Teck-Zilla is a versatile Hip-Hip producer/DJ out of West Africa who has been making music professionally for almost two decades. But despite his deep roots in Nigeria’s underground hip-hop space and a long list of collaborators that includes some of Africa’s elites including veteran rapper, Modenine, Zone Fam, Wakazi and Illbliss. Teck still remains a mystery to a large section of Nigerians.
“I think I have come to the realization that I may not get the “recognition” per se and I’m cool with it,” Teck tells Paperman during a chat. ” It’s mentally draining if I dwell on it too much.”
Last week we caught up with the veteran producer/DJ to talk about his influences and how he derives his sound.
Read our full interview with Teck-Zilla below. Lightly edited for content and clarity.
CREATIVE: Two solid collaborative projects already and a third one coming up. Do you sleep?
Teck-Zilla: I try to bruv. Actually, have 2 more ready to go after this one with MC Skill.
That’s crazy … I actually think you’re up there with some of the greatest African producers ever. Do you feel underrated/under appreciated?
Thanks man, I appreciate that.
I think I have come to the realization that I may not get the “recognition” per-se and I’m cool with it to be honest. It’s mentally draining if I dwell on it too much.
And that’s the best way to handle it, just as long as you get to do what you love.
True that. Gotta keep the passion regardless.
So let’s start from the beginning. How did your interest in beat-making start?
That started in the early 2000s when a pal of mine gave me a copy of FL studio and I just started tinkering with beats from there on. I must admit it was frustrating and my first set of beats were garbage.
When did you officially start pursuing a career in music?
I can’t really say there was a specific year cos I have been in and out cos Str8buttah’s debut album came out in 2009 (same year we won Soundcity award for best video) while I was in school in the UK. I kinda just shifted focus over the years. Started Sound engineering from 2011 and deejaying like 2013.
Photo credit: Teck-Zilla
It’s funny that you mentioned str8buttah because I’ve been itching to talk about the collective and your time with LMN-3 but let’s save it for another day.
Oh wow, LMN-3 is rarely talked about.
I didn’t know you DJ’d. You still do that?
Yeah I still DJ.
Any real differences between a producer and a DJ?
Sure there are differences but those two roles tend to blend into one another in this modern era we in. It was kinda easy for me to pick up the skill cos of my production knowledge. DJ is all about rhythm/tempos/feeling etc same goes for producing.
I actually started deejaying with an APC40 and ableton before switching to Traktor, Virtual DJ and finally Serato.
I remember a cousin of mine owning an Akai, shit was fun to mess around with at the time.
Yeah, the gear is pretty nifty.
How did you know you were a good producer?
That’s a tough one. I guess just being able to keep putting out solid work and strangers saying they like my ish. Funny enough I have been lacking inspiration for a few days now.
You’ve kind of been going HAM with the releases lately so it’s expected.
Word! Thanks man.
Where does inspiration come from with producing? It has to be tough. How do you know what sounds to interpolate?
It could come from anywhere, anything to be honest. From films, TV ads, video games, porn [porn]. I like taking bits and pieces from everywhere. The very first sample I ever chopped up was from this Tomb Raider PC game that came with my parent’s Ericsson mobile phone back in the day. I never looked back since [laughs].
Also, you never know how the interpolation goes. It could be organic or sometimes accidental. I got samples chopped up from 5-6 years ago that I have never used but someday they will definitely come in handy.
It sounds like production is mostly experimental.
Well mix of experimentation and copying the legends like Pete Rock, Preemo, Madlib. My early beats were more of emulation than anything else.
Where did the name ‘Teck-Zilla’ come from?
It’s a portmanteau of the 90s slang “tech” for anything that is dope and Zilla (Godzilla). FYI DJ Hi-tek sometimes uses the moniker Tekzilla
Had to refurbish mine so as not to infringe on his.
‘Tech-Zilla’ wouldn’t have been bad either, I’m just saying.
Which artist have you had the most fun working with?
I always try to have fun with any act I am working with but my faves have to be Maka and Phlow. It’s always fun when we get in the studio.
I had a feeling Phlow was going to be your response. She’s really special, same with Maka.
Yeah, pretty obvious. I guess its just even beyond the music as we are all friends outside the industry so working comes easy.
Are you a perfectionist?
Perfectionist, hmm yes and no. I do try to give it my all but after a while, I will just be like look, I’m done.
Why did you decide to work with MCSkill ThaPreacha on Nucleus?
Interesting. That just happened spontaneously, I was simultaneously working with other emcees on different EPs when he reached out to me about the project. I’d only worked once with him many years ago so why not. I worked on a couple of beats and sent it to him. We did the EP remotely.
You mentioned doing the EP remotely. That happens a lot these days. Does it take anything away from the overall experience?
Well, I’m used to working remotely so not really. The studio experience, however, adds that extra flavor into the mix. It can never be recreated via emails.