One of the most interesting things about following a musician is watching their trajectory. To the encouragement of some and the dismay of others, the artist changes and evolves and grows from their humble beginnings to (if their lucky) someone notable, and all along the way, there are questions; "What will their next album sound like?", "When are they collaborating with so and so?" and "Who are they signing with?" From the outside looking in, one could understand how when it comes to some artists and their appreciators, it's a love-hate relationship, and questions come with the territory.
Fortunately, it was all love with Brandun DeShay. After a year and a half of lurking in the shadows, I felt it necessary to gain some introspect into what the rising producer has been up to besides working on the phenomenally produced All Day DeShay AM. We linked up at Devilish Grin Studios to chat about Shel Silverstein, inspirations, "her" and working with Diggy Simmons.
Earmilk Exclusive / Jahn P talks with Brandun DeShay
*If you would prefer to read the interview, it is transcribed after the jump*
Jahn P: Hey everybody. You are tuned in with your man Jahn P on Earmilk.com. You are listening to "A Chat with Brandun DeShay". We are chilling in Devilish Grin Studios today and we'll be talking with the rising, young producer, who is just awesome, about music and life.
So what's been up man? Besides working on All Day Deshay AM, what have you been up to for the last year and a half?
Brandun DeShay: Man, for the last year and a half? Uhhhmmm? Man, producing really…that's really it. Obviously working hard on the album too, like recording and shit. Just staying busy, productive, growing, learning and all that good stuff.
JP: That's cool. That's cool. What were the inspirations behind the album?
BD: The album was really inspired by my old work actually. Like, I went back. I went back to listen to Vol.3 and Vol.2, and I tried to create a little conduit somewhere in between the two and that's where All Day Deshay really came from man. It was inspired by both of those projects, trying to keep it very [much] with the times [and] at the same time while doing what I wanted to do. Yeah, that was the main groove behind it.
JP: A common theme throughout your records are the interludes. Do these breaks hold a specific purpose, and that's to say are they put in the albums' to connect an overall concept or message?
BD: Oh yeah man, the interludes are extremely relevant to me personally and it helps people to learn more about me too. Like, for example, if you go back to…I wanna say…I don't really remember the Vol.1 or Vol.2…Vol.3, those don't really have interludes, they have intros. It was more like the intros. So the intros would have these like, seemingly random skits or whatever. They're not that waverly though, for example, there was this story on Vol.3, the intro, about this guy who knew what time it was. The reason that shit is so prevalent to me is because; a: I always know what time it is, even when I don't have a watch around me or a clock, like i just know what time it is. I'll be quizzing people all the time like, "Yo! What time do you think it is? Don't look at your phone!" Then they'll say their time and I'll say my time and I'm always like right on the dot or one or two minutes off, something extremely close like that. So, I thought it was kind of cool. I feel like that guy. If you listen to the story, you'll know it all makes sense.
Then with Vol. 1 & 2, those were from like either movies or books or like me just paying homage to MF DOOM. I love how his skits are when he mashes up stuff like that. Yeah man, all those interludes are very prevalent and then this time around, the music that plays in the background is…"The DeShaylien Theme" is what I call it. It's just like the music of…DeShayliens [which is] myself and everyone that follows. It's just like our theme song music and then it's a skit from Shel Silverstein who's one of my favorite artists in the entire world and inspired me to be who I am today. There's no way in the world I would care so much about making shit rhyme and being creative and just stepping out the box with it if it wasn't for Shel Silverstein..so yeah man, that's where that came from.
JP: I noticed at the end of the song "Canopy", it sounds like you say "All I wanted was two things music…and her. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I noticed that "her" has been a recurring person in many of your songs since Vol.1. Who is "her", if you don't mind me asking?
BD: Yeah, the "her" man, it's actually switched up. From Vol. 1 its actually somebody totally different. It was this girl, who was the first girl I actually, really liked. I didn't love her, but I really liked her. I thought she was really groovy. That's who the song, "Nora's Song" was actually made from; about the girl Nora. She was like…the "her". I feel like there's always a certain chick. There's always that one girl. Because I'm not…contrary to belief, peeps be like "Yo man…DeShay man,you girl crazy. You just got nothing but girls all around you." It's not that way really. It does seem that way, I mean because I do have a lot of female company usually. I think it's cool but that's not my thing, thing. Like, for real, if you came and saw my everyday life, it doesn't sit around girls at all. They are like in orbit with the rest of the other shit, that's it. But, the "her" has switched up. Back then it was Nora, then there was this other chick from Vol.3 and up. It's only like two girls really, but all the songs are inspired by different girls. I don't know how to explain it.
