Dipsi releases new track and exclusive video - INTERVIEW
blog by Kathryn Przybyla • July 16, 2012 @ 8:29am
Gagan Singh, also musically known as “Dipsi,” is pretty excited about his new project.
We chatted over coffee at Panera, talking about how the Flushing, NY native originally got started in music, thanks to a surprisingly helpful computer science background, and where he’s been able to draw inspiration from. Sharing an admiration for the band Fun., it was clear to me that this was going to be a good conversation.
Getting through some interesting stories and memories from mixing his first release, “Young,” Singh was excited about the next single he was working on at the time, “New Apartment.” We decided it would be cool to release the track on Buffalo.com with a lyric music video. The song, just short of four minutes, is also available on iTunes.
Take a look at the interview below and be sure to give “New Apartment” a listen in the process.
Tell us about how you originally got started in music.
Gagan Singh: I had an obsession with it in high school. A lot of my friends were doing music, but I wasn’t talented at all by any means. In fact, I remember trying out for my school play and my friend was sitting with the music teacher. She was watching me and said “that kid doesn’t have a musical note in his body.” Hopefully I’m proving her wrong. Then I started college and was dorming my sophomore year. I met my friend Vinny there—he had been doing music his whole life. I learned a lot of stuff from him.
First I was more into the indie rock stuff and then I did some hip-hop, kind of as a joke. A couple people were like, “wow, this is cool.” So I did a few more and got a lot of good feedback, more than anything else I had ever done.
So what kind of indie rock were you writing originally?
GS: That was more meaningful. Obviously I’ve improved musically since then. But it was a lot more intricate and detailed. Compared to now, it was just two different genres with drums in the rock and samples or pads in what I’m working on now. You have to talk a lot faster in hip-hop.
Any favorite artists that you are into now?
GS: It’s funny you ask that. Yesterday I got a new iPod and didn’t want to wait for it to sync all my music. So I’m like, “Alright. Who do I want to be on this iPod for sure?” So I ended up putting all of Drake’s albums, all of Kanye West’s albums, all of Fun., Format, Death Cab and then my own stuff. That was all I would listen to back in high school and early college, the indie rock stuff.
Back then I was part of the “rap is crap” crowd and then I started to listen to a lot of hip-hop and realized there are really intricate instrumentals and clever lines—even more so than the soulful, indie lyrics. I thought that was cool.
There have been some great indie rock and hip-hop collaborations recently too.
GS: Yeah, it’s so cool. Kanye West had Bon Iver on his album.
I don’t think a lot of people could have predicted collaborations like that.
GS: That’s why I love the Fun. album so much. They hired a hip-hop producer to produce their album and it’s awesome. I’m in love with that album.
The Fun. show in Rochester earlier this year was incredible. Probably one of the best live shows I’ve ever been to.
GS: Nate Ruess is crazy. I hear that Rochester is like their favorite place to play too. Did you see them open the MTV awards?
I saw the set after the show, online.
GS: So good. They are just crazy. I am in love with Nate and would probably kill 100 people to work with him.
He’s a pretty talented guy. Can you give us a little insight on your own writing process?
GS: I have a thing on my phone here if I think of something clever, I’ll write down the one-liner. I haven’t perfected it yet. I’m not sure what’s better, to work with the instrumental first or write down the lyrics. I’ve noticed it works well both ways, but I’ll usually have the random one-liners and throw together an instrumental when I get bored. I’ll try to evolve it enough to be able to put a verse over it and build the song out.
There are times when I’m hanging out with friends where I’ve just started writing a whole couple verses down and I’ll modify them to fit an instrumental later. It really works both ways.
Besides our mutual appreciate for Nate Ruess, why did you decide to sample Fun.‘s “We Are Young” in your latest video, “Young?”
GS: My friend Kelsey showed me the song last year while I was studying for an exam in Lockwood library at UB. She was like, “Fun. has a new song out.” I literally dropped everything to listen to it and listened to it like five times in a row. I knew I had to sample it right away. I was about to stop studying for my exam and go home to start working on it. I heard it and the chorus and thought it was amazing.
It’s really like an anthem.
GS: Yes. It really is. But I did end up studying for the exam. As soon as I got home I should have gone to sleep, but I didn’t. I cut it up and got working on it. Since then I was working on it from the end of November to the beginning of February. I fell in love with the song as soon as I heard it. I loved The Format [Ruess’ original band] and was literally depressed when they broke up.
I was just really excited about that song. That was the first sample I used in a song too. I hung out with Chiddy Bang a little while ago and was asking about sampling and how they produce. He told me about a couple things and a program I use and new things to try out. I got to use his advice on the Fun. song and it worked out really well. It was great because I found a new way to produce and it was on a song I really liked.
That’s some great mini-mentorship.
GS: Yeah, they were really cool. I had a lot of long conversations with him about music and it was great.
