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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week – Doug Simpson
Monday, July 20, 2009

The very first time I heard Doug Simpson’s “Freight Train” I knew there was something special about him. There was a raw energy to the song that I hadn’t heard in quite a while and it didn’t hurt that former Artist Of The Week Slim from Euphon was the one to bring him to my attention. In addition to his work as an artist, Simpson, who notes that it only made sense to him to go with his real name because “wild side, party side, tough talk, introspective side, whatever - it’s all still you,” also formed both Ironhorse Music Group and The Aqua League Beat Society. A little research turned up the info that Simpson’s production work has already been heard all over the world thanks to placements on MTV, MTV2, The Speed Network and Bravo and this week I caught up with the multitalented musician to find out more about what he’s working on now, how and why he formed The Aqua League and IHMG, and how he feels the rap game would be different if he was the most famous emcee in the world.

Adam Bernard: Start me off with the Doug Simpson story. Who is Doug Simpson? Where is he from and how did he come to be the man and artist he is today?
Doug Simpson: I am a music producer and recording artist who originated from The Bronx and is currently residing in BKNY. The producer side started up in The Bronx, but the emceeing really picked up when I got out to Brooklyn. There’s something about the creative energy in BK that’s just crazy. The Bronx brought out the innovator in me, BK brought out the gorilla.

Adam Bernard: Nice. Moving from gorillas to amphibians and equines, tell me about The Aqua League Beat Society and Ironhorse Music Group. Who is involved in these projects and how did The Aqua League and IHMG come to be?
Doug Simpson: Let me start with Ironhorse Music Group. Ironhorse Music Group was built out of necessity. In 2002 I did a song called “Superbaby,” which featured Harlem Hip-Hop duo Euphon and Bronx emcee Extra Large. We were very fortunate to have that song go out on tour with Moby during his Area2 tour dates. At the time we were running under our own production company, Don Productions, but since we weren’t affiliated with any record label it was difficult to move our music forward. This is why we decided to start our own label, Ironhorse Music Group. The goal was to incubate our music and hopefully get picked up by a major, but over time we began to realize the amount of control we had over our material’s look, feel, sound and release times. Slim (of Euphon) and I have been running IHMG ever since. The Aqua League was also conceived out of necessity. Slim and I produce everything and we referred to ourselves as The Aqua League Beat Society once we started doing projects outside of the Ironhorse Music Group walls. The Aqua League released its first all-instrumental project, The Velvet Gentleman, in the first quarter of ’09. We then released “Big City,” which was a single off of my Sketches EP, and that ended up as a featured song on Owen Smith’s live stand-up DVD, Anonymous. We followed that up with two singles, “Brooklyn Was Beautiful” and “One,” from our alternative soul singer/songwriter The Sistah, and followed that with The Repositioning, which is a compilation of some of the most talented New York-based emcees we’ve had the pleasure to work with so far.

Adam Bernard: How important is it for an artist to have a musical support system like that? What kind of advantages does it bring?
Doug Simpson: I believe it makes a world of difference to have a strong support system. I can’t tell you the number of artists we come across daily who would give their right arm just to have a solid support system like we’ve created. When you’re doing this independently you are responsible for everything - the writing, the recording, the mixing, the mastering, the graphic work, the promo push and the PR. It’s a lot of work. So you are faced with either being a monster politician in rallying folks behind your movement, or attempting to do it all yourself. As Slim would say, “if you got the skill set, then what’s the hold up? Go in!” Another thing is realizing and respecting a network and a support system when you do have one. Listen, most indie situations are not working with heavy budgets, some don’t even have the ends to create a budget with, and that’s understandable, but when you do rally folks behind your cause don’t abuse that. Utilize it and find out how you can give back instead of just taking all the time. Always look for ways to give before you receive.

Adam Bernard: That’s a great rule to live by. Moving to your music, tell me a little bit about the Sketches EP. In what ways do you view your songs as sketches?
Doug Simpson: We record a lot of material. We know we have deadlines for certain projects, whether they’re production projects or features, but our thing is to just record now, sort it out later. It has more of an immediacy when we work that way. As artists, whether we want to admit or not, there is a process. In the graphic arts world you start out with several thumbnails, followed by a mock up or a rough draft, then work towards a final polished version of your idea. Sketches was just that - the thumbnails. I’m currently working on Rough Draft, which will be the follow-up, and yes, I am also working on a full length LP entitled Portrait of a Former Self, but that probably won’t drop until the first quarter of 2010.

Adam Bernard: What do want people to feel when they put on a Doug Simpson album?
Doug Simpson: I would like folks to remember why they love music every time they listen to anything I’m associated with. Music is truly the universal language and yields so much power, if we do it right.

Adam Bernard: Finally, if you were the most famous rapper in the world how would the game be different?
Doug Simpson: If I was the most famous rapper in the world I’d be a poster boy for publishing and licensing. I am a firm believer in balance, but I believe more in education, financial education. I know it’s hard out here in this day and age, but rappers before me and unfortunately rappers after me are going to be saying the same thing, “get your money right.” Of course, as the old adage goes, you can lead a horse to water…

Related Links

Website: ironhorsemg.com
Blog: dsimpsons.blogspot.com
MySpace: myspace.com/dougsimpson


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:41 AM  
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