When the zoom call connects with DoloRRes, he appears out of a plume of smoke, cross-legged on his bed. Between two fingers he clutches a joint, and every now and then he takes a puff, “This is a fucking joint rolled out of kief scrappings from my grinder, cause I’m out of weed, but it doesn’t work, it’s not pulling. Fuck my life.”
It’s a funny introduction to the artist, one that coats the following conversation with a certain easability. He appears warm and open, even happy-go-lucky, and really, it’s no surprise. ‘IQ’, ‘Fluffy Dice’, and ‘Heelys’, his first few releases, though playing a game of genre hopscotch, fail to take themselves too seriously, presenting tongue-in-cheek ultra-niche lyrics relatable to any Northside Melbourner: I’ve been to A1 so much I’m seeing Zata’ar in my sleep bruh [Fluffy Dice].
Yet when the conversation turns to the behind-the-scenes of his music-making, he switches, becoming slightly introspective and maybe a bit self-critical, “My whole creative process is really inconsistent”, he says. From the outside looking in, one would never know, when going into further detail about his upcoming EP, however, it makes sense. With no particular theme or meaning behind the content, DoloRRes flirts with the idea that his 6-tracked It’s All Happening Somewhere Else is blended together, instead, by his idiosyncratic sound. The observation is made clear when dissecting included singles ‘Heelys’ and ‘D.T.R’, the gruff half-rap half-singing nature of his vocals, and the bouncing production of his instrumentals, the quintessential elements in tying the two.
Despite the incongruity, DoloRRes speaks proudly of the creative layers coming together to push the project to fruition, especially in regards to longtime collaborator Renee Kypriotis, the director of most of his videos. All of which, in cinematography and concept, has helped shape the colourful and free-spirited character that is DoloRRes. As if to prove the candid connection, a poster for the director’s upcoming film Cindy hangs on the wall behind him.
Now, after returning from a tour aside Agung Mango and Genesis Owusu, DoloRRes is set to perform his own headline show, an extension of his EP release, and in celebration, we sat down with the young artist to chat more about musical process, and the years involved in the making of DoloRRes.
I was reading that your process, as you’ve said before, is pretty inconsistent, and a bit chaotic. It kind of reminds of Genesis Owusu, he’s pretty chaotic, he gets inspiration in the moment. Especially when he’s caught off guard, he makes the best music. Would you say that’s the same for you?
That’s interesting cause I’ve watched all of Kofi’s interviews and shit and from knowing him, I mean, I feel like he’s slightly above me in terms of a creative and songwriting sense. Also, I’m getting some deja vu with this conversation real quick for some reason. It might just be a conversation I’ve had in my brain, but he said the way that he made his album, it was like a six-hour session of him and his whole band – granted the band that he works with are fucking incredible musicians – so he’s got a bit of a one up. Maybe, I think I’m getting slowly and slowly better at it, you know what I mean, I never used to be able to freestyle up until a year ago, I didn’t really do it and now I’m much more into it. I’m much better at improvising and not overthinking things which maybe is also what Kofi does. When I’m making a song normally, I’m thinking about what genre it is, where it’s gonna go, what it’s gonna look like, where it’s gonna fit in a career sense, and now I’m getting a lot more used to making songs and just not being too attached to anything. Just making a song and then it’ll just disappear, I might not save something, I’ll just go to a session and let go of control. I’m very controlling with my creativity, so it’s really nice just to let go.
And you think that’s come with time?
Yeah, I don’t know. I find it hard to relate to myself from a year or several months ago because I feel like I change really, really quickly. So I feel like a different person every couple of months. So yeah, over time, meeting people, being on tour with Genesis, obviously that fucking helped. Just life experience you know.
I mean I guess that happens in your 20’s, when mindsets can change easily.
Yeah, I suppose so. I’m just kind of wondering where it’s gonna stop. Surely I’ll reach a tipping point or a curve where I’ll start regressing.
No, constant evolution, I definitely believe in that.
True, okay, I could subscribe to that, yeah.
So how did the journey start with this EP, cause it’s been three years in the making?
