We’ve been getting into the deep and dark sections of Buffalo’s Dub scene. And we had a moment to meet one of the rising stars of the Genre, Drooka.
Drooka has been recognized by record labels such as “Fat Kids on Fire” and Deep Dark Dungeon Dubstep He’s been collaborating with artists around the world and creating some of the most interesting music in Buffalo.
We had a chance to meet up and do a proper interview and I’m very glad with the result.
You can ear the interview in it’s entirety here:
One of the very first things I though of when I first saw your name was how did you come up with the name Drooka?
(Laughs) Well, it just came to me, but it was actually a toilet idea.
A “Toilet Idea”?
I don’t know, the best ideas come from the toilet.
Wait, so you were just sitting on the toilet and it just came to you?
Because I, I mean I didn’t name myself until i had finished a whole tune (it was awful). But after I finished it, I was like asking myself, “What should I name myself?” I sat down and just…
And It just came to you.
It’s just one of those things I guess.
When did you make your first song?
Summer of 2010, so right after my freshman year of college. So, 2 1/2 years ago now?
How did you get interested in producing in general?
My friend just showed me a Dubstep song one time, sent me a link on YouTube and I heard it and I thought it was one of the craziest thing I’ve ever heard before. It was like one of the wobbly songs, it was just mind-blowing the very first time you hear it. And I just got interested from there and the friend that sent it to me,he ended up getting a copy of Fruity Loops and sent me copy and we just started to o back and forth. And I juts kinda stuck with it.
And it just kinda evolved from there?
Yeah, it was originally juts a hobby but…
Now it’s starting to become the real deal.
A little bit, I mean I don’t plan on doing it long-term, but like college is the perfect time to do something like this.
Yeah, trust me it’s the perfect time.
See, I have goals like, I’m a business student so, I have goals outside music, so I kinda want to like get it out of my system.
Become famous first?
Something like that. I think I’ll always have it as a hobby in the future. Maybe something I can mess around with whenever.
What do you study at college?
I’m supply chain management in the school of business so, like the transportation of goods, inventory, ya know back-line stuff.
And I assume you want a career in that that’s why you’re studying it.
Yeah actually I have an internship at a bookstore in Clarence, I’m doing school account management.
Alright, well let’s get back to the music, you start picking up producing Dubstep was that because you heard Dubstep first? Did you try any other genres?
Originally I started off experimenting, and now and then I’ll try something different, but it just tends to be like what I feel. I mean I got plenty of projects where I started something of a different genre and I just never really turn into anything because it just never feeling it.
Considering the first Dubstep song you heard, how far have you deviated from that style.
Pretty far, have you heard of Mount Eden?
Well, it’s kind of poppy kind of bro-step like one of the first ones of that sort of branched off to more house, almost like a mixture of the two was the first that I heard so, quite a bit different.
I heard some of your stuff and from what you describe the stuff you’re producing is really dark, compared to what you’re describing.
Yeah I’d agree with that. I always liked minimal stuff that started off with the whole underground UK Dubstep sound. Because after Mt. Eden, that’s the kind of stuff I listen to and that’s what really stuck with me. And just kind of transitioned into that.
What do you really like about the minimalism style?
See a lot of people like the dark sounds in it, but that’s not so much it, it’s more of the space that dark sounds can create. And a lot of music these day is all about how many sounds you can put in the space. It’s interesting to see how emptiness can really create a groove.
It’s interesting when you get emptiness and how it enhances a song as opposed to detracting to it.
You can definitely hear that in a lot of your music.
I mean I try to do it, just because I find it challenging. Not too many people still do it. And I just kinda like that old-school sound, so I try to stick to it.
Now you say you’ve used Fruity Loops, and that’s what you start off with, are you still using Fruity Loops?
I’m on Fruity Loops 10 now.
Do you have a legitimate Version?
I do, I bought it shortly after. I didn’t want to invest all that money in something that I was only going to use for a 2 months so, once it turned into something that I was actually was going to make things with I was like, “I gotta go buy it”.
Do you have any specific plug-ins or tools you like to use? If you had to suggest something to someone who wanted to make the music you make what would you say?
A lot of people say as far as synths go to use Massive by Native Instruments. I find that as long as you understand what your synth is capable of you can make any sound with it.
So you just use the standard operator found in Fruity Loops and go from there?
I mean I use Citrus I also have Massive but I don’t really use a whole lot of the capabilities in it. Because I find that a lot of sounds I make are made with outboard effects instead of the built-in effects that come with it. I just find it easier suggesting to someone to save them money and just do it similar things with what they already have available.
How long does it take to produce a track?
It depends, there are times when I’m really feeling something I make it will just flow and it could be less than 10 hours. But there are times where I really go back and forth between versions and variations and that could be 30-40 hours. It would take up to a couple of months of going back and forth between tracks before finishing something.
There are two kinds of producers: the one that gets up in the morning and they have a specific time that they sit down and produce, or are you kind where it just comes in bursts and you can’t do it when it’s not there.
