1800 Tequila & Their Brand New Plan to Make Every Second Count
The concept of using Hip-Hop in branding campaigns is not new, in fact, brands such as Target and McDonald’s have been employing the approach for years. Ever since hip-hop became the most listened to genre in the past few years, it has made sense for brands to cozy up to the movement in order to appeal to its growing audience. But, 1800 Tequila has taken the idea to a new level, integrating themselves, not only with the culture of the genre but into one of its most essential elements, musical creation. The innovative tequila brand created the 1800 Seconds Volumes as a platform to release new music curated by a titan in hip-hop. While some have used hip-hop purely as a conduit to sell more products, 1800 has used their platform to give back to the community. The compilation album takes seven rising artists and an up-and-coming producer and gives them the opportunity to write and collaborate on new music using major labor resources. The addition of a major co-sign from an industry heavy hitter, gives the project a sense of validation. It is a life-changing opportunity for any of the artists involved and a unique way for 1800 Tequila to expand their empire into a new arena. The search for new artists and new sounds is held on a national scale, ensuring a diverse sound and unique artists, but it is the curator who sets the tone. This year’s curator is one of the biggest names to come out of Atlanta in the last decade, as well as an innovator of a style of hip-hop that has taken over in a younger generation, Future.
The name of the FreeBandz founder and hip-hop rockstar would be enough to drum up excitement for any project. As Future’s recently released collaboration with “The Boy”, Drake, is currently making waves across all platforms (“Life is Good”), one can’t help but wonder where he gets the time to curate a separate project with 1800 Seconds. Whether Future has acquired a time machine or just doesn’t sleep, he found a way to lend an ear and a helping hand to the 1800 Seconds Vol. 2 project.
The search for the seven unique artists was mostly put in the hands of a creative collective named Brand New A Collective & Future. While the position of playing “A&R” for a major hip-hop release may be a new arena for the company, their ability to navigate uncommon branding ideas to fruition glimmers with a stroke of genius that made them ideal for 1800 Tequila’s latest venture. Collaborating with an artist like Future, who is known for cultivating new sounds in hip-hop, made it essential for them to find a diverse group of artists that exemplify the same fearless attitude when it comes to the creation of their own music.
We had the rare opportunity to speak to Alyssa Convertini and Kellie Pean, who worked closely with 1800 to make the project happen.
Alyssa Convertini and Kellie Pean (Brand New A Collective) Interview
The Knockturnal: How would Brand New A Collective define themselves as an entity and what led to this partnership with 1800?
Brand New: Brand New is a collective-based agency rooted in culture, which specializes in creating immersive content and experiential programs for brand and talent partners. Our strength is tapping into the right cultural moments and creative individuals that drive much of what consumers worldwide experience on a daily basis. Our collective specializes in talent partnerships, experiential activations and custom content programs, centered within strategic thought leadership. The partnership with 1800 Tequila kicked off in 2016, when Alyssa, who was running Branded Content/Music Strategy and Kellie, who was overseeing Marketing, developed a variety of integrated marketing campaigns for the brand. Following the launch of our agency, our relationship continued with the brand, helping to lead many key campaign initiatives from the successful, “1800 Seconds” campaign to talent partnerships within many lifestyle experiences.
The Knockturnal: Is the A&R position a new area for the company or has Brand New worked in similar areas?
Alyssa Convertini: I would say that both A&R and music production are areas within the music industry that I’ve personally been close to for a long time. I started out on the music production side before segueing into digital media, eventually into marketing. (Fun fact: I actually went to school for music production!) Being in the studio is both fun and challenging for us; it’s not our everyday work, but it’s definitely a niche capability that, we believe, sets us apart from other agencies in a similar space.
Kellie Pean: As a collective-based agency, we identify subject-matter experts in their respective fields for many of our projects. Given the nature of “1800 Seconds,” we decided to pull in George Ofori-Ampadu who acted as the sole A&R for the project, alongside Anthony Daniels, who operated as our lead engineer. Incorporating the right talent on a project is critical to its success and these two helped to shape the project musically. We were excited to bring in our Executive Producer, Nick Papz (a/k/a “Papamitrou”), to pull the project together with an arsenal of beats that blew everyone away and ultimately led to the album we have out today.
