Yeti Beats on Making Music and Supporting One Cool (Doja) Cat

Yeti Beats, known less commonly as David Sprecher and far more commonly as Doja Cat’s producer, may seem like a creative figure of phenomenal overnight fame. However, the Los Angeles producer and songwriter has been pounding music industry pavement and helping to shape records in the studio for several years prior to the rise of Doja Cat’s career. It would be more apt to say Beats’ propulsion into mainstream visibility over recent years is a well-earned milestone of hard work and versatility across varying genres like R&B, rap, and reggae. Beats’ support of Doja Cat and her flourishing presence in the musical landscape to this point, showcase yet another hat—one of a mentor—in Beats’ arsenal. 

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Yeti Beats set aside time for a chat with American Songwriter, in which he discussed the winding pathways that led to connecting with Doja Cat, how the pair discern the musical nuances of Doja Cat’s records together, what resonates for him most in the recording studio, and more.

American Songwriter: What were the earlier years of your career like, when you focused on hip-hop and reggae projects? How have your listening and evaluating processes as a producer and beat maker changed over the years?

Yeti Beats: I come from a generation of the early bedroom producers so the earliest studios that I ever worked out of were literally my bedroom studio apartment, one bedroom and then eventually, a two bedroom where I had a studio in one room. And a lot of those are early reggae, and and old school hip-hop and hip hop artists that I worked with, people that I was introduced to through time trying to hustle [making] music in L.A., and people that I listened to as a kid skateboarding in California, or was introduced to at some point along along the lines. It was just basically me recording people in my closet. And it was sort of the first step to my music career. Eventually I moved into a studio space and that was the creative hub which sparked Doja Cat and some other artists that I ended up working with on a more long term basis, including like old guys of like reggae bands like Rebelution and rap artists like Kool Keith and stuff like that.

AS: When sitting down with a mix for the first time, how do you usually begin determining what artistic qualities will serve the music best and bring out its most fascinating character?

YB: My main purpose is to serve the artists that I work with and make their music as authentic to their character as possible. I’m not really looking at it from what I want to do. I’ll usually sit and try to kind of figure out what the artist wants to do and try to get a good understanding of that before I started working on anything musically. 

When I’m looking for artists to work with, or an artist I would be excited to work with, there’s certain qualities, whether it’s unique vocal tone or sustainability, overall interest interesting lyrics, or melodies or things like that, that catch my ear. But I think that in general, there’s just certain music I’m magnetized towards or something like that. So if I hear an artist and I like it. I want to work with them. Honestly, I don’t have like, a particular style I like to do. I love all different kinds of music, and have many, many influences genre wise. I try to have fun and be creative. My only objective is try to make some stuff that makes people happier, inspired, or feel something.

AS: What kinds of tools do you find yourself turning to most often when working on a mix? Are there certain plug-ins, styles of effect, or instruments to which you feel most attached? Why?

YB:  I’m super lucky [in] that I don’t just work with one artist. When I want to express a fun, quirky, young side of myself, I get to, you know, work with Doja [Cat]. When I feel like being angry and thrashing, I get to work with this punk band called Ho99o9, and they’re like, the craziest thrash punk noise, something band in the world. And then when I feel like chilling, I get to work with Rebelution or Common Kings or reggae. I feel very blessed. I’m not really limited to just doing one particular sound and I have a broad appreciation for music. And the creation of noise in general. I wouldn’t say that I come at anything with a particular sound or style. I think it’s more an open ear to what the artist wants to accomplish.

My favorite part about making music in general, is the collaboration. I like making beats by myself but I also really love collaborating with friends and people that I enjoy making music with. That energy is something that I feed off of. I think that everybody brings something different to the table when you collaborate. So you end up getting a lot a lot of different influences and I think that’s one of the fun parts about music – trying to put the right spices in the soup so to speak, and putting the right people in the room.

AS: Given how long, and over how many increasingly successful releases, you and Doja Cat have collaborated, how would you describe the way the two of you determine the sound and style of a track or album? Are there any finer stylistic details you debate over during the middle of the creative process?

YB: I think the most important part in working with Doja [Cat] is providing an environment that she feels comfortable in. You know, me and her, we’ve been working together for close to nine years now, since 2013, and we’re close friends and our family. But, you know, anytime you bring in new energy in the studio, you want to be aware, and particularly when we’re working on projects with her, I consider [Doja Cat] a musical chameleon. It’s something that it took a while to develop what her sound and personality really was. The first EP that we did [together], she didn’t have any experience and it was kind of a new musical thing for us and these are time capsules. By the time we did [her] first album she had played on a handful of stages and then after the first album we toured a lot. When we got into the second album. It was a more confident character. 

When it comes to actually creating with [Doja Cat] though, I think what I try to do is just be prepared and make lots of different styles [and] collaborate with a lot of different producers and musicians, so that when she calls me and asks me, ‘Yeti what beats you got right now?’ I have fire to play for her—something unique and different and interesting.  

AS: Knowing that you have worked long and hard for recognition as a producer in the industry, and that an artist like Doja Cat first made herself known through a heavily DIY platform like SoundCloud, how do you feel about the interplay between full time music professionals and the rise of music tech that makes independent creativity continually easier?

YB: [Music tech] is something I’m really enthusiastic about. I think that if I would have existed in a different era, I would never have had a chance to be a music producer or have the career that I’ve had if it wasn’t for bedroom and laptop production and the technology, the internet, SoundCloud, ways of spreading music [with] that distribution. If I was trying to do this even just from a production standpoint in the ’90s, or even before that, music studios and recording music the technology behind it was not even close to what it is today. It was very, very expensive and to do anything was kind of out of reach. So, when I even found out about recording on the laptop and the technology and like where the technology was, and started using it, I feel like I was existing in a very special time and place. 

Kids these days, pretty much anyone now with an idea and some sort of drive, can create music and I think that’s the most beautiful thing. There’s so much creativity out there and just, [DIY music tech] makes music non-exclusive to people [who] financially can afford it. It makes it much more accessible to anyone with a good idea. And I love that. It amazes me how many interesting and cool songs come out and get spread through the internet. And I’m thankful for that. would have never found Doja if it wasn’t for SoundCloud and [the fact that] my intern at the time being obsessed with SoundCloud. 

I feel like a lot of people think that you need to have a crazy expensive studio in order to create hit and that’s definitely not the case. I know so many people that I’ve created hits from just on the simplest laptop, speaker, headphones or whatever bedroom scenarios and I just like to try to spread the message that it’s not about having an expensive gear or anything in that realm. It’s more about having just good ideas. 

Photo credit: Tyler Roi

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