“Ironically the hardest one to say on here is Houston.” Garrett Brown, an Angleton native known to Houstonians as hip hop producer Trakksounds, has a talk box tube in his mouth and his hands on a keyboard. He tries forming the H at the beginning of Houston but admits that California, or any word with hard consonants, lends itself over to the instrument more naturally.
He starts slapping the keys and forming words into the tube to the tune of Mario’s 2004 hit “Let Me Love You.” The keyboard’s sound shoots through the tube and morphs into the words Brown is shaping. A colorful, robotic alien voice now fills the room with Ne-Yo penned lyrics “You should let me love you / Let me be the one to / Give you everything you want and need.” It’s hypnotizing to watch.
“Everybody really likes my talk box stuff. It’s definitely my most popular social media thing,” says Brown. On his upcoming album PDA, Brown uses talk box (imagine the first two words of Tupac’s “California Love”) throughout its simmering track list to find his niche as a producer.
He finds talk box to be a path less traveled, one he’d rather take over a highway congested with trends. He adds: ”I’m not trying to compete with everybody and their mama on some stuff. I want to be a little different.”
PDA standout tracks “Never Worry” and “Satisfied” incorporate elements of Mario’s “Let Me Love You” and Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River,” respectively. They are also the reason why the project’s release date is now potentially in the air. After months of work, music distributor Tunecore froze the release to clear Brown’s interpolations of the aforementioned 2000s R&B smashes.
“I thought it was coming out December 7,” says Brown. His demeanor implies little concern for the delay. “We’ll see what happens. I actually might, probably, have an email from them. We’ll see how fast they move.” He shrugs his shoulders and throws his hand in the air. “It’s most likely probably going to be, like, December 14 now.”
He swivels his chair to face an assembly of screens and stereos and presses play. PDA cut “Weak” pulsates out of the speakers, magnifying Brown’s signature blend of rock and R&B, his musical foundations.
Brown says he’s always had an infatuation with creating music and thinks that it’s one of the few consistent things that makes people feel good.
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“There’s not many feelings that can do that for you. You know, there’s a few out there – food and stuff like that,” Brown says as he laughs.
His mind returns to the thought of Tunecore interfering with his release date. This isn’t the first time Brown has faced troubles leading into an album’s release. In 2017, he tried booking a release show at Fitzgerald’s for his The Other Side LP. When the owner responded to him with a profane, hostile email, he tweeted screenshots of the exchange and called for a boycott of the venue.
His voice booms throughout Imix Studios, his creative home of six years, as he recalls perhaps the most infamous moment of his career to date. He pantomimes holding his phone to read the venue’s response. “I’ll never forget, like, just reading it and just being like, is this really like, is this real, real, real?” Bordering on maniacal, his energy swells with each repeated “real.”
“In the community that I love of Houston, with our music, like, I don’t want this as a representation of, like, how we operate.”
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His phone increasingly blows up as the day inches closer to noon. He checks his email, awaiting a verdict from Tunecore before contemplating an alternative plan of action.
“I’m taking it to DistroKid if they keep messing with me.”
Tunecore approved the release. PDA is available on all streaming platforms December 14.