Treat yourself like a business. Not just with your dedicated funds and budgeting, but talk about what you’re doing just like you would if you owned a restaurant, bar, or other small business. Let people know who you are and what you do!
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Pace.maker.
Pace.maker is a producer, artist, battle rapper, and lover of all things hip-hop. He is one of the three founding members of the music collective Midnight District, comprised of himself, Solstice, and AnthonyJsenseI, based in Birmingham, Alabama.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in a small town called Red Level, Alabama. I’ve always been a musician, played instruments and toured as a southern gospel singer in my youth, and then moved to Birmingham when I was 12.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
The pivotal moment for me was making my first EP of original songs. It was a pop project I did my sophomore year of college. Having the opportunity to sit in the mixing sessions, picking the brains of super talented engineers and musicians, taught me how to manipulate the music. After this, I knew I could write and record radio-ready material.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One of the most interesting experiences of my career, and one that taught me a ton, was recording my second single. I did it under my government name before rebranding as Pace.maker. Still, I had the opportunity to spend three days in a small studio in Franklin, Tennessee, with Andrew Bergthold and Shannon McArthur. We put together an incredible record inside of a barn, and I got to experience what making music in the professional world was. Those guys taught me a lot of tricks and gave me a lot of wisdom.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Honestly, the funniest mistakes I made were when I was first learning how to mix and record. It was super frustrating at the time, but I looked back on these mistakes and laugh. I was getting great hands-on experience by making awful-sounding mixes and then readjusting them until they were *okay*. Studio sessions with the Midnight District guys always lead themselves to stupid humor. There are way less technical mistakes now, but it does get super goofy when we’re all in the same room.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m excited for some of Cleveland’s upcoming battles on December 5th on ROBR and an upcoming date in NYC against a well-known opponent. I’m also in the beginning stages of an album that I plan on releasing next year.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I am very passionate about this. Being a white artist in a black-originated, black-dominated, and black-reflective art form, I think diversity in the arts teaches us three huge things:
1. Art is reflective of experience; to see diversity in art is to see an assortment of perspectives.
2. The ability to tell stories and create is innately human. It equalizes and makes us all voices, devoid of influence until someone chooses to listen. Choosing to listen to diverse voices means open-mindedness, free of judgment, meeting the storyteller where they’re at, on their terms.
3. Diversity in art shows us that art never peaks. It didn’t reach its pinnacle in a certain period; it didn’t die out. Amazing, nuanced, gifted artists are making art at any given time at any given place, all with their own unique stories to tell. Seek it out, engage with it, let it inform your worldview and the things that you create, genuinely.
Giving equal weight to all art is a massive part of the key to equality. Life reflects art and vice versa.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. It’s 20% of the music you make and 80% how you present it and tell others about it.
2. Hold on tightly; let go lightly. Take your ideas, and run with them to your heart’s content, put out the music you want to put out. But always be open to a reevaluation of your content and your approach.
3. Treat yourself like a business. Not just with your dedicated funds and budgeting, but talk about what you’re doing just like you would if you owned a restaurant, bar, or other small business. Let people know who you are and what you do!
4. Put together a great team of like-minded individuals who will keep you accountable and challenge you to be the best version of yourself.
5. (Piggybacking from 3&4) Own your means of production. As much as you can teach yourself, do it. Learn how to mix a vocal, learn how to make a basic beat. But your equipment to record, your camera to take pictures. When you do end up working with others, you are immediately more valuable. You know enough to communicate what you want, but don’t entirely rely on anyone not in your circle. If you own it, you can always do it yourself.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Recognize that your art is a reflection of the integrity of your process. Find what you love, and do it with the utmost integrity and respect for the craft. Expand your toolbox of technique and always try new things; you will still be captivated by new facets of your craft the deeper you dive.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire any global movement, I think it would be humanism. Not in the textbook, godless, dictionary definition, but inspiring people to look at others wholistically. People are so complex and contradictory. When others really empathize and see people as testaments to their past and catalysts for their best future, we will stop treating each other so unjustly, especially those of color. Racial inequality is the most significant social issue that keeps us as Americans from genuinely being a country that reaches our full potential.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
A few people, actually! The engineer that inspired me to learn engineering and production is Kevin Derryberry, and after him was Andrew Bergthold. Both are amazing guys that did great work for me; I can’t speak highly enough about both of them. My “big brother” in music, Shannon McArthur, found me at a weird point in my early career where I was still figuring out what I was going to do and make. He not only shot me straight about my content and gave me helpful strategies to advance my career; he also poured into me as a person. He became invested in helping me truly express what I had to say.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.” No matter how naturally gifted I am, I have to surround myself with motivation to continue innovating and creating. Knowing your creative process is a big part of the work, but pushing through tough times to continue making art achieves consistency. That makes your talent come more naturally.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
My all-time favorite artist and producer is Jon Bellion. His music set me down the path to getting into production. He’s talented in so many ways yet always remains humble, and I think that’s why he keeps getting better and better.
How can our readers follow you online?
Instagram- @pace.makerprod and @midnightdistrict_
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!