Hunter Brown: student, music producer, grilled cheese connoisseur, and friend.
This past week, I had the opportunity to join Hunter Brown, sophomore at Fairfield University, and his manager, Travis, for dinner. The Chelsea in downtown Fairfield was the place to be: food just as good as the company. I first met Hunter, better known on Instagram and throughout the music industry as Akachi (@AkachiBeats), last year, after designing him a pair of shoes. This past summer, Hunter made his 7th grade self very proud when he signed to the label 300 Entertainment. Hunter’s style of music and his “never give up” attitude is what sets him apart from every other “kid” making music. His beats are soft and hard at the same time. I don’t know much about music, however, I do know the difference between a song I’d skip on Spotify and a song I’d replay- and I’d put his sh*t on repeat.
This is what Hunter had to say about his experiences thus far in the music industry.
TPM- How and when did you get into music?
HUNTER- I’ve always been into music, but I started producing my own music when I was in 7th and 8th grade. I was doing EDM and house music because that’s what I was listening to. Then, I got into a new genre called festival trap, which is basically a combination between EDM and rap music. Then, that turned me to actual hard rap, like Gucci Mane and stuff like that. I started making beats when I met some friends who rapped, and they knew I could use the right software, so that’s how it started. It took me awhile to transition from EDM to rap, but, even now, I try to incorporate a lot of EDM into my music. In my music you can really hear the the influences of rap, trap, and RnB, which sets my beats apart.
TPM- What inspires you and makes you want to keep making music?
HUNTER- What inspires me the most is to keep being different, the underground of music. Everyone who tries to be mainstream and can’t, they become new artists that are so outside of the norm. I want to take a super dark artist, who makes music most people won’t listen to, and put him on something super happy and see the crazy contrast no one’s ever heard before. Or, take something really beautiful, like PnB Rock’s voice, and put him on something super gritty and dark and experiment with that. I’m in the position right now where I don’t have one specific voice and I get to experiment like that. I like to combine different styles of beats, like a happy beat and a dirty beat, then add drums and see what it sounds like. Sometimes it doesn’t sound good, but usually people argue it does.
TPM- What artists do you draw inspiration from?
HUNTER- I’m a big consumer of Brazilian jazz, I loved Vampire Weekend growing up and super cool indie bands; I like super hard trap music, like Gucci and old Chief Keef and Lil Wop; I also like EDM and aggressive dubstep. I literally like everything, except country music, but I like bluegrass music, like Johnny Cash and old country. I just like things that sound different and weird. I hate hearing things that sound just like something else. I love hearing things I’ve never heard before.
TPM- What advice would you give to people starting out in the industry?
HUNTER- So I’ve been doing music for about 5 years, and I still haven’t made it to where I’m going yet. I have a friend who is just starting out making beats (@cbasssoundss) and he is going through this right now. I remember just starting out hearing other people’s beats and thinking, “why don’t my kicks hit that hard, and why doesn’t my mix sound that clean?” You just have to keep working. I spent every single day in high school making music. I would come home from school and not talk to anyone, just do my work and then work on my music. I sacrificed so much time with friends and my girlfriend to work on this because this is what I wanted, and when you really want something, you have to make sacrifices for it. The most important thing is sacrifice–thats my advice. That’s the only way you get ahead of people, by sacrificing things. Put in a lot of work, don’t be afraid to be different, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and the most important thing is to just be yourself. Being real and genuine is really important, and make sure you surround yourself with real and genuine people too.
TRAVIS- That’s the thing about Hunter, he is so real. He genuinely puts out good music, he’s on that level. When he goes into the studio, you get Hunter Brown. When he’s working with artists, he doesn’t fake where he is from, or fake an accent, or wear fake clothes to get attention. He’s Hunter Brown: he went to High School in Sandwich, MA, he was on the sailing team, and he makes wicked good music. *points across the table* That is Hunter Brown.
A brief intermission to share Hunter’s famous grilled cheese recipe
“You take brie, sage, and apples and put that on brioche and grill it like any other grilled cheese. Butter, not mayo; never mayo, that’s trash. It’s gass, seriously so good”
TPM- What was the first set of equipment/software you ever bought?
HUNTER- First thing I ever bought was FL Studio, which is a digital audio workstation, which is where I made the beats. I used all the plugins that came with the program. I used the stock plugins for a good two and a half years. For equipment, I used my parent’s Mac desktop they didn’t use, which is still in my basement, and is so full with beats it barely runs. I couldn’t afford anything else. For a while I was making beats on the speakers of the Mac desktop, you can imagine how they sounded. Then, I bought myself Rocketcare K monitors, which are like industry style standard, and I built myself a studio, and it went up from there.
TMP- Where did you build your studio?
HUNTER- I built my first studio in my pool shed. I bought sound foam and paneled it up. I had my Mac desktop in there with my speakers, with a mic for my rapper friend. It was a terrible place for a studio, and the music sounded awful, but that was the first place I ever had a studio. I’ve had two pool shed studios, one recently, and one before.
