First off, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?
I am Dante Jordan, born in Victoria, BC, Canada. Art and music have been both passion and therapy my entire life. I've been writing songs since 1998, making beats since 2004, and at 31 years old I have self-produced 8 rap albums.
How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant industrial community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?
I recently moved to Kelowna, BC. It is sorta like Cali in Canada for the summer. I really haven't followed the local scene much here, yet. There definitely is a love for Hip hop everywhere in BC, there’s almost more rappers than there are fans. Back in the day, when local rap was starting up in Vic with guys like Moka Only or Ishkan, it seemed everyone was willing to collaborate and jump on each others albums, etc. Now its a lot more like, who you know, or if your good enough to feature or vice versa, its a lot more about competition now. There’s a million emcees, but only so many artists.
What do you feel separates your music from the rest of the music in the rap music scene?
I think like i said above, I am more of an artist than I am an emcee. I try to write songs more than just rhymes. I also have always produced my own music. I mean, made the instrumental, recorded everything, mixed everything etc. All my best tracks I did the beat, wrote lyrics, recorded vocals, and mixed it all in one night. I don’t know that I really stand out in the rap scene. I'm more of a throwback full of hidden messages, but everything is real, it's me, and its from scratch.
What would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to art and music? Are there any artists or musicians that you would say struck you with the chord that inspired you to peruse your current path of musical aspirations?
My 2 favorite artists have always been 2Pac & Brad Nowell (Sublime). I wasn't great at singing or guitar, so I turned my poetry to songs like 2Pac did. Although i wasn't raised in the ghetto, his lyrics totally spoke to me just as they did the rest of the youth and still do today. That guy had the wisdom of an old man when he was doing interviews at 20 years old. An old soul for sure. Sublime struck a musical note with me and took me to a place of love and romance no hip hop could. Most of my influence is definitely 90's hip hop and 70's rock though. For newer music I love Foster the People and Kendrick Lamar. And as a kid my mom was always playing Van Morrison or Pink Floyd, so all the greats stuck with me. I have a lot of my own top 10 lists.
If you could say there are underlying themes or messages that permeate throughout your discography, what would you say are the most important concepts and ideas you've tried to express throughout your artistic career, political, spiritual, or personal? Would you consider yourself to be an overall political or spiritual individual?
Totally spiritual. Yet, I am not easily convinced by everything I see around me. So I’m a skeptic that believes in God without a doubt. I believe in science too. I think it is all built on a greater force we have to trust, it is just beyond our 5 senses so we cant see it right in front of us.... like wireless signals.
That said my albums don't always display the spiritual side of me. I've made plenty of songs about just partying and smoking weed. It was a troubled time for me and my family when I made my first few albums. Always getting in trouble with the cops, fighting, drinking, the usual. My brother was at war in Afghanistan right at the height of the battles so we were always on edge about him being hurt. Since his return in 2006, the conflict has been a focal point for many of my tracks. The world news or local events.. Hip hop itself and its digression/regression, has been a topic throughout. Loyalty and betrayal are always brought up as well.
Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically?
Yes to all the above. It has not brought me outer success, but has given motivation, strength, distraction, and evidence of my existence. I basically keep a journal of my feelings, then i make a beat and hook to guide them to a rhythm. Every time I make a song I try to do something different and creative with it. I used to follow more of a formula, but once I got used to working with the technical aspects of the music, i was able to start making things a bit more unique and in the way I wanted to hear them. Emotionally music has been my therapy. I always have a song playing in my head. Creating something of a pattern out of my thoughts keeps me from going crazy. I was depressed all my childhood and Hip hop gave me a way to unravel my twisted brain onto paper.. and eventually record.
So much has been said, and it sometimes feel that every word combination has every been taken. As a lyricist myself I know the pain of how hard it can be to articulate something in a way that is both engaging to the audience and uniquely artist. How do you find inspiration for your lyrical poetry?
