Time to get REAL. Dynamics Plus has been going his own route, doing things his own way and finding tremendous new ideas and ways to innovate through his music in a completely organic way. I’ve been hooked on the dude and his creative rhymes since reviewing one of his latest albums here at SBS and we’ve gone on to show our support even further by spinning his videos on SBS Live This Week. A man with a lot to say and a specific way of which he says it all…it was an extreme pleasure to be able to talk to Dynamics Plus and get a real sense of how he approaches the music-making process. If you’ve had a look into him already, then you already know this guy is as close to a machine as a human being could possibly be in terms of manufacturing & making new music – he’s like a one-man factory that runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And if you were to ask me…that’s inspiring.
So check out what this talented artist has to say about his music, albums, life…it’s all here. I wrote an interview that basically held him upside down & shook him for loose change and did my absolute best to get anything & everything to fall out of those pockets and into our interview here today. Lots of insight, lots of incredible details and overall, a complete pleasure to talk to & supremely talented gentleman. Enjoy!
– Jer @ SBS
Dynamics Plus – Interview
SBS: Big shout-out and thank-you to you Dynamics Plus, much appreciate you taking the time off the rhymes to talk it out with us all. For those people out there that haven’t heard your music yet, or haven’t read the recent review we did on your Dynamics Universe Vol. 9 album, tell us about your sound from your own perspective. What is it that you’re doing right now through music that is setting you apart clearly from the rest?
Dynamics Plus: I guess it’s where I choose to go with my music. I’m a sort of future-retro artist. Boom-bap to boom blip and then there’s the storytelling. No one has done that before. It’s the C.H.A.O.S. Legion and Battlestrux albums that tell a complete adventure in a universe far beyond a hood, but still metaphorically relevant to any listener’s experience. I call a lot of what I do experimental because I don’t have a mentor or predecessor to pull from. So much of rap and music, overall, is based on flipping what someone else is already doing. I don’t have that luxury. I can’t say “His album did well, so I’m going to do something like that.” Or “I’m going to take that style and flip it”. It’s uncharted territory and I’m learning as I go. All I got is my ear and what sounds right. I create without discipline or boundaries and feel out what works and what doesn’t.
SBS: You’ll have to forgive us…cause I know we just jumped on your train to catch a ride only to discover sir, that you’ve BEEN ridin…I mean, we reviewed volume NINE of The Dynamics Universe series…and after researching more, I find out we didn’t even jump on at the END of this train dude! Not only are there 8 previous volumes of course, but you’re already well on your way to the twelfth I believe? Incredible work ethic my friend…it’s truly unmatched. As a writer myself…the suggestion of volumes also suggests that there’s an overall tie-in between this entire body of work; would you say that’s correct here in regards to what you’ve done? Of course there’s an autobiographical element that comes along with any artist or band with longevity…but it seems to me that thematically you’ve chosen to go a certain direction long ago. So lay it all out for us…what are the real concepts driving the Dynamics Universe series and how does it all tie-in for us as listeners, but also yourself as an artist?
Dynamics Plus: I used to make lots of beats and at first I numbered the disks that saved the data as A then B then C and eventually ran through the alphabet and started using AA followed by BB. I never considered using numbers because I didn’t think I’d be making that much music. I began grouping beats into volumes- with names and themes and that made organizing my work easier. I stopped losing stuff. And so, when it came to collecting songs and records I planned for many albums in the future. I call it all The Dynamic Universe since it covers everything. I sketched out 20 + albums and have been pretty much following that guide. I have skipped around based on my inspiration and even the limits of the kind of music I am capable of creating. Much of my music was me trying to push the envelope and see what I could do expressively over abstract beats. The Rocket Science album is about turning the needle closer to the middle and making a solid introduction-like work. It’s my story-telling style used in a modern context.
SBS: Obviously from listening to your work for even a minute, anyone would understand there’s a heavy focus on the lyricism. The beats are incredible too brother, we’ll get to that I promise, but right now I want to know about the process for you. Like I said, we just reviewed Volume 9, I went to get a coffee, and now there are already THREE more volumes! I get that it might come to you quickly and all, but including refinement, editing, metering to the beats…how does it all come together so quickly? What you do takes an incredible amount of effort…or at least any mortal would think so! So truly man…HOW do you make all this happen so precisely and on-point?