The Knockturnal: 1800 Seconds has established itself as a platform dedicated to artist discovery, particularly in the genre of hip-hop/rap. In 1800 partnership with Brand New, how were artists chosen for this project?
Brand New: The artist selection process is unique and thorough across each volume. There are a multitude of factors at play when it comes to artist selection and is always a collaborative effort between the 1800 Tequila brand team, selected Curator and our collective. The process is layered but starts with the Curator. They share their top 15-20 picks, and then we evaluate them based on preexisting criteria, that ties back to larger brand objectives. We also make sure we’re focused on selecting artists that in isolation are all-stars, but together, we feel confident can make magic happen. There are a series of other elements (compliance checks, social monitoring, etc.) that go into it as well. After the artist meets the criteria, we end up selecting the ones that we inherently feel best fit the project.
The Knockturnal: The artists come from various parts of the US, how did Brand New ensure they could collaborate well together?
Brand New: We truly never know how collaboration is going to go until we’re in the studio. But we do everything we can to set the artists up for success. We make it very clear from our first discussions that this program is not a competition, collaboration is key and we are looking for people who are truly passionate about their music journey. During the first few studio sessions, you can tell that everyone’s getting comfortable as a group, in front of cameras, meeting the team and such. Quickly after that, it really becomes a true family vibe. We book studio settings where 3-4 artists can be working at a time and invite the rest to hang out. This year, that yielded over 30+ collaborations in 8 days of making music.
The Knockturnal: Future’s music is known for a very unique delivery style. Was this part of the choosing process? Or was there search more directed to individual talents that also had an innate uniqueness to their music?
Brand New: Future’s unique music delivery was an aspect of why he was approached to be Curator, but not our priority focus. Future was the perfect artist to curate the album based on his stature in the music industry. Astounding musical success aside, Future is at a place in his career now where he’s the perfect fit to mentor artists and show up to the studio not as a player, but as the coach. Because of the sonic similarities some of our artists share with him, it definitely made his interest in the music that much stronger. When Future walked into the studio for the first time (with the intention of filming some interview questions) one of the songs (“Field Trip” by Aurora Anthony) came on. We temporarily paused on the interview, he called in his engineer in the room and just started harmonizing and dropping ad-libs on the track. Moments like that made us aware that we had something really special musically with this project.
The compilation album is tied together by the production brilliance of Nick Papamitrou (aka Papamitrou or Nick Papz). Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts Nick was put at the helm of creating the sounds that would mesh a team of artists that seemed to have nothing in common, but their undeniable gifts for music. The idea of creating an album in a week with one of hip-hop’s biggest superstars and seven artists you’ve never met may seem daunting to some, but Nick took it in stride creating an album that exemplified the uniqueness of each artist and it’s head curator, Future.
Nick Papz Interview
The Knockturnal: How did you get involved with 1800 and the 1800 Seconds project?
Nick Papz: My management actually, shoutout to Cruz, who is actually Meek Mill’s engineer, he put the play together for me with 1800 Seconds. And ever since it fell through quickly. We became a family and the vibe was right. We just made great music.
The Knockturnal: What was the process of recording and creation like for you and the artists?
Nick Papz: Basically, every artist came into a separate room for me and I had them play me their music first. That way I could get a vibe of how they liked to approach a beat and what kind of beats they usually went for. So, as soon as they played me their music, I already had so many beats lined up. It didn’t matter what genre it was; whether it was trap, dancehall, R&B, Spanish, I had it all. So, I pretty much caught their vibe and put tailored a beat pack to their sound for them and the result was 1800 Seconds.
The Knockturnal: How was it working with Future and what was his involvement in the project?
Nick Papz: Future was the curator of the project. When he came in the studio with us, he gave feedback to everyone. Which was super important and I’m glad he did that. He really paid attention to everyone. He laid his stuff on the songs and added his flavor and sauce to the project.
The Knockturnal: How did you get your introduction into music?
