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.
AP: How long have you been a producer?
TS: I have been a professional producer since 1992, my early credits include production on Chante Moore, Aaron Hall, and Immature.
AP: How did you get your start or big break?
TS: 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.
AP: What got you started producing?
TS: 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.
AP: What Akai Pro gear do you use?
TS: I use a lot of Akai Pro gear. I have an MPK49, MPC3000, MPC2000xl, MPC2500 and an MPC5000. I can't get enough.
AP: How long have you been using an MPC and which one was your first?
TS: I started using since I started producing in 1992, the first one was the MPC 60.
AP: What sets the MPC apart from its competitors?
TS: I don't know, do you have competitors? I've never had another drum machine.
AP: Do you have a favorite feature on the MPC that you just can’t do without?
TS: 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.
AP: Who are your favorite artists and producers today?
TS: I respect a lot of artists, but right now my favorites are Beyonce, Jay-Z, Adele, and Rihanna.
AP: Tell us about the music scene in Atlanta. How does it differ from other places?
TS: 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.
AP: What’s the funniest thing to happen at one of your events?
TS: 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.
AP: What do you do outside of producing?
TS: 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.
AP: When the party is done, how do you chill out?
TS: 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.
AP: Who inspired you when you were learning your craft?
TS: I was inspired by LA Reid, Babyface, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Teddy Riley, and of course who can forget Quincy Jones.
AP: What's on tap for you in 2011?
TS: 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.