Dynamics Plus: I’ve been doing it for a while now. It’s a system that I’ve been using for years. I start with a wide focus and narrow it as I go along. When I make music, I just wander off in whatever direction pulls me most. I don’t think ‘fire track’ or ‘club banga’ – I just create and leave everything flexible. After I’m done, I look back and decide what context that piece of music fits best. Trying too hard for an exact ending leads to the possibility of failure and disappointment. If it’s heavy and dark, it might end up in a Mark of the Griffin episode. If I don’t quite feel like rhyming over it, maybe as a Fallout Shelter instrumental. If it really pulls strings, it might become something to tell a story over. I have so many directions and angles, almost nothing goes to waste. I spend a great deal of time shifting tracks around and grouping them by vibe.
SBS: In contrast…now looking back at the other volumes and other work you’ve done…do you feel like you have ever rushed yourself too quickly? Are there moments that you might be able to hear on a track of yours that maybe we can’t, where you know you’d be able to hit it harder now than perhaps you did then?
Dynamics Plus: I try not to second guess and trust the Dynamics Plus that was around when certain decisions were made. Firstly, I try and set my bar at giddy. If I get excited and amped over something I created then I know it’s good because I really love it. Settling for ‘good enough’ always leaves room for regrets. Number one aspect is revisit. Always come back and reevaluate what something is. That way, several versions of ‘me’ take a look at something. It has to survive several mood swings and a judgment over time. That leads to number two which is age an idea or marinate. Let it sit and see if the feeling holds true. If months pass and I still lose my mind over an idea, then I know it’s a good one. I noticed that the songs I liked least on albums were always the last minute additions and impulsive changes. Things I was excited about in the moment, but after some time, my enthusiasm fades and a particular decision doesn’t hold up. That’s the consequence of a quick decision you didn’t take serious time to consider. Walk away and come back.
Music is probably the only area of my life where I have patience. I aim to allow growth and evolution over time. Sure, some tracks develop incredibly quickly and I have it all done in 6 minutes – others have taken 6 months to find that final signature element. I see beatsmiths bragging about how quickly they make beats and so much worry over ‘how many a day’. No one ever said “I love this beat because it was made so quickly” or “I can’t dig this cause the guy took too long to make it.” All that worry over the creative process only exposes the early relationship between the artist and his creative energies. You are driven to make, but understand very little about the true process driving you..
SBS: Personally…what is it inside of you that drives you to work at all this as relentlessly as you do? Long before you might have ever even decided you wanted to make music a career…there was something that connected you to the music that you couldn’t ignore…something that’s presumably still a part of what’s driving you to this day; what would you say that is?
Dynamics Plus: The answer that goes here is the WHY. It starts with the HOW, as artists struggle with technical concerns and learn their craft. Yes, you are learning how to do things. You are asking questions and everyone ahead of you is a source of knowledge. That’s followed by WHEN and the passion ignites and being creative is all you can think about. When I’m in my studio working, I fantasize about being out having fun, maybe being with a woman. I’m inspired by those thoughts. But, when I am out- sometimes having a great time, my spirit longs to be back alone, in my studio- creating.
WHERE is the obsession with the studio. Arranging things and acquiring perfect pieces. Every desire feels like a need- it’s the rush of the “Gear Lust”. It’s a painter thinking he needs every color at his fingertips before he can make a picture. It’s the hunt for the best synth, the best EQ, the best mixer for…blah, blah, blah. It’s focusing on creating a perfect space to create instead of setting aside space to create. Worrying about the feel of your studio over the feeling you get when you are in your studio. It’s a distraction that replaces productive motivation – it’s when you spend more time talking and thinking than doing.
WHAT is a good one. I see people say “I can make anything, what should I make?” That’s a person who is early in and has just discovered technical tendencies. Genres have guides, rhythm has rules, moods have methods, tempo tells the time and timing transmits tension. Awesome. Now that you have learned how to speak several languages find the one that is native to your origin. It’s usually the language you think in.
