Meet Neighborhood L, the Southern Producer Who’s Curating His Own Sound

Lamark Holland, or better know as Neighborhood L is a Houston, TX-based producer who’s making looking to make a name for himself amidst all the other dope talent coming out of his city. His most recent beat tape, “Welcome To My Neighborhood” is a great introduction to his musical style. At 6 tracks in length, each instrumental carries a similar vibe but is delivered in a way that allows him to showcases his creativity. We had the chance to sit down with Neighborhood L for a brief Q&A where we discussed; life outside of music, production process, and future work. Check it out down below along with the full beat tape. 

swidlife: So tell us a little about yourself?

NBHDL: I’m Neighborhood L aka “nbhdl.” The letter “L” stands for the first letter of my birth name LaMark. I previously went through two other producer names before landed on that name. I wanted something that could easily be branded and easy to remember for fans. I’m based out of Houston, Texas and have been here my entire life. Living in this city there is so much diversity and culture to be inspired by. I really feel Houston is due for another mainstream look musically like the early 2000s. I just celebrated my 28th birthday last month so I’m grateful to see another year on this planet and chase success in the music industry.

swidlife: How did you start producing and what gave you the motivation to stay with it?

NBHDL: I started producing after rapping the previous years. At the time I was dissatisfied with my rapping and just needed to sit a few plays out with my music. I knew I still wanted to be involved in music so I chose music production. At 23 I felt switching to music production was going to be a challenge because every producer big or small was using FL Studio. I’m a hands-on type of producer I need to feel what I’m doing while creating so I chose an Akai MPC (Music Production Center), and for the past 5 years, I have worked on my craft getting better with each beat. The first two years I struggled to find an identity with my beats and what has kept me motivated to stick with my music is hearing the progress in every beat I produced. After completing a beat that sounds full and ready for vocals just gives me that motivation and confidence that I do have a spot in the music industry.

swidlife: Did you grow up with a lot of music being played in the house?

NBHDL: Growing up a lot of music wasn’t exactly played in the house but in the car, you have no option but to listen to what your parents like. I remember a lot of Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston, George Clinton, Stevie Wonder and a ton of other artist played in the car. As a kid, you naturally want to hear what your peers are listening to but I remember asking my mother about a certain artist. I’ve grown to appreciate these legendary artists because of the influence they have on today’s music.

swidlife: Was there a particular producer that inspired you to start producing?

NBHDL: Actually two producers inspired me to start producing, Chad Hugo & Pharrell Williams also known as The Neptunes. I think there sound was so far left is what drawn the industry to those guys. One beat that has always stuck with me is The Clipse “ Grindin “. That beat just knocks! and has no more than maybe five sounds in it. It taught me less is more when I started making music.

swidlife: Was there ever a plan B?

NBHDL: When I decided to go with music production the idea of a plan B never crossed my mind. I think if I gave myself a plan B it would have been a scapegoat, It’s like reminding yourself that if this doesn’t work out you have another option. The day I chose music production I told myself to not give up and give it your all each day. I knew if I put 100% of my effort into this there’s no way I can lose. I think in any profession if there is a plan B you can’t fully execute on plan A because you’re afraid of failure. Thomas Edison failed at the light bulb 1,000 times before reaching success now if there was a plan B I’m sure the world would be very dark place right now.

swidlife: What do you like to do for fun outside of working on music?

NBHDL: When I’m not working on music I’ve recently been into thrifting and streetwear fashion has always been a favorite of mine. I like to express myself through my clothing and wear what other’s either can’t find just to stand out.I’mm slowly getting back into video games just for the fact of working on music can get tiring. I don’t watch much television so something just as simple as playing Madden or 2K just to ease my brain is a relief.

swidlife: From a producer standpoint, how involved should the artist be in the
recording and post-production stages?

NBHDL: The artist should be very vocal in the recording/post-production stages. The artist is recording a piece of music that they will have to carry for the rest of there lives good or bad. So if the artist is vocal in what they want from the record I think you get the best music out. When dealing with the artist its give and take to complete the record.

swidlife: How have you been educated in production? Do you think official education is necessary?

