WORDS from the HERO
If you dont know by now, Allow me to be the one to introduce the intricate Beat Genius known as DERT. About 2 years ago give or take, my homie Will Widdoss put me onto this cat named DERT from California. Well, he tried to put me onto but being the scatterbrained person I can be, I never followed up on his recommendations. Will would always put me onto to dope musicians and I would do the same for him, but Will was very persistant on me checking out dudes music and yet still I just didnt follow thru. Not because I was Sleeping on him but just random scatterbrainedness kept me from ever checking him out. Then one day I was Checking out the mixes and some of the Weekly picks over at my man Jon jons spot tRUExRADIO MHz and he had up A Download from this cat DERT - "The Westside of the Moon" where Dert Flipped Pink Floyd Samples. I finally downloaded the album and was blown away.... The Album was in Super heavy rotation with me for Quite some time.... Months later I found out DERT has produced joints on alot of music I grew up listening to and other artist I really love like, LPG, KRS ONE, TUNNEL RATS, BRAILLE, SIVION, ETC.... There is alot I dont know about this cat but I can assure you one thing, I will be very focused on what he is doing from here on out and you should to!.
Producer Dert drops Talk Strange: A Beat Tape Inspired By Bjork. The 17 track beat tape continues his series of artist-themed original instrumentals and gives a preview of his upcoming 2009 releases CMYK EP and Downtown Headnod Suite.
Visit DERT's Myspace page
STUFF "DERT" DID
(DISCOGRAPHY as Told by DERT)
(taken from a Blog on his myspace)
Year - Artist / Title / Label
as a solo artist:
2004 - Dert / Fledging / Isolated Music
2006 - Dert / Sometimes I Rhyme Slow / Isolated Music
2007 - Dert / The Seattle Situation / Isolated Music
2007 - Dert Floyd / Westside of the Moon / Isolated Music
2008 - Dert / The Short List / Illect
2008 - Dert / In My Nature / Isolated Music
2009 - Dert / Talk Strange: A Beat Tape Inspired by Bjork / Isolated Music
2009 - Dert / The CMYK EP / Isolated Music
2009 - Dert / Downtown Headnod Suite / TBD
2010 - Dert / My Great Depression / TBD
as producer: (I am too lazy to list the actual songs I did so look it up yourself if you care to)
1995 - Various Artists / The Marble Jar Compilation / Indie
1999 - LPG / 360 / Solar Music Group
2001 - The Tunnelrats / Tunnelvision / Uprok - Tooth & Nail - EMI
2002 - New Breed / Stop the Music / Uprok - Tooth & Nail - EMI
2003 - Raphi / Cali Quake / Uprok - Tooth & Nail - EMI
2003 - Sev Statik / Speak Life / Uprok - Tooth & Nail - EMI
2003 - Propaganda / Out of Knowhere / Uprok - Tooth & Nail - EMI
2003 - Peace 586 / Generations / Uprok - Tooth & Nail - EMI
2004 - Various Artist / Underground Rise Vol. 1 / Uprok - Tooth & Nail - EMI
2004 - The Tunnelrats / The Tunnelrats / Uprok - Tooth & Nail - EMI
2004 - New Breed / Nine / Uprok - Tooth & Nail - EMI
2006 - KRS-One / Life / Antagonist - Vagrant
2007 - Footsoldiers / Live This / Antagonist - Vagrant
2007 - Braille / Box of Rhymes / Hip Hop IS Music
2007 - Sivion / Spring of the Songbird / Hip Hop IS Music
2007 - LMNO / Next In Line (unreleased)
2007 - Various Artists / Thumbnails (unreleased)
2007 - West Indian Girl / Remix EP / Astralwerks - EMI
2009 - West Indian Girl / 4th on the Floor: West Indian Girl Remixes Vol. 2 / Milan
2009 - Sojourn / Sojournalism / Hip Hop IS Music
stuff i am working on this year but i have no idea when it will be done.
2009 - Today's The Day ?
2009 - Jah Bless Heros ?
2009 - Jacewon ?
2009 - Propaganda ?
An INTERVIEW with DERT
by Freddie Joachim
for (borrowed from)
- You're a fairly elusive guy, is that the type of artist you strive to be? keeping yourself/your music on the DL?
Yes and no. It's not that I don't want people to hear my music, I just don't want me, the person, to be known that much. I have never done and live shows, showcases or even dj'ing because of that. I tend to be pretty introverted around strangers. But I plan to change that, I want to do stuff like that now. I have had enough convincing from people around me that my work needs to be heard by more people. Perhaps I need a better P.R. department (ha), but... I don't really take making beats that seriously to where I spend hours thinking of how to market myself. Maybe I should though.
- When you first started making beats, what equipment were you using? Can we expect a beat album of your very first beats?
