Toronto-based multi-platinum-selling producer Hagler has left his mark on Hip Hop, with credits on several Drake records like “Trophies” and tracks from other artists like Vince Staples, Chris Brown, Ty Dolla $ign, and Tory Lanez. FL Studio is his DAW of choice, and we were thrilled to get the chance to learn more about his background and workflow.
The Making Of Drake’s “Teenage Fever” With Hagler | Deconstructed
Tell us about yourself and how you got into music.
I was born & raised in Scarborough, which is the east end of Toronto. Like the majority of youth coming up, I was into sports. I played AAA baseball and also played basketball. I was always into music. I grew up on vinyl, cassette tapes, CDs, to MP3 players. Being of Jamaican & St. Lucian descent, music and culture were non-stop at barbeques, birthdays, etc. My guardians would tell me stories about how from a young age, even in diapers, I’d always tamper with my father’s amps and record players; I’d even somehow fix them when something was wrong. I would always rap to myself and write lyrics on anything I could get my hands on. I would study artists, producers & songwriters that came before me. Everyone had their own style and story. By grade 9, I started to take music seriously as an artist. My homies and I would make songs and even battle other rappers around my area. Eventually, we were introduced to an at-risk youth program called “The Remix Project,” which was in downtown Toronto, and that’s where we got our first taste of the music industry and studio setting. I learned fast that music costs a lot of money and that we needed original production. I couldn’t find beats at the time, and I didn’t have a lot of resources, so I transitioned into producing and engineering.
How did you start using FL Studio & what does it mean to your productions?
I started using FL Studio after initially using the DAW Reason. At the time, a colleague of mine was using it, and he showed me how simple it was within 5-10 mins, and I’ve been using FL Studio ever since. Reason is great, but the issue was that, at the time, my CPU couldn’t handle all the refills, etc., vs. FL, which is way less CPU heavy. Obviously, technology has advanced tremendously, so I’m sure things are different now. FL means everything to my production. I literally don’t produce anything at all without it going through FL Studio at some point. I love the layout and workflow it provides, which is super key when trying to capture moments in real-time.
Tell us about your work and some of the artists you have worked with.
I’ve been blessed to be a part of some huge records coming out the gate. My first placement was a Drake record off “Nothing Was the Same” called “Furthest Thing”. I had sent some drums to Noah “40” Shebib; he then played on top of the drums, then JakeOne’s section was added. Other Drake records I’ve been a part of are “Trophies”, “Fire & Desire” & “Teenage Fever”. Other artists that I’ve worked with are Vince Staples, Teyana Taylor, A$AP Ferg, Chris Brown, Ty Dolla $ign, Bryson Tiller, Tory Lanez, Young M.A.
Tell us about your production environment and the gear you use.
I’d say 95% of the production I do is from a home setting that isn’t treated with any panels or bass traps. I prefer being by myself, so I’m not influenced as easily. I find that there are fewer distractions. I’ve had a simple home studio for my entire career. I literally landed every placement without even an interface. I would just use an auxiliary cord. That changed drastically during the pandemic when I purchased my first audio interface. I have Genelec 8010 speakers for monitors, Focal shape 50 speakers, a Sager gaming laptop, Audio Technica – 50x headphones, an Antelope Audio Zen Tour, an Axiom Pro 61 & Toshiba Boston Stereo. Over the years, “less is more” became more of a thing in my career. Nowadays, you don’t need all that extra gear; you can do everything in the box. If I do venture out to studios, I only really like a few due to the sound that comes out. A lot of rooms are very dated and weren’t designed for all the bass-heavy music that thrives today.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
DON’T BE AFRAID TO EXPERIMENT SONICALLY!!!
INVEST IN YOURSELF.
TRUST THE PROCESS