Culture Interviews

Producer Spotlight: The Thislandis Interview

I had the chance to chop it up with one of my favorite producers in the game, Thislandis. He’s worked alongside some of my favorite artists such as Drippinsopretty, d0llywood1, and many others.

Erik Young: I just wanted to say thank you for your time and wanting to do this interview with me. First of all, I’ve been a huge fan of your production this last year. The talent you have with not only the guitar, but producing in general is amazing. When did you start playing the guitar?

Thislandis: Thanks, I appreciate that. I’ve been playing guitar for a while, i would say around 10 years.

Erik Young: When did you start full-on producing and what was the motivation behind it?

Thislandis: I started out making electronic music kind of inspired by xxyyxx, shlohmo and the more chill skrillex stuff. And then I found out about lil peep from susboy who did art for rl grime. and got really into that stuff and making more guitar oriented beats.

Erik Young: I know you’ve collaborated with Drippinsopretty a ton, how did that connection come to be? Would you say that you guys are good friends?

Thislandis: I was making some beats with lukrative and he sent some to drip, one of which ended up being ‘a thousand roses part 2’. and then i just kept sending him beats and he wanted to use a bunch and i was psyched. and yeah, we’ve become friends since we started working together. i’ll make beats for him sometimes and we’ll chill and get food in LA. always trying to hit up the best taco spots out here.

Erik Young: Where are you originally from? What was it like growing up there?

Thislandis: I’m from dearborn outside of detroit originally. it was really sick for music actually. there’s an amazing electronic music scene and i was into jazz as well so i played a lot of music and learned a lot living there.

Erik Young: It’s so easy to pinpoint your production on songs. What do you do as a musician to make sure you stand out and have your own unique sound?

Thislandis: i think a lot of that comes from the types of chords and melodies i make. i’m really into harmony, so i try to incorporate some of my favorite stuff from different styles of music. i’m really into bach, bon iver, angelo badalamenti and a bunch of mathrock/midwest emo.

Erik Young: I’m also aware that you’ve collaborated with other known producers such as Charlie Shuffler, Lukrative, and Skress to name a few. What was it like getting to work with them?

Thislandis: it was great. i was a fan of charlie’s work on Castles II so I was really psyched to work with him. and yeah, i would just send him a bunch of melodies for different artists and we ended up making a bunch of songs together. and i was a big fan of lukrative and skress’ stuff too. all the stuff on anarchy by lil tracy was so good. so it was sick to work with them. and skress’ guitar melodies are so insane. we should have some more stuff with drippin so pretty on the way as well.

Erik Young: What would be your first crime on purge night if it had occurred?

Thislandis: lots of jaywalking.

Erik Young: I’m aware that you just recently released an EP with Zubin and Nev ver, what was the meaning behind that project?

Thislandis: we got together once or twice a week for a few weeks and made a bunch of songs. eventually the last full song on the project ‘where does love go 2 die’ kind of made a narrative of a soundtrack to the roadhouse scenes in twin peaks. and once that was established the rest of the narrative and order of the songs kind of fell into place.

Erik Young: Walk me through the steps you take in order to create those beautiful guitar melodies?

Thislandis: i usually start with a chord progression or bassline that i like. then i layer different parts, usually a low-mid, mid and high part. i try to leave space and also have the parts play off each other so there not all playing at once. to try to leave room for the artist. i also just started making melodies along to acapellas (like rod wave and bladee) which has been interesting and inspiring.

Erik Young: Who would you say are your biggest inspirations right now when it comes to creating music?

Thislandis: i would say blackwinterwells, deftones, james blake, nine inch nails, david shawty, dltzk, there’s so much great music happening right now it’s kind of hard to list everything.

Erik Young: Were you in any band growing up? Did you take any classes to learn how to play the guitar?

Thislandis: yeah, i was in a band with my friends called mexica which i played bass in. it was bass, drums and sax and was some like critters buggin type stuff. i started on bass so i took a bunch of bass lessons and played in jazz band and orchestra in detroit but i just transferred everything i learned to guitar essentially.

Erik Young: I also see that you’ve produced for a lot of up-and-coming artists like Midwxst, Kevin Kazi and d0lly just to name a few. What was it like working with them?

Thislandis: it was great. midwxst goes crazy and is so versatile, he can do so many different styles. same with d0llywood1, i just sent her a bunch of guitars and she made so much good stuff. kevin kazi is really sick too, i should have some stuff on his next project he’s dropping i believe.

Erik Young: Was there ever a time where you just wanted to give up? If so, what was the deciding factor that you where something gave for you and things started working?

Thislandis: not really, i saw an interview where trent reznor said he would do music even if he had to have a day job and i identified with that. i just remember everyone i looked up to in interviews saying just keep making what you want to listen to and eventually you’ll be able to do it full time. and that has been the case for me as well.

Erik Young: What are some of your dream collaborations as of right now and why?

Thislandis: yeah, i would love to work with nine inch nails, chino moreno (of deftones), rick rubin, mike dean, skrillex. all for the same sort of reason which is that they all are making new stuff and have innovated in the past and continue to innovate and push music forward in their own ways.

Erik Young: How do your friends/family feel, seeing you accomplish so much these last couple of years?

Thislandis: it’s been good, my folks have been real supportive as well as most friends. i will say though that sometimes friends would tell me i should do something else musically then i was doing but i just followed what my own intuition was and am very glad i did that.

Erik Young: If there’s one piece of advice you could give to up-and-coming producers, what would that be?

Thislandis: i would say try to lock in with an artist who’s really sick but maybe isn’t massive yet that you can build a sound together with and just keep making stuff with them and grow together. that’s what i did with drippin so pretty and that lead to working with a bunch of other people i also wanted to work with.

Erik Young: Lastly, what can fans expect next from you?

Thislandis: more music with me producing, but also dropping more music of my own and collaborations with artists and producers on my own spotify. i’m also planning on starting to stream on twitch later this month making loops, beats with viewers loops and songs with acapellas. i’m really excited about the possibilities with it. i got inspired watching sebii’s twitch streams and just how collaborative and innovative it is as a new and different way of making songs.

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