From producing “6 inch” for Beyonce’s Lemonade, French Montana’s “Lockjaw” to The Weeknd’s hits like “Party Monster”, Ben Billions‘ resume is as impeccable as his work ethic. With new hits being formed, there are masterful craftsmen that low-key play the biggest role in shaping our culture and sound today. Ben Billions is one of those names. With The Weeknd’s latest album “Starboy” topping charts and being played on the radio at all times, Ben Billions has become on of the hottest producers to look out for this year. Along with everything else, he is also responsible for Yo Gotti’s “Down In The DM” proving he is far from a one-hit wonder. Word on road is XO‘s latest signee NAV is currently in the studio working with him as well. He was able to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to speak to us about his passion for music and where he’s headed next.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I was born in Delaware. I started making beats at 15. Moved to Florida in 2004 to go to Fullsail for Engineering school. Interned at Circle House Studios and became head engineer there before leaving to work with Khaled. I was Khaled’s engineer for 10 years and worked on every project he put out. I quit being his engineer about 2 years ago and Khaled is now my manager.
Has production always been your passion?
Yes. Production is art. I just love the idea of coming to studio with nothing and leaving with something tangible.
You have produced for some of the biggest names in the music industry. Your latest work includes The Weeknd’s album Starboy. Production on “Party Monster”, “6 FT Under”, “All I know”, and “Nothing Without You” was outstanding. What was it like working with The Weeknd?
Over the past few years I got very close with Abel , Belly and the whole XO team. They brought me in and treated me like family. We worked closely on “Beauty Behind the Madness” and “Starboy” projects. They are very loyal people and have a vision for what their music should sound like and how they want it presented. Abel is a perfectionist and he lives in the studio. That’s why we bonded so well because our work ethics are similar. He is passionate about his craft and will work as long as it takes till he is satisfied with the end result. When you work with talented people that know what they are looking for it makes your job that much easier.
Every producer has his favorites which one was your favorite production out of all the tracks you’ve produced for The Weeknd?
I personally love all the music we made but “Often” might still be my favorite. It was the first time we had worked together and the vibe of the session was amazing. We were at Circle House Studio (where I first started my career) and the session went on for 48 hours straight. We left there with 2 songs “Often” and the what would later become ” Pulling Up” for Meek Mill. “Often” just felt fresh it didn’t sound like anything else at the time. The sample felt like some Nas shit and then the drums were disrespectfully knocking. Once Abel laid his vocals I knew it was out of here. The song was released on soundcloud and had a lot of internet buzz but it wasn’t until maybe 6 months later it started playing on radio. It went on to sell over 2 million copies.
I mean, culture changes daily and you have to constantly keep your ear to the streets. Do you see a change in the way records are being produced these days?
I like to believe we as producers can help affect the changes in music.Certain songs and sounds can change the culture. I do pay attention to the charts and radio as well as what gets the most reaction in the club. But when I’m working on projects I rarely listen to anything new because I don’t want to follow the trends. I want my music to play next to the hits of today but also stand out and withstand the test of time.
What was it like working with Yo Gotti on “Down In The DM”? Can we expect more hits?
Gotti is a true hustler. He stays recording and also works his records himself to radio. He doesn’t wait for the label to do anything for him. He will come to studio and record 3-4 songs a day. Me, Gotti and Schife made “Down In The DM” in about an hour and a half from start to finish. It was the third song we did that day. I got about 20 more Gotti records on tuck and we still working.
You also have production credits on Beyonce’s album Lemonade. How was that like?
I worked wit Beyonce indirectly. Me, Belly and Dannyboy had made the “6 inch” originally for Belly’s project and she ended up hearing it and wanted it for her. She had the song for like 3 years before it came out. We ended up touching it up a little bit and resubmitting with The Weeknd on it maybe a year or two later. I learned on these big projects how patient you have to be.
When your not in the studio what can your fans catch you doing?
Honestly I’m always in the studio even if I’m not working. That’s our sanctuary. Just incase that million dollar idea comes to me, I’m always ready. I love my job so I don’t need to take days off. I might go in just to smoke and talk shit.
If I was to turn on your iTunes playlist, what would I find?
Just my music. My Itunes is filled the hits of next year. I have all your favorite artists unreleased music. I make about 100 songs a year. Not all of them will see the light of day. But please believe I got some shit in there that’s gonna go.
5 goals in 2017:
This year I want to do the same shit I did last year.
Find projects I’m inspired by and make music I’m proud of. Make hits as well as culturally important songs. Continue to make music with my friends, get money and stay humble.
I’ve been blessed to win Grammys the last two years for The Weeknd and Beyonce’s albums but I do want a Rap Grammy now. Whether it’s Rap Album of the Year or Rap Song of the Year. Im a hip hop head at heart. Gotta bring one home for the culture.
I’m also building my company “Billions Enterprises” and developing new artists, writers and producers. I’m always searching for new talent. I want to lead by example and give my team the opportunity to reach their goals as well.