Derek’s sound business plan: Music producer believes free mixtape is ‘better way to reach out’ to audiences

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  • Beat maker: Derek Simmons has just released a free mixtape featuring some of the Island's singing, rapping and poetry talents, called Stealth Ninja Chronicles II.(Photo by Akil Simmons)

    Beat maker: Derek Simmons has just released a free mixtape featuring some of the Island's singing, rapping and poetry talents, called Stealth Ninja Chronicles II.(Photo by Akil Simmons)

  • Stealth Ninja Chronicles - a free mixtape featuring some of the Island's singing, rapping and poetry talents, has recently been released. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

    Stealth Ninja Chronicles - a free mixtape featuring some of the Island's singing, rapping and poetry talents, has recently been released. (Photo by Akil Simmons)


They say nothing in this world is free — Derek Simmons is insisting great music still is.

He recently released his second full-length mixtape, De Stealth Ninja Chronicles II.

It features local talents Imari, Rowdy Piper, Dewhurtz, Haz, Jase Anthony, KASE and Stephan Johnstone and a host of genres including dubstep fusion, hip hop, soul and experimental music.

The 22-track recording is now available for free download on www.datpiff.com/.

Mr Simmons, a producer with Devil’s Isles Entertainment, said he wanted everyone to be able to access the tunes.

“For me I feel like it needs to be free in a sense because right now in the music industry everyone wants money.

“It’s all about money. To stand out, a free product is, to me, a better way to reach out to the audience you are trying to connect to.”

The first instalment of the mixtape was released in April 2011 while Mr Simmons was on tour in Toronto with the Chewstick Collective.

They eventually decided to do a mixtape compilation featuring several singles with rapper KASE.

Mr Simmons said: “It was really good when we got back because the single ‘Clap Your Hands’ was released a few days before [we returned from Toronto]; Thaao Dill messaged us to say he was playing it all day on Hott 107.5.”

The public response was great, he said, as was the reaction to their performance at BeachFest that year.

It took a while to get started on the second volume. By September they were ready “to go full steam ahead”.

Nick-Keymin Spence was one of those who asked to be involved. He shot the video for ‘Free Night’, with rappers Imari and KASE.

“Never before have we been asked to do a video right off of releasing a product,” Mr Simmons said.

“Basically with this one, we actually had people involved in pushing it forward and helping on all sides including graphically, musically and right down to really the engineering of it and how we should plan it.

“There was a lot of help from a lot of venues.”

Mr Simmons’ father, Derek Simmons, Sr, was one of the Island’s great jazz guitarists.

He began playing the drums and guitar as a child, and later experimented with recording, mixing and producing in his father’s home studio.

“It wasn’t until I got into high school when I decided to start making beats and stuff [that I started devoting more time to it], just because of the fact I thought it was a cool thing to do and I had easy access to do it,” he said.

Through KASE, Mr Simmons was able to make useful contacts with artists in the Chewstick Collective.

He now works as an audio visual technician at the Berkeley Institute.

Music has become a way for him to release stress and relax, Mr Simmons explained.

“I can come home from a messed-up day and sit down and spend like three hours in my room just making music, playing with sounds and just releasing it.”

The first volume of music was finished quickly and managed to capture a certain time in their lives on disc, he said. The second gave the musicians a chance to let the music ‘marinate’ a little more, and ultimately featured a more diverse sound.

Mr Simmons said one thing that sets him apart from some other producers is his desire to keep pushing the boundaries.

Though people didn’t get all of his sounds at first, he said it was great getting to work with artists who weren’t afraid to take chances.

He said: “To me right now it’s just about making good music. To me it’s not about the money or being the producer headlining although it would be nice to get invited to certain concerts and releases and different projects.

“Right now it’s just about generally making music that people can enjoy, and spreading it to everyone.”

Useful website: http://www.datpiff.com/Derek-G-De-Stealth-Ninja-Chronicles-Vol-2-mixtape.434377.html.

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Published Jan 23, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 22, 2013 at 8:24 pm)

Derek’s sound business plan: Music producer believes free mixtape is ‘better way to reach out’ to audiences

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