And the big WHY. Why leads us to ask all the other questions again and apply them to our innermost, truest motivation and desires. Why are you here? Is it internal or external? Adoration? Approval? Admiration? Love? Money? Over the years, for me, that needle has flicked back and forth as my priorities change. I can’t sit here and tell you what the right reasons are for anyone to be creating or making art, I can’t. I know when you are settled with your own answers, you feel you have the right to judge others. Once you reach the end of a journey, there’s a tendency to forget how little you knew during the trip.
It’s great to hope that I am compensated or rewarded or simply gain from my works. I find that satisfaction can spell the end of an endeavor. Why keep walking once you arrive? Getting what you want leads to that…stagnation. It’s hard to be hungry on a full stomach. Those maternal and material desires are good for the short-run, but I have only stayed inspired when I focus on the feeling my art gives me. Releasing a finished work gives me a feeling that nothing else has. It doesn’t require a lot from other people. It’s me playing that album over and over again. I am enjoying my work and that satisfaction pushes me to create further… and that answers the WHY.
SBS: Now…I compared you to a rapper I hold in very high-esteem, Gift Of Gab. I’m assuming you’ve got to be familiar with his work…I thought this comparison worked very well in terms of both flow, style and the amount of thought put into your lyrics, but maybe I’m crazy… You’re clearly a rapper at the top of his game RIGHT NOW…so I guess my question is; do you still idolize or look up to other rappers? Who are some artists out there that you’re able to draw inspiration from? Past or present, doesn’t matter, inspiration comes wherever it pops up right?
Dynamics Plus: I’m not a rap fan anymore. There was a time, a long time ago, when I would hear raps and be awed and ask “How did he do that? How did he come up with that?” I’d hear the music from an album and be shocked and amazed to the degree that it would influence me and give me ideas of what was possible. We’re going back to Public Enemy, De La Soul and Ultra Magnetic. But there comes a point when I reach uncharted territory and there’s no one left to learn what I do from – besides me. I build upon my own work and learn from my own example. It’s hard then, to look up to someone else when you understand the process and there really is no mystery. I can appreciate talent, I can respect accomplishments, but I’ll never be a fan for anyone who arrived after I did. And I been here a while as the Dynamics Plus.
SBS: Let’s take that a little further…cause I want to know about the inspiration behind “Skit Callus Interruptus.” Now…hopefully this ain’t too painful a memory to recall…but…well…is this just good writing and good humour – or is this based upon the horrors of a real life experience?
Dynamics Plus: [laughs] Yeah, man. I think we’ve all been there. Everyone’s talked to someone that was distracted in a rude way. The truth is, the sex talk was a little raunchier, but obviously it’s a clean skit on an album so… But you know, it happened again AFTER the album was already out and the girl already had the album. So I’m there telling her epic things about love and such and what I hope we might find together and there she go yelling at her kid! And I’m thinking she heard the album, she know this is a skit on there. How she straight acting it out? Is she clowning me on purpose cause it’s the exact same scenario. As a teaser, there’s a full Rocket Science remix album coming and this skit is revisited…sorta…
SBS: From what I’ve been able to read, listen to and research…the visual accompanying element of The Dynamics Universe is taken just as seriously as the music itself. For instance…the video for “Phase Shift” is well-shot, edited all pro, but at the end of the day I think what I love the most about it is that it’s still YOU. Everything I see here in this particular video, aside from the editing and perhaps your particular tinfoil-talents could be largely done DIY…and I think that’s seriously inspiring my friend. Not only to me, but to others I’m sure who can see that with a little innovation and a creative mind, you can pull off a rad video without dropping your entire future’s worth of savings into your video. To some degree, “Seek End Destroy Rocket Science,” fits that same description…but I gotta say, it’s the shots of you with those glasses and the mic-stand-contraption that make this all work for me so well! Enough of all my ranting though…What I want to know is; what’s important for you to have up onscreen in your videos? What sort of stuff do you consider to be ‘must-haves’ in the visual representations of your music?
