Hailing from Washington DC, Garrett Chazz Oliver, widely recognized as Chazz Oliver or Chazz O, has made his mark in the New York Tri-State area and around the world throughout his illustrious music career. An invaluable period spent working alongside renowned producers Kashif and Nile Rodgers has honed his expertise and business acumen. For Chazz Oliver, music is not just a profession but an integral part of his identity, representing a profound connection to his being. With a profound passion and dedication, Chazz Oliver continues to evolve as a respected music producer, weaving his unique soundscapes into the tapestry of the industry.
How did it all begin for you? Take us back to the start.
Funny you ask. I have come from a very musical family. My cousins were always in bands. My dad is an amazing singer and my mom is super creative. My great-grandfather played the piano by ear. So I’ve always been around music. When I was about 7, my dad bought me my first drum set and I took some lessons. When I was about 12, my mother bought me a little casio keyboard and I taught myself how to play. Later, I made a bass guitar in shop and taught myself how to play that. After that I just kept picking up instruments and learned how to play them. Next thing you know I was writing songs.
What’s the most challenging part of being a Music Producer?
I would have to say not getting in the way of the creative process. Magic happens in the moment. You can’t force it. I would also say that as a producer you have to wear many hats. Each artist needs something different from you and you have to adapt to get the best out of them.
What is the one thing every song must have for it to be solid?
You have to have a great hook. Something that is very catchy. Everyone sings loud when the hook comes on because they know that part so make it good.
Do you have a favorite project that you have produced? If so, tell us why?
That’s a hard one because each project is special in it’s own way. If I had to pick one I guess I would have to say the project I did with a female artist by the name of Ja’Niah. We were just totally in sync during the writing process. It just flowed and the vibe in the studio was just great.
With so many people working from home now, how did you make the transition from working in commercial studios to working at home?
For me it was very easy because I always had some type of home recording setup. I needed that so if something hit me in the middle of the night I could just get up and record it. I’ve been lucky to work around some very talented engineers like Gary Tole and Alec Head, so when I was ever in the commercial studios I would learn everything that I could. I tell people all the time that I am not an engineer, I’m just a producer that knows how to engineer.
“I would also say that as a producer you have to wear many hats. Each artist needs something different from you and you have to adapt to get the best out of them.”
I’ve been told that there is always some sort of challenge in music production. In your experience, what would you say are 3 major challenges and how can you overcome them?
First is knowing what you as a producer can bring to the project. There are projects that I have turned down because I didn’t feel that I could make it better or that I was the right producer for that song. You have to be able to let go of your ego. The second challenge is dealing with the lack of focus or direction. Some artists are all over the place. You have to help them find their center and focus that creative energy. The last challenge I would say is trying to do too much or over producing. You don’t have to put everything into that one song. Let it have some space to breathe.
Music Production rates vary widely - from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. What should a musician / band / label look for while shopping for a music producer? What should a musician expect to be provided when hiring a music producer?
Money shouldn't be the first thing you think about. You need to know if you can vibe with that producer. If you don’t click and if they don’t understand what you are trying to create, then I don’t care how much money you spend, It just won’t sound or feel right. You also have to ask yourself what are you looking for that producer to do? Are they just producing the song? Are they writing the song? Are they helping you find your sound? A lot goes into finding the right producer.
The industry has changed so much. What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into being a music producer?
Learn how to play an instrument. Learn some music theory. Learn how to engineer. You need to understand how all of this goes hand-in-hand. You also need to learn about the business. They call it the music business for a reason. The biggest thing is to learn how to be humble. Your idea is not the only one that matters.
I know that there is an abundant amount of production equipment and gear available. What are your top 5 favorite music production must-haves?
For me my Rhodes Mark II stage piano, my Fender acoustic guitar, my Mac with Reason and Pro Tools, Neuman U87 mic and Neve 1073 Pre Amp. I could go on.
Tell me a little-known fact. Do you sing in the shower? What songs?
I don’t because I’m always rushing to get in and out. I have two daughters who love to use up all the hot water. You can catch me singing in the car. What ever comes on I will sing it.