“If it wasn't for New York, I wouldn’t be where I am,” Brian Cid settles into a mesh-backed swivel chair, positioned precisely in the center of his East Village studio. A pair of towering Legacy Audio monitors with a glossy wood finish tremble silently behind him, begging to be turned on. The room is cold and the building quiet, three days after Christmas. Outside, holiday tourists scurry for cover as an icy rain begins to fall and the city’s cluttered streets sparkle with discarded tinsel. “New York gave me opportunity to grow as an artist. It gave me the support; it gave me the experience. That’s why I identify with New York so much, and with Brooklyn especially.”
To say the Dominican-native, Brooklyn-bred Brian Cid is among the borough’s finest crop of producers is an understatement. Forget, for a moment, his ever-growing fan base and local recognition as a rising star in underground melodic tech house. First and foremost, he is an engineer; one who takes that meticulous art to a whole new level. Cid’s technical training began under the tutelage of prolific hip-hop producer Ski Beatz — a master who counts Jay Z’s debut studio album, ‘Reasonable Doubt’, as his first major production credit.
Ski saw something special in Cid’s mixing board skillset and took him under his wing as a promising Padawan. Ski’s instinct was right, and the rest is history. After an introduction to Damon Dash, Brian Cid went on to engineer music for the biggest names in the underground game, from Wiz Khalifa to Mos Def and the brightest commercial stars in the sky — Beyoncé, Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Cher.
Working with the best means learning from the best, and when Cid decided to apply those lessons to his own dance-flavored productions, he was immediately snapped up by yet another New York legend — Todd Terry. Todd signed his tracks and lent support, offering sage advice Cid still heeds: “I will never forget how I produced a song and asked Todd what he thought about it. Todd’s just like, ‘Who cares? Why do you care what I think about it? Do you like it? Yeah. That’s all that matters,’” Cid grins as he recalls the words. “So that was the beginning of that.”
That “do as you like” attitude is reflected in Cid’s music, which is as beautiful as it is undefinable. Case in point, his five-track ‘Found 03’ mini-LP, released on Guy J’s Lost & Found imprint in December, charted on Beatport across four different genres simultaneously: #3 in Progressive, #7 in Deep House, #10 in Techno and #11 in Tech House. It has been supported by the likes of Richie Hawtin, Claude VonStroke, Lee Burridge and Mark Knight.
The output is at once sexy and aloof, hypnotic and rolling. Its ever-building crescendo is visceral, with thick, smoky synthesizers to get lost in. Cid’s signature, juicy Moog infuses each cut with a hard groove supported by expert percussive arrangement, a talent honed during years spent playing drums in his youth.
“The way I try to stand out is by not doing anything that sounds like what I’ve heard before. As soon as it starts sounding like the rest, I immediately step away. Maybe that helps me a little bit,” he muses. “This is the thing that people don’t realize: it’s not really about the sound, but about the feeling. Because I could use another sound and still bring you the same feeling.”
Cid explains the simple process of analyzing a sound itself to uncover what about it imparts a sensation of euphoria or melancholy; there is frequency, melody, arrangement and pitch. “Most people can’t pick apart a sound. But they know how it feels,” he leans forward in his chair for emphasis, “And as soon as you make them feel the way they like, you’ve grabbed them. They accept you.
Cid is a producer’s producer, kind of rare genius who experiences sound as shape and texture before translating it into waveform. His engineering speaks for itself, as clean and crisp as it is full and lush. “I see the sounds. I see the shapes,” Cid explains, gesturing as if there is an image before him. “It’s almost like I’m in a room and I can see the sound just coming towards me as forms, so I can easily fix whatever needs fixing. If it’s a deep bass I see a mat of something very big under it; if it’s a thin, weak bass I see something small."
There is an inherent intelligence in Brian Cid’s communication, revealed in his words, music and technical prowess. He prefers to remain cocooned in his own world, creating by way of instinct rather than instruction, free from the clutter of trends and charts.
That approach is working. In early 2016 Cid will deliver EPs on Cityfox, Microcastle, Save Us and will return for an encore performance on Hot Since 82’s Knee Deep In Sound. Cid’s own Brooklyn-brewed imprint, Extinct Records, is poised for a slew of new cuts from the bossman himself and a pending roster of solid talent. If the past 12 months have been any indication, we’re fairly certain that Cid is about to become far more than just Brooklyn’s kid.
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