By: Seamus Fay
Sure, he may not be from Boston, but Florida-based producer DumDrumz has undoubtedly made his impact felt in the city’s budding rap scene with production credits on tracks like “No Bells”, “Gain Green”, “Super Bowl”, and more. Utilizing hypnotic sounds and downright intoxicating melodies, this promising talent has proven himself as a force to be reckoned with on the boards, establishing seamless chemistry with any artist he works with and never failing to craft a hit together when needed.
Just yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with DumDrumz about his upbringing, his work on Suffolk County, Florida, and more. You can check out what he had to say below.
So to start things off, where are you originally from?
I’m from Miami, FL; Carol City to be specific. It’s a surrounding neighborhood in the city of Miami Gardens.
Growing up in Florida, what role did music play in your life and how do you feel about the local scene?
Growing up, music was always around me. My background is Jamaican and I was literally always surrounded by music. My Father would play music all the time growing up especially on Sunday’s when we would clean up. Then is where I got my musical creativity. He would always Mix Music and it sparked my interest in how Music should sit in a certain pocket.. at least what I think it should sound like. I always listened to Reggae, R&B, and a bit of rap, which I didn’t really get into heavy until about middle school.
The local music scene, well Miami, for the most part, is, in my opinion, the most diverse place for music. We have so much talent here to create a sound, but at the same time, it is a lot of pride here that doesn’t make it easy for people to blow up. It takes a lot of work. It’s not like the Atlanta scene how they have their own sound. Miami is literally like a mixing pot of talent and I know one day everyone can come together and create a sound like no other. I’m hoping to become a legend with that one day.
When did you take that love of music from your dad and turn it into producing?
I started producing around 12 years old. It progressed into high school. I was familiar with certain softwares and things like that. When I got into high school I used to sell ringtones with my friends and people thought I was really good at mixing songs. So, I thought to myself, I should just really start making beats. I had TV production for a couple years so every now and then I would finish my work and then sneak into a room and make beats on garage band. That was it from there.
When you attended Florida A & M, what did you study? How did you balance producing and school?
I attended Florida A&M in 2009. I studied Health Science in a concentration with physical therapy. I ended up going back to school after I graduated though.
Balancing producing was difficult. I always had six classes, plus I worked. To be honest, sometimes I look back and realized I was like a machine. I would work, go to class, study, do homework, and always at the end of the night make 3-5 beats. It was the desire that made it possible. Desire with anything makes whatever focus you have possible.
How did you end up turning this hard work into breakout opportunities with Stizz on Suffolk County? How did you two first link and when did you decide to work together?
To be honest I was actually about to just call it quits on music for a while and focus on building my life. I had all my equipment ready to be sold on Craigslist. I guess I was fed up with my lack of patience to not be heard. Something told me just to relax and wait. So one day in my last semester of school – I don’t know how I ended up finding his music video on YouTube – but I saw the “Shoutout” video and heard Obeatz’ production on it and I was amazed. I must have played that song 100 times that same day. Then, I just found his twitter and hit him up.
I told him I loved the track and that I wanted to send him some beats. I must have sent like 20 beats or so, most that I thought were okay. The ones he picked were the ones everyone loved and the ones I disliked the most, funny how life works. From there that was it. Just built that relationship. Besides music, he’s one of the most solid guys I know.
Did you know anything about the Boston scene that was being built up at the time? If not, how did you view Boston as an outsider?
I actually didn’t know about the Boston music scene until I heard his music, then I ventured and listened to Michael Christmas. I felt like Boston was going to be on the come up. I knew that for a fact. Outside looking in it seemed like the whole city as a whole supporter each other. That’s something that I thought was real positive. Most places don’t show support. I still need to go up there.
A few other frequent collaborators of yours are Tee-WaTT, M. Ali, Obeatz, and Lil Rich. How did you link with them and begin working together?
Right after I sent those beats to Stizz, it wasn’t that long before I reached out to them via Twitter. I thought wow, these guys sounds are on another level. Again, building another relationship. Those are my guys for real. They push me to make better sounds. Tee-Watt, M. Ali, Lil Rich, and Obeatz are real solid guys that I met through my journey so far.
What’s one story you can share from the creation of Suffolk County that fans may not know?
I was finishing a physics 2 exam and I was stressed. I had my computer on me because I was studying before. I felt like I didn’t do well on my exam so I drove home, pulled up into my complex, and sat in my car. I didn’t feel like going inside because I was beefing with my roommates. I pulled out my computer and sat in my car. I opened up FL studio (that was my DAW at the time), made a simple drum pattern. Then I made another drum pattern. I must have played the drum pattern for 15 minutes. I wanted something with a mystic type sound, so I searched through sounds and bass lines. 10 minutes later, I had no bells. I was going to trash that.
What advice do you have for young producers?
Be yourself and never doubt yourself. Remain genuine – people can see when you have an agenda or not. If you’re not in it to be a legend then you’re in the wrong business. Be patient, but still put energy behind your work. You can do anything you put your focus towards.
What’s your DAW of choice and why?
Ableton. I left FL studio then went to Native Instruments Maschine for a couple years. It was a little slow for me.
Ableton seems to fit me. Sound quality is amazing and it’s a little unorthodox like my mind sometimes, so it just fits. I’ve been on Ableton the past five years. Still so much to learn, but I recommend everyone gives Ableton a try at least once.
With the current climate of producers in rap today and their struggles, what do you have to say about receiving credit for your work and what the roles of producers are in both music and culture at the moment?
Producers now are at an all-time high. I feel like it’s easier to get into music. It seems like everyone is a producer nowadays. For some, it could seem frustrating, especially the ones who have been trying to break a barrier to get knee deep in the game. I used to get frustrated, but it’s all in the game. Things take time and even with the credit that I received I know I still have to push a little further to get heard. I’m humbled, but I’m striving for platinum status. I’m already platinum is what I tell myself every morning when I wake up.
I don’t feel people realize how important producers are. We are the building blocks to artists and if you’re respected enough, an artist can go far. Producers are also trying to find a lane for themselves just like artists now to make a living and to be equal on the same platform as artists.
I respect all the young producers, just stick with it, make a lane for yourself, and ask yourself, “what are you in it for?”
Lastly, what can we expect from DumDrumz in 2018?
Trying to create another lane with some joint projects with artists I’ve been building with. Looking to develop a project for myself. Been working on the idea all year so it will come into next year. I don’t like to speak on these things, but next year should be good to me. I feel like next year is my turn.
Thank you to DumDrumz for the interview – it has been an inspiration to watch your success as of yet and I wish you the best of luck moving forward. Here’s to a bright future.
***All photography via @kenirish***
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