Dr. Felton C. Pilate II is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and a Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. He is best known as a member of the 1970s and 1980s funk-R&B band, Con Funk Shun as well as producing worldwide smash hits with MC Hammer, among many others.
We have the privilege and honor of featuring Dr. Felton Pilate within our soon to be released Special Edition The Grammy Gods 2.0. As teaser to the full-length Q&A, which will be released and published later this year, we are delighted share with you a short excerpt of the back and forth with this iconic music industry personality.
BSM: Where are you originally from?
Dr. Felton Pilate: I was born in Jackson, Mississippi. My father was in the Navy and was being transferred to multiple locations around the country, so my grandmother raised me from at least 3 years old until I was 5 when I flew to California to join the rest of the family. Vallejo, California was my home until I was 19.
BSM: How many Grammys have you received and for what songs?
Dr. Felton Pilate: Although I was nominated for producing Album of the Year, and helped MC Hammer get his Grammy and other awards, I got my Grammy working with Stanley Clarke on the song “I Wanna Play For You Too.” Although there’s not a Grammy Award for it, I’m quite proud to have produced the first rap album to sell more than 10 million copies.
BSM: How was it being in the studio with MC Hammer ?
Dr. Felton Pilate: The “Feel My Power” album was a mental challenge because I was in the early stages of even appreciating rap/ hip hop. I used Eric B & Rakim, Digital Underground, and LL Cool J as references when I was creating the tracks that I worked on and James Earley, my other engineer/ producer at Felstar Studios, did the others. The pressure was also on because I heard a recording that Hammer did at a 24 track studio, and I had told him that I could deliver a better sound at half the price at my 16 track studio.
BSM: Can you name some of the other artist that you’ve worked with?
Dr. Felton Pilate: Ice Cube, E-40, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, En Vogue, and Ralph Tresvant. They would be the most recognizable, but there are literally hundreds more…
BSM: What was your most memorable recording session?
Dr. Felton Pilate: That would’ve been the day that we recorded “Addam’s Groove” for “The Addams Family” movie. The finished product needed to be in their hands on Monday, and as of Thursday night, we had absolutely nothing. I heard James Brown’s “Funky Good Time” on the radio and decided to use that feel to be the basis of the track that I would record as soon as I got to the studio. We were recording at Paisley Park studios in Minneapolis, and all of the equipment was still set up from the previous night so I was able to put down my ideas as soon as I walked into the control room at 9am. When Hammer walked into the studio at roughly 12 o’clock, I had already finished the entire track. He loved it, and immediately sat down to write the hook as the engineer and I committed the sounds to tape. Around 1 o’clock we had the “crew” record the hook and the background chants and we sampled them to be able to use them where needed. Hammer then went in to record his vocals and left as soon as he was through. The engineer, and I then began to “fly” in the background and mix the song. We finished right before 1 AM… 16 hours from conception to final mix. It went out via FedEx the following morning and the company had it in their hands by Monday morning, as requested. Whew…
∗Full Interview release date to be announced.