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Once Upon A Grime Meets Doller Da Dustman [Interview]

Throughout 2010 Doller Da Dustman released video after video. Every week there was a new track from him too. He doesn't plan on that work-rate slowing down anytime soon though. I caught up with Doller to talk about why the Zip Files shouldn't have been nominated at the Official Mixtape Awards, his new project with G.Tank, why ZDot stands out from other producers, plus performing outside of the UK.

The Art of Rhyming came out in January, how do you think the quality of music compares to previous releases?

There’s a natural improvement and I wanted to treat it like an album. I put out singles from the mixtape before the release of the mixtape itself because I want to learn the progress of making an album. Doing singles, shooting videos, advertisements, doing interviews and doing it all the right way. I wanted to put out the Art of Rhyming in a more professional way. I did fifty tunes for the mixtape and picked the best fifteen from them.

How long did the whole process of putting the mixtape together take as you had several other releases last year?

2009 was full of recording it; I got an EP from it, which was the Go Getterish EP with ZDot. The whole of 2010 was promoting it, doing all the videos etc. that was the angle I wanted to go for. Before the customer bought the CD, I wanted to shoot all the big videos. So when they get their hands on the mixtape they’d be familiar with all the big songs on it. 2010 was simply for promoting it, that’s why there were so many videos out last year. This year I came to the conclusion it should come out this January.

On the subject of releases, Set To Be King was nominated at the Official Mixtape Awards. How do you rate your chances of winning the award?

At first I sort of doubted myself. Well, not really doubted, but I was aware I was in a group with the pioneers of the scene. Your tops guys, your Ghetts’ and your Wiley’s. Then I started thinking, the award I’m up for is Best Grime CD of 2010, and then it started making more sense to me. That CD alone was 110% Grime. Every beat on there was 140bmp.

So do you think you’ll be able to win it?

After looking into the title of the award and what I am and what I stand for and the section I’m in, of course I can win it. If I’m nominated, then obviously I’m good enough to win it.

Who would you personally vote for in the section for Best Grime Mixtape of 2010?

Grime, let’s highlight that, the Best Grime CD. The Zip Files is cheating though. There’s ten files of material there.

The Zip Files wasn’t really a fair choice. Ten releases put down as a single release isn’t fair…

Yeah we’ll have to cancel the Zip Files out then. Without a doubt Calm Before the Storm because he’s got massive tracks on there. He’s got Skadoosh, Trained to Kill, The Greatest with Shola Ama which is Grime. He’s got By Shy on there, that’s four. Then there’s the Intro and Artillery, that six, and those are just a few off the top of my head that are big Grime songs from last year.

Throughout last year you struck up a musical relationship with West London producer ZDot. How and when did you first start working with him?

Basically, I was doing the project Return of the Jedi and I wanted to do a song with my West London crew of Dan Dare, Warlock and Y Beezy. We wanted to do a Grime song and I said to Dan Dare I needed a beat that would suit all four of us and that we would be happy with. For a long while it was going back and forth between me and Dan Dare sending beats, and then he sent me a beat called 55 noughts produced by ZDot. I said “yeah this is the one”. I wrote two verses for it, that’s how much I liked it. So we recorded the track which went down well. I said to Dan Dare “who is this producer? I want to meet him”. Once I met ZDot we had a similar style which complimented each other.

What do you think makes his productions stand-out more compared to other Grime producers?

Number one, on the technical side alone the arrangement is key. When you download a ZDot instrumental, you can hear his arrangement. You can hear the intro, you can hear the verse, you can hear the chorus. Two, how he makes them. The crispy-ness of them. We love this thing called Grime, but it doesn’t always have to be grimy. That doesn’t mean it can’t be mixed to how you want it. His mixes sound good and crisp to the ear. Three, what stands out a lot is that the beats aren’t full. They’re not as full as they could be, you could still add loads more to the beats. But this allows the MC to act as another instrument. 

The one artist one producer trend is starting to pick up now. You’ve got Exo Remedy and Nico Lindsay, Rival and Nytz and another one with Dexplicit, plus iCon and Chillz. Do you think you and ZDot set the way for this way of music?

Yeah because when we were making the Go Getterish EP preview ZDot told me that we started the trend. And it looks like we obviously did. Back then nobody was doing that before. I personally like to highlight the producers work. Maybe that’s why we’re not as far (in the UK) as we should be. If you go over to American you know all the producers, you know who’s made the beat. Over here we don’t push them (the producers) as hard and as far and give them the energy they need.

So really it’s to highlight the producers work as much as the artists’ work on the release?

Of course, 100%.

Have you and ZDot got any other projects lined up this year?

I’ve promised him we’re putting out a proper CD. We’ve done so much work and we need to highlight and landmark and a memorabilia for our work. Our CD is going to be called Faith and Belief. We’re giving it a little time and waiting for a bit. I want the CD to be good and proper. I want it to landmark our stuff. I want it to represent. I’m going to put a lot of work into it and I don’t want to rush it. I don’t want it to be any normal CD.

What other producers would you like to work with?

Myself and G.Tank have got so much work together. He said to me on Twitter that we might as well release an EP. I’ve already wrote three songs already this year for it. I’ll probably just throw out a ten track EP with G.Tank. I’ve got an idea for the idea of the EP; I want to call it Cold Blooded Tank. That’ll be free with all the Grime stuff on there.

You’ve got a couple of booking in Europe in the near future (Poland and Holland), have you been abroad before?

Nah, as well as being excited, I’m scared too. Nothing in Poland yet has been confirmed. Holland though is about 90% confirmed, that’s 18th May in Denn Haag. I’m looking forward to it and want to spread out music over there.

If promoters do want to book you, how can they contact you then?

My email is @LifeOfDoller on Twitter. Facebook Doller Da Dustman.

If Grime was to concur America or Europe first, which would you think would be the better choice? We’ve seen many UK acts go to American and flop before. Should we try more closer to home instead such as Europe?

I’ve always had in my head to concur Europe first, they’re out next-door neighbours. It’s logical. With how easy it is to go to Holland and France and Europe in general we should be taking advantage of it. It’s only a couple of hours away, it can be a normal Friday night booking. But saying that, I would never knock no-one for hitting the big one on the head first. If you knock the big one on the head first, then the rest will crumble.

What are your thoughts on the current state of Grime?

As I always say, I’m prosperous and I love the music with my heart and soul. I’m happy man, we’re always moving on. We’ve got bloggers now; we’ve got websites, your Grime Forum’s and your Grime Daily’s. We’re recognised now. At a point we weren’t even recognised. We’re more professional now.

Like you just said with the websites, do you think the internet has helped Grime, but killed off the original sound as well? Websites such as YouTube are basically the new radio…

It’s done a bit of both you know? But on a ratio it’s 65-35 of its helped it to killing off the original sound personally.

Where can you see Grime this time next year going into 2012? Do you think it’ll be healthier? Or still be the same?

It’ll be healthier. What is very important is that the level of music is always going up. It’ll be bigger 100%.

Finally, where can you see yourself this time next year?

Not year will there only be a few bookings aboard, there will be many bookings abroad. Many songs will have been playlisted. My hardcore fan base will be amazing. Mad releases. More awards underneath my belt. Everything will be bigger and better. Say everything is at 1 now; it’ll be at 100 next year.

Pick up the Art of Rhyming now via iTunes. Follow Doller Da Dustman too on Twitter, @LifeOfDoller.

Words by Graeme Day