Teen from These Guys Exclusive Interview

Teen_0003.1Exclusive Tom Tom Photograph by Jennifer Leigh Aschoff

Teen Beats has a fresh perspective and the smarts to follow through. She’s a musical jack of all trades and has a great philosophy about elevating the way music is made. Teen has an ear for making original beats and choosing the right artists to complement her tracks. I recently had a chance to catch up with Christina Robinson to learn what her music projects are up to and where she’s headed as a producer.


Exclusive Tom Tom Photograph by Jennifer Leigh-Aschoff

“Stay true to yourself and get around the right people because ‘Whats’ around ya, will influence ya.’” – Teen Beats

Full name: Christina Robinson

Nickname: Teen; Teen Beats

Age: 22

Hometown: Brooklyn, Chicago, Staten Island

Where do you live now: Brooklyn

What do you do for a living: Music


Exclusive Tom Tom Photograph by Jennifer Leigh-Aschoff

Tom Tom Magazine: Tell me about the music projects you are involved in right now?

Teen Beats: Well, I am the producer of These Guys which I happen to be one half of…But right now I am working on my solo project. I call It ‘Distorted Retard.’ I’m working with a few artists and I’m also holding weekly music showcases.

Tom Tom Magazine: How’d you come up with that name Distorted Retard?

Teen: I don’t know it just fits me so much…Plus my music always sounds so distorted. But I have a real different sound, a lot of people aren’t used to it…so I call it Distorted Retard.


Exclusive Tom Tom Photograph by Jennifer Leigh-Aschoff

Tom Tom Magazine: So distorted as in having a different perspective but with a little bit of fuzzy edge to it?

Teen: Exactly, and a different sound. Yes.

Tom Tom Magazine: Well then yes, the name suits your music. I think you have a really fresh perspective.

Teen: Thank you.

Tom Tom Magazine: So did you play in anything before These Guys?

Teen: I had been producing  for a bunch of local artists in Staten Island. I mean I was in the marching band in high school, and so as far as drumming, I had more of a snare technique and used that to making beats instead of playing drums for a band.


Exclusive Tom Tom Photograph by Jennifer Leigh-Aschoff

TTM: That’s cool. So you were used to hearing the drum sound individually as opposed to hearing them like in a kit.

Teen: Yeah pretty much. Although, I do really much appreciate hearing the set in a song and real instruments. I’m actually thinking about forming a band for my solo project.

TTM: Did you play any other instruments growing up?

Teen: Yes, I took piano lessons for a few years.


Exclusive Tom Tom Photograph by Jennifer Leigh-Aschoff

TTM: Okay, so it sounds like music has always been in your life. When did you start actually programming beats and what did you use? Who was around you or did you start on your own?

Teen: When I was in like 11th grade when I was in marching band, and I started using Fruity Loops. It was on the demo version. And yeah music was always in my life from my family. My two uncle’s were DJs. So me and my cousin Flip, who is a part of These Guys, would be DJing at like 14. But uh yeah I started on my own. I went looking for a program and found it online.


Exclusive Tom Tom Photograph by Jennifer Leigh-Aschoff

TTM: So what kinds of stuff were you listening to then? What were your early influences?

Teen: Growing up, my family use to always listen to like 90’s House music and real soul music like Al Green. But my influences were Lauren Hill, Kanye West, Outkast, Pink, Michael Jackson, Prince, Run DMC and Russell Simmons, with my business side.

TTM: An empire is in the works huh?

Teen: Yes Ma’am, I’ve always been really self contained and independent.


Exclusive Tom Tom Photograph by Jennifer Leigh-Aschoff

TTM: So do you still consider these artists/genres influences or are there new ones on the list?

Teen: Yeah. I also Really Love this Group MGMT. And as far as Hip Hop is concerned, I am not really satisfied with people who are out now. They’ve lost track of what music should be, but times change…

TTM: How do you mean?

Teen: Well, I feel that music should be with a message, I just feel like lyrically and melodically music is lacking.  Originality has gone.


TTM: What do you think is responsible for that?

