The challenges of being an artist on the West Coast are individual and unique, but the tenacity and resilience of the artists who embark on careers on this side of the country is parallel to none. Dave Fields has made a name for himself as one of Vancouver’s creative minds who is working to elevate the way people perceive music on this side – and he’s succeeding.
You might have caught his features on the notable HICU sound tapes, or his previous debut album, Neck Deep. With a unique sound, he’s unlike most artists who fall in the genre of hip hop and rap music. The tones woven between the lyrics of his songs have heavily dark undertones, but they vibrate at a higher frequency with a passion that can be felt as Dave breathes life into his bars.
It’s challenging to put him into one category, or definition as an artist – and to be frank, why should he have to be? Today marks the release of his new Matthew Harvey-produced single “Vices” and regardless of how you perceive its’ style, we can guarantee you’ve heard nothing similar to what Dave brings to the table. The track bounces between his personal differences with a soon-to-be-ex-lover and his desire to be successful, while he rhetorically questions, “Why I would ever wanna put my heart in that?” We caught up with the artist to talk to him about his perspectives on his music, his identity, and the greater West Coast community. Stream “Vices” below, and catch our conversation after drop.
Follow Dave on Twitter @dvflds.
Q&A: Dave Fields
HipHopCanada: Congrats on the release of “Vices” – we always love the new music you put out and I think that translates to how your fans feel too. Can you tell us a little about what inspired this song?
Dave Fields: Thank you! I wrote the song sometime early last year, and it’s been a labour of love. I was inspired by a couple things at the time. One part of it was related to a relationship that I had gotten out of, and the other was related to how badly I wanted music to work out.
The song sort of centres around the idea of not being able to succeed, moving between doubt and concern that I won’t make it in music, as well as that the relationship itself isn’t going to pan out. Vices are hard to shake, and at times they control you. Even at times when it’s bumming me out, music is something I wouldn’t be able to stop creating, so it’s sort of like a vice in itself. Love can be like a vice too. Sometimes things aren’t going well but you’ll stay in a relationship or keep trying to make it work because it’s hard to give up.
HipHopCanada: What I’ve always loved about you as an artist is the depth that you bring to your music in regards to your lyrics. How personal do you get with your writing, and what’s your creative process like?
Dave Fields: The lyrics I write are almost always really personal. I can make up stories, but I find that writing from the heart tends to work out better for me. When I was younger I wrote a lot of music with acoustic guitar, and it was always an expression of whatever I was going through at the time. I still find that I use music as a resource to vent my frustrations or emotions.
At the moment I almost always start with the music, whether I produce a beat, or Harvey’s got something, and I’ll just sort of freestyle over iPhone voice notes until I’ve got a concept. I try to let the ideas naturally come out rather than sit down with a pen and write.
HipHopCanada: “Vices” is a topic that a lot of people can relate to – do you write music for yourself or with the experiences of your audience in mind?
Dave Fields: It’s a bit of both. I usually try and get a hook first so I know what I’m working with. Music to me is meant to evoke some sort of reaction from people, so I definitely want to touch on familiar concepts. That being said, my writing style usually culls from personal moments, so yeah it’s a bit of both. I think my music is relatable though. People seem to get it.
HipHopCanada: How do you personally describe or classify the music that you make?
Dave Fields: I’ve juggled with this a lot over the years, and until recently I tried really hard to define my music. At this point I just put it into the world and let it be what it is. I do use the word ‘brooding’ a lot when I’m writing about my music, or sending press releases. I feel like that mood describes the sound and tone I push for a lot, even if it doesn’t always cover it. I tend to write music that sounds sort of dark. Some of the new songs I’m writing are almost more R&B though.
HipHopCanada: Anyone who has been following your career since your full-length album, Neck Deep will be impressed by the growth that we hear on this new track, especially. What kind of things have helped you advance your skillset since that album and your previous EP?
Dave Fields: Thank you. Yeah things have gotten more polished over time. When I first came to Vancouver I wanted to get an album out to gain momentum. Some of the songs I still feel were really strong, like Treatment, Care Too Much, or Rain In Vancouver, but I was releasing lots of songs to just put something into the world. All the songs were closely related too, and there was a sense of urgency with them. I felt like I had to write those songs to deal with everything that was going on at the time, and to process my emotions.
I think what’s helped the most is just spending time on the songs. I put “Cutcha Loose” out in March of this year, but before that I hadn’t released anything since February 2016. I’ve spent a lot of time in the studio just focusing on writing and the production side of things. I’m more critical of my music now, which seems to help ensure its quality.
HipHopCanada: Is this new single part of a larger project that’s coming, and should fans expect similar vibes with your future releases?
Dave Fields: I’m sort of working on a project, but to be honest I’m not sure what’s going to make it and what isn’t. I think it will end up getting released as smaller projects that are more digestible instead of a massively long project. As I’m sure you’re well aware, it can be difficult to put a full length album out right now with the way people listen to music (myself included). I think I’d prefer to do 3-6 song projects.
HipHopCanada: How much of your music has been influenced by the West Coast, if at all?
Dave Fields: I’ll say that I’m influenced by the people around me. People like Spot and Seth and Brev are all inspirations to me, and make music that I listen to on a regular basis. Because of their drive and ambition I feel that I’m moved to push myself even harder.
HipHopCanada: What’s your favourite line in “Vices” and why does it mean the most to you?
Dave Fields: It’s simple, but one of my favourite lines is “Davey crazy, thank you FONTANE saved me”. I often refer to this sort of alter-ego of mine, FONTANE, and really what it boils down to is someone who can get away with saying, thinking, or doing more than I can as Dave Fields. I was diagnosed with OCD after university and spent some time trying to manage that and find a way to cope with mental illness. I’m normally a fairly sensitive person, but FONTANE isn’t. Having this other side of me has helped me overcome a lot of things, so I do in a sense feel that it saved me.
HipHopCanada: We’re familiar with your previous work on the HICU sound tape as well as with other notable Vancouver artists like Seth Kay, Brevner, and Spotty Josif. You always push our expectations of what the West is capable of producing. How do you feel about the state of the scene, and where your new music fits within it?
Dave Fields: I honestly feel like Vancouver is one of the most slept on, underrated rap scenes right now. We have so many fantastic artists and visionaries, but we’re not Toronto. We don’t have the same kind of audience and we don’t have the benefit of one breakout star yet to shape the way. That being said, there are so many incredibly talented artists here that I don’t think we even really need a breakout just yet. We’re all constantly improving and shaping the scene. Toronto music does tend to sound like Toronto music, but you’ll find that isn’t really the case here. There isn’t a ‘Vancouver sound’ to define us right now, and everyone is sort of doing their own thing. It’s exciting to be a part of it because we’re literally tastemakers for the area. Spotty puts out the dopest shit of all time, for instance, and it’s like nothing else I’ve heard.
Written by Kira Hunston for HipHopCanada