On Our Radar: Chillin’ with Dystinkt Beats [Interview]
Edmonton, AB – When I reviewed Dystinkt Beats’ mixtape Seoulful Instrumentals last fall, I took interest in finding more about the man behind the music. Though the Edmonton-based producer likes to keep a low profile in the hip-hop scene (he literally doesn’t show his face anywhere), he’s provided beats for some of the finest MCs in the city.
To my luck, Dystinkt obliged when I extended the invite to an interview. On a balmy October evening, we caught up at The Tea Girl to sit down and chop it up about his craft with some hip-hop on the side. Peep the interview after the jump.
Dystinkt Beats: Q&A
Interview conducted by Rosa Jason for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: What sparked a love of hip-hop in you, and what steps have you taken to be part of the scene?
Dystinkt Beats: I’ve listened to hip-hop since the early 90’s. Tupac was still alive, Dre was the top guy – that was really the beginning. I just wanted to know how they made the music, it was really interesting, I thought they recorded and played the instruments at the same time. I didn’t know so I started studying it in 2001. I just googled it, went on forums, RapMusic [was the one]. I started asking people how to do it, then I went through phases of what I liked; underground hip-hop, mainstream, R&B. That was the beginning.
HipHopCanada: So between those sub-genres would you say you’re more towards mainstream or underground? What would you say you’re niche was?
Dystinkt Beats: I like everything but I like R&B more. I guess if I’d have to pick it would be R&B just because I feel like in hip-hop – there’s a lot of drama in it now a days. It’s not the same as it used to be, that’s why I think mainstream stuff [and R&B] is more interesting to me right now.
HipHopCanada: Well, I could tell by your mixtape that R&B was more your thing.
Dystinkt Beats: Yeah.
HipHopCanada: What elements of hip-hop culture appeal to you most?
Dystinkt Beats: [Laughs] Elements…well obviously the music, but that’s not really an element. I was never really the biggest hip-hop head; I wasn’t into graffiti or stuff like that. DJ, but I’m not like a huge hip-hop head, I just like the music. I don’t know –
HipHopCanada: It’s always just been about the music.
Dystinkt Beats: Yeah!
HipHopCanada: So you never thought of being an MC?
Dystinkt Beats: I did do it, just to learn that side of it, but I never wanted to be the guy performing. I don’t really like the spotlight.
HipHopCanada: Be more behind the scenes.
Dystinkt Beats: Exactly.
HipHopCanada: As a producer, what part of it do you feel you’re most talented at? What do you work the hardest on when it comes to creating beats?
Dystinkt Beats: The melodies, I think. I think my strength is putting stuff together so the whole song – if somebody comes to me with an idea, “Yo I want to do a song like this”, I’ll put it together. Instrumental wise – I think melodies and just the harmonies. I like melodies a lot, that’s my thing.
HipHopCanada: What are some signs of success in your musical career, thus far?
Dystinkt Beats: I guess people reaching out to me. A lot of people reach out to me, they want to do work. That’s probably the best indicator. Enough people know of me locally and worldwide as well. I think that would be it.
HipHopCanada: I think that once you have people coming to you, that’s definitely a sign of a big stepping-stone. Cause when you’re constantly hustling your way and no once is receptive –
Dystinkt Beats: Well you have to do that too, right? You have to go through it.
HipHopCanada: Oh totally. You have to do both – but when it starts turning around – that’s a huge success right there.
Dystinkt Beats: Definitely. It takes time but it happens.
HipHopCanada: Absolutely. With that been said – what have been some of the biggest roadblocks and how have you surpassed them?
Dystinkt Beats: Biggest roadblocks? Regarding my career in general?
“I don’t care if anybody knows who I am as long as my music is heard. As long as people recognize – there’s no better feeling than somebody giving you a positive review, for example, or if somebody recognizes how hard it is to do it.” – Dystinkt Beats
HipHopCanada: Yeah. Or even when it comes to submitting your work or there’s a time when your creative process isn’t going the right way.
Dystinkt Beats: Ok. I think my biggest roadblock – and I don’t mean this in a negative way – but being in Edmonton. We don’t have a platform for the artist and the producer. Nobody could really teach me, “You have to do this” or “This is how you submit your music”. I had to do it all on my own from day one and that was my biggest issue is that I would have to research everything on my own. So I’m self-taught I guess.
