Interview With Musician and Filmmaker, Solomon Vaughn.

"Be yourself and that will completely eliminate the “competition” because nobody can be better than you at doing you." -Solomon Vaughn

Solomon Vaughn (also known as Boonie Mayfield and Boon Doc) is a musician hailing from Colorado Springs that helped pave the way for artists in the early days of the online production scene. While known for his productions, Solomon is far from "just" anything and has proven himself to be an extremely capable emcee, dancer, and artist. 

His Youtube channel inspired many young producers to get in touch with their creative potential and inject quality sounds into each musical endeavor. A multitalented virtuoso, Solomon has also began to pursue filmmaking. His latest release "Ho Ho Ho (A Bad Santa Carol)" is a hilarious piece breathing new life into and changing the definition of what it means to be a holiday film. 

I had the opportunity to speak with Solomon about his work and the new film.

Prox: You’ve produced under quite a few monikers now. Is there any particular one that encapsulates your overall sound the best?

Boonie: Yes of course, Solomon Vaughn. My real name encapsulates everything about me entirely because that’s who I am and always will be. There wouldn’t be a Boonie Mayfield, Boon Doc or any other moniker without me creating it. Other monikers are just like clothes I choose to wear, while Solomon Vaughn is my soul.    

Prox: Could you talk a bit about your first album Black Koolaid? How did the process for this project differ from some of your newer releases?

Boonie: Well, ‘Black Koolaid’ is primarily an instrumental record full of beats I produced between 2006 and the year I released it in 2011. It differs greatly from all my other projects because of that and it wasn’t originally intended to be an album at first. I was trying to figure out my next move at the time, so I considered doing live beat sets like some of my peers were getting into. Once I learned how to use Ableton Live, I started trying to put an hour long set together with a bunch of my beats. When I was done, I rode around to it and felt that it was perfect for an instrumental album instead of a live set. So, at that point, ‘Black Koolaid’ (an album title I came up with back in 2004) was born.  

It also differs because just about all of the tracks were already made beforehand without a project in mind. None of the beats were specifically made to be for ‘Black Koolaid’ except for the “Intro”, “Justagroove” and “Go”.  

Prox: I remember watching your YouTube series that gave advice back when I got into production years ago. Have you ever considered bringing this back or teaching classes in school or college?

Boonie: If I was actually passionate about teaching I would, but I’m not.  I strongly believe that one should only take on such an important position like being a teacher if he/she is truly passionate about it rather than doing it because it’s convenient in some way. I can at least say I gave it a try by doing some private lessons part-time for a year, which was a great experience, but it became clear to me that it wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I love to give advice and share information, plus I’m a very encouraging person, but I’d rather lead by example rather than instruct others for a living.

I think it’s important to be 100% honest with yourself when it comes to deciding what to do career-wise and I never once in my life had the desire or intention to be a teacher like that. Even when I was dancing back in the day, people would ask if I’d teach and it just never interested me.  

Prox: For new producers there is a tendency to immediately use samples. Could you list some of the Pros and Cons of sample based production and organic, live sounds?

Boonie: This has been a discussion in the music producer community for many years now and I think we’re all well-aware of the pros and cons of both, it’s pretty self-explanatory. I don’t think there’s any pros and cons when it comes to the creativity aspect because it’s art, and it’s our birthright as artists to create in the way we love to create. It’s a totally different story when it comes to the business and legal aspects. If a sample isn’t royalty free and you don’t have the clearance from the publishers, you technically don’t have full control of your own material and you won’t be able to submit your work for television, films, radio, video games etc. Plus, if you are actually able to get clearance, the publisher can charge up to 100% for the royalties if they choose to.

Prox: Are there any new instruments or effects that you haven’t really dabbled in that you’d like to begin adding into your music?

Boonie: I just look forward to adding the types of instruments that I can’t play or arrange myself like live horn sections, string sections and choirs. I also want to be able to actually play the electric guitar better.

Prox: While this generation often gets a lot of flak for what is seen as an overabundance of mediocrity, what are some things that you admire about the new wave of artists (across all genres) that you hear today?

Boonie: As an artist, It takes courage to put your work out there regardless of what people may say or think about it. I admire the newer generations for continuing to have that courage and making the art they want to make just like my generation and all the others prior to it did. 

Prox: Aside from Hip-Hop, R&B, and Soul, are there any other genres that you’re a big fan of or have considered creating in?

Boonie: Well, I released my debut album in 2013 called ‘Boonie Mayfield Presents: Solomon Vaughn’ which already includes many genres I’m influenced by besides Hip-Hop and Soul, as well as my other projects afterwards. There’s psychedelic and progressive rock, blues, funk, jazz, pop and even hints of musical theatre in it.  

Prox: How did you find yourself making short films? Was this always an interest of yours?

Boonie: This year I had to spend a lot of time reevaluating my music career, because I was at a point where I really wasn’t enjoying it anymore. There was something missing, so it required me to reflect on my past all the way back to my entire childhood to remember the desires and interests that lead me to this point. I had to remember that music wasn’t the ONLY thing I ever wanted to do, because I also act, dance, write and I love video production.

