The Producer’s Voice: Parker Jazz [@parkerjazzz]

Words By Miki Hellerbach

The Producer’s Voice is a new series for GUAP where we highlight the stories of instrumental crafters. We hope to bring their stories to the forefront instead of kept behind the artist they are producing for.

Letting the melody lead him has landed Parker Jazz in his dream position producing for artists he respects on both sides of the Atlantic.

Though he was raised in Florida, producer Parker Jazz was born in New Orleans and throughout his youth listened to jazz every Sunday with his family. You may have guessed already but he got his first name from the last name of famous saxophonist Charlie Parker. Though the jazz filled Sunday tradition was an initial musical spark, Parker also credits his parents for turning him on to a plethora of other genres including reggae, rock, and hip hop. 

Though he freestyled a bit with friends in middle school, when Parker was working a few years later at his first high school job at TJ Maxx, co-workers encouraged him to try making beats. His senior year he downloaded Fruity Loops software and then eventually Native Instruments’ iMaschine on his iPad and became absolutely hooked. He still uses this same software to this day but has elevated to keyboard and drum pad. He said he really knew he’d found his thing when he was on Christmas break with his family and just locked away in his room making beats while everyone else was enjoying the festivities.

Though Parker subconsciously knew he’d found his true love he still stuck to a traditional plan and attended Florida State University for a degree in Business. While in school though, with a full schedule, he would go from class to working a shift at Chillis to booking a room in the school library to record with local artists til 4 am consistently. The whole time he was doing this he was instilling the idea in his mind that he had to at least try to follow his dream. So Parker found a way to graduate early and moved to LA with a thousand dollars right after he graduated. 

Right before he moved to LA, which felt like a bit of divine timing, Parker got his first placement with an artist he really admired in Matty Wood$ for his track “I’ll Be Fine”. This began a formidable producer/rapper relationship that would give Parker something to be identified by in the West Coast. They have countless songs together at this point and even took an essential trip to the Lyrical Lemonade headquarters in Chicago together. 

The two most substantial relationships Parker has garnered since moving to LA have been with UK rapper Sainte and with his production idol Cardo, funny enough both through YouTube. The now solidified producer Cardo found a YouTube beat from Parker that he used to make a beat for rapper Larry June. That beat never saw the light of day but caused Cardo to contact Parker over dm at 4 AM causing him to have a morning of disbelief. He asked for beats and loops from him, and though Parker sent new stuff, two loops from his 2019 loopkit are what landed on Cardo’s recent collab project with rapper Payroll Giovanni. Parker’s sounds are on the tracks Previously and Everyday”. The story with Sainte is oddly similar resulting in production all over his 2021 EP Local Mvp.

I asked Parker Jazz to give the backstory of three of his top instrumentals. Take a read.

“Hunnids” by Sainte

“He just found a beat and bought it off my Trak Train. I reached out to say thank you, like I do with every purchase because I am fucking grateful. Then he sent me the fuckin’ demo for “Hunnids” and I was like, “WOAH, bro what the fuck?!” Then I sent him the next 15 beats that were about to drop and was like, “Go crazy, we will figure this all out when we go to release.”

I was on break driving around to it in my hometown thinking it was nuts. I had never heard a British rapper on my shit and I had been hearing them on smooth shit for so long. I was thinking I could get someone on some soul shit and he just gets on it out of nowhere. The actual beat is called Mandarin Cookies and it’s from my YouTube channel. It was my first beat to ever get over 50,000 plays I think.

I make every beat the same bro, I’m a stoner and a concentrate enthusiast and the name “Mandarin Cookies” is a strain of raw garden that I’d grabbed that week. I made the melody and drums off that and it was maybe done in 20 minutes. I make pretty much every beat melody first and start with my pianos and have a bass core sound with pads. From that I build everything else. The additional piano and guitar on top of that is all Midi and me playing on this 32 key keyboard. I try to make it sound as authentic as I can with the effects that I use. Everything I use is from Native Instruments.

Back in college I bought Complete Control Ultimate Library on some education sale for 500 bucks and it was the biggest purchase of my goddamn life. I use that same hard drive to this day.

For “Hunnids” I used vintage keys from electric piano. Then I used this group of effects I slap on pretty much every melody I put out. I have a core set of presets I use to give it my Parker Jazz sound. I’ve taken a long time to refine it, but it’s a very simple formula: chorus, lo-fi, reverb, and a fuckin’ eq. I give it my own flavor and I don’t give away all that, but I give away the main ingredients. There’s no reason for me to gatekeep a sound.

I made a project file for the melody first, then exported that as loops, so I basically sampled myself. That gives me more creative control so I can pitch shit and don’t have to stay in that tune. Grand piano, electric piano 1, electric piano 2, guitar, flute, harp, then 2 sound effects. That’s damn near the order I played those in. I like to get the main part settled then give me space to fuck around. I use the chord creator on Native Instruments. I’m not Picasso, but I can get the base down and know what note not to hit. If you find something that works for you, fuckin’ do that shit.”

See Also

“Champagne Shots” by Sainte

“That was a YouTube beat dude. I made it as a loopkit test beat. I made my loopkit, then I made that test beat to the loopkit to show you could make a beat easily to my loopkit. Then I was like, “this beat’s kinda hard,” so I put it on my channel, Sainte found that shit and went crazy on it and that’s that. I made the thing in like 5 minutes. Seeing that blossom as a demo from my loopkit to him turning it into this whole other beast is crazy.

I wrote the “Jerry Rice” melody while I was in New York on a trip to Quad Studios doing some interview shit. That was a big moment for me. I was feeling really grateful. I was like, “for all the people who bought my loopkit before I’m gonna send out 5 additional loops.” Then I made that as part of that.

I came back to it later and thought it was really fire. The beat was made the same way as “Hunnids” except with that I did the drums immediately after and with this I wrote the melody for other producers but when I made the test beat I realized I had to make my own version. I was back in LA with my little palm tree view and that was all I needed to make the drums. Then I found some footage of Jerry Rice in a Lamborghini and thought it was nuts and had to edit the shit to it. I edit stock footage that I find for my beats and try to tell a story the best that I can.”

“Free Dope” by Matty Wood$

“We were in Sarasota, Florida and Matty was visiting me there for the third time. We would just record in this spot and get high as fuck. That whole project ‘SORRY$THEWEIGHT’ was recorded mostly in Florida over those 3 trips. That one was one of the most recent and we were down to our last backwoodz, down to our last water, and had the homie on the way back with the essentials. That’s when I wrote this melody and he came in lighting up the last wood before we ran out. He heard it and was like, “oh my god bro, go crazy on these drums right now!”

Like I said, I do melody first cuz if the melody’s not right there’s no purpose in putting drums on it. You’re just painting on shit at that point. The core of it with no drums needs to be insane, and if it’s not then you gotta start over. He told me that one was insane right away so we went right to the drums. I made sure it had some thump with the kicks and thump with the slap and had some swing to it.

We were sitting there, beat blaring, and he’s lighting up the wood. I hate the smell of woodz but I’ll deal with that shit with him. I’m a dabber, concentrate is it for me. I’m workin’ and boxed in so can’t breathe for shit. Then he just starts going crazy recording and rapping about free dope cuz he’s got some on the way. It’s just so fun and it’s so playful. There are tracks that mean a lot to me, but how that one came together is just crazy.”

Follow Parker Jazz on Instagram and Twitter.
He also just produced the first track West on Sainte’s new EP Out The Blue.

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