There are few rising producers who can assemble heavy hitters on a project of their own. One exception is Michael Vincent Waller, or simply MVW, a Staten Island, born and bred phenom destined to make the area proud. Though just because it’s written in stone doesn’t mean years of hard work behind it. And that’s why we’re here today, because of the wondrous culmination of music titled Connections.
With features from Valee, Zelooperz, TiaCorine, Xavier Wulf, Matt Ox, Lil Gotit, 645ar, and Warhol.SS, each cut represents a soundscape of technicolor prowess. They meld with each of these artists’ skillsets and emotions causing the project to not grow blurry in between the moments. MVW isn’t your typical DAW wizard, instead, he’s a true producer actively trying to utilize his ear to craft the best end product. In our exclusive Q&A with the man, we learned what it’s like to put a project together with such polarizing characters. MVW is a part of the future of music and he just assembled the shining stars of the underground.
DC-First of all, how long have you been producing and when did you know this is what you wanted to do?
I have been composing actively since 2008 but started producing in 2020 during the pandemic. It was during my first collaboration with Lex Luger that I learned that this was what I wanted to invest more into.
DC- Favorite collaboration on the project?
Valee always really hones into the sound that I’m pursuing and adds his unique touch. His collaborations hit differently each time. But, every artist on the project helped shape the overall lens and made me a stronger artist. It was an organic evolution with a cast of extremely talented voices.
DC-How long did this project take to make?
The project took about a little over a year. The first track was recorded in July of 2021, “Epiphany” with Matt Ox (when he was 16). The last track recorded was with TiaCorine and Zelooperz in August of 2022, just in time to put it out by this October. I was originally shooting for the late spring/summer release – but needed more time to add all the final elements and complete the last few mixes.
DC-What is a day in the studio like for you?
Often it’s trying to work with new, different artists, other times it’s cooking up with other producers. I enjoy watching a track evolve, from a sample or melodic loop to a produced beat, into a song, and eventually, the post-production and arrangement phase after verses are recorded. I especially like this final part which involves vocal comps and adding additional instrumentation and structure to the music to really help mold the track into something meaningful and personal.
DC- Best city to make music in?
L.A. and Atlanta have been productive for me. NYC is where I’m from, and some of the tracks were recorded there as well. It’s more about where you are —- and who’s in town! I also really love Chicago, although I haven’t been there since 2018 — need to go back soon.
DC- How’d you link with Valee?
First through his manager Andrew Barber, and then we eventually linked in person at SXSW early this year. We then met again in LA this summer and shot the video for “Bali,” which just dropped. He’s a true inspiration and an esoteric artist.
DC- Message to your younger self?
Believe in what you love and what drives your creativity. Feel free to explore whatever medium and genre you feel connected to. Don’t be scared of what anyone will say or think. It’s always easier said than done.
DC- Favorite session from the project?
They were all great in their own way. From the first sessions with Matt Ox in LA and NYC in late 2020, to hear the new batches of what Valee cooked up in Chicago in early 2021. Then working directly with Desiigner, Lil Gotit, and Xavier Wulf in LA (specifically on his verse for “9Fifty” and also on his album BSS3), or locking in with Zelooperz for the first time early in the summer, adding his verse on “7 Bandz,”to the final sessions with TiaCorine which put the icing on the cake.
DC- Did Gotit meet Valee?
No. There are two songs with Valee and Gotit, “Drippin'” from my first project CLASSIC$, and now “RightBack” on CONNECTIONS. Although a slightly unorthodox collab, as an executive producer I thought it would be interesting since they both gravitated to minimal production in their own way. This first track was co-produced with Lex Luger – an orchestral trap legend – and the second with West, who has worked extensively with Gotit. Both of these songs Valee recorded first, and then Gotit heard them in the studio and added his parts. I like the idea of putting together tracks that you didn’t know you needed.
DC- What does the title Connections mean to you?
At first, I was thinking of doing an EP with Matt Ox, and naming it after our first song “Epiphany.” I pitched the idea and he was like… Name it something else. My friend [KA$HDAMI] has a project with that already.
I then was listening to our second track and the project’s first single, “CheckIn,” where there is a bar: “Way too connected, too many Connections.” I realized that was a much better title for the project and summarized a few different themes and entendres. The project evolved over time and became a full-length record – and the title resonated more and more.
It was about connecting my prior compositional voice to hip-hop and letting that transform my process as an artist. About merging the maximal and minimal palettes into a complete body of work – subtle subtext, unconscious yet, deep connections. Also having that meaning on the surface (from first reading), it was about making connections in the hip-hop community / experimental underground to forge relationships of true collaboration. Absorbing what was new potential.