That’s right. Well, if I’m trying to go to the start, start, start basically 2017/2018 – I’ve been putting out music since like 2015/16 under a variety of different names and shit, and different projects and it was all very bad music, but essentially around 2018 my friend Adam, I was just linking up with him and he has a very crazy vision. I can’t even comprehend how his brain works, but he’s very driven and everything makes sense to him, he doesn’t have any doubt or anything and I just sort of vented to him about the music and I just wasn’t really happy with my music, like what was going on. And he told me to essentially just delete everything. Wipe all your Spotify, your SoundCloud, your Instagram, everything, just delete everything. And then just make like, five really good songs. And just work on those songs until they’re ready, and then put them out. And that’s what I did.
I deleted everything, and then didn’t drop shit for like two years, and then just made songs and songs and songs and songs. And then eventually I just had this plan in my head to drop an EP, but I thought it was gonna be out in like 2019 and it just kept getting pushed back. Just because it wasn’t ready, or maybe one song didn’t sound good. And then I scrapped it. And I wrote a new song that I really liked. I don’t even know why it’s coming out now. I don’t know what things came into place for it to drop at this exact time. But I guess it just did. But ‘Fluffy Dice’ was originally meant to be on the EP, but then that’s almost too old. And so you know, it just evolved over time.
I know that you said that your process is pretty inconsistent and fairly freeform, but is there a theme that kind of holds all the six tracks together?
Hmm. I don’t know, I kinda want to say yes, but I don’t know. Once you hear it it’s pretty inconsistent or varied, but I feel like at this point, I’ve sort of reached a quirk or a style. The way that I kind of define a person’s musical style is that if a producer makes any sort of genre, you should still be able to tell that it’s that producer or artist. Like if Kanye or Pharell or Kate Bush made any sort of genre in the world – the definition of a good artist with a good sound, a consistent sound – they could make any genre in the world and you could still tell that it’s them, just by virtue of some sort of quirk or some sort of sonic, you know. Like consistency or idiosyncrasies about the sound. And so that’s kind of what I’m trying to get to, which I reckon I’m pretty much there, even though the songs are like three years old. So through the mixing and through the arrangement, I’ve gotten as close as I possibly can to that, but they’re still pretty here and there.
Mostly my songwriting process is basically, I’ll find a song I like or a couple songs that I like, and I’ll try and copy that song with the beat essentially. So I’ll rip off a song that I like, and then because my brain moves too fucking quickly, I’ll add another section from a different song, and that will be like the chorus, and then the bridge will be another song. And then I’ll keep adding elements from different songs and different artists that I like, so much to the point where it just becomes a soup, and then you can’t really tell where anything’s from.
Then the combination of all those artists makes up my sound essentially which, I’m talking a lot, but when I was at fucking uni at the start of the year for three months before I dropped out. I was doing composition or something like that, I literally didn’t even know what my degree was, that’s how much I was removed from it (laughs), but I was in this one lecture about songwriting. And the lecturer was saying that songwriting is basically just like ripping people off and biting people, right? Because whatever, there’s no such thing as original ideas.
But the problem with people who have a derivative sound is that they only borrow from a few people. The trick is to steal from everything to the point that it just becomes one, right? It’s like, if you mix all the colours together, it just becomes one colour. So if you steal from only a couple of artists, then people are going to be able to tell that you’re stealing from them. But if you steal from everyone, then it just becomes one.
You’re talking about having a unique sound in your music that makes it quintessentially you, but I think one thing that’s really strong for you as well, in that regard, are your music videos. Where do your initial ideas come from? Because it seems like there are so many moving parts in each video.
In that regard, Renee, who’s like my best friend, essentially, and who’s my right hand with this whole shit. So anything sort of like visual, she’s the brain of that operation. She’s a director and filmmaker etc. So she does her own thing but then every time I do a video, she’s either producing or she’s directing, or she does amazing stages and set design, so she’s always involved. So she’s the mastermind of that. And then also I’ll just come up with an idea and then just give it to her, and then she’ll just figure out some fucking way to make it. She’s insanely organised, like, the opposite of how I work. My career would not exist without her. She’s like a second manager.
I was reading an interview you and Renee did on Verve and in the interview, you were talking about how you didn’t always see eye-to-eye when making the video for ‘Fluffy Dice’.
Yeah, that’s true, that was a hectic production.
Now you’ve collaborated for ‘D.T.R’, what was the collaboration process like this time around?
So ‘Fluffy Dice’ and ‘Heelys’, I’d sort of like had those ideas in the back of my mind in a book for a couple years. A lot of my music video ideas are a collage of different ideas, or things I see, or scenes from a film that I like, and then they will kind of just come together. Then eventually when it comes time to make a music video, I’ll just go back into that library of references and just piece something together. But for D.T.R. I had literally nothing.