I began pause looping on a karaoke machine my mother had. The first thing I ever looped was "Player's Ball" by Outkast. Then I did a silly rap over it and from there I was off and running. I looped other 70's and 80's soul jazz and r & b songs that wre lying around the house and then I bought a cd of break beats (at the late great West Covina Tower Records) and looped drum breaks for freestyle ciphers. When my rhyme partner at the time and I got asked to perform at debutant ball, I was like "yo, we don't need to use instrumentals anymore, I can make our own beats." My mom just bought me a Boss Dr. 5 and I did stuff on that. It couldn't sample so I just made up whatever was in my head. DJ Icy Ice was the DJ for that ball and was cutting it up for out performance, which was pretty surreal. We were all decked out in suits and rapping abstract lyrics over weird beats in front of this girls family. The crowd was looking at us like you would a crackhead begging you for a dollar. but it was cool, lots of cute Filipino girls haha. From there I played around with some cheap Roland sampler, then got an Akai s2000 since I could not afford the mpc3000. I used a Roland sequencer and triggered all the samples with one button since I didn't understand MIDI and how to properly use a sampler then. Like..."wtf is a keygroup?" I made my first project, The Marble Jar Compilation" on that. It was me, my boy Indigenous (we were a group called Zero Gravity), Acid Reign (then called 3pm), Xpress, Lyricon, Soul Taco, and my good friend "Mo' Better" a.k.a. jazz drummer Damion Reid. When I got the mpc2000, I made a beat right out the box. I always picked up this stuff quick and from there I went on to use Logic 5 when got my first G4 and that has evolved into the set up I used now which is the mpc 1000, Logic and a bunch of plug ins. Sometimes I program and sample in the computer, other times it's quicker to bang it out on the mpc. Unfortunately I do not have any of my old material from the early, early days but even if I did, it was pretty wack so I wouldn’t release it.
- Say you started producing from some really big artists, and became a household name as far as a producer goes, what are some things you would try and change in the music game? which artists had a chance to change the game, but fucked it up?
I honestly don't know. I think I would just try to get paid as much as I could while I had the notoriety and hopefully my body of work would inspire people. I think Hi-Tek could of really done some major damage and guys like Illmind and Jake-One. They are really dope but seems like getting down with bigger name artists changed their essence and took away from what made them amazing to begin with. I am just speaking as a music fan; I have no idea what is going on inside their heads so I don't know.
- Who do you feel is a very underrated artist? or is there an album that you feel is extremely underated as far as the production? What's an album you felt had great production, but the rapping/singing on it stunk?
I think Blu is underrated in the since he doesn't sell units like Common and Talib. I think we may witness the changing of the guard with him soon. Personally I think I am underrated but that would be a biased answer so I will go with someone I know instead of just saying myself, I think Surreal is underrated. But I don't listen to enough current rap albums to fully answer this question.
- Take us through a little bit of the beat making process...you sample from records? you play any instruments? What's a piece of equipment/software/synth etc, that you utilize the most, that other producers don't really use?
I do both. There is not set way a track begins. Sometimes the drums are first, sometimes I cut up a sample and play with it or I could just be playing with a sound on the keyboard and go from there. Then there are times when I have an idea or melody in my head and I pull a Jay-Z where I make the beat in my head before I put it down. When I sit down to actually do it, it's just a matter of playing each part of the arrangement bit by bit. As far as software, Logic Pro is my main staple. I like the Minimonsta and Arturia Moog simulations a lot. They took over as my main go to synths. But Waves Maxx Bass is something everyone should have for shaping your bass lines and kicks. I don’t currently have it since I got a new computer and lost my install disc. The wave’s people are pretty much nazi’s with iLok authorizations.
- What time of day/week do you usual work on your music? is it any free chance you get? or you work on music almost all the time?
It’s pretty much any free moment I have and/or when the mood strikes me. I can go for months without turning on any equipment and then sit down for weeks on end and just make stuff. These days I pretty much only work with an end goal or a specific project/artist in consideration. I don't just have beats on deck anymore. In my earlier days I would sit around and make 5-10 beats in one sitting but I feel my ideas are more focused doing one or two and spending time on them. I actually spend more time procrastinating about building a beat or thinking about how to approach it than actually making the music.
- How did the idea of Westside of the Moon come about? How long did it take to complete? Are you a big Pink Floyd listener?
This was an idea I had after literally downloading all of Pink Floyds music. I was considering Black Sabbath but the Floyd stood out to me more. I got inspired after watching their live in Pompeii video after returning from my first Mars Volta concert. Although I am not a mega Floyd fan but I have my favorites. I am not to big on sampling soul to begin with. In the early days of making beats I sampled a lot of jazz but now I am really into classic and psych rock. Like if I lived during those days of the 60’s & 70’s I would be into that scene and not into the soul or jazz scene. I’d probably be in a band too. Anyways, I put together Dert Floyd it in about 45 days but I was technically homeless at the time. I was sleeping in my car, at the office and staying in motels about once a week. I had a fall out with my old building manager and I bounced without really having a plan for finding a new place so I just floated around while I looked for apartments. When I moved into the place I am currently living, I recorded the beats from the mpc as stereo tracks, added some sounds to ones I felt needed it and that was that. The movie samples came from Squid and the Whale which my boy lent me right as I was finishing the project. It just worked out that it had bits I could use for Dert Floyd.
