It was close to midnight when I finally made it to LiveTone studios located in what Urban Memphis calls "Blackhaven." The term of endearment echoes the rich pride of the people who live in this part of town and would love nothing less than you knowing that they do.
I came in with a puzzled look on my face after passing by a couple of Memphis famous strip clubs in full swing. Kevin "Sleepy" Plunkett and Tazz Fields were inside taking a break from stirring up music magic and were awaiting my arrival. I kicked back on a couch, ink pen and paper in hand ready to do an interview. I quickly intertwined in a discussion about the state of the music world.
"I like a lot of things about music right now," said Sleepy. "I like the different techniques used now. You can really tell that the people making the beats are giving them a lot of thought. I really do like a lot of the songs that come out. I don't like them all, but I do like some.
"The music world has lost its realness and that's an issue for me," he said. "I'm heavy on that Kendrick Lamar right now, he's real creative and I love it. And that's because it's hard for me to find artist I can relate to. I like to listen to the kind of artist that makes me think."
Tazz feels the same way.
"It's a lot of garbage out there. It's like we don't have kids out there or we don't see kids out there. Music is not raising a nation like it used to. I miss groups like Earth,Wind and Fire and Public Enemy, Run DMC, etc."
Is that what customers can expect when they come over here to record, I asked.
"Well, we record all kinds of music and an artist preference is on them. That's not our guidelines. What we're concerned about is making sure that the artists leave with a product that they love. If they don't, then we feel like we haven't done a good job," said Tazz.
So what type of services do you offer here?
"You name it and we do it," said Sleepy. "We engineer, write songs, produce them, master them and make the tracks. Some of our packages even include a videographer and our clients really love that."
I quizzed Tazz, eager to find out if he could pinpoint when he fell in love with
"That's easy, when I was a kid going to church," he said. "I'd watch my father and uncle play the drums and other instruments and it made me want to do it also. I remember being so anxious to go to church just so I could hear the choir and the band.
"That also reminded me of when I was growing up and would see Michael Jackson performing live. He was epic and I wanted to grow up and become epic too. Like when I saw that "Billie Jean" video and when he would walk the sidewalk would light up. That was crazy creative."
What about you Sleepy, when did you fall in love with music?
"Mane, I was in the 10th grade when I got the computer program called 'Fruity Loops.' I loved it. I would spend 3 to 4 hours a day making beats, over and over again." said Sleepy.
I thought to ask when the two met.
"It just so happened that we were working at the same studio and ended up hearing each other's music and we bonded from there," said Tazz. "We've had a great working relationship over this last year and it's only going to get better because we're putting in the work.
"That's actually one thing I love about the music business and that is that it's a fair playing field. We no longer have to wait and see if a major label picks us up. We can hustle and get our sound out there on our own."
I chimed in, recalling a Steve Harvey saying: "The dream is free but the hustle and work ethic are sold separately."
"He sure know what to say," said Sleepy.
What's next for the duo at LiveTones Studios"
"I will be finishing up an EP with this rapper named Yung Taz and then my focus will shift over to R&B singer Deanna C," said Sleepy.
Tazz said he currently is working with the rap group RMG on a compilation.
"Then there's E3 from over there at Yae Muzik and then this young lady by the name of Kina' DelMar, so we're keeping busy," said Tazz. "It's all coming together now and it's mainly because we've kept our studio looking and feeling like your living room.
"And we don't rush artists out no matter how long the session is for. When artists come and do business with us, they're so relaxed and have such a great experience with us until they can't do anything but come back again."
Cool, I said, going for my signature question: "So, what are you guys' favorite fruit?"
"Peaches," said Sleepy.
"Bananas," said Tazz.