying to get to that next level, the guys at ODRT are working hard to get it done.
From its humble beginnings, it has grown in to a company that encompasses the entire Midwest, and they are making inroads into the south in places like Atlanta. There is the ODRT Street Team; a promotional team that brings national acts like Dorrough and others to the Green Bay Area, and an awarding winning production and DJ service section.
I sat down with Pee Wee in the ODRT studio, where I learned so much about a very talented young man and his friends.
When did you fall in love with music?
1986, my dad was a pastor and had his own church, and I was the drummer. And after church service, I would jump on the piano and organ. And that was the beginning of my love for music.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I had a lot of church heroes. My god-brother was a drummer; my best friend was the choir director and an organ player that played around the world. I really didn’t have many musical influences outside of church.
How did you end up in secular music?
Growing up, I liked all types of music. Jazz, hip-hop, gospel, a little rock. After college, my dad bought me a keyboard, (that was still in the studio in which we did the interview) and brought it all the way to Marinette, WI from Chicago.
How did you end up in Marinette?
My step brother went to Alpena (MI) College, and met his wife, who was from Menominee, MI. They married and moved to Menominee. They didn’t work out, and when I was looking at school, my brother asked me to come help with the kids. Free room and Board? Yeah, let’s roll with it.
Did you study music in college?
No. I don’t know how to read music. Everything is done by ear. Something I have done since I was a kid.
How did ODRT get started?
Getting out of college, picking up the keyboard, just learning how to build a track, is how ODRT got started. I met up with one of my friends that had a studio in his bedroom. He had a laptop and everything and I thought that was really cool. So I went home and bought ME a laptop and linked it up, and started from there. I did some tracks for a couple of people, and they loved it; Ken and I, (Kenfolk from ODRT) kinda named it together. “You need to get on the RIGHT TRACK”; you know what I’m saying? I don’t want to be the BIG producers like Timbaland and those guys; I want to be the one that started them off.
Describe the music that comes out of ODRT.
The music that comes out of this office is well thought out. It is not just pushed out. Every time you make a track, they are not all hot. I can go through ten beats, and out of those ten, maybe one of them is hot, at least to me. What comes out of this office is passion, sweat, tears, blood; we are brothers, so we fight. When it comes out of here, it’s a whole package. When we are done, we want to make sure we have put out a complete artist.
What do you want people to hear in that music?
The difference. You should be able to know the ODRT sound. It will be different from the rest. The quality of the music; the levels, the clarity, and just the way it is arranged. You will be able to know the difference.
Tell me about the artist under the ODRT umbrella.
PC and the AVG Boys. R&B Singer Devante; we pretty much do 100% of his tracks. We have done stuff with Kronic Soljha, K-Matic, the Lootme camp. Swiss Da Rockstar. Rozay Rell. Hust Mack. Lump G. NFL Cartel.
What do you look for in an artist to make them worthy to work with ODRT?
I am kind of a stickler. What I look for is someone that going to dedicate themselves to this more than ME. And that is hard.
Let’s say I give you a four track demo. By the time I have track two done, that artist should be well ready for a photo shoot, and a press kit, and a lot of people don’t know what that is. ODRT is pretty much myself, Ken, Claude and PC. We all work on giving something to you. Your effort needs to be 150 with us.
Best performance by one of your artist?
Devante. Recently, we brought in Dorrrough and Devante really did his thing there.
(Laughing) You want me to have friends? The worst performance? Let me put it like this. If you don’t want to perform in front of three people, you did badly to me. Cause if it was three HUNDRED people, you would be rocking it. I think three that deserves the same as three hundred. Is that fair?
What in your mind is good about the music scene in this area?
The good thing is there is a hip hop crowd. That is probably the best I can say about it.
I think the way we study our craft and work on it needs to be improved. Anyone can get on a microphone and just rap, or just sing. But actually putting together a hit… that is another story. You need to have arrangements, change ups, and not trying to cluttering a song. Not a lot of people in this area are doing that. Everybody is just rapping to get a girl or something like that. It’s not 100% art.
One artist, alive or dead, you would want to do a song with.
Kanye. I want to get in his head and see how he arranges things.
You are making a mix tape of your all time favorite songs. What is the first song on it and
#1 song would be a song I made called “Dem boys don’t play.” The beat of that song took me to a different level and let me know I can do this.
What was your first concert?
MC Hammer and Janet Jackson. Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan.
What would you tell someone aspiring to sit in your seat?
Study your craft, and every year, you should have worked on something that you know is your weakness. Every year, I shut down for two months, and listen to all my tracks, and figure out what I need to do better. It’s something I do on my own, cause I know where I want to go.