Greg Sullivan, or SGULL, is beginning to make a name for himself in the music industry. No, he isn’t rapping or singing, but instead, creating beats. This past month, he placed a beat on NLE Choppa’s single “Birdboy” that has nearly 7 million views on YouTube. This isn’t a one-off thing, as SGULL has grinded to get to this point and continues to build a solid catalog of beats. Recently, he invited Colossus to the studio he works at to sit down and talk about his craft, the industry, and music in general.
Colossus Music: Let’s start from the beginning. How did you get into music and more specifically how did you start making beats?
SGULL: I’ve been beatboxing since I was ten. I just kind of fell into it really. I played guitar in middle school and then I got Mixcraft at 14. I dabbled with that for a couple years and then for my 16th birthday I got an iPad mini. Basically, I downloaded iMaschine and that’s the program I have been on for like seven years.
CM: Were your parents playing music around the house or anything like that?
S: No not really. My mom played piano in high school but that’s about it. My brother played guitar but he didn’t stay with it for very long, only two years then quit. I played it for two years as well but got bored with it because I couldn’t create the textures I wanted to create.
CM: So if you started on the guitar, who were you first listening to? Was it a rapper or someone in a different genre?
S: I was listening to fucking Tim McGraw, CCR, James Taylor, those kinds of guys. I’m from a town in Connecticut of 8,000 people and 50% of it is protected land. Small ass town!
CM: Who was really the first rapper you started listening to then? Who was that one artist that made you think ‘man, I like this kind of music’?
S: This is gonna sound really embarrassing but it’s Chris Webby. He was a white rapper and had a song called “A.D.D”. I had Attention Deficient Disorder so I immediately thought ‘oh, here’s this white kid talking about ADD and he is from the town my dad works in.’ My dad actually used to work with his mom so I already knew about the kid. The genre was introduced to me in 7th grade though when someone gave me a CD. That’s when I really started to get into it.
CM: Being a producer, were you attracted to the beats then?
S: No I was attracted to the subject matter. Then I started getting further and further into it. I started just making beats for my own purpose but really I was just making elevator music. It wasn’t hip-hop and definitely not trap beats. The first song that made me want to make trap beats was “Money Baby” by K CAMP. I heard that beat and I was like ‘ohhhh shit what is this? This beat is crazy.’ I got into boom-bap first then I started getting into trap. Now I really like trap cause boom-bap really doesn’t have enough bass. I like the drill style, gun-you-down shit.
CM: So where did the producer name SGULL come from?
S: Well my name is Gregory Sullivan. People used to call me “G Sully”, then it became “SGully”. However, “gully” is another term that basically means you are ready to fight someone. I knew I didn’t want to have that connotation directly associated with it cause I knew people would just refer to me as “Gully” so it became SGULL.
CM: Walk me through your creative process a bit.
S: Fuck it let’s make one!
CM: When you start, do you hear a sound or try to go for a certain vibe?
S: Sometimes I will think of a sound, other times it will be the drums first. I’ve had experiences where I will produce a whole beat and not even listen to it. I’ll put all the chords in that I know I want and I program the drums since I know all the drum sounds. Then I just make a basic melody and it’s done. It’s all about the amount of content you create. I give everything I make a light mix and then I send it out. People spend way too much time with producers. The producers will produce shit all day long and all it does is make the meeting more expensive for the artists.
CM: How many beats are you making per day?
S: I am making three beats a day. That means I am on track to make 1,000 beats by the end of the year.
CM: And how many those are getting sold daily?
S: Shit it depends really. Some records are gonna fall by the wayside and you will also have records that will place. I had beats from two or three years ago that just got bought yesterday. You build a catalog for that reason…not everybody fucks with everything you have. People are looking for what they want. The catalog I’m building now is not for 2018. It’s more for like 2021. The old shit I have, I can get out now. The new shit I have, only some of it will get out now but most of it I will hold.
CM: You just placed a beat with NLE Choppa. How long was that one sitting around?
