H Eighty Eight is an engineer, producer, entrepreneur, and co-founder of The Sound Gallery Studios. As a Philadelphia native and former Temple student, he has been consistent in establishing himself in creative fields in the area. His company The Sound Gallery specializes in artist discovery, live events, and recording studios. Since the beginning in 2012, they have opened two active studio locations in addition to curating over 100
How/When did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
First and foremost, I want to give a shoutout to Icy Thoughts Magazine for having me.
My introduction to the music game, like many people, I was an artist. I was in about sixth grade when I really fell in rap. I just recall linking up with my homie Marcus Black, who also founded The Sound Gallery. I don’t know how the fuck we did it, but somehow we got this beat-making software back in the day. It was called Hip-Hop DJ and it had drum loops and pre-made sample loops on it. That was my introduction to it, as an artist, making beats, as a youngbull making music in my room cooking up. As I got older, that was the one thing that kept consistent. I always did music. Even when I got to Temple, I was recording people around the neighborhood because I always had a studio setup.
One day when I was working my typical 9-5 office job and I was like yo, this isn’t for me. I’ve been doing music my whole life and I’ve never been afraid to take risks. So, Marcus Black and I just decided to go ahead and open up the studio we’ve been talking about doing for years. We just decided to make it happen. We opened it up, it was a struggle at first and it was slow. But after the first year and a half to to two years I always able to quit my job and everything just unfolded from there.
What is everything The Sound Gallery offers?
The Sound Gallery is a music company. We specialize in artist discovery, curating shows and events, and of course the studio.
With artist development, nobody really focuses on the developmental part of being an artist in the industry anymore since everything has become sort of DIY, which is great, but a lot of artists skip that part. If artists near our locations in Philadelphia, PA or Tampa, FL want to really take advantage of what we have to offer, we can help. Some of the things we offer are putting them on shows, getting them booked on tours, and getting them promotion on different outlets and cultivating their sound in the studio. We take the artist from the point of creating the music, all the way to performing the music on stage, while showing them how to monetize it.
In Sound Gallery events, what role do you play?
I’m Co-Founder in the company and also the creative director. As far as the events I have a big role in everything. From picking the artists to curating the lineup, promoting the show, and sometimes even making the flyer. I pretty much do everything creatively for how it will be perceived. And once the show starts, my job is done. We have an event coordinator, Anna and we have a team that we’ve been rocking with and it’s been successful thus far.
We throw a lot of shows, with more established artists and indie artists. My personal favorite artists recently have been from the younger guys, it’s almost like a punk-rock culture where they’re jumping in the crowd. Like Ignant Youth, Spurt Mob, shit it’s a lot of great performers I don’t want to miss somebody. I just like that new young energy, it’s an aesthetic. If you really think about it, punk-rock and hip-hop share the same vibe. And it’s great that more rappers are incorporating that sound into their music. For a long time rappers would just stand on a stage and just rap. But now, they’re turning up, they got bands backing them and it’s more of a performance.
Do you feel engineering comes natural to you?
At this point it comes natural. Engineering is just like making beats, it’s just like playing basketball, it’s just like cooking food. The more you do it, the easier it’ll become. I’ve been recording music since like sixth grade. I just remember doing it myself on a shitty mic. I used to go to radioshack get the five dollar cheap ass USB mic. I was reading up on everything on the internet like how to make a pop filter with a coat hanger and a durag.
With engineering, every engineer has the same tools but it’s about your personal ear and what you want. Just like every artist has that same blank canvas.
What would be your advice for someone trying to start their own studio?
If you’re going to start a studio. Definitely know how to engineer because you want to kind of carve out the sound and set the precedent for other engineers. That’s like someone starting as a restaurant with really no cooking experience. It would be a lot easier to execute with experience actually doing it yourself. And keep it mind, its 2017. The game has changed and a lot of people can record in their house. So its like, you don’t need $100,000 worth of equipment if you want to start your own studio. Its ways to make stuff sound that good without spending all of that overhead. Take advantage of technology.
What is AMRCNFRSH?
AMRCNFRSH is lifestyle brand. We’re gonna have merch, apparel, and even homeware, some dope shit for the crib. It’s another natural extension of things that I like. Once I monetized the Sound Gallery and saw how to start a business and grow it to make it work full-time, it’s like the sky’s the limit. So I’m just going to keep doing whatever I feel like doing. If it’s apparel, apps, I’m about to get into a whole bunch of other industries outside of just music. So AMRCNFRSH, we’re dropping a collection this Fall for sure, the website will be up. Keep an eye out for that.
What else do you have coming up?
As far as The Sound Gallery, we got some events coming up, A3C, and we’re already planning for SXSW. For 2018 I’m trying to take everything I’m doing, keep expanding it and touch new cities. We want to open a studio in Atlanta and definitely some events out of the country. It sounds really cliche, but you can really do anything that you want. If you have one idea, you can execute it and make it successful. The sky’s the limit. The challenge is, you can only go as far as you take yourself. You gotta be extremely focused, extremely disciplined. Because they’re nobody that will hold your hand and take it as far as you can. Everything is a process. In a few years, there is going to be a Sound Gallery in every major city.
Shoutout to everyone reading this. Time waits for no one. Whatever the fuck you want to do, make sure you start that shit asap, immediately, right now. Because like I said, everything is process, you gotta respect that and appreciate the process. So the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be where you want to be.
Every Monday night I got a show called The Earplugs with DJ Young Legend. It airs on XXL’s Dash Radio from 10pm – Midnight Eastern Time.
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