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Premiere: Hamilton artists DBLCRSS & Jay Portal discuss their new grunge-trap “Rockstar” anthem

Hamilton, ON – We’re very excited to announce this exclusive new premiere out of Hamilton for the track “Rockstar” by DBLCRSS and Jay Portal.

One of the most diverse producers of the new generation, DBLCRSS has a chameleon sound that sees him mastering almost every genre or style of production he touches. He has a real knack for picking up on an artist’s vibe and creating a beat to fit that artistry.

Although DBLCRSS recently told us he wasn’t planning on working with rappers anymore, he decided a collaboration with Jay was necessary because A) he doesn’t even really consider Jay a rapper, and B) Jay has a very distinct grunge-punk sound that DBLCRSS wanted to work with.

The two artists eventually combined forces to create “Rockstar”, a trap-heavy emo-punk-rock anthem for all the rockstar-wannabes out there. Listen to the premiere below, and check out our in-depth interview with the guys after the jump.

Premiere: Hamilton artists DBLCRSS & Jay Portal discuss their new grunge-trap


Q&A: DBLCRSS & Jay Portal

HipHopCanada: How did the two of you meet and end up working together?

DBLCRSS: I came across Jay Portal’s music through a mutual friend and producer named SLEEPYCATT. I loved his sound. His style was very punk-influenced and I knew that with my range of production we could collaborate on something hot.

Jay Portal: I’m not sure how I came across his music but when I did I was like “Damn I gotta work with this dude.” Haha. Eventually his manager Cameron linked me and we got started on the track.

HipHopCanada: DBLCRSS, Tell me the story behind how you cooked this beat up, and what its significance is to you… I know you like to start off with drum lines.

DBLCRSS: The process behind “Rockstar” was very interesting, to say the least. Up until the last few months I had been listening to many different genres of music at all times. But recently I’ve been playing Lil Uzi Vert, XXXtentacion, Smokepurpp, Keith Ape and Rich Chigga. My idea was to produce something that has tons of hype, but also has some sort of grunge feel to it. With my usual trap drums I then added a unique synth pattern which added a more ambient sound to the whole piece. And from there I began to mould it together into the final grunge-trap sound that it has now.

“…recently I’ve been playing Lil Uzi Vert, XXXtentacion, Smokepurpp, Keith Ape and Rich Chigga. My idea was to produce something that has tons of hype, but also has some sort of grunge feel to it.”
– DBLCRSS

HipHopCanada: How does your process differ when you make a grunge-trap beat like this, in comparison to your other compositions?

DBLCRSS: The process behind this track was that I wanted to keep it simple, repetitive and heavy; whereas my other compositions have more of a different groove and drum range where I was trying to go places I hadn’t yet.

HipHopCanada: Jay, what’s the significance of this song to you on a personal level?

Jay Portal: I think it just demonstrates my dedication to living life the way I want. I truly think if I keep working on what I love everyday, I’ll be able to live off of it.

HipHopCanada: DBLCRSS, back in December you spoke about taking a different direction away from working with rappers. What happened?

DBLCRSS: Well with my last EP, the direction I aimed for was much more of a cinematic, darker feel. I had Tigerwing as the only feature and I tried to keep it minimal and unique. Jay has a pretty unique sound when it comes to his music as well (to the degree that I wouldn’t consider him a rapper). Although his music may have a hip-hop influence, I can hear that he also has more of an emo/punk/metal/grunge influence and you can hear it in how he performs his lyrics.

HipHopCanada: I know you like to draw inspiration from films and books. I was wondering if there were any in particular that influenced this beat.

DBLCRSS: Yeah. Usually my inspiration comes from classic literature or older films. But lately I’ve been more into the UK indie film scene. One film that struck my creative flow was T2 (Trainspotting 2) which takes place in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland (pretty much my home outside of Canada), and carries the same dirty-brown-heroin vibe that the first had. A very unique industrial movie with some deep character development and a strong sense of reality is sprinkled throughout what seems to be a giant hyperbole. A must watch.

HipHopCanada: Jay, what sort of connotation does the term “rockstar” have to you? What does it mean to be a “rockstar”?

Jay Portal: The term “rockstar” means to be a rock and roll star… so to live life like Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and others alike. My uncle used to be a singer in a Led Zeppelin cover band and when I found out as a kid I thought that was the coolest thing ever. Hearing all these wild stories from his glory days definetly influenced me in wanting to be a rockstar.

“My uncle used to be a singer in a Led Zeppelin cover band and when I found out as a kid I thought that was the coolest thing ever. Hearing all these wild stories from his glory days definetly influenced me in wanting to be a rockstar.”
– Jay Portal

HipHopCanada: “Ten years from now I’m ‘a be a rockstar/ Either that or I’m dead”. Tell me what that line means to each of you.

DBLCRSS: The lyrics “Ten years from now I’m ‘a be a rockstar/ Either that or I’m dead” are about the life most people want to live; to be an icon, to be known, to have a fortune or three. A rockstar is an all-star (yes, Smashmouth) which translates to “highly successful in your own path and/or making a name for yourself.” Literally… this is what we want and if we don’t have it sooner rather than later, we’ll be dead.

Jay Portal: If I’m not what I want to be in life by the time I’m 30 I’ll probably be dead.

Interview conducted by Sarah Jay for HipHopCanada


Twitter: @dblcrssmusic | @jayportal_

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Sarah Jay

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Sarah Jay is based in Calgary and works as a freelance journalist and photographer. Sarah is also a former A&R talent scout for the Universal Music Scouting Program, and runs a vintage store during the day. Sarah has juried the JUNO Awards, The Polaris Music Prize, and The Prism Prize. She has been fortunate enough to interview and photograph some of hip-hop's greatest influencers including Future, ScHoolboy Q, Ghostface Killah, Moka Only, Maestro Fresh Wes, Shad, Joey Bada$$, Mac Miller, and more. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @ThisIsSarahJay

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