Dynamics Plus: The visuals match the record. Nothing more disappointing than loving a song and the video is nowhere close to what you imagined in your head. Some stuff is beyond my reach for now so I’m growing my resources to get closer to my ultimate vision. I’m an underground rapper so videos were never really a big selling point for me. One day I just realized I didn’t have many videos of myself performing, I only graphically appear on album covers and mostly I’m a voice and not a sight. I discussed the idea with DJ friend Samuel M Wimbley and we set out to film a ton of videos. I write out an outline of what I see and he directs on the spot and adds that extra bit that takes it up a notch. He’s got that eye. I sent him the first edit of “Phase Shift” and he literally said I have two choices: stop here and have a video that doesn’t pop or re-shoot everything. It was tough to hear, but I’m learning to listen and the reason why everything can’t be DIY.
“Seek End Destroy Rocket Science” was scary because we almost got in trouble. We were about to rush through a guarded gate in a panic, but I figured what did I have to lose? So I plainly explained why I had all this crazy gear in my trunk and why the weird suit and what my intentions for trespassing were and believe it or not, I was allowed to shoot under strict supervision. Oh man, I could go on about the Rocket Science videos forever. I loved creating them and plan to make a bunch more. My rhymes put images in your mind. You know, you see the story unfolding and I’d like to be able to match the sights to the sounds you already see.
SBS: Comment on the level of social-awareness we can find in your music. I can hear a ton, and I can hear a real leader in there that’s helping the masses ask a few questions that they should be. Do you take that aspect of your music as a…I dunno…like a form of responsibility? You know what I mean? I mean…I really appreciate an artist that truly has something to say like you do…but I always wonder if it’s just ‘what we write about’ or if it’s an inspired act that comes more from within…like something you HAVE to do because you have that platform to speak from and it ‘shouldn’t go to waste’ kind of thing? What makes it important for you to include that aspect of social commentary and opinion in the music of Dynamics Plus?
Dynamics Plus: I hate preachy raps. I just do. I always think who is this guy to be telling me this? Oh great another gem of wisdom from any-hood USA. I like to see myself as an example beyond the music. Ask yourself what type of cat makes this stuff? “Dash the Cloud” is about a rebound romance that doesn’t go well. I wrote it from the perspective of taking a loss. I can take those same series of events and write an angry ode to horrible women across the world – include some choice name-calling and you have a different type of record. I’m multi-faceted and relationships are complicated. There’s no broad brush that fits the entire scope of the female gender. Why paint them the same way on every song? Doing that says more about me and my attitude and even my baggage than it does as learned wisdom about the sexes.
SBS: Are there enough artists out there including real-topics, real opinions on what’s happening out there in the world today? I mean, obviously it’s not something everyone needs to sing or rap about, but I’m not so convinced myself that there shouldn’t be a large handful more of them out there right now when we need it… Or do you feel like social commentary is built-in and incorporated into all of our music in some way, shape or form, both consciously and unconsciously?
Dynamics Plus: You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say Hip Hop is a movement and improving young minds through a culture and then say the worst of rap is just harmless entertainment. Is a rap a reflection or a response? Are we exposing monsters or creating new ones by glorifying the current creature feature? I’m just saying it’s hard to create a gold statue, slap it in a temple, have people worship around it, but still say it’s not an idol.
SBS: What would you say your overall view of the world IS right now brother? We on a path to good times…or is it all getting worse out there?
Dynamics Plus: Depends on where you are. I’m in the US and really, it’s all about the loss of the middle class. We’re a generation doing worse than our parents. Getting married later, if at all, but still having the same troubles with family. We are even more focused on chasing money, but have no idea what to do with the money we do have – besides waste it on pleasure seeking and entertainment. We keep getting more and more tools to connect us as we drift farther and farther apart. It’s all about a continuous weak connection. Now, you can always know what I’m doing, but you don’t really care. Food is less food than it was. Television is really visual fast-food. All the bars are dropping. No pun. The lives of movie actors and athletes used to be the big distraction. Now we have 24-7 coverage of talent-less people. It’s crazy out here, right now.
SBS: You’ve definitely approached the music-scene with an incredible work-ethic through these constant album releases; I’m wondering how much pressure you put on yourself to keep as current as you do? It’s so easy to get lost in the shuffle as they say…do you find yourself ever making music simply as a result of that fact alone? Like as in, to keep at the forefront of the stereos and minds out there?
