All photos courtesy of Hannah Seneres-Francisco
Chrizo is one of those people that has a clear-cut stand on his goals, beliefs, and values. With that, he is able to thoroughly and effortlessly express himself in an unfiltered manner - whether it be through speech or through his making of music. Nevertheless, he is able to maintain a boy-next-door persona and is highly approachable, even when you're meeting him for the first time. I suppose that's what makes working with him easy breezy. He's serious about music and he knows how to get down to business, but he has you at ease throughout the process.
Chrizo's first studio, The Chop Shop, was set up back in 2003. So for the past 8 years or so, in his home studio, the beat genius was able to produce an array of notable hip hop albums such as: his sought-after mixtape Thinking Man's Hip hop, acclaimed compilation B-Sides, ILL-J's award-winning The Journey & Logic for Reason, and collaboration with Marquiss G.R.A.E. (Greatest Rap Album Ever) to name a few. This year, he felt it was time to expand his horizons with respect to a more formal, business environment, the services/capabilities of his studio, and range of clients. Thus, the establishment of ILLustrious or ILL-Labs.
|From the video editing suite overlooking the audio and receiving areas|
|The view from the booth. Pretty nice view indeed.|
Chrizo (CH): What we'd like to accomplish is a great first impression. Like you said 'illustrious' can also mean 'famous' so more than just appearances, we aren't exactly famous, but we would like to live up to our name and build a reputation.
HH: What made you want to make the transition from The Chop Shop [home studio] to ILL-Labs [for commercial use]?
CH: First of all, The Chop Shop was just in my home so there was this sigma of "bedroom producers" that I wanted to do away with. Also, it was harder for people to go all the way to the house in Las Pinas whereas this studio is somewhat in the middle of the business district and is more accessible to people. It also pushes me to really work, because it is more of a professional set-up now together with Chano [main video editor]. We really have to report to work, clients have to be seeked out, we have to pay bills. Unlike before, with The Chop Shop, I could just wake up and go down to the studio while still in my boxers so it takes a big part out of the complacent or comfort zone. I think it's high time that we set this up and for our passion to produce something more lucrative.
HH: Describe some competitive offers.
CH: Well, we're not really gonna be predatory to other studios, because we respect and understand that we are just starting out. So we really don't want to encroach on gigs of studios that have been around longer. But, what we can offer is a thorough understanding of what the client wants and needs, comfort while they are here, and efficiency with respect to getting done what they need done in a competitive amount of time.
HH: You're responsible for production for a number of top hip hop artists, what advantage/(s) does one get out of working with Chrizo's studio?
CH: Actually, that's the difference between The Chop Shop and this studio, because The Chop Shop was all about hip hop, beats and rhymes. Here, there will be a plethora of so many other things aside from hip hop. I have my reputation as Chrizo and easier accessibility, but in terms of what can get done is a lot broader. Like now there's video editing, 'cause me and Chano are a tag team and we can break out into so many other fields like films, commercials, music videos, etc.
|"Chrizo magnifico in the lab, we just chillen'..."|
HH: How important are audio to visuals? Visuals to audio? Why was it important to now include services for both?
CH: Well those 2 really compliment each other. You can't really see music until it has a video. It brings life to the expression. So they're equally important depending on where you're coming from. For me, music will always be my main focus and I'm lucky enough to be able to join forces with Chano who can compliment what I'm doing. We're looking forward to linking up with our friends and peers with like abilities. This business is not just about friends, but it is nice to be able to come together with these people that we have camaraderie with that can also help us push our passion forward.
|Tag team - Chano and Chrizo|
|Video editing suite|
HH: You're also connected with Powerbelters Performing Arts & Music Center (voice & stage performance training) so aside from professional artists, will you have friendly rates for and will you be producing these aspiring artists too?
|The unique, "ILL" recording booth|
HH: Okay, but for those that actually want you to make your mark on their music; what should they know about your personal musical influences and style?
CH: My influences clearly reflect on the music I make. I grew up listening to a lot of DJ Premier and Pete Rock. My style is boom bap through and through.
HH: Is it still important in this day and age to have demo material to pass to label execs and the like? Or would you suggest that post-prod include direct upload to networking sites? What is your take on digital marketing strategies and how would you address the same?
CH: I'd say that there are a lot of factors in the industry that can't be controlled and I think what is out of everyone's control is how much music has evolved. The labels have gotten smaller and though I still think they're good to an extent, now in the digital age, artists have the chance to make it on their own. Whether it be through manufacturing their own albums or putting themselves on youtube; the artist is a machine on its own. So I still think its worth a shot having a demo ready for labels, but in some special cases, the artists can help themselves more than the labels can help them. So it's up to them how they want to market their product. That being said, we would definitely like to help artists make their demos (laughs). Or whatever material they need. It has to be said that this team has had a lot of experience in previous years dealing with internet marketing and backpacking our own music so for any upcoming artist, if and only if they need our consultation, we would gladly guide them accordingly. We won't tell them "this is what you should do", but we will lend a hand in the best way we can.
|Receiving/merchandise area. Artists can actually consign their material at ILL-Labs|
HH: They say that if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. Do you think this does/will apply to you?
CH: That is very true. It has, does and will apply to me. Though I do technically really have to work now that this is an official business, I'm blessed with a team that has as much passion as me and that we're doing something that breeds creativity. Before, when I was teaching English to Koreans, everyday, I would be bored out of my mind and watching the clock. Truth be told, I actually tweeted a week before that job wrapped up: "I'm giving up my job to pursue music for a living" so it's amazing how things work out. Now it's really happening. There's a huge difference now, because even if I report early and have to stay all day, I don't even notice the time. Like how I mentioned before this interview began, "What? It's 5[pm] already??"
|A chilled out, ambient atmosphere|
HH: So you'll be doing an official launch very soon (details TBA), perhaps you can leave readers with some final words about the "illustrious" journey ahead.
CH: Yeah, for sure you can expect ILL-Labs to be a beehive of activity. On behalf of my team, I'd like to say that we are excited about growing with old and new clients, about getting better, and about continuously expanding our range of services like perhaps actually producing videos and not just post-production. Again, we hope to live up to our name and impress clients with our hard work coming from passion. Thanks! [f]
|Chrizo, during his interview with The HinH|
ILLustrious Labs is located at Unit 201, 1986 Taft Office Center, Taft Ave. cor. Gil Puyat, Pasay
Inquiries can be made through Chrizo: 09165755763 or firstname.lastname@example.org