Every super producer in the music game started somewhere on the grind to the top. Super talent Miykal Snoddy is a classically trained musician who put in years of groundwork to sit on his perch at the top. His path to music greatness is one that up-and-coming musicians and producers should follow as they look to climb the ranks in the music industry. The Chicago native first started his musical journey as a violinist and pianist. He also grew up listening to his father play guitar during jam sessions with his band and studied classical music up to his college years. Snoddy currently resides in Atlanta where he has composed hit songs for household names such as Sean “Diddy” Combs and Drake (“Loving You No More”), Estelle and Janelle Monae (“Do My Thing), Lupe Fiasco and Trey Songz (“Out of My Head”, and Ludacris feat Ty Dolla Sign (“Vitamin D”) to name a few. He has also worked with global brands such as Coca-Cola and TJ Maxx, but as we all know, the trip to the top isn’t easy, and Snoddy had to start somewhere and build up to these types of accomplishments.
Snoddy counts his upbringing in the city of Chicago within a musical family as the key to crafting his appetite for the art. His musical influences ultimately helped nurture his desire to pursue a career as a composer and producer, as well as develop a rare dynamic influence on the music production process. “One of my visions is to create new genres and uses for music,” he says. “I’m a believer that you can still take an instrumental track all the way to the #1 slot in the Billboard Hot 100 if you’ve got the right hook.”
Armed with diverse musical knowledge, tenacity, and determination, Miykal Snoddy continues to work at making his vision for music a reality. “The last things on this earth will be Water and Music,” he says.
His unique sphere of music production within the business speaks for itself and continues to seal his name as an industry powerhouse. Snoddy recently sat down with me to speak about some of the stories behind his most notable singles and career opportunities, including a story in Hawaii working on Kanye’s 808 Heartbreak album which sparked Lil Wayne’s Rock Star album and opened the door for artists like Drake to show emotion in their music. Finally, he speaks about his involvement with the motion-comic web series Califia and the Timeless Sentries.
Can you talk about how your upbringing in Chicago has influenced your work as a musician and producer?
Growing up in Chicago you understand music to the core because you understand music portrays a lifestyle. It was underground house music that started in Chicago that was strictly made off a feeling. Although there is a formula to make, but you make it based on your feelings. and when you do that you will have greatness and that is what I got out of Chicago.
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in music full-time?
During my first year at Columbia College, I studied for a business management degree with a minor in music. Once I realized that I knew all the music techniques, I ended up taking an internship at Frank Thomas’ record label in my freshman year, and I knew at that time what I wanted to do. I was already in the field and felt it was no longer necessary for me to go to school because I could not learn anything else regarding making music. I just needed to know how the business side of it worked, and I decided to drop out of school and started working from there.
You are a classically trained pianist and violinist. As someone that comes from such a well-studied musical background, why do you feel that there is not the emphasis on the arts as it once was?
I still think that classical music is my favorite type of music and I would say that there is not much of an emphasis on it because of radio. There is a classical presence when it comes to being in films and television, so that mood will always be around. The commerciality of popular music, I don’t think it is as exciting as the entertainment side of watching someone play the piano or a violin. Popular music is something that I like, but it’s not as exciting as someone with big hair playing the guitar. I still think it is a great art form, but I think the overall shock value is not as entertaining as the classical sound, but I think it will last the test of time.
When you were composing songs like Loving You No More, Do My Thing, Out of My Head, and Vitamin D, what was going through your mind during the beginning stages of the creative process?
Two of those tracks started in Hawaii working with Kanye West on 808 and Heartbreak at the time. It was kind of an escape getaway period, and that was the first album where he rapped and sang. They started from a business standpoint and then transitioned into the collaboration having good energy to make the artists feel something. The whole vibe on that album was from the mindset of let’s break away from the rules and norm. Let’s go back to the way we did things back in Chicago by creating based on how things feel and not be influenced by the things around us. We were able to escape the environment around us and incorporate those feelings, as opposed to creating based on something we were dealing with. I think that is why some of those songs came out so special. The collaboration included work with Ty Dolla $ign, Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Ludacris, and Lupe Fiasco to name a few.
