Interview with Dante Patel
Biography: I’m Dante Patel- a 25 year old South Indian alternative rap artist from Baltimore, Maryland. Born and raised in the US, I grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland and started making beats in junior year of highschool. I’ve always loved hip-hop and rap and know a LOT about them. For rap, I’m influenced by Kendrick Lamar, MF DOOM, and Nas. For singing, I’m influenced by Drake, James Blake, and PartyNextDoor. My beat production is of my own design, though. Not much to say about me besides that. I’m just trying to make the most ambitious and beautiful art possible. If you wanna support me, that’d be awesome. If not, I’ll grind regardless…
My music is a mix of multiple genres- rap, hip-hop, alternative, R&B, and my calling card: chiptune. I write melodies using heavily modified Nintendo synths I’ve redesigned. These instruments and how I use them represent my love for video games- particularly retro ones. I rap, sing, write, produce, mix, and master all of my music myself.
Feel free to email any inquiries to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
My first tape “Young Kaiba Tape Vol. 1” will be out for sale soon on iTunes, Spotify, and more. It just needs some finishing touches. You can preview the unfinished songs for free now on my SoundCloud.
Have you always been interested in music? What is your story
and how did you start making music?
I used to just wanna design video games. Particularly, fighting games. I’ve always been a huge fan of Super Smash Bros. and it was my dream to make the ultimate fighting game. My interests kind of shifted over time though. I got introduced to rap. I always knew I was a good singer because I sang at church as a kid and people praised me, but I didn’t try rapping until highschool.
In 2011, my life was changed by the releases of 2 of my favorite (and most influential) albums of all time “Take Care” by Drake and “Section 80” by Kendrick Lamar. These albums sparked my passions for singing and rapping. What REALLY got me into music was someone else, though: Lex Luger. This is the guy that produced early beats for Waka Flocka Flame, Wiz Khalifa, and many many others. Section 80 and Take Care had awesome beats, but Lex’s beats were just so different and new (I’d say he inspired trap). His beats made me wanna make beats. I was going through some really rough times with family issues and poverty and I started making my own beats to cope. Once I liked the beat making, I started trying everything else.
Take Care was an amazing album for me because it made me love singing again. The fam used to force me to sing at church and every occasion possible, so I hated it by middle school. BUT, then Drake made me feel like singing was fun again, haha! I would sing along and I always loved switching between singing and rapping in Drake songs- it was so fun. I know some people hate Drake, but I’ve always loved the simplicity of his music and the beats he goes on.
Then, we have Section 80. Most underrated album of all time, in my opinion. Kendrick’s breakout album and most Kendrick fans don’t even know it exists smh. The album is INTELLECTUAL. Kendrick conjures ideas and conveys them to me in a way I didn’t even know music was capable of. He displays many thoughts in this album and does so with the most masterful lyricism and flow (awesome beats, too!) How are minorities treated? How are women treated? What does it mean to be a Christian? I loved to explore these ideas as a teenager. He’s just so creative and it’s really hard to find people as inspirational as him. The world wants more Kendricks, though…
What are you working on now? Any future releases we can look
I’m about to put out my first tape for purchasable release soon. It’s called “Young Kaiba Tape Vol. 1”. It just needs some touching up in the mixing and mastering. I am a perfectionist, after all. Should be done in the next month. You can listen to one song I’m done with on SoundCloud- it’s “When I’m in Love”.
What Is Your Ultimate Goal In The Music Industry?
To make it. I feel I have the potential to inspire and support millions, I just have to make it first. I want to be the next Kendrick Lamar. I have so many ideas and messages to convey with my music (a good deal already planned out), but they’re locked behind all the constraints we artists face.
I have ideas for 2 earth-shattering albums. The questions are when can/should I release them… For now, I’m focused on my following.
What Has Been The Biggest Challenge In Your Career Thus Far?
I grew up poor and I used to be a very anti-social guy. Years have gone by where I could’ve been making music and networking, but the priority has been making money and supporting my family. Still, I’m ridiculously determined.
How do you go about writing a song? Do you have a melody in your head and then write the other music for it or what’s Your typical songwriting process?
I’ve come up with a formula after about 3-4 years of practice. But it’s a secret! I worked REALLY hard to make this formula and I don’t feel comfortable giving it away. I will give the first 3 steps, though.
