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Dub J talks House of Mirrors, Young Stitch, new single with Dutch Revz and more

Interview: Q&A

I Don’t Belong Here: Dub J talks House of Mirrors, Young Stitch, new single with Dutch Revz & more

Dub J (Photo: Supplied)

I Don’t Belong Here: Dub J talks House of Mirrors, Young Stitch, new single with Dutch Revz & more

Canadian producer Dub J has already passed one million streams on his new collabo album with Young Stitch, and today he drops a fresh single with another budding GTA artist named Dutch Revz.

Based out of Waterloo, Ontario, Dub J has been making music for over 20 years and but only recently started releasing material again after taking an extended hiatus. He started the company Q It Up Records in the early 2000’s and released projects with a variety of artists, as well as his own 2CD producer album, Love 2 Hate… Series Volume One. It was a compilation hosted by Toronto heavyweight Bishop Brigante and featured skillful blends and cuts by DJ Flash.

“I’ve got a big record that just dropped with Dutch Revz. Another super talented artist. We made a monster together. I’m hoping to have a Madchild record out for everyone before the new year.” – Dub J

Fast forward to 2018⁠—and with an extended hiatus from releasing music behind him⁠—Dub J returned with another massive producer project by the name of Blame Me. The album featured dozens of talented artists and singers including some of Canadian hip-hop’s finest. JD Era, Haviah Mighty, Bishop, Peter Jackson, Raz Fresco, Maestro Fresh Wes and even more.

Dub J talks House of Mirrors, Young Stitch, new single with Dutch Revz and more

Blame Me (Artwork)

The album helped Dub J mark his return on the scene, and set the stage for an incredibly productive 2019 that has featured over 10 unique singles. Singles that culminated with the release of the new collaborative album with Young Stitch, House of Mirrors. It was released through Dub’s Q It Up Records and Stitch’s Lifestyle Records with guest appearances by JD Era, Sielle, D.M. and Casper Marcus. Four days ago the project surpassed one million streams, and Dub is expecting the view count to get much higher than that.

While promotions for House of Mirrors will continue, including the release of a couple of supporting music videos, Dub J has already pulled the trigger on another new single, “I Don’t Belong Here,” with a rising Canadian talent not featured on his album. Mississauga-born Dutch Revz made a huge impact with his 2018 single “For a While,” and has continued to shine with newer bops like “Pick Me Up” and the Kevin Rolly-assisted “Addicted.”

With lots to talk about, we reached out to Dub J for a quick sit down to discuss the success of House of Mirrors and the story behind his relationship with BET World Freestyle champ Young Stitch, the new single with Dutch Revz, other artists he’s working with, and more.

Check out House of Mirrors and the interview below.

“I Don’t Belong Here” is HipHopCanada’s Song of the Day. You can find the single on Apple Music, Spotify, and other digital streaming platforms via Q It Up Records, Elite Choice, and CDM Music Group.

Q&A: Dub J

HipHopCanada: Congrats on the release of your latest project, House of Mirrors. How did you initially link up with Young Stitch?

Dub J: Thank you! When I made the decision to return from my 12 year hiatus from music (December 2017), I said I would do an album with the legends I’ve worked with over the past 20 years but I also wanted to work with some new talent. So I started scouting. I first saw Young Stitch in a cypher video on YouTube that JD Era was in as well. He stood out to me on that project. I just had a gut feeling to invest in him. It’s funny cause the two artists I had that feeling about were Young Stitch and Haviah Mighty. I did records with both of them on the Blame Me project. I actually have note scribbled in a notebook I wrote in 2017 that I wanted to do a project with both of them on it. This is why I put them both on the record “Never Play” on my album to get a feel for how they sound on a record together. Neither of them knows this. My feeling was right about them though. Haviah went on to win the JUNO Master Class and the Polaris Music Prize, and Young Stitch ended up winning the BET World Freestyle title.

HipHopCanada: As the producer on the project, how much of a role did you play in determining the subject matter of the songs? How much involvement did Stitch have with selecting the beats?