NBHDL: Yes. I have been educated in production. Mostly self-educated through trial and error. In today’s time, YouTube is helping a ton of producers of how to do certain tips and tricks in minutes. There are all sorts of ways of getting educated in music production I think the individual must decide whats best for them especially if money is tight. An official education isn’t exactly necessary but knowing the basics like music theory will take you much further in music production. I can firmly say music theory course will help you address issues in your music. Music theory courses are posted on YouTube and some aren’t that expensive. I think the producer has to make a choice to get better and learn to the necessary skills to make amongst the heavyweight producers in the industry.

swidlife: Do you think producers should learn how to mix, master, an engineer?

NBHDL: Producer should have a firm idea of how to mix their records most importantly. As the producer who created the beat, you know how you want your beat to sound so why not give it a light mix before sending it off to the engineer. When it comes to mastering and engineering you can add those hats to your arsenal because you never know what can happen in a session so you always want to be prepared. People tend to notice those with extra abilities and offer more opportunities to them because they were prepared in a time of need.

swidlife: Do you prefer to work with big names or newcomers?

NBHDL: I don’t have a preference at this moment. I think it’s a blessing to have anyone place vocals on my work and make great music. If the vibe is right and the artist big or small can bring that beat to life than mission accomplished. I rather have a mixture of big names and newcomers because the big names want the hot beats, who has an undeniable sound they can elevate their career. The newcomers are hungry for success and recording constantly. When your that producer who’s been recording with them your now associated with that act and that gives you a new dynamic as a producer to the industry that you can bring in successful talent.

swidlife: How do you navigate the gray area of producing for friends?

NBHDL: Producing for friends can be tricky especially when you’re creating in the moment. There the first to hear the beat and may even claim the beat before given any other artist have a shot. I think friends should be given the same shot as the other artist but it all comes down to who made the better record with the beat, money, and the paperwork that comes along with the record. I like to keep an open dialogue with friends about my beats and my intentions with the beats I’m creating.

swidlife: Are there any marketing tips you can share with you producers coming up right now?

NBHDL: As music producers, we are in the spotlight now. We are just as important as the artist are which means your marketing must be excellent to grab those opportunities that present themselves. I think using Instagram to market your brand is a great way to attract business. My Instagram was recently switched over to a business account. I wanted those extra features to push my post about myself and brand. YouTube is still a reliable way to market yourself but it’s very difficult to push through the millions of other producers who use YouTube the exact same way. Music producers are creative we should be thriving in promoting ourselves and not just copying what the next producer is doing. I would invest in a personal website that is exclusively about you as a music producer, all your accolades, songs, videos, etc just make sure face is seen everywhere.

swidlife: If you were to describe your sound, how would you describe it?

NBHDL: My sound at this point is joyful trap when you listen to one of my beats it should make you have happy thoughts. I wanted to blend hard-hitting 808s with light melodies/chords. If Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Stevens Universe combined into one show I know my music would be synced into it.

swidlife: How do you organize your beats?

NBHDL: I organize my beats by BPM, the key the beat is in, genre, and usually will give the beat a name of the mood I was in while creating. I think its important to detail the beat for organization as much as possible because as the producer you have so many beats and something can be lost easily.

swidlife: What’s your producing process like?

NBHDL: When I make beats I will have usually have listened to a different genre of music just to get a different vibe that will rub off on my music. I use a MPC and you would think I would knock out drums first but the first thing I lay down are either melodies or chords. After I lay my foundation down its easier to understand where I want to go creatively with the beat. While making my beats I always have a Quentin Tarantino film rolling and it just helps with my music. The visuals bring out certain emotions and it’s almost like I’m scoring to the film also.

Well, there you have it, folks. Thank you for your time Neighborhood L and glad we could give the people a clear overview of the man behind the work. Are there any last thoughts you wanted to share?

Thank you Swidelife for my very first interview. I want to thank anyone who has pushed me in my musical journey to be the best I can be. Shoutout to my mentor QB for his continued wisdom and taking me under his tutelage with my music we have great music in the works. A very special shoutout my mother who has supported me and my journey. Your love and guidance are what keeps me going in this profession.