If you don’t know his name, you definitely know his music. A Grammy award-winning producer from Toronto, Boi-1da has provided beats for some of the biggest names in rap music.
From Drake, to Jay-Z, to Kendrick Lamar, and many more. Most recently, he was behind two of summer 2016’s biggest hits, ‘Work’ (Rihanna and Drake) and ‘Summer Sixteen’ (Drake). IGNITE had a chance to sit down with him on Saturday night after his incredible set at IGNITE Frosh to talk about everything from his music to any advice he has for students.
You’ve had a lot of success throughout your career, most recently winning a Grammy award. How has that influenced how you produce music?
Winning a Grammy has influenced me because my standards are a lot higher when I’m making music now. I don’t just settle for just anything, I want to make the best stuff, I want to make innovative music. Winning a Grammy made me think a lot about music whereas I was just having fun with it before. It’s still fun to me but now I think a lot, I always think “what can I do to be innovative?” and “what can I do to make people love the music?”
Would you say that winning a Grammy was most defining moment in your career so far?
To be honest, a lot of amazing things have happened in my career already, but I think a defining moment has yet to come. So I’m still working towards that defining moment.
Are there any particular people in your life, or maybe a piece of advice that you’ve received, that you feel has been a key to your success?
A key to my success has definitely been my family. They’re a huge part of it because my dad and mother are very hard workers, which made me realize you don’t get anywhere if you don’t work hard. If you just think that you made it already, if you stay complacent, if you just think that everything is good, then you’ll get left behind. I don’t treat the industry as a competition, but it kind of is a competition, so you have to keep on moving and keep on innovating, because it changes every single day and people don’t have that long of an attention span so you’ve just got to keep it moving all the time.
So your parents influenced your good work ethic?
Yes, absolutely. You have to keep working, because the second you slip up for one second there’s always a person waiting to get in that slot that you were in.
You must feel a lot of pressure.
Yeah it’s a whole lot of pressure.
What kind of advice would you give students, or just young people in general, about wanting to achieve their careers and goals in life?
The advice I’d give students wanting to achieve their goals and careers is to not procrastinate, just go for it. Things might sound unrealistic and far-fetched but just go for it. Even if people don’t think you can do it, if you love something and you really want something, you can achieve it. It’s all up to you, because nothing else is in the way but yourself. So, I would say just go for what you want to do, go hard for it, be a nerd for it, learn what it is that you want to get into, understand it, and just keep on going.
If you hadn’t gotten into music, what career do you think you’d have right now?
My backup plan was to be a male nurse.
Wow, that’s so nice!
That’s the only thing that accepted me, I only got accepted for PSW.
Well, that’s an important career, you know.
It is! Saving lives.
Since you’re from Toronto, are there any up and coming rappers or producers that you’re currently a fan of, that aren’t big yet?
I’m a fan of Seven Thomas and T-minus, though he’s done huge songs already. I’m also a fan of Seven, Big lean, and Frank Dukes.
You’re obviously worked with Drake a lot, but are there other Canadian artists or just any other artists in general that you haven’t worked with yet and that you’d like to?
One artist that I’ve not worked with that I want to work with is Beyonce. I haven’t worked with her, and I’d love to, as well as Alicia Keys. We’ve never worked with each other before but I was just in the studio with her a couple days ago and it was good vibes so we’re working on it.
Is there any artist that you listen to that people would be surprised to learn about?
I listen to Bootsie Collins, he’s an old artist from the 70’s, and I also like Green Day and Justin Bieber.
Lastly, of all the songs you’ve produced, do you have one all time favourite?
That’s like asking me if I have an all time favourite child, I love everything I do. Maybe 0-100 (Drake) though because people are going to know about that song for years down the line. Too many songs though.
Thank you again to Boi-1da for his awesome set and for sitting down with IGNITE!
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.