Interview: DL takes the struggle as a positive
After coming runner up in the esteemed 2015 Melbourne Music Bank Competition, DL has just released his debut single “Until Today”. The track has also won “Song Of The Year” in the world renowned John Lennon songwriting contest. We caught up with him to find out more:
For those unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe your sound?
I’m a hip hop artist. But my sound is not in your face. It’s pretty chilled and has been described as ‘easy listening hip hop’. It has a pop element and I enjoy a good old collaboration – so you’d usually find it tapping into another genre besides hip hop.
You have just released your single Until Today but this has been a long time in the making. Did you face some particular challenges in getting to the final cut or was it a case of fine tuning it until you were satisfied with the outcome?
Well I guess that’s more to do with getting it right. I originally wrote the song way back in 2008. I recorded a demo version to a beat I had laying around. Since then, I went back to it to produce a final version I was 100 percent happy with. That included changing the entire vibe to it. So I co-produced it and took it to where I envisaged it.
When writing/creating a song that sometimes takes years from start to finish, do you feel that the message you started with still represents you exactly the same way as when you first put pen to paper?
Yeah with this song, absolutely. Other songs don’t always work out that way, but that’s the reason I wanted this to be my debut release. I may have written it seven years ago, but the meaning behind it is more relevant now than it ever has been. Unfortunately the struggle of an independent artist grows, and it doesn’t diminish; But for the sake of releasing a completely relevant song, I take the struggle as a positive.
What was it like collaborating with Jason Heerah and what did he bring to the table?
He brought soul, and he helped bring the uplifting vibe I was going for. He helped arrange the hook and he came up with the catchy “Until Today, Until Today, Eh eh eh” hook that you’ll find yourself singing along to. It was great to have him be a part of it, and help bring my idea to life.
Working alongside so many different artists, have any words of wisdom been spoken to you that have stuck in your mind and helped shape the way you approach making music?
I’ve worked with Rai Thistlethwayte (the lead singer of Thirsty Merc). Not one thing in particular, but writing with him and seeing the way he went about it and his thinking behind his choice of lyrics was cool. Using powerful words to draw the listener into your feelings – I’ll always aim to do that.
You won the John Lennon songwriting contest with ‘Song Of The Year’ which is a remarkable achievement, can you explain what that felt like it and what it has done for your career?
When that got announced, all I can remember is being at work and shaking like a leaf. I just wanted to scream out profanities! But that was a huge achievement for me that I’m so proud of. To be the first hip hop artist to win the song of the year, in the 15 years the competition had been running, as well as being Australian battling against US artists with a genre that’s typically all about them… that was pretty cool.
How do you approach song writing, do your lyric represent your personal experiences or more of an observational 3rd person style?
Usually it’s from my personal experience. There’s been the odd occasion where I’ve either stretched the truth to create a better story, or written from another person’s perspective. Song writing is easy for me when it’s not forced.
Can you explain the moment that inspiration strikes and what settings provide you with the most creative flare?
I don’t write every day, but I find myself getting distracted from other things to write music when I’m feeling it. Nothing can get in the way of me writing when I’m suddenly in writing mode! I usually find myself wanting to write music when I’m at my 9-5. I design & draw houses for a day job, so I don’t know if it’s because I’m in creative mode at work that makes me want to suddenly write, or if it’s the fact I’m already getting paid so I may as well write lyrics so it feels like I’m getting paid for that, haha!
What does the rest of 2015 and into 2016 hold for you?
Well 2015, there’s not much left of it, but linking up with a few community radio stations who are liking “Until Today” and try to get it heard by a wider audience. I’ll do what it takes to get it out and about, I think it deserves recognition & I feel a broader audience will really like it if they hear it. I’ve got a bunch of tracks to follow up with next year and working with a few really talented artists. I’ll look to drop another single in the first quarter of next year, and then the EP which I’ll get out and do some shows with.
Keep up to date with DL on Facebook. “Until Today” is out now on iTunes.
Interview by Courtney Dabb.