Printz Board (pictured with Fergie) is the mastermind behind some of the biggest hits of the past decade. The Grammy award winner has been working with the Black Eyed Peas as their musical director, songwriter, and producer, since the Elephunk days, and has names like James Brown, Dr. Dre, and Raphael Saadiq, as well as prominent pop acts such as Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, Sheryl Crow, and Natasha Bedingfield on his resume.

After seeing so much success behind the scenes, Printz Board is ready to step into the limelight himself, and will be doing so with his upcoming EP, Pre Games. With the first single from Pre Games, “#1,” already making waves on YouTube, RapReviews caught up with Printz Board to find out all about the project. In addition to talking about the album, he also discussed an especially memorable in-studio session he had with James Brown back in the day, and when winning a Grammy doesn’t necessarily mean getting a piece of hardware for your mantle.

Adam Bernard: You’ve worked with a litany of big name artists. First of all, how many of those experiences involved you sharing a studio with them?

Printz Board: All of em.

AB: Really? That’s impressive, because I know in the past ten years Pro-Tools, and the internet, have made it so a lot of production and songwriting doesn’t happen as a collaborative effort.

PB: Yeah, but I, in most of my cases, I don’t like to work with people that I can’t touch, that I can’t feel their energy. I need to be there. Fortunately, when we’ve done stuff, even when I worked with James Brown on the Peas’ stuff, he definitely could have done something and sent it in, but I wanted that hands on, we gotta be in the room together, (vibe). We even pushed the date till it worked so we could be in the room (together).

AB: Having worked with quite a few legends, have you ever been in awe of somebody when they’ve walked in the door?

PB: I was pretty excited about James, but I wouldn’t say awe. I kind of look at these people as a lot of hard work, and diligence, and stayin on it, and it would be the excitement of me following their path, and being as dedicated to my craft, more than, “Holy shit they’ve played here, there, and they’ve done this song, oh my God.” I’ve always been less of that, and just felt like everybody’s human, and normal.

AB: What have been some of the greatest nuggets of knowledge you’ve taken away from those experiences?

PB: Man, James was full of em, since we’re talking about James. Just the way that he approached music was definitely different. Short story, we were in the studio and I heard something kind of off while we were recording, so I stopped it, and I was like “Mr. Brown,” because you can’t call him James. Although he did say that it was OK for me to call him James, which is kind of cool, kind of crazy. So we’re in the studio and I hear something weird and I’m like, “Stop, stop, stop, everybody stop. Mr. Brown, something doesn’t sound right,” and he says, “Son, I’ve been doing this for 50 years, everything is just how it’s supposed to be.” I find out later that he had his mistress singing in the booth with everybody, but it’s not recording. So I’m hearing this and I’m like this is not right, this is terrible, but that’s just something he’d done over the years to kind of appease her, and keep the flow going. I was like OK, alright, alright.

AB: So he had his chick in there, and he just said we’re not gonna hit record, we’ll let her think she’s on the track?

PB: Yeah. {*laughs*} It was kind of cool. He also told me, we had a thing with me and Raphael Saadiq in rehearsal where he told Raphael not to play the bass, and (that) he wanted me to play the bass. “This kid’s got it. This kid’s got it! Have him play the bass on the keyboard, instead of Raphael on the bass.” I was like “Uhhh, OK.”

AB: On the one hand that’s a huge honor, on the other hand you don’t want to have issues with Raphael Saadiq over this.

PB: Right. Like we’ve been cool, James, now you fuckin it up. {*laughs*}

AB: What made you want to step out and embark on your own artistic venture?

PB: Honestly, we took a break from the Peas’ stuff, and since we took a break I ended up going to New Zealand, Australia, and working on some albums. While I was working on them I just started demo-ing everything myself, because the one individual I was working with doesn’t sing. So I’m demo-ing all these songs, and getting them together, I kind of look up and I’ve got a little body of work, and it’s all my vocals, and it’s all stuff I would do anyways, and I thought you know what, I think I’ma go ahead and do my project. Now is the time. I got time. Let’s do it.

AB: So Pre Games is almost a happy accident.

PB: It’s a happy accident. Yup.

AB: What do we learn about you on the EP?

PB: That I’m real. I’m of the people, for the people, with the people. My goals are not to be Chris Brown, another Black Eyed Peas, Wiz Khalifa, I’m not really shooting for the stars like that, I just want to do my music and get it to the people.

AB: Is there something about that superstar life that’s less appealing after you’ve been up close and personal with it for so long?