TRAVIS- You know what’s funny is that he had that first studio, which was really just a pool shed, and then he had another studio in a pool shed that was bought for the purpose of being a studio. The second one was so loud that the neighbors called the cops a bunch of times. We ended up reestablishing in our friend’s (@cbasssounds) pool house, which ended up working out because unlike the original two pool sheds, this one was built into the ground and we haven’t had any issues. Now it has an air conditioner, fans, tables, a tv, an xbox, a switch, monitors, computers, a piano, a yogibo, and a dj board. It literally has everything we need. It’s a place where we all spend all of our time.
TPM- What are a a few lessons you’ve learned about producing music that others could take advice from?
HUNTER- One, be careful with who you collab with at first. I have a lot of current songs out that no one knows I produced. Plans, by PnB Rock, I produced, some Soulja Boy songs I produced, a bunch of different songs. I really wanted to get into the industry and I wanted placements, but I quickly realized that people who said they were really looking out for me, weren’t. There was this guy who I would send beats to for the purpose of collabing on, and he is a really talented drummer in the industry, but he would not put my tag on it and then send it to big artists. I got finessed out of a lot of money and credit, so be careful of that. You want to collab a lot, but find the right people. I’ve collabed with a lot of people, like DJ Plug, who made Lil Uzi’s fureal, and Bobbi Critical. I literally said one day on twitter “DJ Plug we should work” and he responded and was like, “Ok, let’s do some collabs.” Paying for collabs is critical when you’re starting. I’ve invested a lot of money into this, but you have to spend money to make it. I buy my own equipment, so even if I don’t have any money, I can make money in the future. Invest in yourself. It’s also important to build relationships. Don’t just be like, “Hey bro can you get me a song with this person?” You really need to go to the person and try to connect with them. There's a big pathos aspect- if you actually connect with these people, they’re way more willing to help you out. Don’t ask, and just genuinely want to help people out. Also- this is really important. A lot of these people you’re going to be working with actually do the things they talk about doing in their music, they don’t fake being what they are. We have been around some bad people. Take risks, but be safe, it’s a dangerous business. You don’t want to get ripped off or physically hurt. So, invest in yourself, build relationships, be weary of where you send your music, and be careful.
TPM- What was the process like getting signed?
HUNTER- So, I first got reached out to via an Instagram DM by a guy named Michael Q, he’s an A&R for 300ent. He finds people in the industry and connects them to artists and works with both sides in the studio. He makes the music with the artists. He reached out to me and was like, “I’d love to do some stuff, me, you and Dex.” I had worked with Dex, but only through email. I started sending stuff to Michael and ended up getting a bunch of songs with Dex. I remember one time actually walking back from the Tully (shoutout FairfieldU) and he was like, “I want to call you”, and he said he wanted to sign me. He told me to come to 300 for a meeting. I was so nervous, I don’t really know the music industry, and every other offer I had received had been low balled, and I was really skeptical. I headed into the city and he messaged me and was like, “Actually, I’m with Dex in the studio, just come through.” I freaked out. I walked in and told the secretary I was there for 300 and she brought me to the studio. I walked in, and this was before I even had an offer, and there was Famous Dex, just sitting there, kicked back, smoking a J. That was the first time, other than PnB Rock, I had ever seen a rapper I actually listen to. Dex was like “Who is this kid?” and he started freaking out to Michael, so I got super nervous. I basically said, “Dex, I know we’ve never met before, but we have a lot of music together” and he was like, “Nah dude, I’m just playing with you” and he got up and dabbed me up. I was so uncomfortable and he got up and started recording a song, so I told Michael I was going to work on some beats for Dex. When I finished up, I came back in and I was so nervous about this part, but I was like “Hey Dex can I play you some beats.” He said yes, which was such a relief. The first beat I played he hopped on, second beat I played he hopped on, third beat I played he hopped on. I didn’t have to skip a single thing and I made them on the spot. This caught Michael’s attention and he brought me into the break room and basically said he wanted to sign me. After that, Dex shouted me out and I got a bunch of followers and a lot of love. I asked Dex for a picture, because… he’s Dex, and he called me his brother. There’s a transition between fan and coworker, but once you build the bridge, you can be like I f*ck with your music and still be bros. The hardest thing was going back to school the next day. His lawyer sent me a contract, and it took about three months to look over with my lawyer. I signed my contract on June 22nd.
*** interview gets interrupted by Chief Keef's producer facetiming Hunter
TPM- What’s next for you?
HUNTER- I want to own my own label, you can expect a single with Slim Jim Kenny, 10K Kash, and Dex coming soon. I have a lot of music coming soon with Famous Dex and PnB Rock, and some young thug in the future. We literally want to work with everybody. We aren’t going to stop working. Let’s leave it with this, a day before I got my Rae Sremmurd song I never thought I was going to get a Rae Sremmurd song.
I would like to thank Hunter Brown and his Manager Travis for taking the time out of their crazy life to sit down and talk with me. To my readers- keep an eye out for Hunter Brown and Akachi Beats, because he’s going places.