What are some of your short term goals with music?
GS: I always think of computer science as “plan B.” But I’m also not delusional. I know it’s not very easy to get into the music business and make money off of this. I do have to feed myself and stuff. That’s why I’ve tried to work hard at my degree too. I do want to finish an album before the summer’s over and continue the trend of releasing it on my birthday. I’ve released something on my birthday every year since I turned 21.
I have about four or five songs I want to finish up, but I don’t want to just put out a mixtape of lyrics with a random beat, record it and it’s done in two days. I spend and insane amount of time on the stuff I’m working on. it does take forever. But I am hoping to finish a 10 or 12 song album soon, before summer ends. I’ll eventually want to start doing live-shows once the albums completed too.
Why wait for the finished album?
GS: I have enough songs to do a live show now, but maybe four out of the seven songs are instrumentals from other people. I want it to be all original stuff. That’s the only reason I’m holding back. I’ve done open mics but that’s just good practice.
Any long term goals?
GS: Oh, I have no idea. No matter what I end up doing, if I become successful or not, I’d like to have my hand in music a little bit. I don’t ever want to let it go. Being a producer would be really cool with behind the stage stuff. But being on stage wouldn’t hurt either. Everyone wants to live the rockstar life. I’ll just take it as it comes. Who knows? Maybe something will happen after this interview is published. Then I’ll owe you a dinner, or like 100 dinners.
How are you looking to be perceived in the Buffalo music community?
GS: I feel that a lot of amateur rappers focus too much on getting stuff out and will throw anything online. To them it’s about quantity. I see people on Facebook and other networks, putting out a new song every week. That makes me wonder how much time they are really investing in their work. Even in professional hip-hop, there are a lot of people who think of clever lines, have someone else produce it and it’s done.
For me it’s really a complete piece of music. I try to make the instrumentals sound really cool, make sure the lyrics sound really cool and put a lot of thought into each song. The standard in hip-hop is to pump out songs and get recognition but I want people to know I’m putting a lot of effort into what I’m working on.
Any chance I get, I’ll jump on my computer, have the guitar out and try to some up with cool songs. There’s a lot of work on my end for the music side of things and not just the lyrics. In fact, I probably put more work on the musical side.
Do you think your computer science background has helped with producing your music?
GS: Everything I do is on the computer. I’m on it 24/7 which is a good and bad thing. But a lot of my friends who are trying to do music are always asking me how to do this or that when it comes to mixing. it’s really natural for me because that’s what my major and what my career is. It definitely helps. I can find cool ways to hook things together that maybe no one else would think of.
Even simple things, like setting up the microphone to plug into the computer. I got a new apartment recently and I was able to set up a cool little booth in my closet with cables running out and a cool little monitor set up. It’s hard to explain, but it definitely helps. Just saving the file properly is a huge advantage.
You had mentioned you also play guitar.
GS: Poorly [laughs]
Any other instruments that you usually go to for writing.
GS: In my room now, I have an acoustic guitar, another acoustic that my Dad brought back from India, an electric guitar, an air organ that is off key, a harmonica, a train whistle and probably a couple other things that I can’t think of. I’m the kind of person who will learn the basics in everything and then move on. It’s like, OK I know G, C and D on the guitar. Let’s move on. Put the capo on and that’s like 100 songs I can make.
Because I can do the computer stuff well, I can at least make it seem like I can play really well. All I have to do is pluck one string, put a delay in the program and somehow it sounds awesome. That’s the cool thing about hip-hop. If you can make cool sounds, there’s a lot of leeway to play around with.
What are some of your favorite music venues in Buffalo?
GS: I really like the Town Ballroom. It’s probably my favorite. A lot of bands go to Mohawk. I guess it’s kind of grungy but a cool spot. Sometimes the sound in there can be weird.
Looking forward to any summer shows?
GS: The Thursday at the Harbor stuff sounds great. There’s a few bands I really want to see. I’ve actually never been before, so I’m pretty excited to go. I’m not a die-hard fan, but I think I saw it on your Twitter that Weezer is coming. I thought that was pretty cool. So many people are going to be pumped about that. Yeasayer at the Town Ballroom should be really good too.
Saving the best for last, what are your favorite songs to sing in the shower?
GS: I don’t sing in the shower anymore. I try and write lyrics in the shower now. That’s the problem about writing music is that you’re so focused that you stop listening to real music. What do I sing in the shower? I’ll do “Marvins Room” by Drake because I covered it and have all the lyrics memorized. “The Sound of Settling” by Death Cab is another one I like. Then there’s my favorite song ever, the one with the islands and the cocaine and the models. It’s “Time to Pretend” by MGMT.
Take a look at Dipsi’s just released track and new lyric video that you found first at Buffalo.com, “New Apartment.”
Photo courtesy of Facebook.