If you live in South Florida and listen to the radio or shake your ass at any of our many nightclubs, chances are you have heard the musical production of 305’s native son, Gorilla Tek. As the man behind the production group Drum Majorz, Iconz Music Group, Iconz Films and Landmark Entertainment, G Tek has laid down tracks for industry heavyweights such as Ludacris, Trick Daddy, Pitbull, Flo Rida, 8Ball & MJG, Field Mob and Uncle Luke!
“I say, just make great music and let the people decide.”
Tek has an impressive resume, but what sets him apart from most producers is the the ability he has to create for and break out new artists. Gorilla Tek is responsible for the singles that helped launch Ballgreezy’s“Shone”, Grind Mode’s “I’m So High”, Iconz’s “Get Crunked Up” and Jackie-O’s “Nookie”. The success from Jackie-O’s breakout single helped her label, Poe Boy Records, maintain a status in the rap game. They have parlayed that into a local hip hop empire. Poe Boy is now a huge Florida Rap label with artists Flo Rida and Rick Ross contributing to the label.
Music has been a big part of G Tek’s life going back to when he was just Tony Castillo, the “African, Hispanic, Indian” from Miami. Born with Honduran roots, Tek knows exactly how to bring the world of drums and tropical feel to his production. “These are the cultures that influence me. These are the ears that are hearing my music. Miami is a melting pot of so much Latin culture.” Tek’s very first concert and the artist that he mentioned first as his musical influence was Merengue singer, Johnny Ventura. Along with Ventura, he listed other influences as Bob Marley, Quincy Jones, James Brown and Isaac Hayes. As far as producers go, Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, Hi Tek, and Marley Marl were some of the producers Gorilla Tek told me he admired.
“Stay focused…stay humble and keep your work ethic at its highest.”
“How did you come up with the name, Gorilla Tek?”, I asked. “I have always been into percussion. My signature sound was the timpani drum, but I play all drums…including bongos and congas. So when you think of the beating of the drums, it equates to a gorilla beating his chest. That is where the ‘Gorilla’ part comes from. The ‘Tek’ part comes from me being so technical. It goes back to my old DJ days. I was always very hands on with all of the equipment whether I was scratching, beatmaking, or engineering.”
Obviously, someone does not just “fall into” producing records. I asked G Tek how it all started for him. “Basically, I was in High School doing my DJ thing. Disco Rick came to my school with his S.E.S. DJ’s Crew. He liked my style and my ability and he eventually approached me about going on the road with him as his DJ. It was around that time that Rick bought the very first drum machine on the market. It was an Akai MPC-60. He told me, here is the drum machine and here is the manual. Learn it, read it, and let’s go to work.”
Gorilla Tek did just that. He learned to program. He also learned to create beats. As a result, G Tek did the beats along with Disco Rick’s production for the Disco Rick and the Dogs album, “The Negro’s Back”. A few years later he parlayed the Dogs’ success into a road DJ gig with Uncle Luke in the post 2 Live Crew days. He did that for about a year when he realized, “I can do this myself!” He took some partners and Landmark Entertainment was formed. Under Landmark, the production team known as “The Committee” was created. “At that time, we were doing a lot of production work for an up and coming Trick Daddy, Trina and Iconz. I was real proud of the Iconz ‘Get Crunked Up’ record. I would have to say that was my first major hit.”
“Having a hit record gives you a voice…people know who you are. It doesn’t mean that you will be successful because of that one hit. You now have to work that much harder…stay consistent.”
Gorilla Tek had a lot on his mind when we spoke. He is not just good with the knobs and switches, but he is definitely a sharp cat and a savvy businessman. Whether it was letting me know that producers get groupies just like rappers do, or that in Tek’s mind Timbaland is hands down the best producer in the game today because “He always finds ways to re-invent himself”, Tek made many real points.
Treez: What is your best studio story?
Gorilla Tek: It had to be when I was at Circle House Studios. I was blastin’ my beats, just creatin’. Pharrell was there. Scott Storch was there. A handful of other producers and artists too. And even with all those producers there, the whole crowd heard my sh*t and all came to my room to check it out. It became a competition between the rappers there on who could write something the fastest to be able to claim the beat. That is gonna make any producer feel good about their music”
Currently, Gorilla Tek has a full plate as he continues to create tracks for the masses. He is creating music for the new Rick Ross “Teflon Don” album, and he’s working on a chance to collaborate on the new T.I. and the new B.O.B. albums, all the while handling the soundtrack to Bloodline II. He is set to release a Dirty South Presents Lil Wayne Remixed Instrumentals CD. On top of all that, he is helping break a new artist by producing the club banger “Tore Up” by Natural and on his Iconz label, pushing new artists Suthun Boy and Jay-R 305 aka “The Soulja Boy of Miami” due to his very large internet following.
I asked Tek how important the internet was for the music business and current artists. He hit it right on the head. Tek said, “The internet is very important for the simple fact that everything is viral now. Everyone is locked into the web. People can identify with you in a whole new way. Whether it’s Youtube, Twitter or interacting with the fans on Ustream, it all matters to the overall success of the artists and the music.”
The future is very bright for Tony Castillo aka Gorilla Tek. There are new artists on the horizon with his Iconz Music Group label, new bangin’ tracks with your favorite artists being created, and you just might see Tek in the clubs again spinning records and out scratching all of South Florida’s DJ’s. I really enjoyed the time I spent getting into Gorilla Tek’s thoughts and learning how the man became the producer. He put it best when he told me, “I’m not trying to make music for now; I’m trying to make music for later!” Gorilla Tek wore shades during our interview. I now know why. The future for Gorilla Tek and his music is bright!