Well what I think made 2Pac great at rapping was that he could say the same thing in so many different contexts. All music has always been about the same topics and everything has been said. Recycling ideas is usually how music has moved forward...though there is a thin line between being original and copying (look at sampling). With lyrics I just write what flows out and sorta change certain lines as I go to make it my own. There is defiantly phrases and aspects overused I try to stay away from. I’m not a big fan of "yaaahhh yahhs or ooohhh weee ayyyo"s in the hooks. Sometimes a new song will come out and give me a push of the vibe going on, but my lyrics have always been the same sorta formula: always at least double rhymes, think of as many meanings to a line as possible to make it fit to the next in multiple context, and don’t sacrifice passion for skill. Sometimes the first take sounds better even if you fuck up a bit.
When it comes to your musical self and your real world self, would you say that their is a separation? Do you find yourself getting into a character or mindset when you create, or do you find your music is a representation of your day to day self?
Its a bit of a character, you feel like you have superpowers with the pen. Unless I’m being obviously sarcastic I never really rap about something I haven’t, or wouldn’t relate to in my real life. My real life is a lot more boring than my rap life if anything. I work a full time job doing HVAC construction because I knew rap wasn't going to pay the bills a long time ago. Most of my rap has always been my serious side more so as I usually am a total weirdo or an introvert. I have my smooth Dante moments, but for the most part, my rap is the real me. It is my spoken subconscious. I just don’t often talk about my day to day events unless the song calls for it.
Have you had any particular moment(s) that you would like to share, that you would consider to be a crowning achievement in your musical career so far, or moments that you would say truly continue to inspire you to pursue your artistic path?
One of my first shows with my buddies Tico and Karma. We sold out the hip hop night at this lil bar in downtown Vic. We had t shirts to toss out, free CDs, and we took some chronic from our friends rather large stash and taped joints to all the CDs we threw out. So when our blaze up song came on, we got everyone to lite up and they couldn’t kick everyone out.. That was enjoyable. Every time I make a song that I think is a stand out of mine, I feel crowned. When I do one of those beat, write, record nights or mornings, that always feels good. Also, hearing something new that is really good...like Kendrick Lamar, ... that’s inspiring to hear the greats make their own way up.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?
Nobody giving a shit. Really, unless your song is being played at the party or you’re flashing something more than lyrics, nobody gives a shit. Or maybe its just me, but having to accept the fact that my therapy may not be everyone else’s. I still make raps either way, it has never been about money from it. So that, and just getting the money back in selling CDs when they started going online. In 2008 I sold hundreds of copy’s of CDs by hand, by 2010 nobody wanted CDs. So i put it up for sale online, but anyone could download Eminem online for free, why would they want to pay to hear me? So I’ve always put my music online for free since CDs disappeared.
You have released quite a few releases over you're active musical years. What has been your favorite album you have put out so far, and how do you feel your music has evolved over the years?
When I’m always mixing my own voice I get sick of it. So I usually don’t actually enjoy my albums untill I haven’t heard them for a while. I think my favorite would be "...the Other Side of Reality" as I had sorta developed more style and flow at that time. The album delved around a lot of personal issues but maintained a hip hop style to the lyricism. And I would say it flows song to song nicest. My 2017 album is shaping up nicely to.
For fans who have not seen you yet, when it comes to your live show, how would you describe yourself thematically and visually? Are you an energy and audience driven artist in the live atmosphere? Or would you consider yourself to be more thematic or presentation oriented?
I like to add interactive elements to my live shows to engage with the audience. Something I do on stage that they can do in the crowd with me. If I can get a wireless mic, I like coming out into the people while I’m performing and hang out through certain sets. Ive always had a lot of material to go off during live shows, but so little time to get it all out there. I would love to have the chance to perform an album front to back and make it theatrical. I also love outdoor venues. As a fan or an artist.
Playing live shows, recording new tracks, attempting to go live the life that gives you the experiences that inspires it all... it can be difficult to balance the time. Do you have any particular methods that you use to keep yourself focused or balanced in your direction?
