Producer Spotlight – Gafacci

Gafacci has steadily built up an impressive production catalog over the past 9 years and is currently a key part of the Electronic project Jowaa. He gave us an interesting insight into his early beginnings, influences and current sound.
How did you get into music production?
 My dad is a musician so I pretty much grew up around music. However it wasn’t something I aspired to do. I always wanted to be a painter, graphic designer or basically something that involved fine art but in 2008, I decided to put school on hold to  figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. I was going through a somewhat directionless phase, was pretty bored with life and realized I wasn’t nurturing any skill I could look back and be proud of. Then I saw a friend of mine called Smoque play around with Fruity Loops and got intrigued. I asked him if I could have the setup file and he gave it to me but I forgot to ask him how to use it LOL.
How did you learn?
 Youtube is my main chick! I am naturally a very curious person and also a fast learner. Every night I would get on youtube and watch tutorials by a kid named Almane Lo. Everything about the process of making beats was so fascinating to me and I realized then that I would love to take this as more than a hobby.
What were some of the challenges you faced starting out?
 Basically I had no personal computer when I started out. I used to use every computer I could get my hands on. One time I got kicked out of a room my buddies and I used to hang out in because according to the guy who owned the place, I was always using his laptop to create “whack” loops LOL! Fun fact, I made most of the beats on Dblack’s first album at an Internet Cafe.
Where did you turn to for help?
 I asked my dad to link me up with a sound engineer called Waxi who lived in my neighborhood. Quick background, Waxi is the engineer behind VVIP’s Skolom, Castro’s Seihor, and basically all of my hit songs. He gave me a lot of the technical training that I needed to get properly started. That same year, I happened to take a friend to master a song at Kaywa’s studio. I was blown away by how he worked and asked him if I could be his intern. He agreed and there I also met a producer by the name Streetsbeats who taught me how to record commercial songs. These people played very key roles in giving me what I needed to propel me to the next stage of my career as a producer.
How long did it take for you to develop an ear for what sounded really great?
 To be honest, I am still developing that ear but I just know what isn’t going to work for my production style or for a project that I am working on.
Do you trash beats you don’t like?
I had the habit of deleting beats I wasn’t feeling till an artist called Chase told me “yo you don’t need to do that. Not every beat has to be the one.” I took his advice but let’s just say I have trashed more beats than I have stored on my hard-drive.
Do you have a signature sound? What influences your sound today.
With the wide range of songs I have produced it’s really hard to say I have a signature sound. The same guy who produced Chase’s Lonely, made Dee Moneey‘s Kpokpo O Body, so yeah I would definitely say I don’t have a signature sound.
I listen to quite a lot of different genres of music and my influences come from all these genres I immerse myself in. Anything that has the capability to make some sort of sound plays a huge role in my influencing my productions. I also draw a lot of inspiration from my experiences growing up in La.
What was that pivotal moment in your journey that made you feel like “yo I might really have a shot at this. I could be on to something here”
 That would be when I heard my mom ( may she rest in peace ) proudly tell a friend of hers that I was a producer. In the beginning she never liked the idea of me doing music, so that was a defining moment for me spiritually and mentally.
What DAWs have you tried out and what made you decide to stick with your current DAW?
I currently use FL Studio to make all my beats mainly because of the work flow and how easily accessible it is in most Ghanaian studios. I used to mainly record vocals in Cubase but recently I have been doing that in FL Studio for most of JOWAA’s songs because of how minimal the Vox bits are on those songs. I also use Ableton alongside the AKAI APC 40 when I play live for JOWAA. In my opinion Ableton Live is the holy grail of DAWs for live performance situations.
Akai APC40