It depends, during the semester when it comes I’ll sit down and do it, just because I don’t have as much time to just set aside a time everyday to go ahead and make music, but over break I would get up every morning and set aside a time. If there’s opportunity I like to be able to have a set time to do it.
So I know you just started picking up DJing. You started off as a producer and you started DJing how long ago?
My first show was over the summer (2012) it was at the Infringement Festival.
Yeah I was there.
It was the first one and I had been doing it in my bedroom for about 6 months before that. But that doesn’t count.
It does count because you gotta practice to get to a certain level.
True, true. But I’ve been playing out for 6 months now.
Well, I’ve noticed that you’ve been playing out quite a bit. I’ve been seeing your name around town.
I’ve been trying to get out there a little bit more, I want to take advantage of the opportunity here.
How do you feel about the scene in Buffalo? I feel that Bass music has really exploded around here.
It’s pretty crazy. When I first started, maybe it’s just because I didn’t look into it enough, but I didn’t really know anything about the music here. And there’s so much diverse stuff, the amount of underground support that they have shows every night at clubs and bars downtown. It’s really pretty amazing I think.
It’s nice to know that it’s not just Chippewa being the end all be all.
No matter what you’re into, they (the underground scene) got a little bit of something for you.
What has been your favorite event that you have been in so far?
I gotta say the first one, the Infringement Festival. I enjoyed that I mean it was my first show and most memorable. I think the atmosphere was just good and everything about it was good.
But the Infringement Festival was definitely a great spot, especially for people like you. People who are producers but are also trying to perform. It gives them a chance to go out there and perform their music.
And that’s what really got you out there.
It really is. Had I not had that opportunity, I don’t know if I would have ever been approached because I’ve never done anything where they had the open application form. If you have something to show they let you show it.
What is the best event you’ve been to yourself?
It was sophomore year, so 2 years ago, and it was Fluctronix and Dirty Joe South. And Stuntman actually played out at that one, and it was the very first time I heard Stuntman. And it was pretty nice it was down at Soundlab.
Soundlab is a pretty crazy venue when it decides to be.
Exactly, so I mean it was pretty big, the whole place was filled up. So, it was a really really good show.
If you could meet one producer who would it be?
Just because in all the interviews I’ve heard and seen of him, he’s done a couple of Redbull lectures, he just seems like the most down to earth guy. And just really has a passion for the music and I’d interesting to be around someone who’s that cares so much about the music.
Now I’ve seen that you’ve been collaborating quite a bit with artists in the area.
Actually, none of them are from the area.
Mishva, he’s from Brazil.
Echomaker, with whom I just put out a new track for free download, is from Chicago.
And I’m working with another artist from the UK named Max.
I’m trying to branch out a little bit because Stuntman, I know ,he makes stuff that’s similar to mine. But other than that, don’t really know too many people who are into the deep underground sound around here, at least not yet. So I mean I’ve branched out through other means, like Dubstep forums and just kinda meet new people. And sometimes you meet a person you stick with and you just chat and start sending stuff back and forth and it goes from there.
That was going to be my second question, how do you get in touch with these people from around the globe to do collaborations with. How difficult is it to go back and forth when they’re not in the same county as you?
It can be kinda difficult because you can kinda know a persons style based on (A) their music and (B) the way they talk about producing, like just the advice they give you, and their perspective on it. You can kinda tell what kind of stuff that they’re going to try to do. There are some people who are more technical vs. more creative and when you get one of each it actually makes it pretty easy because with Mishva he’s been mixing live bands for a while now and I just kinda spit out a beat and it was pretty rough to him and I had the whole thing written out and he went through and mixed it and tidied it up. So where he was more into processing, I was more into the creation of it and it ended up working out really well. doing stems like that.
I’ve heard that song and it is tight.
Yeah, he has really clean production. He’s been recording bands for 5-6 years now. So he has plenty of experience. So I was really fortunate to work alongside him and learn some of the stuff that he ended up showing me.
Are you under a label?
No, I am unsigned as of now.
Alright, then pitch yourself.
I’ve been sending my stuff out. But if there’s anyone that’s got a small label that’s looking for a unique deep sound from the United States. You should try to get in contact with me. You can check out my music here. And… that’s my pitch.
Do you have a girlfriend?
I do not.
Any particular love interests?
I will say that you are a pretty man so I had to ask. Your pictures look suspiciously like the ridiculously photogenic guy meme.
What would you say is your breakdown of percentage DJing vs producing?
It kinda goe in streaks. I’ll have a couple of days where it’s mostly producing and then I’ll finish something up, and I’ll test it out DJing. At that point I might just scrap it and start fresh or just mess around with different stuff. It goes back and forth.
What kind of equipment do you use for DJing?
American Audio Radius 3000 and a Numark IM9. Have you used CDJ’s before? At first, it was just so foreign. There were sounds in each of my ears?
I know a lot of DJ’s swear by the CDJ’s or the vinyl, claiming that digital will never surpass their talent. How do you feel about that discussion?
