Grammy Winning Producer Eric Seats speaks on Lalah Hathaway, Patti Labelle, and Aaliyah 

Eric Seats, half of the production duo Key Beats, has produced hits for 702, with “Where My Girls At,” and Destiny’s Child for “Independent Women Part Two”, among others throughout the 90’s and 00’s. Key Beats had a strong influence on Aaliyah’s last self-titled album, with songs like, “It’s Whatever,” “Loose Rap,” and hit, “Rock The Boat.” Eric is also the lead drummer for Lalah Hathaway and Patti Labelle. He recently won two Grammys with Lalah Hathaway for her live CD and performance of Anita Baker’s Angel. I’ve personally known Eric Seats for a couple of years as an artist, so it was great to sit down and discuss his music with him.

Tell me about your beginnings?

I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana to two musician parents. My dad was a drummer and mom a pianist and singer. I was playing the drums before I could talk. As I grew up, I played in a lot of community choirs and things like that at different churches, but the diversity of audiences came with my high school accomplishments and different Jazz festivals I was exposed too. We were working professionally in high school and when I graduated I started touring with John B. who was also a classmate at the time. Two years after we graduated, John’s Bonafide album came out.

How did you get involved with Aaliyah’s final album?

My partner at the time Rapture Stuart and I were called Key Beats. I was on tour with Montell Jordan and Rapture was on tour with Timbaland and Missy. I played our stuff for Montell and Rapture played our stuff for Tim and Missy. Eventually, they both wanted to sign us to production deals. We chose to move to New York and sign with Timbaland. That’s how Aaliyah ended up hearing what we were doing. I remember so many producers wanted to work on that record, even guys that were already popular and doing big things. She didn’t really want to go to everybody. She wasn’t like that. Aaliyah wanted her own sound. She went with us and we were rebel enough to not try to sound like Timbaland and whoever else was hot at the time. We wanted our own sound and she admired that. That’s how we ended up doing so much work with her.

How did you get involved with Lalah Hathaway’s Grammy winning projects, Lalah Hathaway: Live and R&B performance for the song “Angel”?

I’ve worked with Lalah maybe a good 13 years and the whole time I’d been encouraging Lalah to do live DVDs and CDs of her songs. I’m not saying I’m the influence behind it, but I’ve been in her ear. You’re known for your live ability and your recorded stuff. I’m like, these people need to experience you live.  It eventually happened. I won two Grammys so, I was grateful for that.

What is it like working with legendary Patti Labelle on tour and how did that come about?

That is a blessing because way past her legendary status, she’s like everybody’s aunt and good friend. I was initially a substitute for another drummer who called and asked if I could do a couple shows. I never got a rehearsal. I never even got a sound check. I was handed a CD with at least 25 songs on it and then the person couldn’t even tell me which songs they were going to do. I had to learn all of it on a plane. Patti later gave me a call after three gigs and asked if I’d come back and play for her. Of course, I said yes!

You released your album Project Sidioo Vol. 1 and, you’re finishing Vol. 2. What made you decide to create these projects?

The inspiration came from hearing the radio and thinking, what’s going on and why are we not being musical anymore in mainstream? I said I’m going to do something about the music I don’t like, and give people something else to choose from. I know too many talented people that I’ve have met along the way. Why can’t we reach out to each other, come up with an agreement, and get our percentages right? I don’t like to shop my music. I don’t like to send my music to artist to get a grade. I don’t do my music for surveys. I do it because I want to do it. I wanted to showcase all the talent that I’ve met along the way. I met you maybe two years ago and here you (Adam White) are on Project Sidioo Vol. 3.

Tell me about “The Next Great Drummer”? What is it? What’s it about?

I created an opportunity for young drummers to showcase their gift in front of an audience. We established “The Next Great Drummer” in 2008. We teamed up with Sam Ash and started holding competitions. We have over 55,000 drummers in our database to date. The Next Great Drummer is an awesome thing.

to check out music, visit http://projectsidiooo.com/

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