Interview: Ty Dolla $ on "Beach House", Collecting Vinyl, and More
Fri, 31 Jan 2014 09:34:49
"I'm excited," smiles Ty Dolla $. "Everybody's loving Beach House, and I'm super happy".
You'll fall in love with his new Beach House EP too as soon as you hear it. Ty Dolla $ brings R&B to a sexy new place that's unlike anything else out there. If a futuristic Marvin Gaye sang through a haze of weed smoke, it'd sound something like Mr. Dolla $. Beach House stands out as sexy, soulful, and soaring new school R&B that will make you move...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Ty Dolla $ talks Beach House, his love of vinyl, and so much more.
Beach House EP elevates where you were on the mixtapes to a new level.
Thank you so much! That's exactly what I was trying to do. The fact that you're saying that makes me feel like I did my job. I appreciate it.
Was this what you had always envisioned going towards when you were making the mixtapes?
I wouldn't say so. I was picturing just doing mixtapes and going straight to an album, but "Paranoid" [featuring B.o.B] did so well that my label Atlantic wanted to put up something for sale—like a whole project—and I didn't want to put out an album yet because I didn't feel like enough knew about me. I wanted to make sure that when my record drops I do at least 100K or 200K the first week, you know what I mean? [Laughs] We did the EP, which is an extended play. Remember back in the day they had tapes? On one side, you'd get what you wanted. The other side would have all of these different songs. That's what I'm looking at it like.
Would you say this is a glimpse of what the album has in store?
Yeah, definitely! That's what we were trying to do. We wanted to let people know that if you do buy the album, it's going to be incredible, vocally and musically. At first they asked me for five songs, and I was like, "I'm not just going to give you five songs. I've got to make it sound like Beach House and Beach House 2 because I've got to continue that." When you put on my project, you listen from start to finish. If it's just five songs, I feel like people will start skipping around. Personally, I like projects you can put on and ride out to the whole thing. That's what I was trying to do.
What makes these seven songs fit the EP?
It just flows. I have transitions that go from one song to the next. It goes right into it. If you're just listening to it and you didn't press "skip", you wouldn't even know you were going into the next song sometimes since it comes right on.
Thematically, is there a connection?
It's definitely a whole story, and it does match up too. It's crazy how that works because I'm doing different songs randomly every day. The fact that you can put them together and they sound like a story is incredible. It's just amazing how God works, bro. I'm not even really trying. It just happens.
What does the name Beach House mean?
First off, my first mixtape was called Hou$e on the Hill, and that's because I lived in this house on the hill in Baldwin Hills. My roommate and I were moving, and we were looking for places in Malibu and along the beach. I called it Beach House because that's where I was about to move. I ended up staying in Hollywood because it was closer to everything I was doing right now and the beach fucking takes so long to get to. It wouldn't have worked out for right now. Beach House is the goal. That's why I called my tapes Beach House.
The beach isn't that far from Hollywood, but it can take so long to get to!
Yes sir! You have to go all the way to the I-10 freeway and deal with traffic and shit. It's crazy.
"Never Be The Same" stands out. What's the story behind that song?
That's actually my favorite song as well. It talks about how, "We've been through this, and we've been through that, but now we're here. We're not looking back, and things will never be the same". That's straight up what the title is. I've had bitches. I've done this. I've done that. Even though everything is getting bigger, I'm never going to have the ego. At the same time, I'm never going to go back to the bullshit we've been through.
Did you know "Work" would open the EP up?
That comes from the label telling me I could only have five songs. It got to seven. Anything more than seven becomes an album so what I did was I made a mash up. I did that on both Beach House mixtapes. I put two or three songs together and made one. The main song is the one in the middle, "Work". The other songs go with it though. It was crazy. I produced some of it, and two of my homies produced other parts. We all shared the publishing on it. It worked out. At first, I thought one person might be like, "Oh hell no, dawg, I need my full fifty percent" [Laughs]. Everybody was cool though!
Where did "Or Nah" come from?
