Studio Sessions I Chef Pasquale talks producing for Drake and PNB Rock, and much more

Keith Nelson Jr

 // Aug 8, 2019

Photo Credit: Quincy Houston

For "Studios Sessions," we delve into the stories behind the long hours in the studio and all that goes into making an album by talking with artists, producers, engineers, photographers, and more who are intimately connected to the recording process with some of the biggest artists in the world. These are the stories that rarely leave the booth.

When you take a leap of faith toward your dreams, sometimes failure can lead to success. Years ago, Cameron "Chef" Pasquale made a beat that impressed Drake's longtime producer Boi1da, but Pasquale didn't get a response for nearly a year. In 2016, he competed at a Battle of the Beat Makers tournament in Canada where Boi1da was a judge. Unfortunately, Chef failed the competition quickly. He told REVOLT TV, “I got eliminated in the first round, but I got to play Boi1da that beat. He heard it and asked me, ‘Yo, you made this beat? Come talk to me after the show. Don’t leave without talking to me.'"

In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” Pasquale recalls how failure led him to Drake, hilariously high studio sessions with PNB Rock, and how he's made it this far in the music industry with no help.

How did you get on Drake's album More Life?

Kylie Jenner played this song that I produced, ['Hey Mr. Ramrod'], on her Instagram and everybody started hitting me up. Travis Scott's crew, Major Lazer and... Oliver [El-Khatib], Drake’s manager... hit me up on Instagram like, ‘Hey, can you send me some beats?’ OVO and Ram were working together because Drake just hopped on Ram’s remix to 'Sweeterman.' For a year straight, I was sending beats... Then, around the end of December 2016, I sent them a pack [with the song] ‘KMT’ in it and the rest is history.

You sent the beat to them, but have you ever been in the studio with Drake?

Drake invited me to the studio and he had his little hookah and speakers set up in the living room with a mic... [He's] real cool and there’s a lot of love that he showed me. But, Drake just be cooking up. He’s working.

When was this?

This was after OVO Festival [in 2017]. Once I got introduced to Drake at the club, he saw me and was like, ‘Squale!’ He was mad cool... The OVO Fest after-party was a movie. Everyone was there. French [Montana], Swae Lee, Playboi Carti, and Murda Beatz and his mom [were] there... that’s how Drake's parties [are].

At the end of the night... he put his arm around me like, ‘Squale, what’s good with the pack?’ I was about to leave the next day, but Drake invited me out to his mansion... and [gave] me a tour of the house. He loved my tag, ‘Chop it up like Squale, yeah.’ He says it all the time. After that, we went out to dinner, and later that night we went to the studio and vibed out.

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Was 'KMT' your first big placement as a producer?

The placement that changed my life was Ramriddlz's 'Hey Mr. Ramrod.' I wouldn't be where I'm at if it wasn't for that record. But, ['KMT'] changed my [view of] the industry.

You also did 'Issues' with PNB Rock and Russ. How did that come together?

After I worked with Drake, I was calling my boy Ness On The Beat, who I did ‘KMT’ with. PNB Rock had this song at the time called ‘No Time’ and Rock was my next favorite artist after Drake. Ness knew Rock by being signed to A Boogie. Every time I would talk to Ness, I would be like, ‘Yo, we have to get a PNB Rock record. We have to work with Rock. I love Rock.’ Ness was at Boogie’s house one day, played [PNB Rock] ‘Issues’ and that was it.

What’s the quickest you’ve been in the studio with an artist?

Real Luv’ by PNB Rock. It didn’t make the album, but he still put it out... People don’t know that PNB produces. He had this beat and I told him, ‘Yo, I need that melody.’ He said, ‘I already have an idea for it.’ We sat down and made the whole record from scratch. That was the coolest session I’ve ever had. We were all helping with melodies, writing and laughing.

Rock came to me and said, ‘Chef [this is] the engineer...' He wanted to say he sucked, but he... said the engineer was killing the vibes. Right at that time, [Offset’s engineer] J. Rich walked in because he left his laptop there the night before... and he saved the session.

PNB Rock (left) in the studio with Chef Pasquale (center) and Take A Daytrip (right)

What would you say is the funniest thing you’ve seen in a studio session?

That same session, bro (laughs). We hadn’t eaten all day and were starving. [PNB] sent his boy to get Taco Bell... We had smoked so much weed and were in the zone making the song that we didn’t even notice homie came, and put [the food] right in front of us. Three or four hours go by and we remembered we were hungry again. PNB was like, ‘What ever happened to that Taco Bell?’ Homie was like, ‘It’s right there, bro.’ We looked like, ‘Oh, shit!’ We were dying laughing for about 30 minutes straight.

You also worked with A$AP Mob in 2012 right?

Awww man. [A$AP] Ferg probably doesn’t even remember that. I think ‘Peso’ had just came out months earlier. At this time, I was interning at Phase One Studios on 30th St [in New York City]. Everybody was there. I remember French [Montana] was coming there and may have done Mac & Cheese 3 there. They might book the studio out for two weeks and that was around when he had ‘Shot Caller’ out. I met everyone at that studio [like] Mac Miller and Juelz Santana. I was the runner boy, so I was the one going to the store and getting everybody food. Ferg used to come into [one of the] rooms of the studio and that’s where I got to actually record Ferg.

That's a slice of hip hop history. Who has the coolest studio set up?

[Lil Nas X producers] Take a Daytrip did ‘Mo Bamba.’ All of our computers would be linked up to each other... It’s fun cooking up. You feel like you’re in a rock band.

You also make your own music. How does that sort of independence affect your output, and your business as a producer and artist?

Creatively, I can craft [my music] how I want. If you listen to any great producer, they’ll tell you that you need to find your artist. Something like a Drake and 40, Meek and Jahlil [Beats], or a Daytrip and Sheck Wes. Honestly, I couldn’t find anybody that was good and devoted. I did my whole career by myself... I never had a manager or [have] been signed to a label.

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