I don’t personally agree with that but I can see where they’re coming from, in a sense. In particular vinyl. Not so much CDJ’s. You’re doing completely different things. Where I’m focused on the little technicalities like beatmatching, the digital guys are more creative about it. It’s just different strengths and you use it for what it’s good for.
Have you done any music related activity before producing? Did you ever play an instrument?
I tried to play the drums.
How did that work?
Not so good… I was self-taught. I got an old drum set in 11th grade, from my friend, he was giving it away for free. Just a small, tiny, bunch of stuff to bang on.
How much did your parents hate you?
Eh, quite a bit… they’re probably pretty glad it coincided with me leaving for college. Got that out of the house pretty quick.
Did you ever think back then that you would be doing what you’re doing right now?
Never, never even crossed my mind. I always liked music but I was awful at instruments. I couldn’t even keep a beat on the drums… I never really thought I was musically inclined beyond just listening to it.
That’s amazing to me because your music is exceptional.
I appreciate that.
I was expecting you played trumpet in a high-school band and you knew a little about how music structure worked. But to see that you just heard something you liked, played around with it, and you’re at this level now. You’re very talented.
Thank you. It was a lot of reading. I got 2 books right here. “How to DJ Right” and “Dance Music Manual 2”.
What’s your home setup for listening to music at home?
Just this Logitech 2.1 system, the biggest sub that I could find. I also use these AKG’s and Sennheiser headphones quite a bit as well. Aside from writing bass lines, I like to listen to stuff I produce and test it to see how it sounds after I mixed it down.
Do you ever try it out in your car?
After I burn it to a CD I’ll check it out in my car, before I send it out to people and stuff.
I’ve always heard that the car is the one place to test out your tunes. If it sounds good in your car it sounds good everywhere.
The more places you hear your tune the better off you’ll be but the car is definitely the best place. If it’s balanced in a car it’s balanced on pretty much anything. You’re gong to hear anything that’s off in the mix on there.
Have you put any of your mixes online?
A couple. I actually did a guest mix for a blog called Deep Dark Dungeon Dubstep. They do mix CD’s, free releases, and interviews. I had one up on there I believe it was mix #17.
I do have a bunch more but I’ve been lazy putting them on mixcloud.
How do you feel about the new genre’s that have been cropping up around the EDM scene? Stuff like Moombahton, Trap, niche genre’s. Do you try to stay on top of that or do you mostly stick with Dubstep?
I’ll listen to it, I think everything is unique and interesting in it’s own way. I just see different appeals on some things more than others.. But I can see how some of this stuff can be really dance-able in it’s own right. But I stick with what I’ve always known as far as the deeper stuff.
Give us a typical rundown of the kind of music that you listen to at home. Just the stuff you listen to when you’re not DJing.
Probably about 50% of the stuff I listen to is the deep Dubstep, just to stay on top of the new music. But other than that, I listen to Linkin Park. I mean I don’t have a lot of updated albums. I listen to a bunch of older stuff like Alkaline trio. I guess my musical tastes isn’t exclusive to the sounds I produce. I just like listening to early mid 2000’s music.
I find that the most important part of a music producer is the music they listen to when not producing.
It really is it’s where you draw a lot of influence from.
Do you know any producers in the area that you want to give a shout out to?
Definitely PINJA, I’ve heard them play everything and they somehow make it sound good. It takes tremendous concentration just to get all those genres to line up in a single set.
Everyone knows about Stuntman.
Gh0st, I like doing shows with him he’s a really nice dude.
I’ve heard some of his exclusive material and it’s very very good. We’ll have to get him on an interview. Gh0st I’m coming for you!
Gh0st, if you’re reading this, we should get together and swap tunes and try to collab. First in person collab I’d be down for that.
I can see some very interesting stuff coming out of that.
Yeah, Gh0st plays around with the similar UK sound. We’d have similar roots I feel like. He DJ’s a bunch of Grime and I’ve always been interested in the other side of the sound over there.
Do you keep up with the UK trends or do you keep it old school?
I kinda follow thru. At this point with the internet, you can follow every different little offshoot sound. It’s not like you have to buy CDs like in the old days. You’re not limited by money and therefore you can explore more than 2 sounds. I try my best just to listen to everything because there’s been times where I heard a producer I’ve never heard of make a completely different offshoot of the original sound that is just wow.
Where can your fans get in touch with you?
That pretty much sums it up, so we’re going to come to the final question. The final question is a very special question we ask all of our artists that we interview on the website. It’s a great personality marker. Are you ready for this?
If you could be any type of fruit, what would you be and why?
A banana! Because it’s light, packed with energy, potassium, and great for before and after workouts.
I was going to say boner…
AND BONER! (Laughs)
Thank you Drooka for your time.
Thank you very much for having me.
Keep producing the music, I can’t wait to hear what you got in store for us in the future. We will definitely scouring your Soundcloud in the future.
Thanks for the support and out to PINJA and Nickel City Guild.