I just take my everyday experiences, even outside the women part and I just bring those into my songs. So when I say "her" it could be a lot of different females honestly, but usually it's one of the two main ones or whatever. Yeah man…that's exactly what I said man, "music…and her." Those are like the main things on my mind at that moment and they definitely were some sort of muse, obviously, because I used them to make the song. You get to know me a lot by my music, I'm extremely personal because I know there's a lot of people out there going through the same things I go through and i'm just able to take it and put it in a song format…yay me.
JP: I've noticed you've referenced N.E.R.D as an inspiration a few times in your music. On the track "FTW!", you freaked Toro Y Moi's "How I Know", which brings me to my next question; who do you listen to when you're not making your own music? What's in you iPod right now?
BD: N.E.R.D is really cool man. N.E.R.D is one of my favorite acts…ever and I love Toro Y Moi, like they so dope. Especially now [since] old boy has that band now, they're way iller. I listen to that [Underneath The Pine] album, front to back all the time. There's only a few albums I do that with, besides like, whats in my iPod. Kid Cudis' in my iPod. He's my favorite artist, when you want to [consider] artists, like a real artist. Not to knock other people I listen to a lot, because if you ask me who is my favorite rapper, I'll say Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa and I have a whole bunch of that on iPod. But if you ask me who's my favorite artist, I'll probably say Kid Cudi amongst a few other people in the number one spot. He does a lot more that just rap. He's not even really a rapper. I dont even know what to call the guy but he's just amazing, so that's what I call him. So that's what's in my iPod, a lot of Wiz, Wayne, Cudi, Japanese electronic music, Jazz…Toro Y Moi, obviously. A lot of stuff man, it's almost hard to name it all, it's just so many. A potpourri of genres.
JP: Potpourri, I like that. You have a unique way of blending electronic, spaced-out synths with hip-hop characteristic kick-snare rhythms, giving a lot of your beats that classic "hard" feel from the early to mid-nineties. It's no question you're a student of true-school hip-hop among other things, but what are your thoughts about hip-hop and it's growth or lack thereof since its "golden-era"?
BD: It definitely has actually grown a lot I feel like. I'm really weird. People will be like "Man, DeShay the shit that you listen to and the shit that you low-key support is not the kind of shit that you make. So it's kind of weird. Why do you even like that shit?" I don't know why man, I can't tell you. I think I just love the chaos, the contrast in other people's stuff. I'm inspired by that contrast and how they're som much different from me and stuff. I don't know, I just love the contrast, I love the opposites. it's just so cool to me.
So, Im not mad at all with the way that hip-hop has changed and the direction it's going. I actually like the way it's going man. really, I feel like it's not ideal with the way some people may feel. Like, "Yo, I miss when it was more tribe [A Tribe Called Quest] like music out." You know? When it was more Pharcyde stuff or more… I guess conscious stuff. I don't even really want to call it conscious. I think people just really like songs with concepts. Ya know? Like, real songs and I don't knock em, I like songs with concepts too. But, thank God for the internet popping for real. That's why i say I'm not mad, because the direction that hip-hop went is more [tailored] to the internet. Music period is on the internet now. You now have an option, if you don't like that "crap" on the radio, you don't have to listen to that. You have your iPod and you can plug up auxiliary to your car and bump that or you can just listen to your ipod while you drive if you radio don't work…like mine didn't when I was in L.A.[laughs] But you have a lot of options. That's why I like hip-hop now, it's a lot of options man. They've really embraced into all kinds of stuff now. Like, back in the 90's, you would've had NWA and Tribe at the same time which is very versatile and you would've had that on the radio, which is so cool. Now you can say "Hey there's nothing like tribe on the radio now!" ya know? But at the same time you can say, "Hey, there is the internet still.", an look at what hip-hop is embracing now. They're embracing cats that want to say "I'm Gay". Obviously, Im not gonna…. you already know who I'm talking about. But cat's that say that, even if they're just joking, you can say that now and its ok, it's funny, ya know? You can say "Aww man, I love the devil and I think god is a jerk" which is like, wow…but you can say it and people will understand it or just laugh at it. It's just a joke. Almost in the same way the culture has changed about the prevalence of homosexuality and racism. People had their ideals about it, taboos or whatever. All of a sudden, people are more accepting of it.
