If you thought Mello Music Group was fresh out of new talent, you thought wrong. Another talented producer with his own unique style coming out of the DMV, Drew Dave has been carefully constructing his debut album for some time now.
SynthBASED, which dropped late last month, is a synthtastic odyssey through the mind and memory of one soulful son of jazz and hip-hop. Brooklyn Radio’s Lara Gamble spoke with the man behind the synths about early influences and how he ended up on one of the hottest labels around.
What’s your earliest memory of hip-hop?
Believe it or not, it was probably ’97 actually. I had Will Smith’s Big Willie Style album. And then, from there, when I was in sixth grade was really when I started to kind of engross myself in it. And when Common’s Like Water for Chocolate came out and Outkast’s Stankonia, I was so into the movement. That was probably it. I want to say maybe fifth or sixth grade was probably when I got heavy into it.
Are you originally from the DMV area?
Do you feel like you draw a lot of inspiration from there?
Yeah, DMV is definitely a huge influence, but it’s just kind of a bit internal for me. I’m constantly around it, but I definitely look to other outside influences for inspiration.
Are there any artists who you look to as influences?
Yeah, I want to say Oddisee is one of them. yU is another one. Black Milk is definitely another one. Madlib sometimes. There’s a lot of them.
What led to you signing with Mello Music Group?
That was actually through yU. He heard SynthBASED, and he passed it to Mello.
SynthBASED just dropped. How do you feel it’s been received?
I think early reception has been pretty positive. I have yet to read anything negative or that says how subpar the album is. It’s been pretty well-received. A lot of people seem to enjoy the album.
Why did you choose to make the album mostly instrumental, save for the tracks with Cortez and Kenn Starr?
I guess that’s just me coming out as a producer to showcase me and my style.
Can you give readers kind of a rundown of your creative process when making SynthBASED?
It was a lot of influences when I made SynthBASED. A lot of them, I want to say were subconscious and others were kind of intended. I don’t really know. Everything was really just kind of primarily just based around the whole synth bassline. That’s where the name came from. Every instrumental utilizes the synth, so I just kind of built around that. That was pretty much it.
I guess, anything else I felt that needed to fit, I would reach out to other people. There’s only two other musicians on the album besides me that contributed, and that’s Charlie Ross and Drew Kid, and Drew Kid did a lot of the keyboard work, Ross did the drums on “Full Circle,” but the rest of it was me chopping the samples, chopping the drum breaks, programming the drums and playing the bassline levels. That was me.
Was putting the album together a quick process?
No, it definitely wasn’t quick. I actually started it in November 2013, and it was originally going to be a little six-track EP, but as I kept making new beats, I just set them to side like, “Hey, maybe I can use this for the album.” It really just went from EP into a whole full-length album.
Because you had so much content.
What are your plans for the rest of 2015? Do you think you’ll tour or anything to promote the album?
I really don’t know. I hope so. It’s a stepping stone for me, so I just want to see where it takes me, and hopefully it takes me where I want to be.