HipHopCanada: It’s hard, we don’t really have that demographic. It is hard to find teachers, it’s like you have to be the teacher.
Dystinkt Beats: There’s no mentorship.
HipHopCanada: Exactly. But again, you have to start from somewhere.
Dystinkt Beats: Absolutely. If you work hard enough I guess you could get to that point right?
HipHopCanada: Definitely need to be willing to put in the work. What is your overall goal for your career in hip-hop? Is it more or less fame or –
Dystinkt Beats: Absolutely not. [Laughs]
Dystinkt Beats: I don’t care if anybody knows who I am as long as my music is heard. As long as people recognize – there’s no better feeling than somebody giving you a positive review, for example, or if somebody recognizes how hard it is to do it. It’s not easy to make music, to make quality music. So I want to be known worldwide as far as Dystinkt Beats. You don’t have to see my face, you don’t have to know who I am as a person. As long as you know [and can appreciate] my music, that’s my goal.
HipHopCanada: I can see that too. I was trying to research you and find you on Social Media – not a single picture. Nothing. [Laughs]
Dystinkt Beats: [Laughs]
HipHopCanada: I can see the brand that you’re trying to create. It is about the music and not about a face to it.
Dystinkt Beats: Exactly.
HipHopCanada: What people or groups do you see as being instrumental in helping you to achieve that goal? I guess that kind of goes back to not having a demographic but –
Dystinkt Beats: Oh I’ve seen people – Jay Stacks [from Peep Game] was actually the one who taught me about the business side. He taught me the fundamentals. He sold a lot of mixtapes in the city – so he knows marketing, he knows how to promote. He was teaching me how to actually take the business side of things into my own hands. Otherwise a lot of other people just support me; friends, family. But other artists; Chips has been around for like 10 years, since my beats were garbage. So he critiques in an honest way that actually helps you so – I mean – I could name so many people but those two guys have been around for a long time.
HipHopCanada: Where can your fans find you? Both in person and online?
HipHopCanada: Is there any particular demographic that you feel you represent when it comes to the scene in Edmonton?
Dystinkt Beats: That’s a good question. [Pauses]
HipHopCanada: I just feel, and I’m new to the scene myself, but I see the underground and the mainstream. Even when it comes to MCs, who do you think you would represent the most?
Dystinkt Beats: I think there’s no right answer. I think mainstream definitely. I want to do mainstream music, catchy hooks. But it’s real music though, I work with Deuce Fantastick (from Peep Game as well) his lyrics are real but he makes music that appeals to a wide audience. So I think artists like that. Chips’ [style] is more underground, but his music also appeals to a wide range of people. Underground, as a style of music, is too dark for me (if that makes sense).
HipHopCanada: Too gritty.
Dystinkt Beats: It’s gritty. I guess I’m technically underground because millions of people don’t know me. But as far as the vibe – it’s mainstream.
HipHopCanada: As far as artists go, whether it’s other producers or MCs, who would you love to collaborate with?
Dystinkt Beats: If it was one person? I’d think it would have to be Dr. Dre because he’s the first producer that I’ve ever heard in my life. He’s a big influence, definitely. I’d work with anybody, not only in the States or Canada, but worldwide. There’s so many producers in Europe and Asia that are crazy.
HipHopCanada: So you’re cool with mixing it up with different genres?
Dystinkt Beats: Absolutely.
HipHopCanada: I know EDM is a big thing right now. So you don’t discriminate?
Dystinkt Beats: I’m not fully educated on EDM as far as production. I don’t know how to do it properly, I guess, but I find inspiration in it. The melodies and the chords – if it’s good music then it’s inspiring. I’d want to dabble in it.
HipHopCanada: Any last words for the HipHopCanada community?
Dystinkt Beats: Get your business up [laughs]. If that was one thing I could recommend to artists and producers, keep pushing, don’t just think that you’ve reached a certain level in the city and that’s it. You gotta keep pushing, get bigger and better. But definitely learn the business, because if you’re gonna run around and tell your friends about your mixtape, then you’re not really accomplishing anything by doing that.
HipHopCanada: Exactly. And then getting frustrated on social media and slandering people. [Laughing]
Dystinkt Beats: [Laughing] Slandering if you get a bad review. But definitely business is important, it’s not a bad thing!
Interview conducted by Rosa Jason for HipHopCanada