Since landing in Fredericton in 2020, producer Keegan O’Guedes has been helping to strengthen the city’s hip hop community, one beat at a time. With the third instalment in his 506 mixtape series out today, we decided a conversation was long overdue.
When Fredericton based engineer and producer Keegan O’Guedes released his first local artist mixtape in 2021, it was still too early to say whether the project would gain the traction he hoped it would. Teaming up with a handful of relatively new voices from the local hip hop community, 506 Vol. 1 introduced audiences to the voices of LoveGloopscap, Authentic and others paired with O’Guedes’s production. As it turned out, this six-song release helped launch an exciting new era in Fredericton hip hop.
O’Guedes’ story sounds a lot like a made for TV movie or some middle of the road Canadian miniseries premiering this fall on CBC. But without all the drama. Just the good bits: A guy leaves his life in Toronto to be with his partner in a small, picturesque east coast city. At first, he’s skeptical. Did he make the right choice in leaving behind his career as an emerging engineer and producer in Canada’s largest music centre only to start over from the ground up in a city the size of a single neighbourhood in his former hometown? Of course, the answer to this all-too-common plot theme is yes. It’s always yes. Because in relocating to Fredericton, O’Guedes was not only able to identify an aspect of the local scene where support was lacking, but he has also been successful in strengthening an entire community by providing a home base to dozens of local rappers, beatmakers and fledgeling producers through his studio, Renegade Sound.
“There were a lot of artists doing their own thing but with no guidance whatsoever. But they were all trying their best of with what they’ve got,” said O’Guedes. “So, I thought what if I just put this big blanket over everybody who wanted to be involved, because I personally know you’re going to accomplish a lot more together with less effort than just by trying to do this yourself, to make it in the music industry.”
“I feel like that is my main job at this current time. To just keep momentum going. To keep people excited and to keep people working on their craft.”
So, he started making friends, as anyone would after moving to a new town. Reaching out to artists one by one, going for coffee or as he said, “literally taking walks in the park,” O’Guedes quickly became part of this fragmented community and started bringing likeminded musicians together. His initial goal was simple: create a place in Fredericton where artists could work together to develop their skills and their craft. “To have a hub for this modern music scene in Fredericton,” as he put it.
Renegade Sound Studios became that hub. Since opening back in November of 2020, O’Guedes has contributed to dozens of singles and a handful of albums featuring Fredericton area rappers and producers. Much like how the local start-up incubator Planet Hatch provides local entrepreneurs looking to build their business ideas with space and mentorship opportunities, Renegade Sound Studios provides similar opportunities to emerging and established musicians in the local hip hop community.
“I feel like that is my main job at this current time. To just keep momentum going. To keep people excited and to keep people working on their craft, because things can get stagnant really quick,” he said.
His monthly Flip This sessions for local producers is a great example of how O’Guedes is building community.
“We meet up once a month. I provide a sample that is all original and then everybody gets three hours to flip it and remix it. After that time period we meet up, I invite artists in and we just chill, we listen to the beats, and we network. It’s just a really great moment for artists in town,” he said.
This brings us back to his 506 series of mixtapes released under the name Renegade Sound HQ.
“Twice a year I release a collaborative album, or a mixtape if we can call it that. It’s the songs that I have been creating with artists. When enough come around I package them together and release them to the public. It keeps artists excited.”
Some of the songs produced for this series grew out of one-on-one studios sessions while others are hand picked pairings.
“There are artists who might not necessarily contact each other to go work on a song together but I think, ‘you might be good to do a hook on this song and you might be good to do a verse on this song, so how about you guys come in one day and work on a song and see what happens?’”
506 Vol. 3 is out today and features performances by Lenny Lisgar, CHA$E, MCIV, Ethan Moulton, Kerr, Mo Money Matteo, Cully, and Xcett. And if you’ve never heard of these artists, well, that’s kind of the point. Besides being a tool for promoting O’Guedes’ production work and his studio, the 506 series is meant to serve as an introduction to this previously underserved community of music makers whose talent and potential is no less than any other local artist you might already be familiar with.
“[The 506 series] was created to supplement promotion of artists while they’re already working on their careers,” said O’Guedes. “A lot of artists don’t even know how to be an artist yet, so this mixtape might be the only music these artists are releasing somewhat consistently.”