Teen: Hmm, probably media and society focusing on money, money, money and cars and you know the glam…So now that’s what people rap about and I am talking as far as Hip Hop is concerned.

TTM: Yeah, there’s definitely no shortage.

Teen: Exactly.

TTM: So you and flip MC together, right?

Teen: Yes.


TTM: What are some of the themes of your lyrics?

Teen: Well, we have touched all types of topics, we write songs as well. And we wrote this one song for my one artist Eliki. She’s an amazing singer from Chicago…and the theme was prostitution and it was called ‘Kate Goes To Jail.’ It’s so sick–watch when we record it.  We also have this song called ‘Gone’ and it’s about how you can get wrapped up in all these wrong paths and be gone and not know it. So many, but they definitely have a meaning that can touch people for many, many more years to come, and that’s what it’s about.

TTM: Yeah i definitely hear that–in some ways I feel like music is missing that timeless quality too. You hear a single one minute and then it’s on to the next thing…So do you and Flip collaborate on everything?

Teen: No, I have this song called ‘I’m Drake He’s Weezy’, it’s kind of a sarcastic song to show my character. I also have a few other solo songs featuring Eliki.


TTM: So is These Guys or Distorted Retard working on a release–EP, album or something?

Teen: Yes, I am working on my solo album and I’m also going to have a compilation album that features a bunch of artists, more like a mix-tape.

TTM: So is it like different artists where you produce the beats or is it like your mixes of a bunch of songs?

Teen: Yeah, it’s different artists on a mixture of beats, like a combo of both.

TTM: Cool. Is that related to your weekly showcase?

Teen: Yeah. Pretty Much. Like all the artists I work with, or artists that I haven’t–they will come to perform. I’m changing my showcase to Soho Now and making it more of a live gig. I want to get some bands out here.


Exclusive Tom Tom Photograph by Jennifer Leigh-Aschoff

TTM: Awesome. Do you still DJ as well?

Teen: No, but i thought about it [laughs out loud].

TTM: Okay, so tell me about your studio set up. Are you still using the MPC 2000?

Teen: Well unfortunately not.

TTM: Oh no!

Teen: I know. But I am expanding so right now I am currently using Garage Band. Nothing too major, but it gets the job done.

TTM: Cool. It’s a great tool. So how do you do your sampling now? Like what kinds of samples do you use?

Teen: Well, right now I do everything pretty much digitally on the computer. You can do so much with a Mac and if I hear a sweet song or anything I hear, I’ll uploaded it and then cut it up. Then I’ll add all the melodies, that’s my specialty. Most of my music is all played out.

TTM: What do u mean?

Teen: A lot of people don’t know, but I use my computer keypad as my piano or my beat machine.


TTM: Ah so you play all the parts out.

Teen: Until I can save up enough money to get my own equipment–yes.

TTM: So tell me what goes through your head when you are making the BEATS.

Teen: Hmmm…Well it actually all comes to me, like I’ll hear it exactly how I want it to be, that’s the easy part. It’s getting it to come out that way is the hard part [laughs out loud].

TTM: So does it help that you actually play the drums when you are making beats?

Teen: Yes, very much so, well that i have a knowledge of music theory in general–even if it was the flute…

TTM: Sounds like that will come in handy if you get a band together.

Teen: Yes, true.

TTM: So have you ever experienced any set backs as a female producer/beat maker?

Teen: Well at first I think people underestimate me, but then they hear my music  and it speaks for itself. But if anything it has helped me.

TTM: How’s that?

Teen: Like it makes me look even better that I am a female producer in a male dominated industry AND has great talent.

TTM: WORD. Well said.

Teen: Thanks.

TTM: So let’s see. Do you have any advice for the other beat makers out there?

Teen: Yes, stay true to yourself and get around the right people because, ‘What’s around ya, will influence ya.’ That’s one of my quotes in my song.

Exclusive Tom Tom Magazine Interview by: Allie Alvarado

Exclusive Tom Tom Magazine Photos by: Jennifer Leigh Aschoff

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