INTERVIEW: Dorsh x Summer Soul Sessions
by Couch Sessions
Just the other day Dorsh touched down in NYC and almost immediately The Couch Sessions linked up with the headliner for first Summer Soul Sessions as well as his manager, Rio. After all the variety one’s ears can witness in Neapolitan, our interviewer , Aln Yves, was definitely prepared to dive in and really shed light on the man The Couch Sessions has decided to put at the helm for Summer Soul Sessions. From his intimate history with Reggae and Ska, to his childhood stories and thoughts concerning credibility among musicians today, Dorsh more or less left no stone unturned.
So you’re a singer, songwriter, rapper, producer, you mix, you master, you DJ. What’s your main thing? Haha
Haha. Um, I’d say my main thing is probably the producing.
Yeah. I’m a Renaissance Man in the studio and then everything else spawns from there but I really like being behind the board and controlling the sound of it all.
How’s does that affect your live performances? Do you…
You know, it affects it in a huge way because I believe that a really good show depends on the sound of it. I mean you can really put out the energy and dance around and have everyone on key but if it doesn’t sound good then you know what I mean… and I run into a lot of problems with smaller venues where the energy is there, everyone’s there and then the sound is just subpar. You know and you can’t, people are like it doesn’t sound like the album or I can’t feel this or I can’t feel that and I just hate to hear that. So it’s really important, the sound.
Couch Sessions: So you talk about being a Renaissance Man, so who are your influences, from the past and who do you like now?
Oh man, I often tell people I wish I was born in the fifties. So that I could be 21 when the seventies camse, hang out with Todd Rundgren, Marvin Gaye, man, I’m a huge fan of soul music. I would say reggae also. My grandfather is credited as being the originator of reggae music. It started with ska and then it went to mento, then rock steady. So between ska and mento and rocksteady, mento and rocksteady you get Bob Marley, so if you go to the hall of fame of the music in Jamaica it starts with my grandfather and then it goes to Alton Ellis and then John Holt, then a few other guys in between and then it hits Bob Marley.
What’s your grandfather’s name?
Eric Deans, that’s crazy!
He started a school there in Kingston that’s still there today, well he didn’t start it but he was one of the main teachers there. It’s called Alpha boys School and it’s a school for basically kids that didn’t have any money to go to any other kind of school and basically they just gave them instruments and taught them the basic English curriculum and put instruments in their hands and a lot of those guys, 6 or 7 of those guys, I forget how many were in the original Skatellites (sp?), but they all graduated from that school, he curated the first internationally known reggae band, before the Wailers, it was called the Skatellites , the first band to leave the island and play abroad. He was actually made big by Cab Calloway a famous American jazz musician. They went to Cuba, to Trinidad, all over, England. I just feel like knowing all of that, to go back to the question, my soul is deeply rooted in the stuff that got us to where we are now, you know what I mean? Like I like things that are going on now but I’m always going to go back and say, take me back to that old funk, that old soul, that James Brown, that Temptations, that Delphonics.
That’s so crazy man. I hear it in your music. I was tyring to think I’m like. “Je t’ aime” reminds me of a cross between Sade and Groove Theory.
Haha ok. It’s funny I was listening to Smokey Robinson’s “Oooohh Baby Baby” and he’s doing that falsetto and I was just sitting back and I was like man being a studio guy and I have a lot of guys come into the studio and I’m like can you record that again you’re not feeling it. You can just hear, Smokey was almost crying when he was making that song like so I kinda that’s funny that you say that. Yeah.
So what do you think about the state of music right now?
The state of music right now, I like it because I’ll go back to 2002 with Kanye’s, what was his first album? Graduation?
Rio: College Dropout.
College Dropout. And he brought back… “Come up in the spot looking extra fly” was the first song to come out. That’s a Curtis Mayfield
Rio: That’s on the second album.
Is that the second album. Okay, anyways he started this whole soul sampling thing I would say really started with him or became popular with him, it didn’t really start with him. I’m seeing a lot of that now and that kinda just goes back to that last question, I’m really happy with what’s happening with music right now because I feel like a lot of people are like we realize we used to be cool so let’s go back to that. You’re just hearing a lot of old music pop up and new themes and new songs and I think it’s beautiful. I think it’s really cool man. A lot of guys are doing some really cool stuff.
You have a different look, the music, everything about it is kind of different now, in the 90’s “keeping it real” meant like baggy jeans, thugged out…
Rio: Tommy Hilfiger.
Do you think the musical environment and the sort of homogeny of all different types of music has helped and pushed it forward like how we can really just be ourselves and keep it real without, you know keep it real like really real not just hood, crazy real?