DJ: I made a lot of beats over the last two years. A couple hundred beats. We already had a few songs recorded for this project so I knew the ratio of styles needed to round this album off. I sent Stitch beats that I knew I was comfortable with being on the album. Once he selected the beats he wrote to most of them pretty quickly on his own. We knew we wanted a song with Sielle on this project as well so we agreed on doing a “Bonnie & Clyde” type record.

HipHopCanada: What was the recording process for the album? Did you guys record everything together?

DJ: Funny story. After having him on five songs on the Blame Me project and already being a few songs in on House of Mirrors… I actually met him for the first time in person at the studio to record the “You & Me” record with Sielle. The process we used for most songs was first I would send the music. He wrote and sent me voice notes on iMessage to listen to the vibe. We’d talk back and forth then he’d record and send me a rough acapella. I’d then take the vocals, build the beat around those vocals and get the first cut of the mix done. I’d then send everything off to the people I trust for final mix and master.

HipHopCanada: What was the most memorable experience from putting together House of Mirrors?

DJ: Oh man… I’ve gotta call out JD Era on this one. Not sure how many people know but JD Era’s talent for writing for others is phenomenal. He wrote “Dynamite” and “No Sleep” on the Blame Me project. So the plan was that Era would write the hook for the “You & Me record.”

Days leading up to the studio session he hadn’t gotten to it yet. So we decided we’d all just go to the studio and write it there. No big deal. Done this many times before. So I get to the studio and Stitch is there on time. Nothing is written for this song yet. So he starts writing. Sielle arrives shortly after. Era is running late. We recorded Stitches first verse. Now I’m worried. Where the hell is Era? He calls. Says he’s gonna get here a little later. So Stitch finishes writing his second verse and records it. Still no Era. My phone rings and the first words I hear are, “Dub you’re gonna hate me.”

Let’s just say… there was no way Era was going to get off his couch let alone make it out to the studio. He was more likely to have some munchies and pass out instead (Laughs). So Young Stitch, Sielle and myself just put the song on loop, vibed out and wrote the hook and the bridge. That entire song was written and recorded in under four hours. So now people know what I meant on my IG post for this song when I called out Era that we couldn’t have written this song without him. (Laughs)

HipHopCanada: What kind of video support can we expect for House of Mirrors?

DJ: We’ve talked about doing a couple. I personally would like to see “Think About Me,” “You & Me” and “Heartless Mess” get a video. There are so many great records on this project. I wish they all could get video treatments.

HipHopCanada: Are there any particular Canadian directors that you’re eager to work with to visualize future singles?

DJ: To be honest, I don’t even know that many of them. All the ones I’ve used so far have been recommended by the artists. Era has a laundry list of directors as well. I trust Era’s judgement. I usually bounce songs and ideas off him and he knows who’d be a good fit. Directors need to get at me!

Dub J talks House of Mirrors, Young Stitch, new single with Dutch Revz and more

Dub J (Photo: Supplied)

HipHopCanada: Which song is your favourite? Why?

DJ: Ugh. I knew this question would come. For me personally, I think it would be “Think About Me.” I made this beat a while ago. It takes me back to a place where I remember exactly how I felt when I made the beat. When Young Stitch sent me the voice note of the melody for the record I got goose bumps. I responded, “This is the the one”. I knew the record was big. Radio loved the record. As soon as we sent it to DMDS I was asked to go on 91.5 The Beat to debut the record. I love when a record is powerful like that… it’s timeless. It’s not a trap record, it’s not trying to fit in with any trend. It’s just a good song. I’ll be able to listen to that record forever and it will always be a good record. There’s a few records I feel this way about on this album but this one is just special to me. The writing on this album is top notch. Young Stitch is very underrated in Toronto and in Canada to be honest.

HipHopCanada: Blame Me was obviously a producer album so there was features on every song, but I was expecting to see a few more than four on House of Mirrors. That said, the artists you guys brought in for support really did their thing and their presence complimented the overall sound. How did you guys determine which artists would be involved? You’re relationship with JD Era spans over a decade at least.

