INTERVIEW: Moombahton producer David Heartbreak
by Marcus K. Dowling
“I got tired of making the same old sound all the time…” – David Heartbreak
To still refer to leading moombahton producer David Heartbreak as merely a resident of Charlotte, NC is to completely undercut his residency in the subwoofers and loudspeakers of the international dance community. Today marks the release of his first label EP, Heartbreak, on BBC Radio 1 programmer and noted DJ and producer Toddla T’s Girls Music imprint.
“Toddla and I had been back and forth for a minute. He was skanking to my track ‘Arrieto’ on (fellow BBC programmer) Annie Mac’s UStream, and got in touch with me,” notes Heartbreak of his initial connection with the global tastemaker. It wouldn’t be until Miami’s Music Weekend this past March and the moombahton-centric Mad Decent sponsored Blow Your Head Party where they would meet again and the groundwork would be set. “By Ultra (the festival that fell during the weekend), and Blow Your Head, Toddla was already playing (moombhangra cut) ‘Chhavi’ pretty regularly, and once we met, it was like, yo, let’s do an EP with your music.”
The EP features three cuts that focus on Heartbreak’s expansive imagination for the sound, his greatest asset as a moombahton producer. “Chhavi” and “Jazmine” dip the slowed tropical bass melody into the realm of Indian bhangra, while “Blaze Up” collaboration with Toddla T introduces the sound of “moombashment,” a blend of electro reggae house and tropical bass that is a trunk rattling delight. “I just didn’t want to keep making the same music,” says Heartbreak. “I’ve gotta be different. I started listening out for vocal samples that were different than the Latin samples. (Rotterdam collaborator and top tier, progressive underground producer) Munchi, Dave (Nada, moombahton inventor) and everyone else were taking samples that I wanted to use, so I decided to do something different. If I hear bhangra, I’m going to do moombhangra, if I hear reggae or dancehall, which are in my blood, I’m thinking moombashment. I just let the sound guide me.”
The sounds have also guided Heartbreak in the direction of rhythm and blues, with his extremely popular moombahsoul creation. “I’m a hip hop dude first and foremost,” says ex emcee Heartbreak. “R & B is a natural progression. Again, I was just trying to keep things different.” Different has succeeded in a major way with moombahsoul, as his compilation of not just his, but eight other moombahton producers’ attempts at infusing soul classics with moombah-flavor, Heartbreak presents Moombahsoul has been downloaded an estimated 6,000 times so far. “That number is amazing, man. My work with Munchi topped off at like, 4,000 downloads for each EP. It definitely means that people want to hear more.”
The Weeknd “Rolling Stone” ( Heartbreak’s Remix ) by David Heartbreak
A highlight of the Heartbreak presents Moombahsoul compilation was Heartbreak’s take on Drake affiliated Toronto producer The Weeknd’s “Rolling Stone.” “I wasn’t really too into the dude at first, but then I sat down and really listened. I’m not one of those guys all about the vocals sometimes. I listened to his melodies, and he’s really doing some amazing work.” Is the success with “Rolling Stone” going to lead to more Weeknd edits and remixes? “Yeah. I’ve flipped most of the House of Balloons EP, and I’m going to try to release that soon.”
“My sound is respected overseas,” says Heartbreak who has as many top tracks as passport stamps these days. “In Europe, they’re about six months ahead of where we are in the states. They’re also very receptive to what I’m trying to accomplish.” The Charlotte native has gone global in promoting his debut EP, being featured on BBC related radio networks weekly over the past month. Regarding his success, Heartbreak’s “just trying to keep it going, and still be patient and see where this is headed,” remaining patient about the only year and a half old moombahton sound.
David Heartbreak is just scratching his potential. With every new release, he sets a standard that only he can reach. “Rolling Stone” set a bar that within under a month was destroyed by his work with Dave Nada on the James Blake/Nina Simone mash-up “Church.” There are people who believe that “Blaze Up” and the year old yet new to many global ears “Chhavi” have eclipsed that benchmark. With big tunes forthcoming with the likes of moombahsoul specialist Jon Kwest and a slew of official remixes slated, David Heartbreak is poised to be a rising international star unable to be categorized by any pre-existing standard. It’s an enviable and unparalleled position for a man with enviable and unparalleled skill. “Yo, I’m just trying to get this sound to expand worldwide, and keep it fresh.” The right attitude for the right sound at the right time.