Grindin Interviews Australian DJ And Producer Dr Don Don
Based in Sydney Australia, Grindin’ manages quality Australian and International artists and is also responsible for producing some of Sydney’s finest Hip Hop events including – the annual J Dilla tribute night ‘The Genius Of J Dilla’ and touring the likes of DJ Neil Armstrong (Jay Z’s tour DJ), Jehst (UK), Finale (USA), and DJ MK (Dizzee Rascal’s / Roots Manuva’s DJ). Grindin’ recently sat down with Australian DJ/Producer Chasm, also known as Dr Don Don, to discuss his music influences and diverse productions. You can view Dr Don Don’s breakout hit, King Of The Stars, below. Continue reading for the complete interview.
Chasm is one of the leading Hip Hop producers in Australia having produced and remixed for a who’s who of Oz Hip Hop from The Herd, Resin Dogs and Dialectrix to Thundamentals, Urthboy and Skryptcha. Chasm’s group Astronomy Class also released two albums to much acclaim and saw them nominated for a prestigious ARIA Award.
He has also branched out and worked on Dance music under the moniker ‘Dr Don-Don’ pulling influences from Electro, House and Hip Hop music. His debut single ‘King of the Stars’ received heavy playlist rotation within Australia as well as being licensed across the globe with his songs finding their way into the playlists of Fatboy Slim, Erick Morillo, Yolanda Be Cool and more. We caught with the Sydney based producer just after finishing up the new Chasm album “This Is How We Never Die” out on April 27th.
Who were your musical influences growing up?
My grandfather, my guitar teacher, a few older friends that played in bands and just music that I was listening to.
You started your music career as part of a Punk/Rock band why make the transition into Hip Hop?
I was 17 when I first started doing shows and thats what we were into then. I played guitar and we were listening to DC punk bands like Minor Threat and Fugazi and also stuff like Sonic Youth and Magic Dirt. Back then I skated, smoked weed and lived in the suburbs, so the people I hung out with then, we fucked with Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill and Wu Tang but we also listened to stuff like Pantera , Sepultura , Tumbleweed, The Melvins. haha .
I just have always loved a wide-range of music, so for me one of the main attractions of making Hip Hop was that I could incorporate different styles of music i enjoyed and fuse them all together. I could sample country one minute, jazz the next.
How did you get into producing?
I was in an instrumental group in the early 2000?s, the band consisted of guitars, drums, bass, a Moog Source, a Mini-Moog and an Akai S3000Xl. This was the first time I became familiar with sampling and saw how it worked. so I guess just messing with the sampler and synths got me interested in producing. Then once I got some software for the computer a couple of years later, I really began getting into the idea of producing my own stuff and working on drum patterns etc
What is your choice of tools when you are in the lab making beats?
At the moment I have a MPC 5000, Maschine, Logic , a moog, a bunch of soft synths and a turntable. They all get used here and there when I’m producing.
Having worked as part of groups and also a solo artist which do you prefer and why?
I like both, it is good being able to vibe with people in the studio and create things with other people because they will always come with ideas and ways of doing things that you wouldn’t think of, that can be inspiring. But it is also cool just getting in the zone by myself and creating stuff and being able to go at my own pace and get things done when i want and not have to get anyone elses approval to take things in certain directions.
You make Dance music under the name Dr Don Don which has seen quite a bit of success with your first 2 singles “King of The Stars” and “Never Fear”. How do you switch from Hip Hop to Dance mode in the studio?
It is pretty easy really, I like to switch things up anyway, I don’t always wanna be making head nodders, so it’s a nice and much needed change to switch over and start sampling disco and funk and make some house tunes, its cool. Then when I go back to the hip hop it is refreshing again for me too.
Being one of the few artists in Australia to have deals with 3 different labels (Obese, Elefant Traks and Central Station) do you see any difference between them in the way they operate?
Yeah for sure, they all have their own way of operating and going about things in regards to releasing music. It’s actually been really interesting to see how each label makes things work. They definitely all have different approaches to marketing and building up to a release.
As a producer in today’s digital age and single buying market does it change the way you make your music?
Yeah for sure, I’m wondering if I really need to bother making albums anymore! Album tracks seem like alot of effort for little reward these days, sometimes you’re thinking, ‘are people even listening to these joints’ . But hopefully there is people out there that still enjoy listening to an album from start to finish.
What is the meaning behind the title of your new album “This Is How We Never Die”?
I took it from a Currensy track I heard recently, his line is ‘Real music lasts forever, this is how we never die’ , I just thought that was cool and I’ve always loved that idea with making music, that you are putting something out there that can be heard fifty years from now. To leave some kind of legacy on this earth is a good feeling.
Did you approach making this album differently to any of your previous projects?
I tried not to rush it, but it doesn’t ever seem to work out that way! I’m always rushing until the last minute to finish.
I just simply wanted this album to be something that had a lot of feeling to it, From the beginning I just wanted to make some real, soulful shit that hopefully would move some people.
What was the toughest thing you found in making the album?
It is hard having different MC’s on every track. Having 14 tracks with 2 or 3 rappers on each tune, all recording in different studios, trying to make it all sound cohesive and making them all work together right, that was challenging. Danielsan did a great job in the mixing stage , making all the vocals sit well together in the mix, it was a tough job.
What is your favorite track off the album and why?
Probably ‘Highs and Lows’ which features Fashawn, Solo of Horrorshow and David Dallas . That’s one of my favourite beats on the album and I was feeling the lyrical content of all the MC’s on that joint, it just spoke to me in regards to what I was going through when i was putting together that track. I feel it.
What inspires you to make music?
Life, good time, bad times , just life and other peoples music, new and old
Which artists would you most like to work with?
Right now I have been all up in the Jet Life ish so a big collabo with Currensy, Smoke DZA, Young Roddy & Trademark – that’d be ill
What’s been the best piece of advice ever given to you?
Take life by the balls
What’s does the future hold for Chasm?
Album drops April 27th, hit the road in support of it and then start planning the next one.
What’s your definition of Grindin’?
Never giving up, making shit happen.