Music definitely reflects society, and as society changes, obviously music has changed too. It's gotten more accepting and the sound has changed. I don't know man, I just love it man. I think it's cool, I'm not mad at all about people embracing this new stuff man and if that was the "golden era", then we live in the "platinum era" [laughs]. Maybe next will be the "moon-rock era", I don't know, but I think it's cool though. I'm not mad.
JP: That's an interesting take, that's definitely an interesting take. You have worked with some of the illest, most sought after rising emcees in the industry, but I often hear people label the artist that you work with as "hipster." Emcees like, Sir Michael Rocks and Curren$y. They pin these guys as "hipster" rappers. How do you feel about that term, "hipster", when referring to hip-hop?
BD: Thank you man. Yeah, I have been blessed to work with a lot of really great acts and I want to keep it that way because all of the most talented people, I want to, ya know, throw a DeShay touch on it. But as far as hipster rappers go? Uhhhmmm? I don't know man. I mean any label is wack if you're an artist and that's so cliche, but it's hella true. Im gonna try my best not to be to long winded. I know my answers be extremely long. These are really good questions man, like stuff I don't always think about. I do get questions like this all the time, but I don't really be thinking about my real answer, so I just kind of go with it, thus why my answers are so long-winded and just unfiltered. But, yeah man…hipster rapper… I mean, it's whatever man. It's cool, but I think what they mean to say is that this rap is not what you're use to hearing over the last 20 years, and it's not mainstream or typical or something , you know? This is very versatile rap.
I think that's what hipsters are; versatile, out of the box thinkers. If you're an out of the box dresser and thinker and your way of life is that and you happen to rap, that's what makes you a hipster rapper, ya know? Ain't nothing wrong with that, if that's what you are. You accept that, that's cool.
JP: True Story…true story. Interesting take. To wrap it all up, and we appreciate you coming out today. last but not least, I'd like to ask you, who would you like to work with in the future and what are some oncoming projects that we can expect from you?
BD: I would really like to work with a lot of people. I mean, like I said, anybody who is talented. Like, I can't really give you a list for real. But I can say directly as far as the immediate future goes. I would really, really love to work with Diggy Simmons. I feel like dude has so much potential being so young and having a great appreciation for hip-hop that came before his generation and at the same time, knowing that we have to add a new flavor to it. Like, you have to bring shit forward. That old shit was great, like, we love Tribe but we've already heard Tribe. What can we do to get that Tribe feeling, but at the same time keep it modern, keep it relevant…right now, ya know? Have fun with it. I feel like that's what's really needed as far as hip-hop goes and I think Diggy can really do that with the right producer…[clears throat]…Brandun DeShay.[Laughs] So, yeah man, I'm a big fan of his work and I'd like to work with Diggy Simmons. Besides him? Anybody you can name dude. Outside of hip-hop, like pop artists, japanese electronic artists, jazz artists, house artists, dubstep artists…whatever man. I'm down for it all. If we can creatively come together and make something really ill, then let's do that. That's who I want to work with. Anybody who's down and who's talented about their shit, and…yeah man, whoever just wants to change the world musically. Let's do that [laughs], let's be a page in history.
Yeah man, thank you Earmilk. I really appreciate all the love y'all been showing sincerely since I started up. Amazingly, prominent, renown and spectacular site that you have and y'all had showed love to me even when I didn't have that much acclaim. Even now, I don't have that much acclaim, I just been working really hard and people are noticing. Y'all stuck with me and I'm definitely going to stick with y'all. So…yeah man, God bless man and to everybody listening, thank you for hearing this really long-winded fucking interview man [laughs].
JP: Well, we don't mind the long-windedness, in fact we like the breadth and the depth that we hope to get out of you. Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to thank Mr. Brandun DeShay for coming out today. Once again, this is Jahn P with Earmilk.com and you have just listened to "A Chat" in Devilish Grin Studios, "A Chat with Brandun DeShay." Until next time…