A lot of fans have mixed reactions to the 808 album. What is your take on it as opposed to other albums he made throughout his career?
That album I feel really started to show the genius of Kanye West because he was not seen as a lyricist. He was able to show his creativity as an artist, and I think that was pivotal for him. Even though he did not say why we were in Hawaii, because the first two weeks they did Jay-Z’s album, and then they did Kanye’s for two weeks with influences coming in from Drake, Lil Wayne, and T-Pain. After that album, we saw Lil Wayne release his Rebirth album changing his whole vibe and opening the door sparking Drake’s career. 808 showcased emotion in hip-hop and then Drake came in and perfected it. I feel that album did a lot more than the commercial sales indicated.
Who are the individuals you considered to be a mentor at the beginning of your career?
Regarding classical music, I was influenced by Beethoveen and No ID was influential as far as the music business and production. No ID was who I started with when I moved to Atlanta. Just watching him and how he interacted with artists showed me the true art of being a producer. he is He is also the one that brought me to the Kanye sessions. He showed me what it was like to be a great producer making beats. So, I need to give him credit for that.
You will be involved with providing some scoring for the upcoming web series Califia and the Timeless Sentries. Can you talk us through this process and what the difference is between composing music for a soundtrack in comparison to an album?
For me, it is two different processes. When “Kieth L.Underwood” brought this great script to me and concept. I was able to connect with it right away because I am a fan of sci-fi. Any entertainment that can take you out of your element when you listen to the story are things that I enjoy. So, with the script for “Califia and the Timeless Sentries,” I am creating a vibe during certain scenes when they are fighting and other actions that will be performed in the series. It is fun to make music for an artist as well, but you must know who the artist is to make music that scores their life. Sometimes that could be interesting, and on the other hand, it is trying to make a story that might not fit them. So, working on a project like this, the story is already there, and it is a much smoother process.
During the creation process were you more focused on the melody or the beat?
Definitely the melody! It takes you somewhere without being too scientific, it is a matter of getting from A to B. A is a point but when you go to B what you see is what happened along that journey. That is what takes you along and the next thing you know you have a song or music.
You have also been a part of campaigns for Coca-Cola and TJ Maxx in the past. Typically, how long does it take to finish before they are presented to the public?
It varies. The Coca-Cola campaign was for the holidays, and I had the opportunity to work with Ne-Yo. I created the track, and it was only a 15 to 20-second jingle. It paid well. After I created it, Coca-Cola used the spot maybe three weeks later. The collaboration with TJ Maxx was based on a previous single I released, and all I had to do is change a couple of things upon their request. TJ Maxx had to submit a request to use the singles, and a few weeks later it was used in the TJ Maxx campaign.
Chance the Rapper recently bought the Chicagoist, Derrick Rose started a scholarship program, and LeBron James just launched his I Promise School. Have you thought about opening an institution focusing on training aspiring creatives and giving them an alternative to running the streets of Chicago?
Absolutely! Although I live in Atlanta, with the recent shootings the youth needs something to do in the city of Chicago. I think music is a great outlet to use and they just need to know how to utilize it properly and responsibly. I like the drill of music, and the lyrics of the music shows that they are trying to use as an escape, but not to further themselves. So, I think if they had a school that taught them what it is all about and how to use the excellent music coming out of Chicago as a positive instead of a negative. I thought about public studios inside of libraries, which will get kids in the libraries and maybe we can provide the free curriculum to help ensure a positive environment. Plus, the kids can have a hangout space in the library, instead of hanging out in the streets or the back alleyways.
In your opinion how important is owning your own business in today’s climate?
I think it is mandatory if you plan on making a living from working for yourself, it’s a must. It is just the same as if you were going to make clocks and you work for Swatch or start your own company. You can be on somebody’s else dime, or you can be working for yourself. It means, where do you see yourself in the long run? The music market and sound changed but being that I own my company I can navigate through the climate. If I were working for a different company, I would be at their mercy.