Photo: Martin Wood
Contributor: Tiffany Villarreal (TV Hits)
Barritz is not typical in any sense of the word… not as a musical artist, not as record label owner, not as a businessman, not at all. While he may be different from his fellow creatives in his own ways, one motif that transcends these different facets of Barritz is professionalism.
Music independence is a tough and lonely road at times but Barritz doesn’t adhere to that notion and won’t allow you to either. “Although each of us have our own style, work ethic and vision when it comes to music, one thing we all share in common is our love for this creative process,” says Barritz, “we want to materialize the ideas in our minds and bring them to your ears. It sounds simple but is quite the opposite. What makes it easier though is working together, with purpose, and with respect for all who touch the project.”
Barritz knows from experience how much work goes into making music; from writing a song, to working with producers to find the sound that matches it, to doing visuals for the project, to publishing your work, to promoting yourself, to scouting venues for shows, and ultimately putting on a live event. The creative parts of a musical project are usually the most fun and exhilarating. What follows is lots of time and research, loads of more money, and plenty of chances for headaches and setbacks. While working on his debut album The Cadillac Man, Barritz put all of those hats on and swapped them for one another when needed. He does that same hat dance with anyone he works with. Consider him a great asset, or assets, depending on what he is helping you with.
Raised in suburbia by working parents who gave him the tools he needed to navigate the system of life, Barritz grew up educated, modest and rather square before assimilating to the culture that raised him outside of his family home, hip-hop. Studying and receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in business aided him in navigating some of the more daunting aspects of the music industry. Participating in the culture allowed him to relate to the different characteristics of it. Being a fan of it gave him the knowledge to respect its unique storytellers and trailblazers.
Barritz started working on promotions for Sean Kennedy and Ill Trendz Productions in the Bay Area music scene for artists such as 11/5 and Mr. Ill, and brought these artists and others to Kevvy Kev’s show “The Danger Zone” on Wild 107.7. His boss at his day job told Barritz her boyfriend was starting a record label so he began doing promotions for them as well. He also started recording music with the label.
Barritz recorded his first track “High Roller” in an East Palo Alto garage studio with ProHoeZak engineering the session. He dropped his verse on the first take and although the production crew was impressed, the other artists didn’t see it that way as they were having issues recording their vocals without punching in. Ever since the beginning Barritz was a consummate professional, one drop, one take, verse done. “I wrote my lyrics, memorized my lyrics and went in there and dropped them. I figured that’s what you were supposed to do,” Barritz shares after thinking back to the session.
Unsurprisingly after their reaction, that was the end of Barritz’ tenure as an artist at that label. He didn’t take it personally and continued to do promotions for the company. As time passed by and the label didn’t release any projects Barritz moved on, continued to attend college, and learned as much about the music business as he could. He majored in Business Marketing and started to gain a passion for product branding and professional presentation. He later followed up his bachelor’s degree with an MBA in Business Management.
Years later that same label came back Barritz’ way and he began to help with promotions again; but this time he was managing a couple artists, had started a record label and was recording music of his own. He was traveling to Hollywood yearly to the ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO to learn from music industry insiders, became a music writer and publisher with ASCAP, was learning music engineering, and preparing to release his debut album.
During the making of The Cadillac Man, Barritz thought back to the lessons he learned from hip-hop stories regarding the music industry. One of the things he made sure to do was to help set up each writer, artist and producer contributing to the project with their own publishing. He signed up every individual with ASCAP by footing their registration fees and by aiding them in the completion of the sign up process. “We all had heard horror stories about artists not owning their own publishing when they got their deals, and how that affected their pockets moving forward. I wanted every individual who helped me on the project to know that they would get credit for their work regardless of what the success of the album would be,” Barritz shared. Once again Barritz wanted to instill in those around him that professionalism matters, and that the collective was just as important as each individual who made up its parts.
Barritz linked up with a local up-and-coming multimedia student Mike Ho and helped him secure his first set of lighting equipment in exchange for doing his album artwork and some follow up photoshoots. “When Mike said he’d rather have the equipment in lieu of cash I was all for it. Those tools opened doors for him, helped me get the shots I wanted, and it’s good to know that little bit of help went a long way for him. He’s down in L.A. now working on some of the biggest projects in the industry. I was honored to give him the means to expand his creative business, and will always take pride in helping those who help me,” Barritz explained.
Barritz released his album independently on his own label Brainz Blown Recordz, secured digital distribution with TuneCore, and began the process of traveling to record stores throughout California to sell CDs on consignment. Back at home in the Bay Area, and while traveling, Barritz sold copies of his album out of his Cadillac trunk like many artists from the region had done before him.
The live show is such an important part of the creative aspect of music. It is the culmination of all the hours of hard work; writing, mixing, mastering, and promoting. It’s also an aspect of hip-hop music where you see many issues occur. Some artists are invited to perform while others have to pay, some venues have technical or sound issues while others do not, and some artists can’t replicate what they have recorded in the studio while other artists were born to perform. Barritz did shows with others but never was one to be a follower, he wanted to lead, and that’s what he did. He started to book venues himself, rented microphones and mixers if the venue’s system was not up to par, and rehearsed his sets with his supporting artists to make sure that their performances were on point.
“There was gonna be no rapping over your lyrics during my sets. If you were on stage with me you better know your vocals because if you messed up the whole venue was gonna know it too,” Barritz stated, “I wanted everyone on stage with a mic to know everyone else’s lyrics, to help them catch their breath at the end of bars, to pump up the chorus all together, and to instill that performances are important—that you have to take your craft seriously.” Barritz would even adjust microphone levels live for artists during the performance when they would switch songs or pass the mic. As always Barritz’ attention to detail and commitment to professionalism is on display through these examples.
This may have been the first time you’ve heard of him, or you may have been down with him since the beginning, but while time has passed, the landscape has changed, and the world is a different place, you can count on Barritz to find his spot and own it. Barritz is back in the studio working on his follow up album Barritz & The Lacz. If you learned anything from reading about the man you know he’s learned lessons from his previous project, spent time honing and perfecting his craft, and will be releasing a polished and professional record.
Visit Barritz’ official website to connect and find his social media links. You can listen to his music on all streaming platforms.