Christopher “Tricky” Stewart built his brand on a few irrefutable tenants -- be creative and authentic, and remain classy while doing so.
It’s a formula that has reaped tremendous personal and professional dividends for Tricky during the last decade-plus. Today, the media magnate is an accomplished musician, writer, producer, entrepreneur, leader, husband and father whose work (producer of Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” Beyonce’s “Single Ladies [Put A Ring On It],” Rihanna’s “Hard,” and Fabolous’ “Throw It In The Bag,” among others) has helped define modern music and has helped shape the way people think, dance and feel.
Tricky owns and operates with longtime business partner Monti Olson and brother/manager Mark Stewart various publishing venures including Remarkable Music and 2412 Music Publishing. The trio's company's writers have included such hit makers as Grammy-winning songwriter Ester Dean, whose credits include Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” "S&M" and “What’s My Name,” Usher’s “Love Em All” and “Hot Tottie” and Katy Perry’s “Firework” and “Peacock.”
We caught up with Tricky for this exclusive interview:
Akai Professional: Where does the name Tricky come from?
Tricky Stewart: I got the name "Tricky," from playing football when I was younger, I was hard to tackle. I always wanted a nickname so it stuck.
Akai Professional: How long have you been a producer?
Tricky Stewart: I have been a professional producer since 1992, my early credits include production on Chante Moore, Aaron Hall, and Immature.
Akai Professional: How did you get your start or big break?
Tricky Stewart: I got my big break from my older brother, Laney Stewart, who at the time was a producer and had great relationship with the late great Louil Silas. Louil Silas always prided himself in being in business with the newest hottest, and at one time I qualified as being just that, and the rest is history.
Akai Professional: What got you started producing?
Tricky Stewart: Music has always been a big part of my family. Everyone is involved in the arts in one way or another, whether it was in church, or just for fun playing in bands. My most direct inspiration came from my brother Laney, who started to make records first-he was my first musical mentor.
Akai Professional: What Akai Pro gear do you use?
Tricky Stewart: I use a lot of Akai Pro gear. I have an MPK49, MPC3000, MPC2000xl, MPC2500 and an MPC5000. I can't get enough.
Akai Professional: How long have you been using an MPC and which one was your first?
Tricky Stewart: I started using since I started producing in 1992, the first one was the MPC 60.
Akai Professional: What sets the MPC apart from its competitors?
Tricky Stewart: I don't know, do you have competitors? I've never had another drum machine.
Akai Professional: Do you have a favorite feature on the MPC that you just can’t do without?
Tricky Stewart: 16 level tuning gives me the ability to control my 808's and my different pitches in a way that I can't do without.
Akai Professional: Who are your favorite artists and producers today?
Tricky Stewart: I respect a lot of artists, but right now my favorites are Beyonce, Jay-Z, Adele, and Rihanna.
Akai Professional: Tell us about the music scene in Atlanta. How does it differ from other places?
Tricky Stewart: Atlanta is rich in talent and has a "sound", a "swag", and a culture that has to be lived up to in a way. For instance, when you are from Atlanta, your record has to be hot in Atlanta first before the world can accept it.
Akai Professional: What’s the funniest thing to happen at one of your events?
Tricky Stewart: During my 2011 Grammy party, I hired Jay-Z's drummer, Tony Royster Jr. and we realized we forgot to order microphones to mic the drums until an hour before we opened the doors to 1200 guests.
Akai Professional: What do you do outside of producing?
Tricky Stewart: Outside of producing, I love spending time with my family as well as going to concerts and sporting events. I am an avid sports fan and I enjoy listening to other people's music. I also enjoy throwing exclusive, high-end events for my friends and family periodically throughout the year.
Akai Professional: When the party is done, how do you chill out?
Tricky Stewart: I like to take trips when I can, truthfully with my schedule that isn't often. I find the best way to truly relax is to get away from it all.
Akai Professional: Who inspired you when you were learning your craft?
Tricky Stewart: I was inspired by LA Reid, Babyface, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Teddy Riley, and of course who can forget Quincy Jones.
Akai Professional: What's on tap for you in 2011?
Tricky Stewart: 2011 is going to be big. I am launching my record label, RedZone Records. I am working to open my first restaurant, LA Canvas by the end of the year. On the creative side I have the upcoming debut of the highly anticipated album from Frank Ocean. And, of course, I will be setting up to have another monster run of 25 top 5 records over the next 5 years, with a new sound and a new swag.
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