So this is the first time that Renee’s been at the helm in a creative sense, and unsurprisingly it’s the best one we’ve made so far. So she came up with the concept. I had the outfit kind of already planned out so, I bought this jumpsuit from some fucking shop like a year ago and then wanted to use it in a video. So we based the entire concept of the video around this costume and then sort of just created the characters and everything, and then we just went out and shot it in like three days. But our workflow has gotten better every time. The editing process was amazing. I love editing with her, it’s super fun, like we bounce off each other really well. So compared to ‘Fluffy Dice’, this production was way smoother. We just keep getting better, it’s crazy.
What originally brought you together as collaborators?
I’ve known her since age 14. We used to date in high school. So we were together for four or five years during high school and then broke up and stayed friends, and she’s always been involved with my music since 14, because I’ve been dropping shitty freestyles on Soundcloud since then. Like she’s been in my cover art. She’s filmed my music videos. She’s done releases, she’s been the door person at my shows. She’s been involved since day one. And vice versa. Like I film all of her auditions. She used to do a lot of acting work. So I’d film audition tapes for her, you know, like help her design like props and shit on Photoshop for film shoots she’s working on. So we cooperate entirely to the point where we’re just one entity.
Well it’s definitely working for you, so keep doing it.
So you have an upcoming headline show at the Curtain, are you excited for that?
Uh yeah, I reckon I am (laughs). I got no clue, at the moment, like as far as we know, they want to keep the date as it is, but I wouldn’t mind postponing it to be honest because we can’t, because we’re in lockdown, we can’t rehearse. This is an entirely new band, so this is the first time we’ve ever played. So we’ve only done one rehearsal, so we’ll have to figure it out. And also we’ve got a whole set design. I’ve got to design costumes for the entire band. We’ve got to build sculptures and shit, like without giving too much away, I need to buy a whole lot of white surfaces. We need to get our lighting guy involved. So there’s a lot of shit we got to organise for this show. And I’m still in ‘D.T.R’ mode, but then again we do last minute shit all the time, so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t go smoothly.
Hopefully! When you were touring around with Genesis Owusu and Agung Mango, did that teach you anything for your upcoming show?
Yeah, big time! Yeah that was a huge learning experience and obviously shouts out to Mango and fucking Genesis for giving me that opportunity as well. But yeah, just another life experience learning a bunch of shit about playing shows to crowds. It was kind of perfect because Mango is like another person, other than Adam, who’s sort of been a main sort of influence with my career, and me as an artist. Originally, I was a lot more of a producer, and I’d kind of just rap. And that’s all I did. And then meeting Mango, and seeing what that man can do with his fucking voice, like, that guy uses his voice as an instrument. After seeing what he does in the studio and seeing all of his live shows, seeing the way he controls audiences, and the shit he says in between songs, everything is perfectly planned out. So I pretty much just take all of my inspiration about how to act on stage from him, essentially. So he’s like my live mentor, and so being with him for a month, playing shows, you know, five shows in like three days, every night, twice a night, and especially playing early and late shows as well, playing early shows to old people, and motherfuckers that just don’t care and they’re wack as shit, and then playing the Late Show after that, which is lit as fuck, and knowing how to take a show, how to act after a show and how to build yourself up and psych yourself up and like control your mind. You know what I mean? How to behave. It’s an interesting branch of psychology.
So one more question, you’ve got your EP out, and then your show coming up too. What else is on for you?
So I guess I’ll be specific. So after the show probably another single or two, might do another video for another song off the EP. Just because like, why not make another film? It might even go for 20 minutes, Renee might direct wink wink. And then, after that, probably a second EP. The second EP, which I’m half done with, I’ve sort of just been working on it mostly this year, and a lot of the stuff I was making in lockdown last year 2020 is appearing on there. It sounds very different, I’m barely rapping on it. It’s a lot more psychedelic. There’s a lot more guitar. It’s almost more consistent as well. I’m actually happy with it. It’s a lot more consistent in terms of style. It’s three years newer, you know. And then I don’t know, down the line probably a concept album, I sometimes think like 10 years ahead. I already have the debut and the sophomore album, kind of in my head. But that’s for later.
Follow DoloRRes here for more and check out his debut EP ‘It’s All Happening Somewhere Else‘ now.