TOAN Exclusive: Dave B Talks Hair Products, Pho and Humble Beginnings with TOAN Mag (interview)
There is a surge of new and thriving talent in the music industry, both major and independent artists. In hip-hop specifically, with artists such as Makonnen, Bryson Tiller, Anderson Paak, Tory Lanez, Chance the Rapper and more, along with a new slew of artists, has come a new sound. Rising up the ladder, just below the aforementioned, is a young man from the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is not synonymous with hip-hop music, and usually the theatre kid that grew up in the church isn’t either, but in the case of Dave B, both are true.
A few months back, in a sort of cryptic way, the name Dave B kept finding its way to me. A mention in an interview, a flash across my twitter feed and then finally, in a crowning moment, Dave B appeared on my SoundCloud.
One evening as I’m scouring the web for something new to ordain upon my ears, I spot the name again and I hurriedly head to his sounds. Right away I succumb to everything that the fuss was all about. I start from the beginning and listen completely through, introducing myself with Dead End, a track from his late 2015 EP release, Punch Drunk. Almost instantly the music feels familiar and after the third time through all of his posted tracks, I found myself relatively well versed in Dave B lyrics.
Dave grew up in the church, where his father played bass. In a household where gospel and soul was constantly heard through the speakers, it wasn’t hard for Dave to find a love for music early on. That love led to theatre where he also found a soft spot for acting, taking part in school productions throughout high school. With a sound distinct in voice more than style, both rapping and singing can easily be lumped and overlooked. Dave is often compared to new kid on the block, Bryson Tiller, and the young black voice of Chicago, Chance the Rapper. But what sets him apart? That’s exactly what we wanted to know, so after ONLY listening to Punch Drunk for weeks on end I finally snapped out of it long enough to set up a phone call with the man himself. Here’s what he had to say.
TOAN: You’re new on the scene, your name is just picking up traction, plays are going up on your SoundCloud and you’re being compared to the likes of Chance The Rapper and Bryson Tiller. What are some things that your new fans should know about YOU?
Dave B: I live a fairly normal life. I just grew up in the church and shit like most, well not most people, but most people I know, grew up around the church and gospel music. [Listening to] old soul records… I used to be in a lot of plays, I did a lot of musical theater, we were left to doing music and a lot of acting and shit.
TOAN: The melodic rapper is a dime a dozen today. On most of your tracks you are singing AND rapping, do you consider yourself to be one or the other, neither?
DB: I don’t know, I don’t think I really am like a rapper or singer. I just do what sounds good in my head. I carry a lot of melodies throughout the day and I’m not really drawn to rapping at people, like a preacher or something [laughs]. I carry a lot of melodies throughout the day and when it comes time to record, it comes out like that, my natural inflection when I’m making a song.
TOAN: You’ve worked with a good amount of producers, what is your creative process like? Do you choose a beat, choose a producer or write lyrics first…?
DB: It varies, I’ve been making a lot of beats myself lately, with my DJ. Those ones will just be us making a beat together and I’ll pace the room and come back and forth. When we get a good foundation of a beat to build on, I’ll just kind of run through the song like that, but I’m always just jotting down notes in my phone throughout the day, of cool little lines or something cool that might have happened that I can talk about, and put it together.
TOAN: How did your last project, Punch Drunk, come about?
DB: That was a collection of songs, I had close to maybe 80 songs initially when I was just recording random songs. I was just in a not ideal place in life and I was taking all these thoughts and writing about them and I got to work with Jake One, who’s from here, and a few other producers from the northwest and we put it together. It was just my story of my relationships and my everyday, like, being alone and shit [laughs] and being sort of Punch Drunk. Music was sort of the get away for it so it’s my get away, get out of my headspace, album. I was freeing myself of all the shit that was suffocating me at the time.
TOAN: I love your new track, Olive Oil! I was happy to have some new music after playing Punch Drunk days on end. Tell me about that one.
DB: Olive Oil… we made that song maybe a month ago, Darius and I produced it. I got all these hair products on my dresser and I just woke up in the morning, he’d sent me the stem of the beat, and I started adding stuff to it and I thought, “man I should make a song about my hair, just hair in general.” I was thinking about all of the black women in my life that rock their hair natural and fly and I just wanted to talk about it.
TOAN: What are your go-to hair products?
DB: I got the Olive Oil, I like Shea butter, I got some Blue Magic on my dresser. I used to be on the Pink Lotion, but, it don’t really give me the shine like it should [laughs].
TOAN: While we’re talking go-to’s… Go-to food spot?
DB: If I’m not thinking about it and I’m just going, I’d go to get some Pho, from Pho Than Brothers up in Seattle. Pho is a big thing in Seattle for some reason, I’d get Pho if I wasn’t thinking about it or there’s this chicken spot, Ezell’s, that I go to. I live right down the street from it, get some chicken strips and fries real quick.
TOAN: Odds are, you may be doing some traveling in the near future. Have you done much yet? Where are some of your favorite places?
DB: I ain’t really been to too many places but I went to the North Shore once. I went with my homegirl and we did shrooms and it was blowing my mind, seeing turtles that close!
TOAN: Lets take it all the way left. This is one of our favorite curveball questions. What’s your favorite PornHub category?
DB: It varies, but I like the, uhh… this is a hella weird question [laughs]. I like POV cause I don’t like to see the dude that much or at all [laughs] or I just go to girl on girl type a shit cause I get distracted and I cant get the mission done when I’m watching a dude.
TOAN: Hahaha. Lets get back on track. What was one of the most significant albums in your childhood?
DB: Late Registration. I’ve met a lot of friends rapping those lyrics through the hallways, friends that I still have. Like, our friendships are based on getting kicked out of class because we were fucking rapping Late Registration lyrics, in class.
TOAN: You’re 23?
TOAN: When’s your birthday?
DB: March 25th
TOAN: oh thats coming up! that’s an Aries?
TOAN: We’ll move on [laughs] – What item, aside from your cell phone and wallet, would you not leave the house without?
DB: My lighter! I’m always losing the lighter. I have a horrible habit that I’m trying to kick… But when I don’t have a lighter… Even if I don’t have cigarettes and I have a lighter, I feel comfortable.
TOAN: What artist(s) can you put us on to? Who are we sleeping on?
DB: There’s a cat from Seattle named Nyles Davis who I think is being slept on. He’s really dope. He’s one of my favorite artists in Seattle. Check him out.
TOAN: There is more attention on you now, what do you envision for yourself, or hope for, in the future with music and notoriety in this industry? Major and minor goals?
DB: I just wanna continue to learn, keep building relationships, and making the best possible music I can. Definitely want to be able to tour and just continue to push myself.
TOAN: What was one pivotal moment that forced you to recognize your progression in music and your growth toward success?
DB: I don’t know if there was one moment. When I released ‘Leaves’ last year it definitely opened doors but staying consistent and maintaining focus is what’s brought more opportunity.
TOAN: What can we look forward to? Is Olive Oil a precursor to another EP or are you taking steps toward a debut album? Whats next for Dave B?
DB: More music, better music.. there may or may not be another project in the works but I’m putting together some really cool shows this year. It’s gonna be fun.