posted: 13th of january, 2002
interview: tadah
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm 28 years old. I was born in Chicago, Illinois, lived in Iran from age 2-6 and lived in Los Angeles CA ever since. I graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor's Degree in Recording Arts. And I've been producing since 1992.
The first thing I've heard from you was the now classic "Beneath The Surface" compilation. How did you get it going?
I was a big fan of the L.A. underground rappers and really connected to the Goodlife / Project Blowed scene. One day I was in a studio with CVE and O.M.D. and P.E.A.C.E. came through. So did Longevity (Darkleaf) and Sesquidpedalien. It was a real random gathering and we did this song "What Up" and it inspired me to do a full project of brining together my favorite MC's. It was a long process which took 2 years to complete, but it was worth it. "Beneath the Surface" was my tribute to my favorite artists in L.A., and my fantasy of bringing them all together as a movement.

How did you get everyone on the record?
A lot of the cats had heard my beats at the Goodlife or Project Blowed, so it wasn't a problem getting them to record. Other artists, like Aceaylone, actually asked to be on the project after hearing some of it and wanting to support it.
Do you think that the time will ever be right for a sequel?
Right now I'm working on a project that's somewhat similar to it for the label Mush. It's definitely not a "Beneath The Surface 2". But the feel of the project will have that Beneath The Surface, underground L.A. hip hop vibe. I am having about 6-7 vocal cuts on it. Rappers I'm considering are Aceyalone, Busdriva, Spoon (of Iodine), Buck 65, Sesquipedalien, H.I.M.N.L. and possibly others.
Mush might also re-release Beneath The Surface too, and we'll try to fit as many of the songs on it as possible. So all the songs that were on the original release and also those that were on the Celestial version.
Do you feel reduced to "Beneath The Surface" or is it flattering that people hold it in such high regard?
It's flattering. And as said, I'm doing a slightly similar project for Mush records right now. But I also hope people will feel my less direct, more attention requiring projects like "Distant Drummer", that take time to understand but are as dope as "Beneath The Surface."
What have you done since that compilation?
I have done too many songs to name since to name em all. But some of my favorite cuts are Scarub's "Savvy Traveler," Freestyle Fellowship's "Can You Find The Level Of Difficulty In This", Spoon (of Idodine) "Anti-Christ" and 2 Mex' "Percussion Precaution." I have also produced a whole album for Sach (from The Nonce) which we are shopping right now. It is called "Sach 5th Ave.". And I also was a part of a hip hop/ jazz/ electronica project called "Influenced By Intensity" which is out right now.
Do you think that there have been too few releases of you, just the necessary and selected few, or just about how you wanted it?
All the songs I mentioned were on other people's projects, because I was busy preparing for "Distant Drummer." It took me a while to do "Distant Drummer" because I wanted to expand my style and do music that people who are into jazz and electronica would appreciate, as far as the melodies, original rhythms and concepts. Now that that's finished, you'll be seeing a lot more Omid releases on a faster basis, especially on the underground hip hop vibe.
You mentioned "Distant Drummer" a couple of times. That's your new album. What can you tell us about it?
"Distant Drummer" is an ode to many different things that have inspired me in the last couple years: the music of Sun Ra, mainly it's equally organic and electronic sound textures and mystic melodies; a science fiction book called "Hyperion", and a lot of the songs were inspired by it. The "Sad King" was a character who was either really depressed or really excited, hence the change of slow to fast to slow to fast in the song. Rumi/ sufism/ meditation inspired me for like "Shreem", which is a yogic term. On that song I wanted to create a meditative melody by just thumb piano and drums, creating different melodies just by adjusting the placing of the sounds every bar. So there's things like that. It's a very different vibe from "Beneath The Surface," which was all about just hip hop. And the new album on Mush will probably be a combination of the two.
In what respect is the album well rounded?
On that project, I created all the themes and concepts that I set out to do. I knew I wanted to do some experimental music (what became "Blue Android"), an appealing cut ("Ways Of The World"), a cut where I'm playing a beautiful yet bumping bassline ("Healing Bassics"), a song influenced by the ocean that changes like it's currents ("Island Covenant"), a social statement ("Ease In The Middle Piece"), etc.
You mention that you've created several specific themes. So do you have an idea and then try to go and do it, or is it that you just play around and the project grows out of trial and error?
Both. Sometimes I have a vibe or a style of beat in my head and I create a drum pattern or find a sample to convey that. Other times I go through random records and make things fit together.
Is there something your trial has always come to an error? Something you still try to make/compose, but haven't yet achieved?
I'd like to make my music a little more accessible to the mainstream but still be innovative and new.
Do you think that you have a signature sound?
Yes and no. I do all tempos and vibes, simple and complex. But my little brother can always recognize a beat of mine.
Did something change in the way you produced for this album?
On "Distant Drummer" I played a lot of the melodies out on the ASR. I relied way less on sampling than on other projects. I love working with good musicians and on the Mush album I have a cello player.
Do producers listen to the music different?
Yes! I listen for arrangement, subtle sounds, changes that others might not catch, the placement of sound, the dynamics of a song, if the sounds came from a record/ cd/ live/ synth, originality in samples, harmony. And the list goes on and on. You can have a lot of fun concentrating on different aspects of a song.
What do you think there is in your music, that a producer will hear?
I think a producer will hear that I took time to make sure each sound is nice enough to stand by itself. When you have a bunch of good sounds and melodies weaving in and out that could have easily be looped but are doing more, a producer will probably dig that. A producer might also dig that I don't have a set formula. One song will be abstract and experimental and another will be simple. But even the simple beat has dimensions/ thought to it.
What equipment do you use?
I use an ASR10, Yamaha CS-1, and Pro Tools.
You advertised on message boards that you have beats for sale? Now, as someone who holds your art in high respect, and considering your achievements, it was rather surprising. What do you have to say to this?
Well, I work part time. So that takes me away from quality creative time. Anything that will help attain more quality time with my music is a plus. I also enjoy working with new people. But at the same time I'm real picky and sensitive to what my close friends think about the people I work with. So by selling beats, it puts it into a stress-free, business vibe and I don't have to be as picky, as long as the MC shows potential. The small money I get goes into the bigger projects that are my heart. Every musician gotta eat, and I give thanks to be able to make money having fun (i.e. making beats). A lot of my favorite producers do produce for MC's where you can tell it was just a paid gig. But in the bigger picture, the deeper and more meaningful project end up standing out and inspiring. Plus you never know who you might meet or what type of track you might make for a customer that you normally wouldn't make.
So did anything came about after you did these 'beats for sale' posting?
A couple people bought beats and I was able to save up to get my Pro-Tools gig.
You as a producer stand alone, did you ever thought about joining a group?
When I collaborate with someone on a project, we kinda become a group. Like when I collaborated with DJ ESP and Unyousual to make "Influenced by Intensity," we called ourselves Quintessential.
You said you lived in Iran. As you've been in the 'neighborhood' of Iraq. Do you have an opinion on the current situation and if yes, what's your opinion?
It's a tough situation: I don't like the dictatorship in Iraq but I don't want innocent Iraqi's being hurt by a superpower military attack either.
If you are opinionated about something, does it get frustrating that you do instrumental music?
Instrumental music, I think, can convey a message deeper because words are too precise. Music is a deeper and truer language.
Thanks a lot for the interview, but before we go: what's coming up?
A new album on Mush with Mc's, "Sach 5th Ave" with Sach of The Nonce/ Global Phlowtations doing all the vocals and me doing all the beats. And a project for O.M.D.
the album "Distant Drummer" is out on Beneath The Surface
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