I don’t know about that. I read a study once, I don’t remember where it was, it was basically saying that 85% of the human population aren’t really music listeners. They can’t discern John Mayer from Dave Matthews. They just kind of hear it and whatever’s cool at the time and that’s 85% of people. There’s are only 15% of people who are really music listeners. And so whenever I see…, we were talking about the hipster movement today, um for example in Williamsburg man there’s a lot of Hipsters around and first thing it made me think about was Farrell and that whole NERD skateboard P movement (7:45) and you have a lot of young black kids coming out and switching up their swag, turning their hats around, making the jeans tighter, grabbing skateboards and I feel like with that, just to hone in on is everybody free and are we all just doing what we want, I feel like we’re still kind of following in a way and it’s funny we have this Twitter thing where you just follow someone, you know what I mean? My whole thing is being unheard of and when I say that I mean part of the herd, H-E-R-D, not hearing, so it’s just moving away from that okay so we do have a black guy saying skateboard P but… it was funny some skateboarders called out Pharrell, do a kickflip, something simple and he was like nah I don’t really mess with that because it’s kind of you know it’s not real you know? In the grand scheme of things I still feel like there’s a lot of posing going on where people still haven’t been able to really become themselves you know? I just think they are grasping for what’s out there and whats cool to follow.
I’m going to talk about your music and sports. You played soccer, which is awesome. So how was the transition from athlete to music? I know you stopped playing soccer, was it an injury or something? How was that transition?
Literally and metaphorically it was a very painful transition. I played soccer 16, 17, 18 years of my life, My entire life. I got head butted in a soccer game. I broke my skull, shattered my skull, broke my nose, I have a fake nose, I have three plates in my head, seven hours of surgery, and that pretty much wrapped it all up because I couldn’t hit the ball. For months I was wearing protective glasses and it was like I can’t go on like this. And I was 18 at the time and I had some pretty big try-outs in Jamaica, in England, some big money teams and basically I hate to use the word but it’s like a slave trade but basically it’s like how healthy is this person and when they are marking down ankle surgery, face surgery you know all this stuff at 18, they are moving on. It’s over, you know. So I started in the business program at Butler and when this all happened I was like what am I going to do because I can’t even play soccer. I thought I was going to go pro. Come to find out they had a recording industries program that they had just gotten millions of dollars of funding for, five studios, brand new professors and I was like alright I’m going to go over to music because I knew my grandfather had done it. Well growing up I had always played the bass, soccer was my main thing but I always had a bass guitar and I just got really good at it over the years. I took it to college with me and I just decided I’m going to start producing. And that’s how that all came together. I made an album called “trial and error” in logic, not even Pro, in the educational suite. It really outlines all the pain I was going through and everything else in college, you know, I had gone from being soccer star, stud, girlfriend, all this stuff to being not that, people couldn’t recognize me. I used to be this jock, now I’m this intellectual, always speaking from the heart, writing poetry and all this stuff. It was really painful for me to lose all my friends, who I thought were my friends. Then transitioning to this new thing. To finish where we started, it was really painful but I’m really happy where I am and what I’ve gone through, it’s really made me the person I am and it comes out in the music I’m making now.
Is that you on Big Foot Steps? Are you rhyming on Big Foot Steps?
Yes, I did the first verse. Second verse is a buddy of mine from Indianapolis, Oreo Jones and the last guy is from the KI project in London and that actually happened through my blog. They had sent me some materials, it’s a two piece. Kensaye is the producer and Innocent is the rapper and they had sent me a video of something called the Birthday Beat, where Kensaye had sent Innocent a beat on his birthday and said basically this is your birthday present, rap on it and I liked it so I did the same thing, I said hey Innocent, this is your beat man, I need you on it and he did it.
It’s raw, not smooth, I was like wow. Good stuff.
Yeah he’s a London bloke
I’m going to go through some of my favorites: Alias…
Alias, it’s funny, my parents are Jamaican but my dad’s dad is English and I have seven white uncles actually from England so when I was about four years old I met them for the first time and have been going back ever since. Same thing for my family in Jamaica, we have a house in Jamaica. So my whole life since I was five years old it’s Jamaica, England, Jamaica, England. Some few places in between but it’s always Jamaica, England and my parents only speak Patois at home, so then growing up I heard them speaking the English so I kinda just picked up on the accent, you know what I’m saying (in accent). So when I was writing the song I wanted to start by explaining to people these are my heritages: Jamiangoclican. So I’m going to put each one on a verse. So that as it comes out through the album you are saying where did that Patois come from or where did that English come from. Why is he singing now but he was just rapping on the last song. You kind of get it right off the bat, these are my aliases, all the people contained in Dorsh.
