small dogs – Vieques & Dark Rum [Interview]

Describe your sound in 3 words

Younger Bruce Hornsby?

You blend in a very cool way electronics with guitars. Tell us a few things about your new song and your creative process.

I spent some time doing research in Tanzania that involved performing and recording with various hip-hop and Afrobeats artists. Ever since then I’ve been very into the production style that’s in a lot of Afrobeats music and in particular how the producers quite naturally fuse so many wide-ranging genres. So I guess just listening to people like Mr. Eazi, Buju, Nissi etc definitely influences how I approach the production in my tracks.

However, I still grew up on 60/70s music and I am primarily a guitarist/vocalist and express myself best with those instruments. I also love the storytelling of artists like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and I will quite often start a song on the acoustic. So it’s hard to shake my roots but I’m definitely trying to learn and update my songwriting and production with lessons from other places.

Which is your most personal and honest lyric?

I do usually stress over the lyrics a lot but with this song the whole point was to just get in the studio and make something without overthinking any aspect of it. So that is definitely true of the lyrics here. They we mostly meant to just take the listener somewhere and not be particularly over personal or honest. But there is still pretty much something behind every line here.

I quite liked the rhymes in ‘we’re far from bed-stuy and our lives, sailboats float, in the stream’. This summer I was in Miami and the Florida Keys and I guess this line is about being somewhere far from home where time moves slow and watching the sailboats make their through the gulf stream.

Your song has a lovely organic groove. Tell us a song with a groove you wish you had composed yourself.

Wowww hard question. Basically any of Jae 5’s beats on the last two J Hus albums (for example ‘Must Be’ or ‘Play Play (feat. Burna Boy’)). Something like ‘Pour Me Water’ by Mr. Eazi. I really love how the keys and bass and everything works together in ‘African Giant’ (by Burna Boy).

In which state of mind do you imagine people might listen to your music?

Anything chill really… I see my music popping up on a lot of holiday and yoga playlists haha and I’ve been told it’s good for night driving. So maybe those scenarios?

What would you change in the music industry?

Promoting more ethical streaming services and payment systems. We’ve got to a point where it’s really easy to make music and get it out there but we’re so far off the stage where people are actually equally and fairly remunerated for their art. I think a good place to start would be more user-centric accounting as opposed to the pro-rata systems that Spotify/Apple Music use… (user-centric = if you stream an artist they would get direct money from your subscription fee, whereas pro-rata = all subscription fees go in a big pot and are then divided up between whoever gets the most streams overall, so basically Drake takes all)…

But yeah I guess that requires some more equitable minded thinking from Spotify and their 3 major label mates, and then again multibillion companies have never exactly been the bastion of progressive thought… so musicians of the world unite?

What would you say is your biggest vice?

Overthinking, haha (see all the above).

Thank you!

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