Dela Details Loss of Mother, Moving, and Lack of Inspiration
Thank you for taking the time to answer these five questions. It has been 3 years since the release of Translation Lost. Did you achieve what you wanted to accomplish with that record?
I wouldn't say I’m trying to accomplish something in particular when I’m working on a record. Usually it starts with a few songs or a concept and I just follow my inspiration. I’m letting it flow and I never know how it’s gonna sound once it’s finished. So when it’s done, it is what it is. It’s always different from what I had in mind when I started the creative process. That being said, I’m not satisfied with any of the records I’ve released so far.
I always feel that I can do better. I never listen to my old tracks. I might listen to a couple once in a while, just to check something, but it’s usually very painful because I hear all the imperfections and the things I would do differently. There are so many things I would change if Translation Lost was to be released today, it wouldn’t be the same album at all. I even thought about remixing it, which I already did once, but I’m still not happy with the way it sounds.
Sometimes life gets in the way of our musical endeavors. Without divulging too much info, what contributed to your absence from the scene?
Lots of things happened. I lost my mom, I moved out of France again. 2012 and 2013 have been pretty tough. I had started working on a new album in the summer of 2011. I went to New York for 10 days and tried to compose at least one piece of music every day. Then I came back to France and the following months I kept working on these tracks to make them evolve. I figured I needed a string section on some of these so I had to find a way to make that happen. Thankfully I was blessed to meet Dawny, a talented violinist who helped me tremendously.
It’s crazy because I had talked to her once on Myspace in like 2004, and I remembered her name years later, looked for her on Facebook and found her because we had like 15 mutual friends. So anyway it took a while to put everything together. It took maybe a year to complete the album, but I still haven’t been able to mix it and make it sound the way I want it to. I've made hundreds of mixes and it still doesn’t sound right to me, I’m still working on it.
Meanwhile I started composing another album in the spring of 2012. I was in Tokyo and composing everyday. I have about 50 rough tracks for this one but I haven’t started reworking them yet. And there’s another album I’ve been working on. It’s a hip-hop album with Kemizt, a rapper who was featured on Translation Lost. We’ve been working on it since 2010 I believe. It just takes forever. We have pretty much all the tracks but some are missing verses, and some additional production. I feel like it’s my best production work so far, I hope we get to finish it. Some of the beats I had to trash or rework because I don’t want my music to sound like it sounded in 2010, I wanted to come up with something new, that’s the challenge right now.
Did you ever ponder retiring?
Not just yet. I think that after that Kemizt album, I’m gonna chill with the rap albums for a while though. Producing rap beats has become harder and harder for me. I just don’t feel that inspired anymore. I almost never listen to new rap music now, I haven’t heard anything I’m feeling in a while. I loved Kendrick’s album, but that’s about it. I remember when I started making beats, I would hear a new Pete Rock or Dilla, DJ Mehdi or a Premier track (just to name a few) and it would keep me motivated. I wanted to compete with these guys. The bar was set so high, the challenge was exciting. I’m not saying that nobody is producing good rap beats today, but I’m not hearing anything that I find exciting.
I can’t say I’m actively searching for it though, I kind of gave up on that a few years ago. And working with samples has been getting harder for me as well. I used to go record shopping all the time and to listen to music for hours and hours looking for the right sample, sometimes just for a drum sound, or a synth sound or something. It’s very time consuming and it can be very frustrating, when you can’t find anything, you feel like you’re not moving forward at all. Composing from scratch feels easier and I enjoy it more right now. So I guess I might be done with the beats for now, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna stop making music, I’m just going in different directions.
A lot of things have changed over the past 3 years, most notably the ease in regards to collaborating. What do you miss the most about collaborating and releasing music?
I miss collaborating when it’s easy and feels natural. When everybody’s on the same page, the chemistry is good and everybody is playing their part. The last few years, the collabs I’ve done haven’t really gone that way though. There are a lot of projects I started working on, but then stopped because the artists I was collaborating with weren’t coming through with their part of the work. Stuff takes forever to finish sometimes and after a few years it doesn’t even feel right anymore to try and wrap up the project, because you’ve evolved and the work you had done back then doesn’t represent you anymore.
And then it’s just months of work wasted. I would have gave up on that project with Kemizt years ago if I didn’t think it had that much potential. I’m more and more trying to be self sufficient and to only rely on myself, because it’s hard to find people who are on the same page, the same drive and the same work ethics. I’m not closed to collaborating, I do enjoy it but it’s been slowing me down way too often. That being said there have been talks of collaborating with an artist I’m a fan of, I’m not going to say more about this just yet in case it doesn’t pan out but we’ll see. And when it comes to releasing music, I definitely miss it. I miss the feedback of the listeners, mostly, and the sense of completion felt after a project is finished and released. I'm looking for ways to put out new music way more often.
What does Dela have in store for the rest of 2014?
Man.. we’ll see. I’m working hard, still don’t have a proper studio at the moment though, but I’m doing everything I can do release new music asap.