S: Honestly two weeks. I was sitting at one of my buddy’s house and I was like ‘yo I’m gonna troll the fuck out of everyone. I’m gonna make a beat with a hi-hat, a snare, a kick, and an 808 and it’s gonna blow the fuck up.’ He told me no way but it’s what all these young kids are onto these days. I got home from work two weeks later and get this call from a buddy who needed a ride. I pick him up from Astoria and we drive to Manhattan to Jungle Studios. I was chilling with a bunch of big names and Choppa was there. He was mad chill and very humble. I didn’t say I made beats or anything until my buddy was like ‘Choppa if you need beats this kid makes solid beats.’ Then that’s where “Birdboy” came from.
CM: Seems like that’s the route to go if you are a producer trying to get your beats to big names.
S: Yes and no. It depends on who you are with. Certain people you can do that with and certain people you can’t. You just have to know your place. I wasn’t supposed to be in that studio. I was just thinking this is cool and anything that comes out of it is a bonus.
CM: Who are you listening to heavy right now?
S: Stack Bundles and Max B definitely. Old school.
CM: So we are currently doing this interview in Sha Hef’s studio. How did you get involved with him?
S: He’s the homie honestly but he is also my favorite rapper. That’s why I am here really, just to be able to work with him. I was at this studio in Connecticut and one of his homies was there. I went to smoke some weed and take a bit of a break. I put Sha Hef on immediately and he was like ‘oh you fuck with Sha Hef?’ It took forever to manifest from there but six months later I met him and did some work for him. Then I got a call from his manager out of the blue. They were about to open a studio and needed an engineer. This was last summer but it didn’t really come together until February.
CM: How much time are you spending in the studio?
S: It’s up to my own discretion. I pull a lot of 18 hour days though. Yesterday I got to the studio at 2 pm and left at 4 am.
CM: So you’ve been at this for a few years and you’ve been making three beats a day this year. I’m sure there were times early on where beats just weren’t selling or people weren’t taking you seriously. How did you keep pushing through those moments?
S: Honestly, I kind of did it the stupid way to keep my catalog so stacked. It taught me a lot though. Producing is a weird clout chase type of thing. People won’t fuck with you if you don’t have credits but then at the same time they do. It’s weird — like with Choppa, I didn’t charge him for the beat because I know I will get my payment on the backend through other means. The industry is weird, man. All these little kids are giving away free beats which fuck everything up. Some people who I know produce are totally in it for the clout. They just want to be popular. They are more worried about 60,000 followers than $60,000. It’s not too often of a problem for me now but like everyone wants them for free now. No one wants to pay.
CM: But what motivated you to keep that grind up? Three beats a day is not an easy task.
S: A lot of the people I have looked up to have told me that if I really want to be a producer, I could. I was sitting playing beats at Cinematic and one of the A&R’s there kept saying to himself ‘damn this kid could be something but what.’
CM: Speaking of people you look up to, who do you look up to in the industry?
S: My homies A Lau and Tony Seltzer. Shout out to them! They are killing shit right now. Those are the homies. That’s the type of grind I’m trying to be on. Like I think three beats a day is a lot then I go hang out with Tony and give him three melodies and he flexes all of them in forty-five minutes. Him, Kenny Beats, Scott Storch, Harry Fraud, it’s mainly just like white producers.
CM: Okay now this is a question we have to ask everyone. If you were to have dinner with any three musicians, dead or alive, who would they be?
S: Uzi. Damn wait now I’m trying to think of two others beside Uzi. Scott Storch probably. Maybe A$AP Rocky too. I feel like he would be dope to hang with.
CM: Is there any place specifically you would take them?
S: Probably the studio. I’d just order the food. All I eat honestly is pizza, fruit, and Chinese food. Yesterday I had two apples, some fries, and a panini with avocado. That was the first time having avocado and it was at three in the morning. So yeah a weird dinner.
CM: Last question. What do you want 2019 to be for SGULL?
S: Some very dope opportunities were just dropped in my lap a couple days ago. I’m capitalizing on those, just waiting for one of the rappers to get out of jail so we can make the song.