By Jake Ebdale
David Dallas has been a busy fella in the last few years. Remember back in the day when he was Con Psy, a member of the rap group Frontline? Well the training wheels have rolled way past Pawarenga. D Dot has since pioneered a strain of distinctly home flavoured hip hop, a South Auckland flow for the ages. You could safely say the Kid is now on top. He's now the Man.
Dallas has had a bonafide hit with The Chemical Brothers flip ‘Take a Picture', the Jamiroquai sampling EPBuffalo Man and played Scribe at his own game in a majorly streamed George FM freestyle last year. He's also joined the Duck Down label based in New York and scored an endorsement from G Shock. The dude is basically clocking life as much as a Kiwi can. Oh yeah - and he's releasing a new album next week, the aptly titled Falling into Place.
How's your day been?
Not bad, just had an interview before.
Not too buggered then?
Yeah the interviews have just started...you're the second one of the day so your timing's good mate, not too far into it yet.
Your new album Falling into Place comes out next week. You've recently been doing shows and debuting some new songs live. How are you feeling leading up to the big release?
Yeah, I'm feeling good about it. We've just played shows in Wellington and Auckland and they were mental!
How are the crowds reacting to the new songs?
Really crazy. Obviously Runnin (Dallas' first single from Falling...) is big for us at the moment so we've been closing our set with that. The crowd goes H.A.M. They're super responsive to the new songs, but I can't wait for people to hear the rest of the record. I feel like there's even better stuff on there.
The production on Runnin is amazing. Sort of urgent, church soul stuff.
Definitely - all credit for Runnin has to go to Fire & Ice (Aaron and Jordan Iusitini, Dallas' current production team). They killed it. They were the ones that really pushed that song to me. We were in the studio working on something else and we suddenly got stuck. I was like "Man, I feel like we need a banger - there's none on the record!" (laughs) Aaron said "It's funny you say that, I've got a little something." And when he played the track, the three of us were all sitting there and as soon as the gospel sample and the drums kicked in, I was like "What is this!?" It sounded weird to start off with, but I didn't realise what it would become.
I actually had a verse which I'd written for another song the night before. I'd come up with some lyrics to clear my mind, as we were (approaching the) deadline for the record. I was supposed to be working on the album! Then as fate would have it, the verse fit perfect on that Runnin' track. As soon as I heard the verse and the beat together, it was like "Oh shit, this could be something".
It's come together perfectly I think. The samples on your songs really paint a picture - how involved are you in the production of the songs and do they reflect your music taste? I mean, you've got a whole EP based around Jamiroquai (2012's Buffalo Man).
Something like the Jamiroquai thing - that was my project that I'd always wanted to do. I was such a fan of the band growing up and I knew the depth of their back catalogue. They did records that actually had scope. I think a lot of people consider them a dancey funk band and that's it, you know? But they've got jazz influenced stuff, slow ballads too - so I talked to Fire & Ice about it and they loved Jamiroquai. So we said "cool, man - let's do it then."
But for Falling into Place, I'm in charge of picking what I use. Fire & Ice will try and pitch certain beats that they've made, which is cool, but at the end of the day I choose what I go with. Me and those boys have similar tastes and that's why we have a good creative relationship. Even outside of the stuff we make, if I hear a new song and say it's the shit, nine times out of ten, Jordan and Aaron will think the same.
It sounds like you've become more and more assured with your sound. It sort of jumps out at you every time it's on the radio - obviously you're repping the Kiwi accent in your songs, which is awesome. It's like you're reaching a point of difference that sets you apart from other rappers out there.
Yeah, and that's what we have to do. You can't really establish a style and a sound without a solid production team. My relationship with Fire & Ice, 41 and P-Money as executive producer, that's how it's eventually developed - just picking the right sort of sounds for us. The music that we want to make, and the music that we like.
So, you've done Rhythm and Vines and the BW Soundshell over the years. What's the main thing you're looking forward to this timearound?
Just the new record. When we got off the stage in Auckland, the band said to me "Yo, wait until we do Runnin' at Rhythm and Vines!" (laughs) There are certain songs on the record that will work really well live, and Runnin's definitely one of them. You want those big, anthemic songs in your set that just have energy. I can't wait man, we're all looking forward to it.
‘Runnin' and the new record will definitely gain some traction by the time of Rhythm and Vines.
It's just gonna be good timing for us. Falling... comes out next week, and there's enough time for it to settle in but still be fresh by the time New Years rolls around. Runnin won't be rinsed by then. It's gonna be cool.
Are you planning to release any of the Ruby Frost collaborations from Falling into Place?
We've actually just shot a video for one of the songs that features Ruby. They were actually the first songs we did for the album, and they're the only ones that have made it from the material I was working on (in 2012). Everything else had begun around mid-January of this year, after we'd finished all our shows over summer.
We didn't come out of the studio until the end of May. Then we had a finished album - written, mixed, recorded in one period. I've never had a record like that before, where the songs haven't been sitting there for a couple of years. It's very fresh, even to me.
Who are you looking forward to at Rhythm and Vines?
Wiz Khalifa, definitely. I've seen him twice before. He does his thing live and I've been a big fan of him since he started out. I don't know if we're going to get to see him though, 'cause we're playing Rhythm and Alps on the 30th and he plays that same night in Gisborne. He'll be sick though! I'm looking forward to Chet Faker too. One of my boys Ta-Ku has done some stuff with him.
To finish it off, how would you describe Falling into Place in a couple of words?
(pauses) Gritty. Sincere. But still pretty.
Falling into Place is released October 16th, and available for pre-order on iTunes now. His next show is this Saturday, the 12th of October, at Hamilton's Altitude bar.