INTERVIEW: def.sound

Hi Emmanuel, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

D: I’m very blessed, hella hydrated and highly melaninated .

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Saturdaze”?

D: SATURDAZE was a blessing in disguise. It was a song I had no idea I needed to make. I thought the album was done. In retrospect this song healed me from my own self-doubt, every time I listen to it, it raises all of my emotional levels, and it really feels like sunlight. Working with Clear Mortifee for the first time, and having a fearless Zack Sekoff in the room on production, felt really organic. It’s a real warm summertime self-care bop, I hope people enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

D: Not one event per se, I felt more inspired by the mood of the music. Zack’s arrangement was completely out of the box (literally all sounds are live instruments except the 808 drum) and put me in a space of what it would feel like to describe the ways we can give time back to ourselves. What if we could crystalize those moments and just give ourselves a day? What if we met a person that felt like that kind of day? So I just explored that and Clear channeled all of those feelings in their verse and completely set the tone. It sounds like going outside, but once you have tapped in and taken care of yourself with complete inner-standing.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

D: Yes, absolutely! We just got the final cut from the director Jibade Khalil Huffman. Jibade is a really gifted contemporary visual artist and poet. I would call it more of a visual poem than a music video, it is meant to be watched multiple times to really be able to digest it as a full piece, not just a link. It’s a piece.

The single comes off your new album COLORED – why taking so long on releasing this material?

D: Life. That’s the only real honest answer, I’m in no rush, I know that I’m destined.

What’s the story behind the title?

D: My reality is that parents are from Panama and Belize, I’m 1st generation Central American, born and raised in South Central LA and I read and experience the world as a black man. I didn’t want to oversimplify this idea because the telling of my truth is a shared one. I really tapped into the knowledge that the experience of a person of color in America is a spectrum, and it’s beautiful, and it’s as complex as our complexions. COLORED is the conscious owning and naming of that perspective.

Would you call this a conceptual record?

D: It’s conceptual in the way that each song is it’s own separate conversation. COLORED is 22 conversations collected and displayed as reflections.

Would each installment follow the same themes or are they somewhat standalone materials?

D: COLORED Disc 1ne is about returning home, while COLORED Disc 2wo is about where we go next.

How was the recording and writing process?

D: Idk, editing is everything. The recording process took place at my home studio (I prefer to record myself), and Neon Pheonix’s studio called the Galaxy. The creation process was us capturing moments and treating them like spaghetti and throwing them on the wall and seeing what really sticks. Each song was different, so it felt like I was collaging conversations, jokes, voice notes, political commentary, memes and mantras and listening to it as if wasn’t me rapping or singing. If I ended up liking it then I kept it, but if I only liked it because it was me, I threw it out.

What role does South Central LA play in your music?

D: It plays the canvas, it’s my context for every picture I write. It’s home, it’s my native tongue, so no matter what I say it comes from South Central.

How deep did you dive into the Zora Neale’s How It Feels To Be Colored Me?

D: I’m a student first, so I was reading this for class at UCI, but outside of class I was doing a close read of every reading, and I found this essay really resonated with my “why.” It’s not what we do, it’s the “why” we do it. Zora really spoke to me before I ever existed, and helps remind me of my why.

What aspect of today’s politics and social situation did you get to explore on this record?

D: There is no such thing as “A political art”. So even the ignorant stuff people think is mumble rap is a political statement that felt beyond words. Some of the rhythms are hella ancient. Even the body is a politic. My body is constantly being read in this world and the music on this project is a deep dive into the many meanings projected onto my being. My existence, my joy is a form of rebellion.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

D: Conversations are the best, also low key the more I create I find that inspiration finds me. I don’t really find it anymore. It finds me, I just stay ready in vessel mode.

Any plans to hit the road?

D: The plan is to hit the road with my live band The COLORED Experience. Stay tuned to my social media for date and tings. Twitter: @defsound + IG: @def.sound

What else is happening next in def.sound’s world?

D: I am designing clothing and COLORED merch. Right now we are running with the No.Body.Is.Illegal hoodies (available now you can support that on Definitiveshop.com). I’m a year away from getting my African-American Studies degree from UCI. In the bigger bigger picture I’m also in the concept phase of creating the South Central Cultivation Center which is an artist live-work space; working on some video art in Adobe Premiere; and a COLORED coloring and typography book.

Listen here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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