"You Gotta Be Patient to Get the Money": An Interview With 18-Year-Old Producer Farri - DJBooth

"You Gotta Be Patient to Get the Money": An Interview With 18-Year-Old Producer Farri

We sat down with the ATL producer who has been collaborating with Offset and 808 Mafia.
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Direction is a fickle concept. We chart our path based on ideas and assumptions that don’t account for life’s bend toward anomaly. The real test is how we adjust and mold our ourselves to new information and circumstances. When I turned 18, I was entering college, pursuing a degree in political science, with the intention of going to law school. The fact that you’re reading my words here proves shit happens.

While it would take me a few more years to discover my true professional desire, up-and-coming producer Farri seems to be an exception to the rule, having found his life's passion before earning his high school diploma. Raised in Atlanta and molded by the city’s now rich music history, the 18-year-old started to wrestle his way into the industry with a story that reads like a 2009 Metro Boomin spot.   

A few weeks ago, I invited the young producer to my house and we chopped it up about his recent work with Offset and Ricky Racks, his upcoming work with Gunna—a signee to Young Thug's YSL Records imprint—and Reese La Flare, among others, and the difficulties that come with pursuing a career before your frontal cortex is fully developed. I also had the pleasure of hearing an extensive amount of his unreleased work. The beats ranged from menacing horror cuts that should end up on the soundtrack for 21 Savage’s inevitable slasher flick to old flips of The Weeknd’s “High for This.”  

I hesitate in making predictions for career longevity because they’re usually never right. If Farri continues to show a willingness to adapt as he displayed in that sample of beats and maintains his patience for the “big payoff,” though, I’m confident he and I will have a much longer discussion in five years.  

You’re only 18, so when did you start messing around with production?

When I was in the sixth grade. But I didn’t get serious with it until high school. Old-school Fruity Loops 9 was the shit.

Did music play a part in your upbringing?

For sure. My dad was a DJ in Columbia, South Carolina a long time ago and my mom was always in church singing in the choir. My older cousins were making beats when I was really little on old, old software and drum machines. Sometimes I would get into my dad’s records and end up listening to Michael Jackson deep cuts or old Metallica vinyls. I never knew what I was gonna find there.

Specifically, whose production influenced you and inspired you to make beats?

Southside, of course. As far as people I couldn’t touch, Bangladesh and Timbaland. I would obsess over how they made their beats. “How did they get their snare like that, or make the drums hit that hard?” “Where did this melody come from?” That obsession only benefited me in the end.   

When did you think you could make a career out of this?

Growing up, I was hanging around Chris Fresh a lot and I saw how he was able to get in with 808 Mafia and other producers and artists popping off at the time. Being able to touch someone who was getting paid for music really shows you it’s not impossible. Then, I wanna say this was in seventh grade, I sold my first beat for like $50 to a local rapper. The positive response I got from him was enough to let me know.

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Was your first major placement on something with Chris? Or someone else?

It was actually an old Lil Yachty song, “What’s My Name.” That was back when my name was “Big Boney Jr.” I went through that and “T of Young Gods” before I settled on Farri. It was great meeting Yachty and getting to know him, but I feel like [everyone] looks back at their first work and sees something wrong with it. It was dark, kinda like some old school trap shit, but it’s hard for me to go back and listen to it.

What is “Young Gods”?

It’s a collective started by Chris Fresh and Southside, an umbrella under which they could develop new producers. Slugg Mania and EVK are a part of it too. Once I was rocking with them hardcore, they let me use the 808 Mafia siren to help with my exposure. Hopefully, it’s working.  

Getting into technical details, what do you use to produce? A MIDI keyboard or…

Naw, straight clicks on the laptop. I’ve never used one before, but once I move back to Atlanta, I’m going to invest in more equipment. Gotta keep expanding my possibilities and keep learning. I’m ready to get back to my hometown.

Working with all these people, it seems like you’re just below the surface bubbling.

Yeah, man. I feel like part of the difficulty getting in the door right now is my age. It’s not something that people notice in person. When I’m around producers, they’ll be like “This n****’s only 18??” 'cause I’m not trying to act like a kid in the studio, but on paper, it can turn some people away. The thing about this music industry is, you gotta be patient to get the money in it. Sometimes you make that song in five minutes that turns into the next hit, like Southside with “Danny Glover.” But most people have to put in work in the studio trenches for years to make it worth your while.

Who are you trying to work with right now?

Since I got the tracks with Offset, I wanna keep trying to work with him. I’m working with 808 Mafia when I can, Chris Fresh has been with me since the beginning. Fresh and I go way back to when I was still living in Atlanta. He’s really been a mentor for me in all of this. I’ve also been doing a lot of collabs with Ricky Racks, we’re in the process of sending beats back and forth to each other constantly. There’s some heat with Trill Sammy on the way too. I did a lot of work when I was in LA over spring break. Getting out there is my next step after I get back to Atlanta.

I appreciate your time. Producers don’t always like do interviews, so I’m glad we got the opportunity to speak.

Naw, them n****s love interviews. They’re just shy and it’s hard to get shit out of them all the time. When you think about the personality it takes to produce music, it makes sense you’re going to get reclusive dudes. I literally want to be staring at a screen most of the day. Look at Metro. He’s the biggest producer right now and, even though he’s a superstar, he’s not super talkative or in your face with it. Humility has been the most helpful piece of advice I’ve gotten from everyone mentoring me in the game.   

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