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CHANGING THE GAME

 


If you're looking for some inspiration today, you needn’t look further than the story of Houston-native producer, Dpat. Just a few years ago, he was a college student crafting beats in his spare time, and now, he has a college degree and a Grammy nominee.

It all started in his freshman year dorm room. He had just left his band and needed a creative outlet, so he turned to his laptop and plugged in his headphones. Then-roommates Jeff Vash (who went on to direct the viral music video for XXYYXX’s “About You”) and Tones watched on as Dpat began crafting beats that would quite literally change his life. After about one year of work, Dpat quietly released his debut beat tape, Blurry, via his Tumblr in 2011.

“There was no publicist or manager behind any of it,” Dpat explains. Rather than spam his favorite producers and rappers on Twitter, he tried a novel concept: letting the quality of his work do the talking.

“Somehow, it began picking up steam and it eventually fell upon the ears of an A&R named Bootsy, who, at the time, was in direct negotiations with The Weeknd,” the Colombian-American Dpat continues, “He flew to Toronto and showed Abel [Abel Tesfaye, boa The Weeknd] some of my beats.”

The Weeknd liked what he heard, and asked Dpat to send him a few beats. “Originally, I was only going to send him two beats,” he says, in his characteristically cautious cadence, “But, at the last minute, I decided to attach the most recent beat I’d made—[The Weeknd] immediately hit me back asking for the stems because he was going to record to it that night. And the rest is history.”

The next time the two spoke, Tesfaye told Dpat that Wiz Khalifa liked the song and wanted to use it for his album. That song, with some polishing from Illangelo, became the lead single on Wiz’s O.N.I.F.C. album, “Remember You," which is now up against J. Cole and Miguel’s “Power Trip,” Jay Z and Justin Timberlake’s “Holy Grail,” Jay Z and Beyonce’s “On The Run,” and Kendrick Lamar and Mary J. Blige’s “Now or Never” in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category at the 2014 Grammy Awards. Amongst the producers of these collaborations, Dpat is the only first-time nominee. Not bad for someone who relied on word-of-mouth promo, huh?

“It's all very humbling to be listed along with those names. I didn't even know I was the only first-time nominee in the category so that's pretty crazy,” Dpat says. “I feel like I'm David against Goliath right now. I never thought I'd be nominated for anything, let alone a Grammy.”

Dpat is now signed to the Los Angeles-based label, Soulection, fronted by Joe Kay. Over the phone, Kay describes his roster of artists (which includes buzzing producers Sango and Atu) as having a futuristic R&B sound. When Sango first let Kay hear Blurry, he knew right away that Dpat’s music was a perfect fit.

“Dpat is a very selective person,” Kay confides, “It wasn’t easy to convince him to come over to Soulection.”

After speaking with Kay, we convinced Dpat to sit down with REVOLT for an interview. Check out our exclusive chat below, in which Dpat breaks down his rise to fame, his favorite Houston tunes of all time, and why he enjoys working with friends. And as for what the budding producer's got coming up, he discreetly told us he's begun work on an EP with his Soulection labelmate Atu, and he's currently working on his first tour. But before that, you can catch Dpat at SXSW this coming March, and at the Grammy Awards, which go down on Sunday, January 26.

Dpat: Absolutely. Radiohead is a huge influence on me, but I think the title was most likely a subconscious homage. In Rainbows is in my top 5 favorite albums of all time. Jonny Greenwood affected my guitar playing (which I used a lot on In Bloom) and Thom Yorke has always been on another level of genius to me. Like we're here on Earth, and [Thom] is in another universe creating some of the most unique songs and dance moves ever. I'm a pretty calm person, but I would scream like a little girl if I ever met him.

Part of what makes In Bloom so unique is Isles’ contribution. What was it like to work with him?

Simply put, Isles is one of my best friends. He's so talented it hurts. He comes up with some of the best vocal melodies that fit perfectly in the pocket of a beat, and it's usually just him improvising. He was a big part of the creative process of In Bloom. More than singing on "Above Us,” he also helped mix and master some of the songs and was there to give me creative input on certain elements of tracks. He has a massive, untapped potential.

What are some of the advantages of working with your friends?

It just seems to click better if I'm working with people that I know and trust. If I know you on a personal level, ideas flow easier. I would rather build from the ground up with my close friends; I mean, who else would I want to see succeed around me if not my friends? It seems like the natural thing to do. I'm fortunate enough to have amazingly talented friends around me, so of course I want them to sing on my songs. Of course I want them to direct my videos. I have a tight-knit inner circle of friends, and an amazing girlfriend, all of whom keep me motivated and inspired.

How has the sound of Houston influenced your production?

I think being from Houston has always had an influence on my music. When people ask me to describe my sound, I always immediately think of the word "syrupy.” There's a darkness to it. Nowadays, a lot of people slow down their songs or pitch vocals way down low; that wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for DJ S**** and the Houston sound he crafted. There's something about my music, and s**** music, that you can close your eyes and get lost in. I like up-tempo music, don't get me wrong, but I can just vibe more to something that is slowed down; I have to credit that preference to being from Houston.

What are some of your favorite Texas rap records?

Mike Jones' "Still Tippin" is probably one of my favorite rap beats ever… every verse on that is classic to me. Geto Boys’ "Mind Playing Tricks On Me" is a Houston classic and that beat is nasty as well. UGK's "It's Supposed To Bubble" and Fat Pat's "Call Up On Drank" are some of my favorites, too.


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