PB: Maybe. Maybe it just feels a bit like the norm, and at the same time it feels like, I’m not really sure about not being able to comfortably walk down the street, or comfortably just go to a movie, or the mall. I want to do my music, and I want to be comfortable, and somewhat normal in life.

AB: The lead single is “#1.” What made you want to write about the player lifestyle in this particular way?

PB: The song is actually not about the player lifestyle, it’s actually about the opposite. Basically, each one of the girls that I spoke about are actually different aspects of the personality of one girl. Some people will travel around the world, or around the neighborhood, and bounce from girl to girl to girl trying to find each thing, when you could just stick with your one girl and ride with her through her different modes of life. That’s really what I was talking about, but disguised it as oh wow I got a girl here, I got a girl here, I got a girl here. If you look at the video, the video is actually the same girl in every situation, so you look at her as a different girl, but once you go back and look close, it’s actually the same girl.

AB: How’d you come up with the concept for that clip?

PB: I kind of had a dream about it, and then I took my dream to the guys I did the video with, and they had their idea of what they thought the video was (going to be), and it was just birthed out of my dream and their idea of what it should be. And I like the fact that it’s simple. It’s like me. It’s simple, it’s real, it’s not a bunch of trickery, it’s straight forward. I love it.

AB: There’s a fun vibe to it that’s reminiscent of Kid N Play, and The Fresh Prince.

PB: Yeah, another thing with that is I chose to do it that way even though my show is electric, and fire, and I am jumping around the stage like a madman. You don’t get that from this video. This video is very chilled out, relaxed, and fun, because that’s what I want people to see initially.

AB: So you’re going to follow this up with something that shows us the madman?

PB: Oh yeah. “Hey You” has got the madman in it. {*laughs*}

AB: What brings out the madman in you?

PB: A good time. Good vibes. Good people. I just love playing my trumpet, playing the keys, rappin. I have a part of my show where I’ll just make up a song, all me. I’ll beatbox, I’ll make up a chorus, I’ll sing over it, and then I play trumpet over it. I love doing that stuff, man. I love seeing the crowd, I love diving into the crowd, it all brings out the madman in me. Life brings out the madman in me.

AB: The album is titled pre-game, and the pre-game comes before the actual event, so when can listeners expect a full length release?

PB: Give me six months.

AB: You have multiple Grammy awards. Where do you keep them?

PB: I give a lot of my awards to my mom and my grandparents. I have a lot of plaques on my wall. I don’t have any of my Grammys here. I give them to family.

AB: Let’s talk about those plaques on your wall. Obviously you love them all, you love all of the work you’ve done, but are there any that are especially meaningful to you?

PB: Yeah, probably, as I look around, I have one plaque that is from Elephunk, and that was especially special because that was with “Where Is The Love?” and that was just like the ramp up of everything. To see that, and know that was the beginning, I guess that’s the most special.

AB: When was the first time you realized being a Grammy winner would open doors for you that were previously shut?

PB: Again, I’m definitely more of the people, for the people, and I don’t know, I think (my) character in itself has seemed to open doors. For example, a thing like this, they call you up, or you get wind of me, “Grammy winner Printz Board,” I guess for that, I probably started to see that right after the first Grammy, which I didn’t actually get for whatever reason. {*laughs*}

AB: Wait, what? Did they just give you a picture of it, or something?

PB: When you have multiple producers and/or songwriters, it depends on the award you get, but sometimes you don’t get the physical Grammy.

AB: Do they give you a certificate?

PB: Yeah, you get like a neckpiece that says you are a winner, and a sticker and a lollypop.

AB: A neckpiece? Like you’re a finisher of the New York City Marathon?

PB: Yeah. {*laughs*}

AB: You worked with Selena Gomez. How was that experience, and do you still have her phone number?

PB: You know what, you caught me on the one person I did not go into the studio with. You just reminded me. Here’s how the Selena thing went down. It was actually a song I wrote with, and for, Katy Perry, and then Selena heard it and just kind of lost her mind about it. “Oh my God, I love this song.” It’s called “Rock God.” We ended up keeping Katy Perry on it, and Selena recorded it while I was on tour, so I was not in the studio with her, but I did talk to her, and I have seen her since, and she’s pretty cool.

AB: Finally, tell us anything else people need to know about you, or your music.

PB: I think that they need to know that I’m a Virgo, and that my birthday is September 11th. And I think that people should know I’m always about my word, and my honesty, and that comes out in my music. Everything that I talk about in my music is true, it’s real, factual, and I don’t want to hide anything. I don’t have anything to hide. It’s all me. My music, and everything I say, and play, is all me. It’s all honesty.