So how easy is it to pick up chicks with that?
hahaha. Funny story….Cindy….nooooo….hahaha
Rio: ahhaah, tell it. That was a great moment in our life! We were little kids.
Alright, well we were little kids. I was 15 years old and I had this buddy from Guyana, Brazil who introduced me to this girl. He was like hey man you’re only going to be here in Austin for the weekend, why don’t you do that accent and fake around like you’re from England and whatever. I was like whatever, cool. The girl ends up liking me a lot. We start talking on myspace and stuff. The next summer we went back and she introduced me to her parents and all this stuff.
Are you still doing the accent?
During all this time, yeah! And I’m meeting her dad and he’s a real ??? guy. I’m there, my friend from Brazil is there, Rio’s there and he’s like can you say something in English and their losing it because they know I’m putting on this whole thing and (16:02) I’m like (in accent) I’m not really sure mate but I know you Americans say something like Howdy and the whole house was like going crazy and stuff. Anyways come to find out, once the invention of Facebook came around, she realized I was actually from Houston and her parents found out and we’d met a lot of people from Austin who believed I was from England because I couldn’t stop and I was saying like Pedro man please can I…and he was like nah you’re doing great man, keep it up! We’re kids and thinking it’s funny and stuff but after that incident I quit it all. I definitely quit it all but that’s actually where the first line comes from (in accent) “I went to the club last week and I met a girl and she said Dorsh ….? “ It’s all true.
Okay, well a more serious one. I love the ‘Mullato’ ‘Aphrodite’. That’s Gil Scott?
Yes. Brothers is the name of the poem. I wrote that song….I heard Viola Davis ?? had an interview on NPR one day and she said she had a really hard time as an actress getting roles that weren’t like the the bastard black woman or cleaning because she was darker than a paper bag and I looked down and…one time I had one of my buddies say you know the blue vein society. Have you ever heard of the blue vein society? It’s black people who you can see their veins because they are so light, it’s like a society or something for being mullato . I always knew I got favoritism in the white community. I grew up in an all white community. People will often look at me and say you’re so well spoken, you’re not black , you’re Jamaican or they’ll say you’re not Ghetto, you don’t wear this or you don’t do that. I’m always saying to myself what, black is only the bad things? You’re going to tell me these are great things so that’s not black, but when you do something bad, stop being so black, stop acting like a nigger or stuff like that. So when I was writing this song it was just kinda in the perspective of media inspired mulattos within (?) and to go even deeper when I’m talking about within there’s white inside of this black mullato person, so I’m talking about Tyra, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, you can name them and just keep going, all light skin black women in the spot light. Name me one that we can all think of right now.
Kelly Rowland I think is the only one I can think of. And I only thought of that so quick because I was listening to your song and…
It’s so in front of our face and we kind of even brush it aside because it’s like whoa and I made the song about a girl because we got Bernie Mac, we got puff daddy, It’s cool for guys to be…(Dark skinned) for girls it’s a completely different thing. In Jamaica we have this process called bleaching there’s a dancehall song that actually goes “Them a Bleach, dem a bleach out them skin, them a bleach, them a look like a brownin” and it’s like black girls, dark black girls are sitting in the tub in this, like, acid to make themselves lighter to be more acceptable. And I have two older sisters who are dark, dark, black girls and they talk about this stuff all the time. And I’m like, I got to put this down on paper. Nobody’s saying anything about this and it’s so right there in front of our faces. So that’s what the Mullatto’s about, and Afrodite’s just a reach back to the Greek princess Aphrodite, goddess of beauty. I’m saying, yo, wear your afro man, that’s wear the real African beauty is, there coming from, yeah mon.
I appreciate that man. I got a little daughter, her mother is Tibetan and Irish but she looks like…
Dorsh: Mullato! Yeah
So I actually play that for her, right in between Stevie and soul…. I play that for her a lot. That’s why I said let me do this interview not just the video stuff. Your music, I like when it expands on all this stuff.
Rio: Your uncle’s organization…
Oh yeah my uncle has an organization called Mixed and this is the same father of my father who went and started this family with this white lady in England so there were seven of them and they always had this black dad and white mom and they grew up in Manchester, most people think Manchester is a big place but it’s mostly country and if you have a black parent, I don’t know if people even know how racism is over there but it’s bad. And he wrote in his biography of why he started this business is cause people would always look at him, he’s white as day, you could never tell but they knew his family, so they’d always be like (in accent) “Oy Bradley you’re a nigger bloke you know that?” He could never understand why people couldn’t understand, no I’m not white, I’m not black, I’m mixed. I am my own identity. So he started this organization and we’re going to try and get a campaign going with that song and some mixed people, black people, white people, people of their own identity coming together and celebrate who we are as people, not just color wise. The heart, the mind, the soul and all that.
