With three Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits to his name in less than two years, OZ (that’s O-Z) knows the stakes are raised with every production he attaches his name to — but the Turkish beat maestro won’t let that hamper his creativity.
“Greece” might sound familiar to 6 God faithful, as the lavish track leaked earlier this year. It sees Drake experimenting with higher-pitched vocals, while the Instagram caption-friendly “POPSTAR” is oozing with song of the summer potential, after finally coming to fruition nearly a year to the day OZ crafted the woozy beat.
Even after producing the Future-assisted “Life Is Good,” the ubiquitous “Toosie Slide,” and a pair of Dark Lane Demo Tapes cuts, OZ isn’t done just yet with more Drake collabs possibly on the horizon. He also names Travis Scott (“SICKO MODE” & “Highest in the Room”) and Meek Mill as artists he’s working alongside in 2020.
OZ hopes all of these musical victories eventually springboard him to his dream scenario of taking home producer of the year honors at the upcoming Grammy Awards, which he’s throwing his name into the mix for the Academy to consider. He’s been nominated in various categories over the past four years but has never hoisted the gilded gramophone.
Take a look at the rest of our interview with the Switzerland native, as he breaks down producing both of the new Drake and DJ Khaled collabs, paying Drizzy’s Toronto mansion a visit, his plans to win a Grammy, and more.
Billboard: How was your quarantine in Switzerland? Are things opening up over there?
OZ: Everything’s open and regular. There are a few rules with [wearing a] mask, but other than that, we even have clubs open.
You produced two records for Drake and DJ Khaled. Let’s start with how “Greece” came together.
I made the beat with Tiggi. He sent me a sample and I flipped his sample to make it more uptempo and clubby. I did the drums and then sent it to Drake. He had the beat and we didn’t know he was going to do something. A couple of weeks went by, and he sent the first idea back. From there, we knew it was about to be crazy. The vocals don’t sound like the other songs he has with me. I think Noel [Cadastre, Drake’s engineer] did Drake’s vocals. We started the song last fall and went back-and-forth on the production side.
How has your chemistry with Drake developed since getting your first placement with him on VIEWS to this year’s Dark Lane Demo Tapes?
The relationship really started last winter through my manager. We met for the first time last winter and I’ve been working on a daily basis and sending him all types of beats. I think he knows I’m not just making one type. I can make anything from R&B to hard rap beats and for the club. I’m always doing what I feel could be the next wave. The chemistry’s just perfect. He knows I work hard and he appreciates that.
He flew me out a couple of times last year. It was not like the other regular sessions we know about. It was more, go there and build a vibe. The first time was in Los Angeles — Drake rented a mansion for a bunch of producers on the same management team as me. The second time we met was in London when we went to see a couple of his shows. When his house was done, we were also in Toronto at the big mansion. The house is so big, I don’t know how many families could live there. He gave me the opportunity to work in his home studio and make beats, which was fresh inspiration for me. I would make beats and send them to his phone. When there was something he felt was fire, he’d let me know and we’d go from there.
Does it feel weird to have this song synonymous with Greece? Whenever you hear it, does it remind you of going out there?
When I hear this song, it gives me the feeling that I want to book my vacation right now and fly out to Greece. I want to be there on the beach, chilling, and listening to music. I don’t know if there’s a song out named after a country, but it’s different. Greece is a great place. When I hear the song, it puts pictures in my mind like a movie.
Could “POPSTAR” be your fourth No. 1 to top the Billboard Hot 100?
Who knows, maybe “Greece” or “Popstar?” “Greece” is kind of uptempo and emotional, but “Popstar” is a hard club record. It could definitely go to the No. 1 spot. If people could go to concerts right now, this would be a crazy record to hear live.
How was working with the production duo David x Eli on this track?
I made the beat last summer. I tweeted that I made it last July, and a year later it’s going to happen. I worked with David x Eli, they’re a producer team from Germany. I think they’re brothers. I always open sample packs from producers to see what kind of vibe I’m on. A lot of times, I’m too lazy to make my own samples, so I’ll use other producers to find a crazy melody. I love to collaborate with people. I ended up using their loop to take this to the next level.
A lot of your bigger records are working alongside other producers. Can you speak to what that collaborative process is like when creating?
It’s great to collaborate with other producers because everyone has a different ear. Somebody might come with a crazy melody with a sound I may have never thought about and then I’ll flip it. There are times I’ll do my own thing, like on “Toosie Slide” or “Time Flies,” which are records I made by myself, which feels great.
Are producers and artists treating you differently since all of your success? Is it easier to get placements now?
It’s hard nowadays, when you’re popping, a lot of people are asking for beats and rappers will hit me up like, “I need the pack!” You have to be ready. I take my time with my beats, but now I feel the pressure. I have to deliver more music, and people are hitting me up saying, “We need a hit too!” It’s kind of hard to make all the beats I make from scratch so I like to get co-signs from other producers sending me samples.
I’m always trying to find a new sound, I’m not just sitting here repeating samples. My records from the last 12 months are so many different vibes [“Gold Roses,” “Highest in the Room,” “Time Flies,” “Life Is Good,” “Toosie Slide”]. I definitely care about my sound so I don’t overproduce. I don’t overproduce and make trash-ass beats because I’m popping. You still have to make quality beats so you can stay up there.
Your manager told me you’re going to be submitted for producer of the year at the Grammy Awards. Is that something that has always been a goal of yours?
It has always been my dream to win producer of the year. Now that I’ve achieved all of this, it seems realistic that I could be nominated. I came this far and it’s really possible I could make my dream come true. I’ve been nominated the last four years on albums and records, but I’ve never won anything. It would be crazy if my first win is for producer of the year. That’s the highest I can get. I’d be honored, but I know there are so many other producers out there. I believe in me and my team, so I think we can make it happen.
Who are we going to see you working with the rest of 2020?
It’s always the same routine. Every year, I try to work with the same artists to get on their albums or make a classic song. My goal is to just keep going and make “another one.” I’m working with Drake, Travis Scott, Meek Mill, and Giveon.