Josh “OG” Parker and Grant “Deko” Decouto met years ago, quickly developing a lasting friendship over their love for music, after Parker was recruited as a producer for OG Maco’s label and collective OGG. At the time, Parker was a student at Georgia State University studying music and Deko was still in high school.
With their hands literally touching every aspect of the production stages, the duo turns any beat into a dope, dynamic sound destined to climb the charts. Parker is currently signed to Quality Control, while Deko is signed to Warner Bros. Deko says they’ve developed a chemistry to where they trust what the other person does, musically.
“It’s like if both of us touch it [the record] before it goes to the artist, we feel like it will be a really dope sound,” Deko tells Billboard. Most of the beats we both touch end up being picked and placed."
The duo earned a Grammy nomination earlier this year for “Slippery” from Migos’ platinum selling album Culture.
Check out Billboard's interview with them below.
What’s the creative process like for you guys going into the studio?
Deko: We both like to do everything, so we don’t have a 100% way of going about stuff. One person can start an idea and one person can go through and do whatever they want to it. With most producers, you don’t want to turn it into something dope and then sit down and have some wack shit added to it. I feel like it never ceases to surprise me though how the other person always has something else to add on that just makes it that much greater, even if its one little thing.
What would you say was your biggest break? What was the moment where you felt like, "Damn, I’m really making it"?
Parker: Oh, that's hard. I feel like just in general, when we started working with all the QC artists we were probably like, ‘OK, this is a big opportunity for us.’ That was when I dropped out of school and stuff. It was definitely a transition and my parents definitely were not feeling it.
Deko: I had already dropped out of high school at the time. I felt like the bad influence and he [Parker] already knew what he was doing with this life. Parents aren't really cool with stuff like that at first.
Parker: I feel like my parents are definitely proud of me. I feel like they still wouldn't mind if I went back and got my education just because that's how parents are. But they’re definitely proud and they don't bother me about going to school anymore.
Deko: My pops, he doesn’t really bother [about] it anymore because he sees I’m doing my thing. My mom is like a dreamer, she’s my biggest supporter.
You both had somewhat of a Cardi B year, with your Grammy nominations, working with the Migos. Looking back on the past year, how do it feel to see how far you’ve come in your career?
Parker: I mean, it’s really crazy. We were at each other’s parents’ house making beats just four years ago. Literally taking turns paying for each other’s food, really just trying to figure it out. Walking to the gas station from the studio because we didn't have cars. We used to sleep on couches at the studio because we didn’t have rides home. So just to come from that and everything to come to fruition. It’s really wild.
Deko: It’s also really cool to see all the stuff we say all the time, "We know we can do this, if you put everything in your mind and get it taken care of." It just really opens up the doors for what you can do after that. It’s inspiring, so it makes us want to go even harder.
Walk me through the moment you guys found out you were nominated for a Grammy. Where were you? What were you doing? What went through your mind?
Parker: It was kind of early in the morning [laughing] and I think I was on the way back home from the gym just working out, hooping and stuff. I saw it and I just called Deko. The funny thing is to be honest, how we are, that's really not enough for us to be extremely excited. Our goals are set so high. I mean it was definitely a blessing and we were excited. We just want so much more than song nominations, like producer of the year nominations. This is just the beginning for us.
“Walk It Talk It” is climbing up the charts. Talk to me about how that record came about.
Deko: We have real deal music chemistry with them [Migos] where Quavo really trusts anything that we send. Me and Parker were just making the beats at the home studio and we just had a vibe. We sent like four or five beats out to Quavo and he ended up hitting up back like a little later like, “I got Drake on the song” [laughing]. He was being all low key about it, so I think he was trying to make it a surprise for when the album drops.
Parker: It’s definitely cool to get the first Drake x Migos song since “Versace."
How do you guys continue to sharpen and develop your production skills?
Parker: We really try to practice music so we don’t lose the musicality aspect, you know what I’m saying. We make all types of music, so we play. I feel like a lot of producers today don't play instruments. So, we just try to work on that.
Deko: Also, me, Parker and one of our super talented producer friends Tee Romano have a group called Merge, where we make electronic music. All sorts really, we don’t like genres, we try to make really awesome stuff. When we do that, it kind of pushes the boundaries of what we have to do production-wise. So, when we go back to hip-hop it’s like we’re equipped with all these different techniques and effects that we learned to experiment with music from another genre. That keeps us on top of our production, adding new styles and stuff.
Tell me more about this EDM Project.
Parker: So basically, Merge is me, Deko and T, my homie Tee Romano. We’re about to drop our first single called “Trouble in the City,” that should be dropping sometime soon, and then from there we’re probably just going to drop an EP.
Deko: Remixing is a big part of that [EDM] culture so we’ve done a lot of remixing. We'll have some already that we plan on dropping soon. You wanna do the stuff that’s relative. Another thing we want to do is, like, funny shit -- the name is Merge but we kind of want to merge both lanes, like have artists that we’ve worked with already on the project. It’s not the same classic EDM, it's not just a rap song or a trap song, it's just good music all the way through.
So where did the idea come from to tap into the EDM market?
Deko: We just love making music of all kinds, so we just ended up making EDM songs, electronic songs that you could just drop by itself. So, we were like, ‘We gotta start dropping this stuff.’ There’s no reason for us just to say, ‘Oh we’re just producers, but not doing this.’ Kind of like the same reason when I started being an artist, you know, don't keep yourself in a box, don't play yourself.
Any artists in particular that you would want to feature on the album?
Deko: It depends, with electronic you can really go anywhere. It would be really dope if Migos were on it for one of the more turnt songs. I would love to get someone like Khalid or someone that we could manipulate their voice and make a dope melody out of it. That would be really cool.
Parker: Definitely PARTYNEXTDOOR. I think we could do something crazy with him. I love all the stuff he’s been doing with Major Lazer. I feel like Party can do it all, honestly.
Deko, you do music as well. Do you prefer doing your own music compared to producing for others? Does it provide you with a different aspect?
Deko: I think it does provide a different aspect. It keeps me on my toes actually because I make a lot of beats now for myself. I gotta say it's such a good feeling to make a good song all by yourself. Either way though, I feel like making good music is making good music.
When should we expect the EP out?
Parker: Definitely this year. I can’t give any dates yet, but definitely this year.