by Melanie Green
VANCOUVER – D33J does it his way. And for the LA-based, classically-trained producer, the process of cutting his debut album was no different.
Unlike the traditional method of releasing an album then touring, he did the opposite by recording on the road. Death Valley Oasis was drops this month and the title is a euphemism, he says, inspired by the concept of duality and drawn to the push-pull of light and dark. It is an amalgamation of a three-year exploratory process coming directly from his experiences on tour.
“I’ve always felt very fluid stylistically,” he says. “Some artists have a very defined sound but I’ve been more into the experimentation process.” Since he’s never cared much for a genre, sounds hop between different spaces and moods from the isolation of narcotic house to the connection of sweaty party rap deconstructed.
“The weird songs are little capsules of time,” he explains, adding the record is very personal.
Part of the WeDidIt Collective along with Shlohmo (who provides the album artwork) and Corbin (fka Spooky Black), the crew has a cult-like following born online watching him at Boiler Room gigs for years.
For them, the span of influences and earthy, organic found-sound samples remain, he says, but the pacing has evolved and is faster in tempo. Alongside songs without drums and primarily vocals, it’s got that same old drippy feel of slowed-down ambient dreamscapes with a couple of “fall on the floor tracks with a happy feel.” It moves from super dark to very uplifting, he says.
“Melodically my first EPs are my child shit. This, I definitely feel like I’ve grown up,” says D33J.
Coming back to material somewhat amorphous meant actions were made over a period of years. “I don’t know that I’d spend three years making another album,” he laughs humbly.
During that time, D33J also produced for Lil Yachty, Tory Lanez, Killavesi and Purple.
He recorded it all. From guitar to synths, the analog hints and organic sounds are layered over drum samples and his own vocal processing. The first single, Black Ice, features his vocals, slightly muffled, futuristic bass and ever-so melodic.
That was a step for him.“It was coming back to how I used to make music when I first started… singing on beats,” he says, admitting he got his confidence back by doing it. The album is rooted in heart and technical ability reflecting a disregard for musical boundaries and resulting in textured sound.
D33J works from his intuition with no specific end game, saying “the process is just as important as the result.”
D33J will join WeDidIt crew, Shlohmo and Corbin at the Commodore on September 17.Commodore Ballroom