The Mixpak label head known for his work with Diplo & Sinden chats to us about his new release brimming with Jamaican vibes alongside a stream of the new one from signing Natalie Storm
Beginning life in 2008 as the brainchild of DJ and producer Dre Skull, Mixpak Records was started with the aim of spotlighting a diverse range of vocalists, DJs and producers to bring something different to Brooklyn’s burgeoning music scene. Having since caught the ears of a listeners and DJs worldwide including the likes of Diplo, Sinden, Annie Mac and Drop the Lime amongst others, Dre Skull returns with his new EP ‘Loudspeaker Riddim’ after having taken time out to focus on his solo productions.
Shaking up traditional dancehall collab-blueprints Dre Skull merges his trademark calypso house with some of Jamaica’s freshest hip hop and reggae vocalists, producing tracks which colour otherwise stale dancehall floor-fillers with a distinctly upbeat Caribbean vibe. We caught up with him to find out more about his life before music, his upcoming work with Snoop, and his freezer full of coffee.
Dazed Digital: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where have you come from? Where are you going?
Dre Skull: I'm a music producer, DJ and I run the record label Mixpak Records. Before I got deep into the music game I was working in the art world doing performance and video art. I was also interested in writing and directing feature films, but I put all that aside to dedicate myself 100% to music for a bit. Recently, I have been doing a fair amount of work in Jamaica with artists like Vybz Kartel, Popcaan, Beenie Man among others. My newest release, the Loudspeaker Riddim, just dropped with vocals from Popcaan, Beenie Man, Natalie Storm and Machel Montano. Earlier this year Diplo brought me on board to work on the new Snoop Dogg album and we spent seventeen days in Jamaica recording the album with Snoop. I am also just finishing up a new Dre Skull single with Pusha T and am working on some other rap related projects. Basically, I love music and I've been on a bit of a journey exploring different aspects of making it.
DD: Talk to us about juggling your work on Mixpak with your work as Dre Skull. What are the toughest challenges you've faced working on both projects? And your proudest moments?
Dre Skull: It's not always easy balancing Mixpak and Dre Skull. Over the last few years, I would say I've spent less time on making music and much more on handling the label, but that's finally starting to shift and I'm trying to do more and more music. One out of many challenging situations on the Dre Skull front involves being in a parked rental car on a dead end street in Kingston sitting alone for hours late at night with cash stashed under the seat waiting for a meeting that never actually materialized. In this particular case, imagine black bmws with fully tinted windows pulling up for no apparent reason and stopping in front of my car waiting for several minutes with headlights shining in on me before driving away. The main challenge that night was maintaining patience and equanimity. There's more stories like that, but I'll leave it there. I'm very proud of producing and releasing a Vybz Kartel album on Mixpak. Looking back I'm amazed it actually got recorded and released given the many obstacles along the way. I'm also excited to be a part of this new Snoop project as well. Think we made something special.
... the contents of your fridge right now?
The Fridge is too full to list, the freezer on the other hand....a small collection of coffees from around the world.
... your local watering hole?
Fiction in Brooklyn.
... your poison of choice?
Not really big on poison at the moment, but nothing wrong with a Dark and Stormy.
... the ultimate hangover cure?
... your track for the summer?
Dubbel Dutch "Self-Help Riddim"