That was a blessing right there. We were actually doing that for Wiz Khalifa's album. The same day, we did another song called "That's Right". He picked "That's Right" for his album. I was like, "Let me get 'Or Nah'." He said, 'Cool, do it!" At first, he had his verses and I was only on the hook. I added my second verse. My homie brought the violins to make it match up with the rest of Beach House.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
It's real life, bro. I'm saying things that happened throughout the day. "Paranoid" happened for real. With "Work", it's the same thing. All of my girlfriends are calling me to try and see what's up and try to make it work [Laughs]. So I made that song. For the one that goes, "I used to love these hoes and now I love this money", I was on tour, and I was thinking about life. Last year or two years ago, I would've been laid up with a chick and bullshitting with her. Now, I'm out on tour and working. I used to love this hoes, and now I love this money. It's real life and shit I go through every day.
What's the process like?
It's either going through beats or actually making beats and whatever it makes me say right when I hear it. Right when it's finished, we've got the melody and the drums banging. I walk away for a second, maybe use the bathroom or go roll a joint. Or, I'll talk to some of the homies about what's going on. I'll ask around the room, "What does this beat feel like to you?" Sometimes, I'll get a subject from a person, and that's how it goes. Or I could be chilling somewhere. I'll hear a song and record the melody in my phone, come back, and bring it up like that. It's so random every time. It's crazy to hear a song finished. Sometimes, I'll say a line from the second verse, and I'll write all the way around that. Then, I'll have a full song. It happens different ways every time.
What artists shaped you?
The Isley Brothers, Earth, Wind & Fire, Mint Condition, Tupac Shakur, and Too $hort. J Dilla is who shaped me in my beats. Then, there's Pete Rock and DJ Premier. I just love music. Now, I'm inspired by Zedd, Skrillex, and all of those dudes. That's how I made that song "My Cabana" back in the day. It's everything. It could be jazz. I just love music period.
Where else do you find inspiration?
I'm always at record shops searching for vinyls to get inspiration off of. I have a big collection of probably twenty-thousand to thirty-thousand vinyls. Some are in storage, and some are in the crib. All I do is listen to music. If I'm not listening to the vinyls, I'm on the internet, listening to YouTube or going to Beatport. KCRW out here is a station that plays all kinds of eclectic things. I listen to a variety of things all day to get inspiration to go where I'm trying to go.
What's your favorite place to buy vinyl?
Out here, it has to be Amoeba Music. Out here, they closed a lot of the stores. There used to be places on Melrose like Fat Beats. Now, it's Amoeba. I hit that spot. It's near my house. Find me up in there, and I'll take a picture with you! [Laughs] You know what I'm saying?
Does the EP pave the way for the album?
I have eight songs I want to keep for the album so far. A lot of those, I could've put on the EP, but they wouldn't let me. I wanted to keel off right now when I dropped the EP, but they were like, "Hold that for the album!" I'm still keeling off with the EP. God is great, man. He's blessing me with great friends, great people to work with, and great music. You know the album is going to be incredible.
You've got your own sound too that instantly sets you apart.
Thank you bro! Why the fuck does everybody have to sound like what's popping? Why is it when someone comes out with a big smash that everybody wants to copy that and do it again? Why can't we all be ourselves like we really are in real life? That's what I'm trying to do. I'm not listening to what's popping or the biggest hit. I'm listening to every other thing that's out which makes me feel good and that inspires me.
What's next for you?
Tours! We're taking a Big Sean tour and another one with Wiz for the summer. I've got a whole bunch of shows. I'm still recording for the album. I've got eight songs, like I said. I know they only pay you for twelve songs, but I'll probably do like sixteen [Laughs]. You know how I do. There will be some hidden songs on there. I've got a lot of features coming out. I've written songs for other artists out. I wrote "Loyal" with Chris Brown. I have some stuff coming out on Lupe Fiasco's album as well as Trey Songz' album and Y.G.'s album. I want to see all the homies roll up. It's going to be a crazy year!
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