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An Interview with Alexander Preston

Hemar Randall is a psychology major finishing up his final year at UMKC. A friendly, yet reserved college student by day, by night Randall secludes himself to work on his true passion -- music production. Known by the pseudonym of Alexander Preston, Randall is constantly working to construct pop-smart instrumental tracks for rappers and forge calculated hip-hop causticity on his own solo releases.

Randall released his debut EP "Magic" in 2015, followed by his "Rogue" EP in 2016. He is currently working on new solo music, as well as handling a heavy amount of production on Zarin Micheal's upcoming project "Sinner Of Attention." In the following interview, Randall gives insight into the wide array of genres and sounds that influence his music, how he met Micheal, and how some of his most notable releases came together.

How do you hope to apply what you're learning in college to what you're doing in the future?

That's a good question [laughs]. Honestly man, I love music so much. I don't know, it's weird. I wanna finish school and everything, but music's where my heart is. I started producing music when I was about 15 years old, but back then I was only doing electronic stuff. I actually only started making beats like two years ago. Music is where it's at.

So you were making EDM instead of hip-hop?

Yeah, I was doing house music and hardstyle music. I did that for like six years or so and I noticed I wasn't really getting where I wanted to be and I kinda got stagnant and the genres got boring, so I decided to just give hip-hop a try and it's been working wonders so far.

You've also been into rock music for a while. Where did that start for you?

Man, the internet [laughs]. Also, my brother, my whole family really has eclectic tastes. I got started with punk, like Transplants, Bad Brains, The Clash. All sorts of different rock as well, like My Bloody Valentine, The Killers, but once I got a computer at the house, I really started to delve into that side. And my brother always had CDs that he'd play for me.

Was hip-hop also something that your family showed you?

I kinda ventured into that myself. In fact, that came later. At first it was punk and electronic music, but hip-hop came later. I was watching BET one day, I think it was Rap City, and I saw the video for "Slow Jamz" by Kanye and Twista and I was just like, "Man, this sounds so ill, I wanna make something like this." I had a PS2 at the time and there were these two games called Amplitude and MTV Music Generator 2 and I thought that shit was producing [laughs]. That's really how I got my start with making music and putting ideas on a canvas.

Did you ever have any formal music training?

I mean, I played the saxophone when I was in middle school, but I never continued with that. I don't know how to play the piano. Everything was just like a lot of programming basically.

Do you see yourself creating rock music or incorporating it into your beats?

Definitely. I feel like my beats now are really aggressive and I feel like I get that aggressive side from punk, just like the angst and the overall vibes. I could probably do more with that, but that'll come in due time.

How did your first EP "Magic" come together?

The months leading up to that time, I had just stopped making house music and stuff like that. That was just me venturing into a different side. At the time too, I wasn't listening to a lot of rap music, so I was just making beats the way that I saw them. I don't know how to explain it further than that.

Did you ever consider having people rap over those beats instead of releasing them as instrumentals?

Yeah, but nobody really wants to rap on my beats [laughs]. That never worked out.

How did you first come in contact with Zarin Micheal?

He heard that track that I released, "Surrender," and he hit me up on Twitter and he was just giving me props. He had a couple tracks out at the time that were really dope that sounded like nobody from the city. At Gee Watts' listening party back in January [2016] we met for the first time and yeah, "Best Friend" came out of that. Pretty cool.

Zarin is one of the only rappers you've worked with. Why do you think you have such a strong bond with him?

He just gets. He's on the same wave I am. He's open-minded, he's not afraid to try something new. He just gets it [laughs].

Are there any other genres you'd say you draw from besides punk and electronic?

Maybe like, industrial, like Evian Christ and Nine Inch Nails. Emo music definitely. I have a lot of stuff that I never really put out that's like super emotional or has super emotional chords.

A recent single you worked on with Indica and Lil West called "Don't Even Know" is the most popular track you've worked on so far. How did that song come to fruition?

I made an idea for a beat and Ryan Jacob took it and did a complete 180, like it turned out so awesome. I talk to him like almost every day. He's kinda poppin' on SoundCloud. He helps me a lot with getting my beats out to other names. We made the beat, he sent it off to Indica, Indica immediately said he fucks with it, he did a verse to it, and Lil West did a verse to it, and that's how it came about.

You did a DJ set at Party 001 at The Loop. What did that set consist of and was that the first time you did something of that nature?

In front of that many people, yeah. That set was basically a lot of my beats and a lot of my favorite beats at the time. I don't know if any people noticed, but all the beats had a sound, and that's the sound I want to push as the new Kansas City sound.

You really do keep a pretty low profile in most things you do. What makes you take that approach?

That's literally always been me. I don't really go out much. I just stay home. If I'm not home making beats I'm at school or at work. I don't really go out. I make beats, I make music; that's all I do.

Listen to Alexander Preston's music on SoundCloud and follow him on Twitter.

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