Ah yes, direction and balance are key. These days I really am so busy working my day job, that any time I have devoted to my music, is only on the music. I haven’t had much time to promote of make the real concepts behind my music come to life. When I was selling the most of my albums around 2008 - 2010, I really went out and interacted with people more. I usually am quite reclusive and that becomes a problem, so any chance I get to feel energy, I take it out to the world around me.
When it comes to composing music, do you approach things with a clear vision in mind, or do you prefer to let songs feel themselves out? Do you have any particular techniques or tricks you use to keep yourself creative and consistent?
Often I have concepts or songs written out just waiting for the right instrumental to lift them up. So, sometimes I will go into the vault an check lyrics I never actually put on record and revamp them to modern style. Writing songs is always better with a clear vision, but not necessarily too much focus. I think I try to remain loose enough to not be a square an still have fun with it. Instrumentals I come up with either playing around with sounds or synths, or I will hear one sample on the radio at work, then write it down...Ill end up with a list of samples in my phone by the end of the week, and ill go through them and try and use them as a starting point to mold an entire beat.
Musical composition nowadays can be aided by so many different tools and devices. Do you favor a complex approach of using lots of different instruments, or are you in the keep it simple until you have to boat of refining certain elements to their maximum potential? Or would you say your philosophy lays in between?
Yes there is a balance in-between. I find if I spend too long trying to get the perfect sound, Ill lose track of the arrangement or idea I had in mind in the first place, so I will usually try to record the feeling of that moment and then tweak the sounds/instruments later. Lately, I’ve been trying to use lots of instruments in layers, so that the arrangement is fairly simple, but of complex sounds and frequencies. I've never had the money to spend on a lot of gear so I have refined using what I have had for years; an MPC2500, Synth, a Mic and a DAW. I've always played out my drumbeats from each hit and try to stay away from straight loops. Although I use samples, I always chop them up a lot or change them from the original sound.
When it comes to fan and critic feedback, how much do you take it to heart, and how much do you feel it evolves, pushes, or holds your sound in place? Do you feel that the personal response and interaction in the live environment, and the subsequent positive press you've regarding both your live and recorded music has consciously encouraged you to do things a certain way?
Some of my older albums were influenced by the people around me at the time. Some critical, but still close to me. I always enjoyed it when someone who didn’t know me at all personally would give me feedback, that way it was from someone just judging my music and not me. I’ve always encouraged critic and feedback over the years, I have not received much as of late and would love more, good or bad, as it fuels new ideas.
Outside of hip hop, what other genres could you see yourself composing music in? Or should I say, do you see yourself inspired by? Do you have any other musical projects that you are involved with, or do you have any other musicians or artists that you collaborate with in some capacity?
I've had lots of live musicians playing instruments on my songs or just playing for me to sample. If I was going to learn and instrument, right now I would try to figure out bass to I could sample that sweet live bass sound. I have recorded other rap songs for other rappers as well of rock/reggae and a number of local acts on Vancouver island. Recently I have been collaborating with a dope emcee from my Hometown named Jima Jam. My bro Karma was always on my tracks before I moved from the island. and I produced a solo album for him back in 2011. Otherwise, I am always looking for new people to collaborate with. Send me a track and I’m glad to feature. I also have my instrumentals online for purchase or free download.
When it comes to non-musical media, what do you find yourself most inspired by, and what about it draws you to it as a source of inspiration?
I am inspired by the earth before the world. I trust animals over humans. I believe our society has strayed far from its roots at a speed we were not ready for. I feel its important to know that there is always more than meets the eye, but I was raised to believe half of what I see and none of what I hear.
Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?
My music is online, its free, so download it, or check it out, hate it, or enjoy it, tell me what you think of it if you have the time.. And if you grew up on 90s hip hop like me, give my albums a front to back, at least the last 4...my first 2 were just testing the rap waters.
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