Q&A | Talking passion and purpose with music producer, Nygee Gant
Music producer and audio engineer Nygee Gant has been quietly making noise on the local scene and music industry for over 15 years. The Flint native initially taught himself how to produce records, and eventually fine-tuned his production sound under the mentorship of renowned producer/engineer, Bernard Terry.
Throughout his career, Nygee has produced music for a slew of prominent Flint rap artists, including Bootleg of The Dayton Family, Jon Connor, Ace Gabbana, and Greg Joslin among others. Nygee also devotes time to teaching the youth about music production at the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (SBEV) in Flint. He hopes that this generation passes down the knowledge to the next generation of music-makers.
We recently spoke to the lowkey producer about his musical contributions over the years, what keeps him motivated, his thoughts on where the Flint music scene is heading, and much more. Keep reading to get “the goods” on Nygee Gant.
The GOODS: What made you want to start producing? And how did you initially start making music?
Nygee Gant: “Music has always been a part of my family. My uncle was a producer; he was producing for a lot of R&B artists like Angie Stone. I have a cousin, Ricky Lawson, who passed away a few years ago. He was one of the most notable drummers on the planet. He was Michael Jackson's drummer! I know he did the BAD tour with Michael Jackson. And, of course, Lionel Richie, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder. We can go down the laundry list. But, he was very well-respected throughout the industry.
And then my brother was rapping. That's how I started, I started off as a writer, I started off rapping. Then, like a lot of artists, you realize that you’re young and poor, and don't really have money to pay for studio time, beats, or anything like that.
Since my brother was the star, I decided that I didn't want to rap anyway, but I knew I had the mental capacity to learn some other things. I wanted to learn how to produce because we needed beats. We couldn't afford studio time, being 16-17 years old, so we learned how to engineer ourselves and we've been rolling ever since. It just came out of necessity more so than a passion but I've just always had a passion for music and learning.”
TG: How have you managed to stay motivated throughout your career?
NG: “I stay motivated from honestly watching other people succeed and wanting to be a part of uplifting the other artists and producers and engineers around because I know that I didn't necessarily have those mentors. When I was growing up, we didn't really have the information. Seeing the success of my peers and seeing people aspiring to be better kept me motivated.
I understood that I had the information because I dedicated myself to learning, so I just wanted to make sure everybody else around me was equipped with the same information and the same resources. That's just what keeps me motivated, even to this day, I just want to be a part of the solution.”
TG: Tell me about your work at the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village.
NG: “So, at the Sylvester Broom Empowerment Village (SBEV), as far as music goes, it’s me and my partner, Jujuan Thorn. We teach music production. He teaches DJ audio production like Logic Pro, FL Studio, and things like that. I teach how to produce music, how to record, how to engineer, mix and master, how to do everything in a professional studio setting.”
TG: Who is the program aimed at?
NG: “The program is primarily aimed at kids. It's a youth organization; we gear everything we do towards the youth ages 5 to 17 years old. We welcome everybody throughout the Flint community and anyone else who comes by. We are inside the Empowerment Village, so not only do we have digital music, which is what we do, but we also have analog music like the violin, drums, and guitar.
Everything that we provide for the youth is completely free so you can have your kids sign up, drop them off, and they get to learn a new skill set. The way that I like to explain it to people in short form is that we're kind of like Juilliard meets Full Sail University.”
TG: How can more people get involved at the SBEV?
NG: “You can go to sbev.org and sign up. You can also reach out via email at info[@]spev.org if you want to be a part of a music program.”
TG: What is your take on the Flint music scene and where do you see it going this year?
NG: “My take on the Flint music scene is a very interesting one, especially because at one point in time, I was kind of at odds with the community because they didn't see the vision I saw. It was a lot of drama in the city about CLUB 93.7 not playing local music. I did my best to make sure that we had the support of the radio station so we could expand our reach.
Fortunately, Clay and B-Ray from 93.7 worked with me and Greg Joslin, and we created the “8-1-Show” and we showcase local music every weekend. That started in 2018 and ever since then, the Flint scene has slowly been on the incline with artists like YN Jay and Rio Da Yung OG opening those doors for us.
I realized that it made a lot of other artists realize that it's possible to succeed in music. It made people more inspired to actually take their craft seriously. I love where the scene is headed. Just wait because the people I talk to in the industry are always looking inside.
They're always asking, “What's going on in Flint? Who's the next guy” Who's hot in the city?” So, if YN Jay is inspiring the nation, then wait until they see what else we got, especially artists like Jeff Skigh, King Ca$hes, and Ace Gabbana.”
TG: How is your rapport with the younger artists coming onto the scene?
NG: “I’m 30 years old so I'm a little older than a lot of the guys coming up now. For me, it feels like I got a second wind. I feel fresh again. They look to me for advice a lot so those things inspire me; I can't let them down. We gotta do what it takes to get them to where they need to be. I embrace the fact that I'm becoming an elder statesman in this industry, and because of that, I have to use my platform, voice, and experience to give to the younger generation.
They can take all the things that we started and take it to another level, and hopefully, they continue to do the same thing for the generation after them.”
TG: What advice do you have for an aspiring producer who doesn't know where to start, but knows they want to be a producer?
NG: “Just start. Just go all in. Don't be afraid to try new things and forget what they tell you; the rules don't exist. Learn as much as you can. On my personal journey, I took about 16 hours out of my day, almost every day for two years, just learning and trying to get better. Just get the ideas out, try them out, and if they don’t work, keep going. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Don't be afraid to say, “Hey, can I sit down next to you and learn?”
Don't be afraid to ask somebody for mentorship. You know, don't be afraid to reach out to me. Sometimes, my team says it's not my responsibility to make sure everybody else gets good at what they do. I disagree with it because I have the information so it’s my job to share the information. Now whether they actually apply it and get better is on them but I feel like it's my moral obligation to give the information at a minimum.”
TG: Any shoutouts?
NG: “First and foremost, I have to shout out Bernard Terry because, without him, I honestly don't know where I would be in a lot of aspects because we speak about things beyond music. We talk about life and goals so, a lot of times, he's the one that keeps me sane. He always keeps me grounded and keeps things in perspective so I always have to show love.
Also, shout out to my guy Juan who kept me motivated in a time where things weren't making sense. I thought about moving to North Carolina and doing other things, but seeing him produce and really make music kind of gave me that spark. He reminded me of myself and I felt like it was my duty to at least attempt to nurture the talent that he naturally added. Seeing where he is now from two years ago is amazing.
And shout out to all of the artists in the city of Flint that's continuing to grind and prove that we are the next everything. We are the culture and we have the capacity to be everything that we thought we could be.”
To stay up to date with Nygee Gant, follow him on:
Also, visit the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village: sbev.org
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