1.) What's your name?
Alonzo Ortiz, New York to Pennsylvania and back.
2). What's your music name?
Better known as AJ Suede or The Suede God.
3). Where did that name come from?
AJ is my nickname since birth and my friends call me Suede. Back in the day I had this Afro and one of my homies tried to joke on me saying it looked like a suede carpet. The rest is history.
4). How long have you been making music?
My mom put me in a bunch of music lessons when I was young. I never really stuck with an instrument too long. I just would jump around and try to learn a different instrument each year. Guitar, piano, and drums. I also took a class on drum machines and synthesizers. I did all of that for free at this local afterschool program. All before I went to middle school. But when I was 11, my uncle Ski gave me this program called Cakewalk Music Creator and 2 m audio MIDI controllers. I spent hours a day trying to translate some of those lessons into the MIDI controllers. By the time I discovered FL Studio 6 I was learning how to sample and experiment with different sounds. Working on all of this in Pennsylvania was the best, because I had the peace to stay in my zone, for months at a time.
5). What was your first project?
I used to be into the whole mixtape thing but I don’t really include those since they aren’t original beats. My first project is Gold and Water. It was something I started working on as I was transitioning from high school into so called “community” college. Id work on the beats for this one in my spare time. I would work around TecK, Third3ardrum, I-Money and Fate a lot. So they were a huge part of that album. My goal was to make sure the beats were strange enough to freak you out but at the same time keep your head moving. I produced like 10 tracks on there, so I was in control of how cohesive the sound could be. That’s important to me.
6). What was your last project?
My most recent project is Gold and Fire. I raised the bar high for myself with Gold and Water so the creative process was kind of challenging. When I was working, on the beats for Gold and Water, the genre fusion was effortless. I made a lot of beats that felt calculated and those were scrapped. It was challenging not to calculate my beats and let them flow more naturally. But since then i've learned a lot more about production and it shows me that my output was better when I was paying attention to less detail. Some of the drafts felt forced so I scrapped anything that seemed forced and left the tracks that were effortless. The challenging part was making sure I loved every beat 100% before I put any lyrics on it. I made many beats that I just liked. I wanted to make sure I loved the beats I was using enough to not get tired of them. I judge them on longevity, replay value, weirdness and tempo. Sometimes its hard to make a beat or a song that fits my criteria.
7). Where did you record this music?
Some people are all about big studios and big budget shit. I started off doing this in my bedroom. That’s where I feel the most comfortable making music. I do all the work for the beat and the vocals in my room. I don’t have a lot of faith in my engineering skills so I might do the final recording at Lower Level.
8). How long did it take from start to finish?
This project took about 2 years to completely. Usually in between projects I take sometime off from rapping to be social and live through new shit to write about. My life experiences and thoughts are all I rap about so it’s cool to chill and find new stories. These beats were created during a wide variety of seasons. Some of these beats sound like winter, and some of these sound like autumn or summer. Maybe one of them sounds like spring, IDK. But working in nature shows you a clear transition into the seasons.
9). Did anyone else help with it?
I would hit up Bugz Ronin or Third3arDrum to collab on beats for the tape. I would chop melodies and samples up. Bugz programmed drums on 2 of these joints. I didn’t get a chance to work on anything with Third3ar though.
10). Who are they and what did they do?
11). Anything impede the making of this record?
The only thing that slowed down the process was not being able to mix the records myself. When I did Gold and Water, my ears were a bit more careless to certain frequencies. Because of that I would record and mix a lot of tracks. Now I had to save those studio trips for when I really needed them. Saving up money for studio trips also slowed down the process. But I was trying to get a quality that my last project didn’t have. There were tons of drafts for the album and many tracks that didn’t make the final cut. I was running out of inspiration. When I moved back to NY I got enough inspiration to finally finish the album. Wanted to make sure this wasn’t your average hip-hop album. For people who appreciate music in general.
12). You can only perform 2 songs from this record, which 2? Why?
The first song I would perform would be “Free Minds Collective” and the second would be “The Dead”. The FMC beat would cause a proper wtf moment live but I know it would keep the people turnt. Anybody in the crowd that’s feeling as good as I’m feeling on stage would be in for a journey. The Dead” is like a final nail in the coffin. I save it for last at every show. It teaches the crowd my point of view in life. Plus they always go crazy for the chorus.