1. Choose a hihat you like.
2. Make a pattern of 16 notes with said hihat.
3. Choose the BPM you want.
As for songwriting, c’mon bro. You hear the beat and then your soul does the rest.
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
I feel certain demographics have more control now. The emergence and rise of XXXTENTACION on SoundCloud was very interesting to me. He was the first to impact SoundCloud like that and his following is more akin to that of a cult than that of a fan following. VERY influential to people. People like him are going off on beats that are unlike anything we’ve ever heard before and they “tame” that beat and make it their own via their own creativity. I feel it takes more willpower now. You have to be EVEN MORE creatively ambitious. Not just with your sound, but also with the amount of songs you make. Lil Peep and XXXTENTACION both have 100+ songs on SoundCloud.
SoundCloud seems to attract emo artists, too, so there’s been a rise of emo. I think these dating apps are making guys feel depressed tbh haha. But anyways, the music is changing. Popular artists are getting more and more unique each day. Still, copiers continue to exist…
List some famous musicians currently on your playlist
I’m a huge fan of this new guy Jack Harlow. Awesome flow… Besides him, just my nostalgic favorites: Kendrick Lamar, MF DOOM, Nas, Drake, James Blake, and PartyNextDoor. I like people based on not just their talent, but ALSO whether or not I like the beats. Beats are VERY important to me- sometimes, more important than the artist. These guys all had cool beats behind them at some point or another- AND they’re talented.
What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?
I was in school. I stopped making beats for 5 years because I was in college and working odd-jobs. Now, that I have a stable job though, I’m back (at least when I’m not working lol). Currently working as a web developer.
Would you have any advice for young people wanting to follow in your footsteps?
It’s REALLY hard to follow in my footsteps. Each person does it differently, but for me, I try to do everything by myself- and that shit’s hard. You gotta have confidence AND intellect to check that confidence if you wanna write/rap/sing/perform/produce/mix AND master. I can think of JUST 2 artists that made it like this: Russ and Kanye West. JUST them. And this isn’t even the worst part.
The worst part is that even if you can make a really nice, professional sounding song by yourself and you can perform it, you still have to deal with this scummy industry. You need help with promotion to get seen and get gigs. I may never make it without proper connections. Last time I tried to work with someone, they just used me for my skills and NEVER helped me back. I learned from that, they claimed to be music industry hotshots but they were just faking it.
So, make sure a TRUE undying passion for music is there before you step foot in this industry. You can’t survive on your own, but some of these “people” might be wolves, too!
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
Highlight the talented individuals. Music is, and will always be, curated. One thing that helps determine the quality of a song is the mixing and mastering. No one wants to listen to some ugly, unlistenable song. If we could have a site for underdogs producing professional tracks, THAT would be the place for artists to thrive. There needs to be a standard threshold. Then, fans could start rating songs.
How do you feel about originality?
Originality is EXTREMELY important to me. I cringe listening to me rap when I was in highschool- I just wanted to sound like Earl Sweatshirt. And I did! The lyrics weren’t that bad either. But the thing was, it just wasn’t me. At all. I was saying things I would normally never say just because I wanted to sound “cool”. If you wanna be a good artist, eventually, your idea of “cool” needs to evolve.
It’s one thing to see someone as cool, but you need to understand WHY you see them as cool. It’s because they’re DIFFERENT from everyone else. They’re different, and yet, they’re still confident. In fact, they’re praised! If you’re copying someone else, you’re not being different, you’re being the same as that person. So, when I hear your track on the internet, I’ll think “…meh. This is nothing new.”
Picasso once said “good artists copy; great artists steal”. What’s the difference? I’ve “stolen” parts of MANY different artists and people. Then, I molded them together. The result is “me”.
Is there anything else we should know about you? or Something that you would like to add?
I love writing and am currently off the adderall and that’s why I wrote so much lol. I’d love the support from anyone so I can keep making music and show the world my ideas. Sometimes, I try to talk to my friends about my music or deep ideas, but then it’s like I’m speaking a different language to them. They just don’t get what I’m trying to say. Kendrick Lamar had a song on his first EP: The Kendrick Lamar EP. The song is called “Wanna Be Heard”. It’s not as professional sounding as his later music, but the message still stands.