Pass the Aux — Famed Producer Illmind Inspires and Educates Music Producers Around the World
I wrote this with the hope that it inspires other music producers to not only share their knowledge with the world, but to attend one of Illmind’s “Pass the Aux” events — you won’t regret it.
It was a perfect summer day in LA — palm trees silhouetted against blue skies, a warm breeze blowing through the air, and music blasting out of open car windows on the busy highways.
I drove happily through the congested concrete jungle on my way to the big event. My ticket was secured months prior, and I’d driven up from San Diego a day early because I knew I’d never make it if I had to travel all the way to LA after work. I slept on a friend’s couch the night before, and not wanting to chance LA traffic, still left several hours early to ensure I wasn’t late to the studio.
This probably seems like a lot of effort just to meet with a music producer for a few hours, but you’re completely missing the point if you think of it that way. This wasn’t just any producer — it was Illmind (aka Ramon Ibanga, Jr.), and he was in town for his quickly growing “Pass the Aux” event.
If you haven’t heard of Illmind before, then you’ve definitely heard songs he’s worked on. He’s worked with artists like Dr. Dre, Kanye, J. Cole, Ludacris, 50 Cent, and many more. He was even a producer on Disney’s smash movie “Moana” soundtrack. I think I first became aware of who he was after he appeared on a podcast that Gary Vaynerchuk did, and anyone who listens to Gary knows that he brings top-notch people in.
The awesome thing about Illmind is that he’s this extremely accomplished, successful, and incredibly talented producer, working with the biggest names in music, and he spends a huge part of his spare time helping, inspiring, and educating other musicians and producers as they navigate their own journeys.
That’s essentially what Pass the Aux is — he organizes a meetup at secret studio locations in different cities around the world, and you get to sit down with a room full of producers like yourself, as well as Illmind, and chat about the music industry, production, and what you can do to take yourself to the next level. One of the highlights of the night is that every producer gets to plug in to the insanely awesome sound system, and play a piece of one of your songs or beats for Illmind and everyone else (hence, “Pass the Aux”).
[Side Note: Although it’s certainly not guaranteed that you’ll get to work with Illmind, if you get up there and put something good enough on the speakers that you produced, it’s not a far cry that you may get your foot in the door for a future opportunity!]
Now, I’m far from a world-renowned music producer myself. I’ve been a guitar and bass player for a long time, but I’d never delved into the music production world until a couple years ago. So you might be wondering what someone like me was doing at this event with some of the best producers in the game…
Well, one thing I’ve learned over the years is that if you want to be successful, you should do your best to surround yourself with other people that are already accomplishing the things you aspire to. I knew I wasn’t going to play my song and have Illmind begging me to work with him after — I was just there to sit in the room with these incredibly talented people, hear their songs, and more importantly, hear how they thought about and approached the things they did. It’s absolutely priceless to land yourself in a room with people of this caliber, no matter what your skill level is.
When I arrived at the studio I was about an hour early (I finally listened to the lesson my father has been trying to teach me since I was a kid) . Showing up early definitely had its benefits…
Illmind and his manager Jonathan welcomed me into the studio while they discussed some new artists and songs they were working on. I was basically sitting there like a fly on the wall, trying to contain what I’m sure looked like a ridiculously excited smile, as these experts of their craft played unreleased songs, discussed production strategies, and up and coming artists.
Later on, as more producers rolled in, the studio quickly filled up with people and we jumped right into it. Illmind explained how this night was about us, and made sure to emphasize that the most valuable thing that was going to happen in the room were all the conversations and discussions we’d have, as well as the relationships we’d form with each other. He encouraged us to speak up, ask questions, and even offer our own feedback and suggestions.
As we went through and listened to each other’s beats, and had the chance to talk about our dreams, goals, and aspirations, we discussed everything from selling beats online, to networking with major artists, to building our brands.
For me, the coolest part (besides the pizza break — it was no New York pizza, but it was a surprising and awesome snack!) was having these super successful music industry moguls telling us over and over again in different ways how important it is that you cultivate a fan base, treat your fans like family, and grow your brand through hard work and establishing loyal connections with people.
It reaffirmed the way I had been thinking about my own musical journey, and helped me establish that I was already on the right path to where I want to be. I don’t have millions or even thousands of fans yet, but I work my ass off every day to try and connect meaningfully with the people who support me, and do my best to provide them as much value as possible.
All in all it was an incredible night, and I left with amazing insights, supportive words about my music from awesome producers, and a bunch of new people to call friends (talking to you @beatsbyslumz and @origamibeats !)
It’s my sincere hope that every producer, no matter what level you’re at, gets the chance to sit in one of these studios with Illmind and experience the event. It makes me so happy seeing him doing even more dates this year, and even adding a bunch of international ones to the schedule!
Do yourself a favor and check it out, well worth it! Big thanks to Illmind and his team for creating such an awesome event! (I can’t wait to attend another, some of the best money I’ve spent as a producer!)
Check out the dates below!
Side Note: There were two other people there with Illmind besides his manager, another musician/producer, and an incredibleengineer — I regretfully forgot their names, but if they ever happen to read this, thank you for all the great advice!
If you can’t make an event, make sure to check out Illmind’s awesome podcast, and follow him on social!