After producing and releasing 4 projects in the last 3 years that have pretty much gone unnoticed, I was burnt out with music, and I still am. So, I completely put music aside this year and starting taking an acting class, which reignited my passion for the other things I enjoy doing.  I’ve always known my songs are different, but I couldn’t quite put a thumb on what they were meant for until I realized that I always tend to produce/write and envision all of my songs as if were making a film.  Every song I make, I can clearly see the visuals in detail from the way it looks down to the way I'll perform and move rhythmically to it.  It’s like I've been making short films in my head all along, and no one could see nor fully understand the vision but me, and that needed to change.  Considering the fact that I now have over 60 songs with no visuals to any of them, and me being such a visual person, it became clear what was missing for me.

Prox: Why did you choose a holiday and retro setting for film?

Boonie: I chose the holiday setting because of the song itself.  “Ho Ho Ho” is a holiday song I recorded and posted online 2 years ago (2014) originally titled as “The Bad Santa Song”.  Every single track in the film is over 2 or 3 years old, so it was the music that set the tone for the film, rather than the film setting the tone for the music.

I chose the retro looks because the Boonie Mayfield character is meant to be a retro figure.  “TMNC” is primarily a James Brown tribute, so I wanted it to look like one of his performances from the 60’s. I like to genre bend my music, so it’s only right that I do the same with the visuals.  

Prox: What was some of the hurdles related to bringing the film to life? Were there any logistical setbacks you experienced that you didn't originally anticipate?

Boonie: It was just very time consuming and overwhelming at times because I had to wear so many hats (no pun intended). Plus, it was only Stuart and I putting this all together.  Whenever I got discouraged, Stuart just kept telling me "it’s okay", "making a film is really hard” and that I was doing great job. He also explained how filming is always the most stressful part and post-production is much easier, and he was right.  

All in all, there were plenty of delays and little things we had to work around along the way, but no major setbacks. We really had a great time making this film. But, don’t get me started on that damn animated fairytale book scene though… I think Stuart was about ready to bash his computer, lol.  

Prox: Ultimately, what are some of the symbols and themes you'd like the viewers to take away from the film?

Boonie: Hmmmm, It’s hard to say.  The film goes from a vintage Disney style opening, to a 60’s black-and-white performance with an influence of the Randy Watson scene from 'Coming to America’, to a 1920’s dark and eerie silent film scene, to a late 90’s-style Busta Rhymes or Redman music video, and then it ends with a moment of “What the f*** just happened?” all in less than 15 minutes (lol).  Some viewers will catch all of those elements, while some won’t.  Some people haven’t ever seen ‘Coming to America’ or a 60’s James Brown performance, but will still enjoy the scene just as much as someone who has.  

I like the fact that the film is so all over the place that the experience will be different for everyone.  People see different things in different ways and may notice things that even I didn’t even see or intend.  For example… the other day I was watching the film with my friend who played as the bouncer.  During the “Fairy Godfather” scene where the man appears behind me, he noticed something I never have.  We had these icicle lights hanging in the dressing room which you can see behind and above Ernie (Fairy Godfather), and my friend thought we placed them there on purpose to make them look like reindeer antlers on his head.  When he pointed that out, I laughed so hard because it really DOES look like he has white antlers on his head and I would’ve NEVER noticed that.  That’s something that a viewer took away that I would’ve never been aware of.  I think that’s one of the many beauties of filmmaking.

Prox: Favorite hobbies?

Boonie: I love watching WWE, taking my acting classes and having a good time with friends and loved-ones; whether we’re watching movies, playing video games, card games, bowling or whatever.  I’m actually looking into new hobbies to pick up because making music consumed my life for many years.  

Prox: Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists?

Boonie: To be totally honest, I really haven’t been listening to all that much music lately besides the 1940’s-50’s jazz stations I play throughout the day.  I know there’s a lot of great new music out there but again, music has consumed my life full-time for many years to the point that I became burnt out on keeping up with everybody else and what they're doing.  

These days with social media and the overwhelming amount of content being put out, it’s easy to get too distracted and I’m someone who doesn’t like to lose focus.  I think the last contemporary albums I purchased were Kendrick’s ’To Pimp A Butterfly’ and Alabama Shakes’ ‘Sound & Color’ which both came out last year.  And of course I’m purchasing the new Tribe album on 11/11.    

Prox: Tips for aspiring artists?

Boonie: One thing that I learned is that after years and years of toiling, as individuals, it’s quite easy to lose sight of what YOU truly want to do and don’t want to do. It’s important to really dig deep and figure out what it is that YOU want rather than getting caught up in the rat race of what everybody else is chasing. Just because everyone else is following the current trends doesn’t mean you have to. Be yourself and that will completely eliminate the “competition” because nobody can be better than you at doing you.

You can learn more about Solomon here.

And don't forget to check out his new documentary showcasing the behind the scenes footage of Ho Ho Ho (A Bad Santa Carol).

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