The Big Interview: Scott Storch on studio life, making it in the industry and his studio gear

We’ve all heard Scott Storch’s work — that hypnotizing piano melody that opens Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.” is instantly recognizable to any music lover. What you may not know, however, is what goes into a Scott Storch track. For years, listeners have been captivated by his work with artists such as Beyoncé, 50 Cent, and Megan Thee Stallion. But what are the secret ingredients that help the GRAMMY® Award-nominated producer craft hit after hit?

Storch’s innovation and daring attitude in the studio are part of the equation, but the producer has shared more with us about what other factors go into the process. From his must-have tools and ideal studio set-up to the advice and lessons you just can’t ignore, Storch dives deep into his work and personal preferences when creating hip-hop masterpieces.

Do you have an ideal studio setup, or do you like to work across studios and discover talents?

I have my own studio that I love to work in at my house in Miami. I’ve spent years building it up exactly as I want it; it is the ultimate creative space for my personal work.

I love a sleek, streamlined vibe, which is why I chose to design the KRK Scott Storch CLASSIC 8ss monitors as I did. The colors of these monitors are very neutral, which I’m really into. It’s the same vibe I go for in my own studio.

While I consider my studio to be home base, I love collaborating with others. I’ve worked with a lot of artists over the years, and each brings something different to the table. If a certain artist is looking to do different types of sessions or wants to work in a new environment, I’m down to explore those, whether it be in a major studio or not. It’s always interesting to learn something new from collaborators.

How did you first start using KRK, and what attracted you to the speakers initially?

I fell in love with KRK from the moment I started using them. I love the sound, especially the midrange; it’s crucial for me. The bass response is also insane, even without a sub. I know I can depend on them to provide an accurate representation of my tracks, even if I’m not in the best working environment. My tracks always end up sounding the same if I listen on my phone or in the car, so I know the monitors are precise.

I’m also kind of old school, so when I like something, I’m going to stick with it. I stay loyal to the products I love. That’s how it is with KRK. Being able to now collab with the brand…it’s super cool. Since KRK is my speaker of choice, I’m just ecstatic to have this opportunity. I was immediately down when I was first asked.

What studio rules do you have, if any?

To be honest, I don’t have any studio rules in my space. Personally, I like to start my sessions by cooking up some ideas before the artist comes in. Once they arrive, I play through everything I’ve thought up. This way, we can see what style we each vibe with; they can let me know if they like any of my ideas, and we build off that. If nothing is clicking right away and we want to go in a different direction, then I’ll listen to what ideas the artist has, and we go from there.

Even though I do have a bit of a system and schedule, I still love to work with other producers. I never prohibit different working styles when I’m collaborating. I definitely used to be more controlling when I was in the studio and needed to do things on my own, but I’ve learned a lot from my past collaborations, and now I think they’re a fun time.

When in the studio, what hours are you most likely to be active, and why?

I’m definitely a night owl when it comes to work. Usually, I wake up later in the morning, and that’s when I get all my personal stuff done ― like going through my emails, texts, and social media, checking in with my kids, and having my coffee. Then my sessions will normally start around two or three in the afternoon.

How late I go depends on how inspired I am. Sometimes I’m out before 11 p.m., but when I’m really in the zone, I won’t leave until after midnight. If something is vibing with me, I end up working really fast―but that doesn’t mean the track will wrap up quickly. So much goes into a single song. Despite all the work, it’s easy to lose track of time when you’re super invested in the final product. The late nights don’t bother me, though, I love music, and I believe that’s what I was put on this earth to do.

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now, I’m focused on telling my life story. We have a movie in development that covers my whole life. It’s definitely a long process and just in the beginning stages, but I’m very excited to share that. It’ll follow my journey as a producer, my work, and the relationships I developed with different artists in the industry ― and all the crazy stuff in between.

Of course, I’m also always still in the studio. I was just working on a record with a new artist, Fresco Trey, who has a cool Afrobeats style. My son, Jaden, has also been a true inspiration to me. I look forward to continuing to work with him and developing a sound together. I’ll never fall out of love with music, so I’ll forever be creating and doing groundbreaking stuff.

Your KRK signature series makes a great studio centrepiece ― what do you have in your studio that you can’t work without, audio gear or otherwise?

My main thing is making sure I have a great speaker. You don’t want something that will blow out when you’re pushing a lot of bass. For me, that’s the KRKs. It might be an obvious answer, but it’s the truth. KRKs have been my ride-or-die monitors for years. They can handle signals and hip hop production amazingly, especially with a sub; they’re killing it.

Other than that, I can’t work without my Akai keyboards, especially the MPC61. These are crucial for me because I’m huge on melodies. That’s my thing in the studio. I love to apply my melody sensibility to new tempos and new styles whenever I can. Everything that I compose will have a completely different identity with the right sound, and the Akai keyboards help me get there.

What would you say to DIY artists and producers starting out and trying to stand out from the crowd online?

It’s definitely tough out there. Having a big online following is beneficial, but it also makes it hard to differentiate yourself. My biggest advice would be to stay true to what you love. Be yourself and create your own unique sound. People notice when you’ve got a personality and sound that’s never been seen or heard before.

The second part of this would be to work hard and have some patience. I know that might be even more difficult than the first half of my advice, but nothing is instantaneous. If you keep pushing and creating, your time will come. Every creative has ups and downs, but staying motivated and working hard is the best way to get out of those slumps.

What studio lessons would you teach your younger self, given a time machine?

I’m very proud of everything I’ve created, even from a young age, but I would probably reiterate something that I’ve stuck by recently: stay locked in with changes in the industry. I’ve never been a producer who gets stuck in one way of thinking about music. In fact, I think that’s what can kill your career. If you’re not open-minded to the shifts within our industry, you won’t stay relevant.

So, staying up to date on everything―from the new versions of sounds to what the current generations listen to―would probably be my biggest lesson or piece of advice. My son Jaden really helps me out with this; he keeps me on my toes and pushes me in the right direction. He knows what’s hot, and I trust him because he’s got a great ear. If he says something sounds good, then I believe it’s going to be a hit.

What are you listening to at the moment?

I listen to all types of musical genres for the most part, except for country. I consider myself a music connoisseur, so I try to listen to a range of genres and music from different regions. The easiest way for me to do this is to go through Spotify playlists and check out what’s the hottest thing at the moment. Whether it be songs that are charting or those recommended to me by the streaming algorithms, I try to give it all a listen.

Listening to everything helps me get better at stuff I might be struggling with, too. When I’m not great at something, I really want to work and learn how to get better. I’m down to work on anything, but first I need to listen to everything to help me get there. I actually just did a project with Bad Gyal, which was new for me, and I got a triple platinum plaque for it. So, I know I’m doing good on my promise to have a wide listening scope and learning from this new music.

In the studio with Steve Aoki “I don’t want any clocks in the room. Like Vegas”

Exclusive: Max Richter interview – inspiration, AI, cinema and subsonics

MPG Producer of the year Marta Salogni on Tape, Black Midi’s Hellfire, and Choice Plugins