That’s awesome. That’s serious. So Ten Minutes…
Ten Minutes was inspired mostly by Basquiat. He [Basquiat] said I don’t need a critic to tell me what art is. Well I had entered into a beat battle and which turned out to be rigged, came to find out and I got really upset about it. I was thinking about the whole art of a beat battle, you take your beats there, you sit back and you have these guys who are acclaimed whatever, producers and a crowd cheering on beats. So you have a guy who brings 50 people and the instrumentals are awful, they sound terrible but his whole crew is in the back, “aaahh this is tight.” So at the time I was really into Basquiat and I saw that quote in a book that I had bought from him. It said “I don’t need an art critic to tell me what art is” and this had happened after him and Warhol did that show right before he killed himself. He got really really really bad reviews. It was him and Andy Warhol coming together to do the first black, African American and famous white painter coming together to do their thing and it was just bad, nobody liked it. And I kinda just looked at the beat battle that way, this was actually the complete opposite, I supplied wonderful music but because nobody knew who I was at this point and I didn’t bring a bunch of people to critique it and tell me it was good, I still don’t believe that it’s not good. So I took one minute snippets from the contest and I put it in a ten minute collective called Ten Minutes and then I put Basquiat as the album cover which turned out to be a dreadlocks guy. So it was just like, I call things like that Jah-guided, where you couldn’t write that down, it just happens.
That’s another one I have on repeat. Alright. So, last couple of things…one thing about your music, how come everything is under four minutes? All the songs are so short. I’m always waiting for more, I have to put them on repeat.
That’s this guy mostly. I make the music and I send it to Ricardo and he’s like a trained orchestra, choir, music theory all that kind of stuff. I’ll have these tracks going really long, these arrangements all put together and he’ll come back and say cut out this section, do this do that and when we finally sit down and listen to it … My whole thing is quality over quantity. I’d much rather make a really good song that’s short, then try and stretch it out and ruin it. That can happen. I feel like I’ve had songs like that where they were good until I tried to do too much. I’ve just kindof taken this minimalist approach where once I’m happy with it I’m not going to do anything else to it. To elaborate on that I’ve actually started a German based project with a producer from London and all the songs are five minutes plus! So the complete opposite. German based music is really long, with lots of intros and all that stuff. So that’s going to be coming out in a little bit, September.
Do you have a genre that you think you fit in?
No. That’s why I made Neopolitan. I was more so making Neopolitan to kinda say, to see what genre people reached out to the most and I’m kinda seeing the soul grooves Je t’aime, Mullato. In my respect I enjoy making all of it, you know what I’m saying but I would like to make what people really enjoy me making. You get what I’m saying ? To relate it to sports, Lebron has some great dunks, we all love seeing him dunk, I don’t think anyone really wants to see him shoot three’s, you know you can do it but maybe more so focus on entertaining us in this way, you know? So that’s kind of what Neopolitan was about. I’m a part of all these flavors, I know what’s going on in all these genres, I love all these genres, now you guys tell me what you really like and I’ll go back and make it. It’s kind of like the cook in the kitchen, try all these recipes and here’s my specialty.
So what can we expect to see at the show on Saturday?
Oh my gosh, lot’s of energy for sure, lot’s of energy. Probably teach you something you didn’t know. I like talking to the crowd, explaining where the music is coming from. I can’t stand a set where people just go from song to song to song and then say thank you! You know? I didn’t really get to know you, why did I even come out to see you? I could have just listened to your album. So I hope I don’t go over my time but I really do like making it an experience.
So where can people catch you? You have the show Saturday. What else are you going to be doing?
I have a show tomorrow in DC, DJ Face. I have one on Thursday in Philly with Hezekiah at Elena’s Soul Lounge and I have one on Friday with the guys from South Paw, it’s a club over here in Brooklyn.
Oh yeah, Jaw
Right and there’s another guy too. They are doing something in Central Park or some party in the park they do annually and they asked me to come out because they heard I was in town. So I’ll be doing that. Next week Friday I’ll be playing with DJ Bukem, he’s a drum and bass producer from London, and then two weeks after that, no a month after that I hit Europe for a 14 city tour and then two week after that I’m going to South America, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador. I’m going to hit the international scene with the music. So I’m really really really busy starting now. No, this started it all!
That’s awesome man. Thank you for the interview. I’m going to put it up . Good meeting you and I’ll see you Saturday with the cameras, we’ll be interviewing you. I’ll probably be behind the camera. Man I’m excited.
Thank you. I am too.
I learned a lot just listening to you.
It’s going to be good. It’s going to be awesome.
This interview was conducted and transcribed by Aln Yves