2018 has only begun and lofi hip-hop artist drkmnd is already having a majorly exciting year. With two tapes already released (both dropped on January 8th) and another on the way, it’s safe to say that there’s no shortage of the inviting energy that makes him easily likeable. He discusses his musical influences and explains just how important his art is to his overall health.
Tell me about your background in music – What got you involved in music and songwriting?
My involvement in music started at an early age. My dad used to spin at clubs back in his day, so he would always have boxes of records, CDs and tapes lying around the house when I was a kid.
My appreciation and love for music and art began to evolve as I got older, and grew with my love of philosophy and literature. I began to see creating as a necessity; something that we all must do in order to sustain our humanity and keep our minds sharp. No other animal on the planet has evolved with the ability to create and design, so if we don’t utilize this, then how can we flourish as humans?
I have distinct memories of skipping assemblies in sixth form to listen to music in the library, as well as going home early to make beats. My goal started at about 1 beat per day, but when I was diagnosed with clinical depression and severe anxiety disorder, music was all that I got out of bed for. It kept me alive, and so I developed the ‘drkmnd’ (dark mind) moniker. My productivity quickly rose to about 3-4 beats a day.
I began to take music seriously in 2016, which is when I sold my first beat. It took some time however, for me to put together a body of work which I could be proud of and released it under my first mixtape, Similar Skies. Since that tape, I’ve been grinding every day to create truly original ideas.
Talk me through some of your studio essentials. What has become your most valuable piece of equipment?
Traditionally, I’d say something like my SP404, Focusrite Saffire 6 or my Beyerdynamic DT770 pro headphones are my most valuable pieces of equipment. But, I’m going to have to go with the RCA switch box I own. It allows me to switch between my cassette deck, cd player, turntable or PC at the push of a button, depending on what I want to sample/record.
Which album or song do you have on repeat right now?
I’m currently bumping a couple of different records. The new Evidence joint, Weather or Not, Loose Skrew by Da$h, Stranger by Yung Lean and finally strays; an EP by the homie Knowmadic (shout out to him).
What are your musical icons/influences?
Whenever I get asked this question, I always manage to narrow it down to 6-7 artists. If you ask me to go any lower than that I’m afraid it’s not possible. In no particular order; Apollo Brown, 9th Wonder, Alchemist, Dilla, Gil Scott-Heron, Uyama Hiroto and Hans Zimmer.
Share some of your favorite ways to rejuvenate creativity.
Some of my favorite ways to rejuvenate creativity? Straight away there are 3 things that come to mind; reading, taking a shower or meditating. You can find inspiration in anything. A single word written by an author could spark a train of thought that develops into your next big project idea. Most of the time though, I find that refreshing your physical body helps to refresh the mind too. Meditation doesn’t necessarily rejuvenate creativity, but it helps to keep you focused and reduces anxiety.
If you had to give up music – what would you do to be creative?
If I had to give up music I’d become a writer to stay creative. Or delve deeper into digital art. As I mentioned before, staying creative is vital. I don’t see how a person could live without creating in one way or another.
Walk me through your unique process of completing a tape – from selecting the appropriate samples to the writing process, how long does it typically take?
Personally, I like to look at the bigger picture first. When I get an idea for a project, I really expand on the concept. I put drawings, images, colours and other materials into an inspiration folder for the project, and I create a playlist with tracks that are somewhat similar to the sonic direction that I have in mind. All of these things contribute to the samples I dig for, as well as the progressions and themes of individual tracks.
What do you feel is the best song you’ve released and why?
I feel as though my track Headspace is the best song I’ve released so far. This is mainly because everything in that composition blends together so well. From the sample, to the drum filters and sequencing, it perfectly captures the atmosphere of trying to find some peace after just being released from the hospital, which is where I had the idea for Vinyl Therapy as a whole.
If you can have the readers remember one thing about you, what would that be?
Readers, there are two things I want you to remember. The first is to be unique. Music is about bringing your vision and feeling into reality, not copying someone else’s. Secondly, I urge you to do what you want in life. It’s too fragile and precious to live the way someone else wants you to. Challenge society, question everything and most importantly, keep making dope ass art.