Don Dollar - Moneyman
Sydney’s own Don Dolla may be about to release his debut record, but both industry savvy and in demand, he’s clearly no novice to the game. 3D’s Nina Bertok picked up the phone for a chat with the artist who’s fame is on the ascendancy.
It may be his first solo record but Sydney producer Don Dolla sure knows how to launch an album in style – with a full band, back-up singers and a star-studded line-up of guest artists making an appearance on his debut Intromental.
Although his star is still on the rise, Dolla has already made a name for himself thanks to his collaborations with both homegrown and international artists, including the likes of Joelle, Richard Tanumi, EarthQuake, Kato Sage, Noble, Tristan Charles, Natalie Conway and Rebecca Tapia. So when it came time to step out into the limelight on his own, you can be sure Dolla planned something very special indeed.
“I did the whole album except for the bonus tracks at the end, which were a last-minute add-on,” Dolla says of his debut full-length. “Otherwise, every single track, from first to last, is entirely my production and recording. It all came together over the last few years, mostly because it took some time to get all the people I wanted together to collaborate. In the end, it was definitely worth it. I just wanted to make sure I put my best work into it, even if it took a long time.”
The finished product has something for everyone – literally, as Dolla explains. “Every track I did, I tried to give it a different feel from the last. It’s definitely hard to put the album into one genre because it just doesn’t fit into a single category. There’s everything from electro, pop to RNB and plus my rap tracks. There’s a track that’s more soft-rock influenced but with a hip hop and RNB beat and with all heavy guitars throughout. Basically, you get everything from hardcore rap songs to club bangers to even a love song.”
The mood of the tracks usually depended on the guest artists featured on the track, Dolla claims – and the list itself is impressive. “Every beat has a different feeling and mood, depending on the experience that was being captured while I was working with a certain person,” he recalls. “It’s kind of no wonder that it ended up being such a mix.”
And it’s Dolla’s versatility that keeps local greats such as RNB maestro Mike Champion coming back for expert production work.
“I’m doing his full-length album which will have a real soulful, RNB feel to it, which is a bit different for me again,” Dolla announces. “There is nothing quite like working with other people and then hearing their track on the radio or on CD and really digging it. Coming up with amazing songs with an artist makes me the happiest. It’s always awesome when you know the people personally. I’m actually dying to come back into the studio and start work on another album for myself but I know that I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of me to make Intromental successful. I don’t think I can really focus on anything else before I look after this album.”
The fact that Intromental came about at all was in some ways as a result of Dolla’s scholarship at the SAE Audio Engineering College, which earned him a diploma in Music Industry Technical Production and Audio Engineering, he points out.
“If I hadn’t gone to the college I don’t think I’d have an album ready by now. I just wanted to know a lot more about the technical side of music and there are so many ways you can improve your skills and sound by knowing the theory. For example, with mixing, I didn’t know there was so much involved in it and how to make the frequencies not clash on a song and to get the right microphone recording levels on a song. It’s stuff that you couldn’t possibly teach yourself, and if you did, it would take you a lot longer to figure it out on your own.”
But then again, Dolla’s always been the type to give anything a go from a young age. When his parents bought his sister a piano years ago, he was not only quick to jump on the instrument, but even quicker to master it. “My parents bought the piano for my sister but she didn’t seem too interested and so I got on it,” he laughs. “I was actually enjoying it a lot and I picked up on notes pretty well and so they sent me to lessons. Then I got more interested in digital and RNB music so I got into DJing and beat-making and then production. It’s been kind of like one massive chain since I was young. The love of beat-making came mainly throughout high school when I heard other people mixing songs together and I was just intrigued that DJs got to mix up and chop up and play with these great songs. I did a lot of research and some friends introduced me to the right computer programs, which were easy to learn for beginners. I guess I just found it extremely fun that I couldn’t get myself away from it.”
But it didn’t take Dolla long to expand into his true love of production, something he hopes may lead to possible exposure in the overseas market in the near future. “I’ve been dying to go overseas and give it a shot over there,” he enthuses. “I’d probably be looking at America more than anywhere else, just because there is such a massive market for what I do over there. They seem to have this unlimited amount of producers and artists and there always seems to be work. Right now though, I’ve got my family over here which makes things easier and I still have things to do here, but I’m also one of those people that can’t stand still in one country for too long and I want to find out what’s happening music-wise in other countries. It would be great to take this all over the world.”
WHO: Don Dolla
WHAT: Intromental through MGM / Voski Entertainment / Plays the Basement
WHEN: Tuesday 9 June
MORE: myspace.com/dollabeats / voskientertainment.com.au