Akai APC40

Talk us through your typical workflow from idea development to conception.
I don’t really have a typical workflow. One time I could start out by arranging drums first and another time I could start out with a melody but one thing I am fond of doing is playing the bass last. I normally do that because I find it a bit tedious to mix a beat when I start out with the bass.
Drums, Melody or Bass-line, which one is most important to you in a song.
I find drums the most important in my productions, especially for the kind of music I make these days. I have always loved how percussionists can make you move just by playing congas and such. Fun fact, I love to dance when I’m alone in my room, so yeah drums definitely play a vital role in my music.
Typically how many beats do you make in a day?
I used to make 7 to 10 beats in a day. These days it has come down to about 3 beats in a week and that would probably be because of other responsibilities that I have.
What is the fastest time you’ve made a song that has gone on to become huge and what song was it?
 I produced Chase’s song Lonely in under an hour but then it took us quite some time to fine tune the song for release.
 Composing, Arranging, Mixing or Mastering…What part of the production process do you find the most tedious or challenging and how do you get through it?
 Mastering is the most challenging part of production for me because I am a bit of a perfectionist when I create. It could be anything from getting the pads to sound just right or finding the perfect rhythm before I even save the project LOL. I have found that the best way for me to get the most out of what I do is to collaborate with mix and mastering engineers. I am a lot more satisfied with a project when I can rely on the input of some really good engineers. These days, Max Le Daron mixes all our JOWAA projects and he is kicking ass!
Do you have anything you do to deal with creative blocks? How and where do you find inspiration to make music.
Sometimes I deal with creative blocks by going back to La just to hang out with my buddies out there. They give me the vibes man! Also I find that actively listening to music helps. Recently I went on a very long road trip and properly immersed myself in music throughout that journey. I hadn’t done that in a long time. Between 2015 and 2016 I was just hearing music and not actually listening to it so doing that during this trip was some much needed therapy.
How long have you ever gone in the studio making music without going home?
I am a studio rat. I can’t tell but I’m pretty sure I have gone a couple of months in the studio at a time!
What piece of software could you not live without?
I can’t live without Cubase because taking vocals is very essential to what I do.
What are some of your favorite plugins to use these days.
I love Nexus and all the expansion packs that come with it!
What is your current studio set-up?
My current setup consists of an iMac and M-Audio speakers, alongside an Audio Technica P48 condenser microphone and a Focusrite 2i2 new generation audio interface. I am a pretty mobile person so this is my favorite setup to work with. These days I work from Akwaaba Music’s Last Chance Studio. My dream setup will probably look something like Steve Aoki‘s studio but set in Aburi and overlooking the city of Accra 🙂
Steve Aoki's Studio

Steve Aoki’s Studio

Name five local and international producers and artistes you rate and why.
Local producers I rate will be Kuvie, Juls, North, Master Garzy and Rvdical Da Kid who I just discovered thanks to you guys at Beat Phreaks. International producers DJ Coublon, Nasty C, Altims and Mike Will Made It. I rate all these producers because they are very unique and know their shit.
For artists, I rate South Africa’s Ricky Rick for his fashion sense and how audible he is on rap songs. I love Nigeria’s Tekno, who is not just a singer but a multi-instrumentalist as well. I love the Ghanaian artist Darko Vibes. Check out his Mercy track and you’ll get what I mean! I’m happy to translate the content of the song if you don’t understand the language. Also I love Sena Dagadu for her versatility and then finally Rihanna because show me someone who doesn’t like Rihanna and I will quit music and go study medicine just to cure that person LOL.
Is there anything you know now that you wish someone had told you when you were just getting into production or probably before you got your first major song?
Create your own lane but lose the ego.
What are some of your challenges today as a producer.
One of my biggest challenges today as a producer especially working in Ghana is getting up and coming artists to understand that music production is a profession and not a non-profit organization. Artists love the creation process but get cold feet when you want to talk business.
Have you received royalties from any of the songs you’ve produced so far?
I haven’t received any royalties so far because I haven’t yet made it on a scale that can fetch me royalties but I have been a member of PRS which is a royalty collection society, for four years.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
That would be when I was a data entry personnel at a Microfinance company LOL! Sad times
What’s your most memorable studio session?
In 2010 I worked on the Ghanaian B.E.T cypher and that was quite nerve-wracking because I was so new in the game and had to work with all these prominent artistes at the time.
What advice would you give to anyone who is getting started in production?
I would say learn from the best and surround yourself with a good team of people. Listen to what everyone has to say but be very picky about whose advice you take. Work on your weaknesses but don’t be hard on yourself. Figure out what you are good at and make the best of it. Don’t plagiarize, and give credit where is due. Also last but not least, back up your projects on the cloud! Google Drive and Dropbox will save your life!
Follow Gafacci on Twitter, Soundcloud and Instagram
Follow the Jowaa Project on Twitter, Soundcloud and Instagram