Interview: New Zealand MC -David Dallas
by Yvette Travillian
Last year we introduced you to David Dallas, a New Zealand MC who’s explosive single and video “Big Time” crept up on hip hop heads here in the States with a loud bang. The feedback we received from that video was quite overwhelming and as the months went by we couldn’t help but notice that his fan base was rapidly increasing due to his superbly produced album, Something Awesome. And although New Zealand hasn’t been known for its tight hip hop scene in the past, David Dallas definitely has the potential to be the name to change that. I had the the dope opportunity to catch up with him to find out a little about how his sound came to be, how the internet advanced his career and what’s up next for him. Check it out after the jump.
*Speacial thanks to CS writer and NZ homegirl Whitnass for connecting these dots for me*
The Couch Sessions has been following the New Zealand music scene for quite some time, what was the hip hop scene like over there when you were growing up and how did that influence your music today?
As far as local music goes, there was very little of it – in terms of what actually filtered down to a kid who watched TV and listened to the radio. I was stoked when I’d hear of local artists (particularly Dam Native and Lost Tribe), but they were few and far between. I didn’t even think making hip hop music was something feasible you could do in this country, so as a kid I didn’t try to write rhymes or nothing, nor did any of my friends or kids that I know of. We just listened to US hip hop and that was that – we were just fans. It wasn’t until the internet came along and I discovered recording software etc that the idea entered my mind. Nowadays I look back at those artists and it blows my mind what they did and accomplished. Shit was so much harder.
So when and how did you officially get started making music in NZ?
In early 2003 I linked up with my bro Nick (Forty One) who was a prominent battle DJ in the scene down here. He’d had just bought an MPC and was getting into production. A mutual friend passed on some demos of me rapping over instrumentals I downloaded and he dug them, so we started making some original songs together. Through his DJ connects we got our songs on student radio and to a bunch of key people. A couple months after we’d put out our first song, another local DJ/Producer P-Money hit me up to feature on a remix of a song he produced as he liked the stuff Nick and I had been doing. The remix I featured on ended up being this huge song out here, like one of the biggest NZ songs in history. It was a trip because I was so green – I’d only been rapping for a bit over a year, it was my first time in an actual studio, first music video, and I was featured on a song with artists I looked up to. At that point I realised I might be able to make something of myself through music.
I was put on to your music through Kanye West’s blog last year after he posted your video for “Big Time”, how did that affect your status here in the US?
It was big for me, it’s a trip just how influential a blog like that is. My boy told me it was on there, then by the time I got to the computer to check it out it was poppin up on blogs all over the world. When I was at SXSW it surprised me how many of the artists and industry peeps I met had seen it on there, and how much weight people attached to it. Kinda like “oh you’re on Kanye’s blog – you must not be too bad” Haha.
Your production on Something Awesome is absolutely banana’s – who was behind the beats on this album?
Beats were all done by my bros out here, half by Fire & Ice, half by Forty One. And my man P-Money exec produced the whole thing.
What do you think of the current state of hip hop and who are you currently listening to?
It’s cool. There’s some great stuff being made, obviously what’s exposed in the mainstream is heavily skewed one way. But I think the internet has been great for hip-hop, with the emergence of the blogs I feel whatever niche or style of hip hop music you like – there’s people that are creating it and it’s available to you. That didn’t used to be the case, there’s a lot of people making great music who you’d probably never get exposed to if they had to go the traditional route of getting on a label and trying to get some radio/tv play. — Far as new stuff (I’m listening to), I’ve got Wiz Khalifa – Kush & OJ mixtape, the new Kanye song and that Drake/Jeezy song on the playlist far as new shit. Rest of the time I’m just listening to R&B and Hip Hop from the 90’s. Just been watching Jade – “Don’t walk away” and Lost Boyz – “Jeeps, Lex Coupes, Beamerz” vids on YouTube. Too good.
What’s up next for you? Do you have plans to come back and tour in the US [he killed at this year’s SXS] and any American MC’s you’d want to tour with?
Yeah for sure. I’m working on a new solo project which I wanna wrap in the next 2 months, after that being back in the US for a decent amount of time is on the cards. Touring with Outkast or being on the “Up In Smoke” tour if they ever did it again would be tight. That DVD was religious out here. LOL.
You can check out more info on David Dallas on his website at www.daviddallas.co.nz. And peep his latest track “Til Tomorrow” below.
David Dallas – Til Tomorrow