Nick Papz: It’s crazy. I actually started by playing guitar for 13 years. I was actually listening to people like Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. Then I started engineering rappers at my high school and I thought we were gonna make it together. We were really serious. But, my little brother was making beats and one day I was like, “Let me try to make the beats too. I wanna learn”. So, we downloaded FL Studios and I fell in love with it. I was making beats and putting them on Youtube and getting millions of views and it happened like that. Now, I have a deal with FL Studios, so shoutout to FL.
The Knockturnal: What is your current day-to-day creation process like?
Nick Papz: Basically, I’m going off the vibe I’m on. I’ve done a bunch of uptown vibe records to date such as Meek Mill and Roddy Rich’s “Letter to Nipsey” (a track that was premiered at the January 26th Grammy’s). I love making club records, because when I go to the club and I see people jumping up and down to a record I’m like, “Damn, I wish that was my beat”. So, that’s how I get inspired. Not by the money or any of that shit. It’s really about the people’s reactions. I love that. That’s what gets me going and that’s what gets me fired up.
The Knockturnal: Who are some artists you would like to work with in the future?
Nick Papz: My top three right now would have to be Tory Lanez, Lil Baby, and J Balvin. And that’s a crazy mix right there. I’m Portuguese and Greek, but I grew up around a lot of Spanish people, so that’s how I got into the Spanish music. And if you hear Uptown Vibes, the track I did with Meek Mill, Fabolous, and Anuel AA or the recent track, Uptown II, I did with Meek and Farruko (featured on the Bad Boys For Life soundtrack), that’s kinda me getting into the music industry right now. But, you can kinda hear the Spanish feel that I’m trying to bring to the game right now. I got the trap mixed with the reggeaton in it. It’s like a new wave.
The seven rising artists from the project did not disappoint, bringing their diverse backgrounds and styles together into a melting pot that created a body of work that demands the attention of listeners and industry workers alike. The seven artists chosen were Aurora Anthony (New York, NY), Herion Young (Memphis, TN), Juiicy2xS (Cincinnati, OH), Lihtz (Philadelphia, PA), Seddy Hendrinx (Jacksonville, FL), Shaun Sloan (Los Angeles, CA) and Test (Baltimore, MD).
We got the chance to sit down with one of the artists who made a definite impact on the album with his trap influenced rap style laced with melodic croons. His tales of Jacksonville, Florida have earned him attention from industry giants such as DJ Drama, Wiz Khalifa, and A Boogie with the Hoodie. His performance on this project is sure to only further his legend.
Seddy Hendrinx Interview
The Knockturnal: How was the creation and recording process for the project?
Seddy Hendrinx: It was great, I loved it. Working with different people, different ethnicities, different musical styles created a different vibe. It was perfect though. It just fit. We as artists stuck to creating and let 1800 figure out the collaborations, which they said was a hard choice for them. And that shit turned out hard! They did a great job. I walked into a room with Nick Papz, told him about my past and history. I let him listen to some of my old music; songs like “Low Key”, “Molded Me”, “Sunshine” and he was like, “Let’s go from there”.
The Knockturnal: What can new and old fans alike look forward to in the future from you?
Seddy Hendrinx: I’m dropping a tape called “BHD” coming out in March. Y’all are the first people to know that. You can expect a lot of real bumpy music, a lot of ride-along, get at them and get right, a lot of money making, and a lot of humbleness and honesty. And a lot of pain. Imma always gonna give you the pain, Imma always get grimy with it. That’s just what it is.
The Knockturnal: Who are you working with for the new project?
Seddy Hendrinx: This tape is definitely gonna have a lot of me on it, but I’m working with Ralo, Quando Rando, Wiz Khalifa, NoCap, Future…really everybody. It’s a lot coming.
The album and campaign came to a culmination in Atlanta on February 6th at Atlanta’s newest nightclub Domaine. The seven emerging artists took the stage to perform the album live for an energetic crowd of ATLiens, who were treated to 1800 Tequila beverages. Future did what he does best and closed out the night, bringing the house down with classics from his vast catalog of hits.
1800 Seconds Vol. 2, distributed by UnitedMasters, can be downloaded by visiting 1800seconds.com. The website also offers behind the scene videos that give a deeper view into the process of the album creation and event preparations.