- Besides Westside of the Moon and The Seattle Situation, you're soon coming out Bjork project, how will the Bjork project sound? Will it be mainly be hip hop based beats? or keeping with the same sound/style of Bjork?
It will be hip hop based beats sampling Bjork songs. I am a huge Bjork fan. Everything from her music, album art, style and persona is inspiring as an artist. In addition to good hip hop, I pull inspiration from good art in general. I toyed around with sampling Bjork back in the day but I felt it was time to really get into it. Artist themed beat tapes are fun. You can't really sell them but they are a good exercise to strengthen your craft and to just put something out for people who love music and beats. Let me just say, the beat you made with Dundler Mifflen paper song was nuts dude. I bugged out when I heard that.
- How's the day job? What are some albums/songs you've been listening to while designing/at work?
The recession is affecting the entire advertising / graphic design industry so things are slower right now. But I actually don't listen to music while I work on design. I tend to put on movies in the background. I get too distracted by music because I get into that too much. Right now Dazed & Confused, Pretty in Pink, Rounders and Kat Williams are in heavy rotation. Classic rotation are the Wes Anderson films, Cocaine Cowboys, National Lampoon’s Vacation, The Breakfast Club & The Wire. I also listen to 97.1 fm talk a lot as well as news on kcrw and kpcc.
- After a long day of dealing with work, school, friends, music, etc...what's one thing that helps you unwind?
Usually it’s just sleep or just lying in bed. After long days, and long days are really long, I am just exhausted so there is nothing left to really do.
- You ride is a Vespa? How's that working out in LA? Also you cycle as well, you mash at night or day? You riding fixed/single speed/10 speed? What was your most memorable ride, either on the Vespa or your bike?
Yes, I recently got into scooters. At first I got an Aprilia Scarabeo 200. I wanted to rock something Italian but try to be a little different with it but as I kept seeing Vespas on the street I was like "I need to get the realness, I can't deal with this off-brand stuff." So I got a GTS250 since it was really the only one that was big enough for me to ride comfortably on. Riding a scooter in L.A. is great in that you can get around traffic easily and find parking mad quick and even not have to pay for it. I would be on a motorcycle but I am too tall for the type of bikes I like. But as far as utilitarian uses, with the storage space and gas mileage you can't beat the Vespa. I fill up for 3.75 right now and that gets like 140 miles. The only downside, other than it's...well, dangerous is the darn thing eats rear tires and some of the maintenance can be expensive. I just wish people didn’t refer to it as a “moped” because that is a entirely different kind of bike. It’s like, in the scooter world you are rocking Versace but to everyone else it looks like you shopped at Wal Mart haha.
As far as bicycles, I ride a Trek road bike (2100 frame, carbon posts, Shimano Ultegra components), triple crank / 30 speeds to be exact. I'm a big guy so I need the granny gears sometimes from climbing steep hills. I definitely like to ride a night. I never got into the fixie thing even though its all around. I don't think its safe or smart to ride a brakeless track bike in traffic, especially in groups / pelotons that are in the street. I am not one to do something just to be on the latest trend, Dert is not a fixie poser like Kanye or Pharell. Although I could use a good single-speed bike for short trips or riding to Grand Star with Jacewon (lmbao).
My favorite bike ride has to be the "bad idea ride." It's pretty much a ride that is a bad idea as far as the time it departs, the distance and the route. There has been a few but the one I went on was from Pasadena to Anaheim, about 70 miles. We left from the Sierra Madre Gold Line station in Pasadena at midnight rolling down Colorado to Duarte then on some residential streets and a bike path through Bradbury to Azuza. From there we went down to Foothill blvd and rode out to Upland, then blasting down Euclid through Ontario into Chino and took some back streets I never seen before going to Corona. That was an spacey feeling riding in pitch black at 3-4 in the morning all out there alone with only 4 other heads, the bike lights can be very hypnotizing. The last stretch was along 91 freeway bike path to the Amtrak station by Angel stadium as the sun was coming. And keeping in theme of bad ideas, I had an expired drivers license so I couldn't buy Amtrak ticket so I had to take a cab to the green line station in norwalk, then took the train back to downtown LA. I have not had a lot of great group scooter rides yet. I rolled out with the Westside and South Bay scooter clubs but they are all about vintage Vespas and Lambrettas so it was hard to get love on a new bike. But riding the scooter anywhere is super dope, I find myself taking the long way home a lot.