DJ: Yeah, Stitch and me talked about adding more features. Ultimately, we decided Stitch was strong enough to hold his own. Strategically, I used features on this project that I knew I had other records coming out with. I used this combination to build momentum for everyone. You’ll notice I released “You & Me” with Sielle, then “Drop Top” with Era hit one million streams, then a week later “In and Out” of Love with D.M. hit 100K. Then I started pushing “One More Chance” with Sielle.

I did all of this leading up to House of Mirrors release knowing that the momentum from all those records would boost House of Mirrors. Everything I do is planned. Every detail. I call up Era regularly to talk about all these crazy ideas. Man, I’ve been working with Era for closer to two decades.

HipHopCanada: Do you have any collaborative projects (EP/LP) in the works with any other artists?

DJ: I’m contemplating putting out a follow up to Blame Me. I also want to do a project for Sielle and one for D.M. I’m definitely going to put some focus on more singles as well. I’ve got a big record that just dropped with Dutch Revz. Another super talented artist. We made a monster together. I’m hoping to have a Madchild record out for everyone before the new year.

HipHopCanada: Let’s touch on that new Dutch Revz collaboration, “I Don’t Belong Here,” a bit more. How did that come to be?

DJ: Crazy story about Dutch. So JD Era and me did the “Drop Top” video. One of the girls in the video is an avid blogger (continued below).

Months after the video, she started dating Dutch Revz. So I kept seeing Dutch through following her on IG. I loved his sound. Super talented artist. So I hit up his manager Chippy, an old friend and schoolmate of JD Era. Another member of their team is Lils the General. These are all guys from back in the HipHopCanada message board days. So they were already familiar with me. We jumped on a call and agreed we could make something magical happen. We got to making the music right away. I sent Dutch a bunch of beats. We did a few concepts and settled on the record that just dropped today.

Another HipHopCanada success story (Laughs).

HipHopCanada: With over 20 years of experience producing, what’s the most challenging thing about adapting your sound to stay up with current trends in production?

DJ: For me… I don’t really try too hard to adapt. I just make a lot of beats. I have so many beats right now. They all sound different because I just make what I’m feeling. Strangely, I barely listen to any American hip-hop anymore either. I just have this mentality that while streaming music I’d rather be putting money in the pockets of myself and other Canadian artists I respect. So I listen to a lot of my own stuff, JD Era, Merkules, Classified, etc. When I’m gearing up for a new project I actually like to detox myself by only listening to classic rock for a good month.

HipHopCanada: Can you share what type of setup / equipment you’re using these days for your beats?

DJ: Yeah for sure. Nothing complicated on my end. I made the switch from Pro Tools and Reason to mostly using Logic Pro. I have a couple midi keyboard options and still have my Korg Triton.

HipHopCanada: What’s next for Dub J?

DJ: I don’t know to be honest. There are some artists I really want to work with. I hope that by now my track record of successful releases will open the door for more opportunities. I really want to do my own JD Era project or finally put out the TBG (Token Black Guy) stuff we were working on years ago. It’s crazy though… some days I’m excited about putting out new projects and the challenge to get a record to one million streams… other days I feel like what’s the point of all this? I’m at a point in my life where I don’t need to earn anything financially off of the music… but the logical business side of me is not willing to do projects that don’t see a return. I just really need to be inspired to want to work on anything. One thing that’s been on my mind is coming up with a solution to solve this major problem is Canada of artists putting out music that doesn’t get heard. So many artists drop music and 10 people listen to it. This needs to be fixed. I’d tell people to just follow me on Instagram @TheRealDubJ. You’ll always know what I’m up to if you’re looking there.

Dub J talks House of Mirrors, Young Stitch, new single with Dutch Revz and more

You can follow @TheRealDubJ on Instagram.

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Jesse founded in 1999 and is currently the organization's Co-President & Editor-in-Chief.

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