Alex Stoddard ‘23.5, known in the music world as A$tod, is a music producer who has worked on songs for hip-hop artists such as Yung Bleu, OMB Peezy and Rod Wave. The Rod Wave Album soul fly, which includes “OMBD,” a song produced by Stoddard, was nominated for an American Music Award last October. Given its success, the Disk sat down to talk to Stoddard about how he got involved in the music industry, his personal connections to these songs, and the overall role music plays in his life.
Isabelle Sanderson (IS): How did you start working as a producer, especially being so young?
Alex Stoddard (AS): I sort of started in high school. [In] ninth grade, I was really messing around with GarageBand. I got injured in basketball, so I couldn’t play, so I had a lot of free time, and then I realized I liked it. I started working with artists in my school, just producing stuff for them…and the passion just kept growing from there.
IS: How did you start working with such famous names as Yung Bleu and Rod Wave?
AS: It’s a lot of networking [between] managers and small artists. I guess my first big song was with Yung Bleu, [which] was born from the work with his manager. I sent stuff to [Bleu’s manager] and then at some point he told me to send some stuff [to] Blue, [who] really liked my stuff. Then, these first opportunities really opened the door to other opportunities to work with other producers, other artists.
IS: Let’s get more into your process. When you make a beat, is it something that comes naturally to you or is there more trial and error?
AS: There’s a lot of, as you said, trial and error. I go out there and do a little silly stuff until I find an idea that I like, and then I’m going to build on that. Sometimes I’ll start with a sample as an idea. I’ll go in with a general vibe – like if I want to do R&B or if I want to do something sadder – then once I’ve made the beat, I shop around and send it to different artists. Now I’ve been making beats for so long, so I have so many beats. I can just collect emails and send them out in groups of five or six beats and see which artists are rocking.
IS: Do you find it a very personal experience?
AS: Of course. With all good music, you [capture] the feeling of the person doing it at the time. A lot of things I do try to get my emotions out, or there’s a message I want to get across.
IS: Let’s focus on Rod Wave’s song OMBD. Rod Wave is known for his very personal and introspective lyrics. Given that, is there a specific element in this song that you want to draw the listener’s attention to?
AS: I think this song is definitely the most meaningful song I’ve done. A lot of this song is about getting out of the struggle and going through the trials and tribulations that [Rod Wave] crossed to get where he is, [such as] fame not reaching him and people not believing in him. I can tell the story of how this song came about. It was a collaboration with me and another producer, Yung Tago. I didn’t even do it thinking of Rod. I did the melody, then I sent it to Tago, and he did the drums on it. He ended up sending it to Rod. I learned it when [Rod] posted an extract in his story on Instagram. It was the first time I heard it and I was like “Wow, that’s my beat.” I was really surprised.
IS: Do you think producers generally don’t get enough credit?
AS: Yes, of course. There is certainly a lack of respect for the producers… [It takes] a lot of time to manage the paperwork, then [we don’t] get credit on songs in a way that’s as public as the artists. But I think it’s starting to move in the right direction. I think producers are starting to get more credit and more respect within the industry, but I think there’s still a long way to go.
IS: You deal with a lot between that and playing on the college varsity basketball team. What are your support systems in college?
AS: My teammates are definitely a huge support system for me. A part of [them] also make music. To be with them is amazing in terms of music and creativity, just to see what they’re working on, because they make completely different types of music than mine. The [have] also been some music lessons [that] were very helpful in developing my musical skills like music theory 102 and 103. Having the technical skills really helped me to make more complex ideas with music.
IS: Where do you see yourself in the future?
AS: I really want to work with more artists. Top of the list is Drake. He’s the greatest artist in the world and one of my favorite artists. I really want to work with Youngboy, another of my favorite artists. I also want to get into the R&B side of things.
IS: What role does music play in your everyday life when you’re not working to a beat?
AS: Honestly, music is a huge, huge part of my life. I listen to music all day. My friends will tell you [that] I always have music playing. It’s really annoying for them. I listen to it while falling asleep. I listen to music when I’m in the bathroom. I listen to music when I do my homework. It really, really means a lot to me just because it gives an outlet for how you feel. There’s a song for every feeling you have.