Dynamics Plus: Yep. Huge transition going on here. I’m an old school album guy. I think in terms of full projects. 18 songs. This is a disposable, streaming singles universe. I find it hard to adapt. I make it at the pace I’m inspired to, but the timing of releases, yeah that’s different. I’m having adventures, but I’d rather wait and share it all in a record than show you a picture of everything I’m doing- every single day. Man, I don’t love me that much and I do love me some me. [Laughs]
SBS: If you could send out a general message to the rest of the rap & hip-hop genre…what would it be? Is there anything you feel they need to know or advice you’ve got for the rest out there?
Dynamics Plus: I’m in no position to give advice, besides people don’t really listen anyway. Everyone has the answers. We all know what someone else should be doing, but can’t really see what’s holding us back in our own lives. There’s a comfort in worrying about other people’s problems. You forget your own and you can say ‘At least my stuff aint that bad’. Some people worry about problems overseas or don’t even consider what’s closer to home. Gossip, self-affirmations, memes…we know how to talk about people and forgot how to talk to people. If you’re scared to say it to their face… In that case I do say your judgment and opinion needs to match your advice. I also don’t repeat. You know what I think.
SBS: Studio-wise…beat-wise…how involved do you get? Doctor Atomics…where does he come into play and how much control do you have in the final outcome of any given album?
Dynamics Plus: Yeah, Doctor Atomics. Well that persona was born from my yelling adlibs on records. I fleshed it out for the Dynamic Universe Volume Six album Doctor Atomics and the Fortress of Solitude. He’s a boss character that pushes me to complete my work. It’s fantasy. Imagine working for a boss and all he demands you do is finish your albums. I write, record, mix and master all my music so I have total control. I have a few close friends and my Lenzmen that I bounce ideas to. Other than that, I have to trust that what I feel is correct. There’s a lot of things I don’t have and haven’t done because of that heavy focus on music. You can’t invent time, only use it wisely. I have to keep balance in mind. You sometimes need to live so that you have something to write songs about.
SBS: How much of the REAL Drew Spence is there in the music of Dynamics Plus? How do you separate the two? Was a division of these personas a necessary thing to be able to make your music?
Dynamics Plus: I shy away from the split-personalities. I don’t do that spirit takes me over thing. As I said earlier, I’m multi-faceted. I wear a suit and I wear jeans. I’m comfortable either way. I came up with the different identities so that supporters would have it easy when separating my works. You’d know what you were getting just by the name. Drew Spence is basically my everyday and when I launched Producer’s Edge magazine, I didn’t want my rap stuff showing up in every search engine so I created the pub as Drew Spence. Since I made a lot of digestible music, it made sense to leave it under that name and keep the abstract underground stuff as Dynamics Plus produced. So even then you’d hear a sonic separation of sensibilities.
I know you attract what you speak about. If I imagine myself and create a false face, rest assured it will become me eventually. Success is simply giving you the chance to become more of what you already are. You’d better be prepared to deal with that. If you have character flaws, they will be magnified. Your values will be tested and if you are incomplete, someone else will complete you with parts you might not benefit or recover from.
My scientist slant. Some people think ‘Oh he said he’s a scientist. That means he uses big words in his raps. He’s all imagination and nothing based on reality’. Actually, my studio, the place where I create my art is closer to a science lab. My experiments and scientific methods are based on an actual system. I’m actually closer to being a scientist than you’d imagine. This isn’t just a clever way to rhyme.
SBS: There also seems to be a wealth of talent found at the homepage of thedynamicuniverse.com; go into that a little bit…like, Domino Grey for instance is featured all over the site…there’s also a graphic novel, Mark Of The Griffin being shown…how does all this come into play throughout The Dynamic Universe?
Dynamics Plus: There’s a wide range of projects. How do I umbrella it all? The Dynamic Universe encompasses all that I do. Domino Grey is my electronica and dance music slant. I’ve listened to house for decades, made some sometimes so why hide it? Why not indulge that passion too? Mark of the Griffin is my live action web series. You get more Drew Spence….music by Fallout Shelter, which is also me and I get to wrap a ton of my interests into one package. The only thing missing is my love of Sci-fi and I wish I could do something with that.
SBS: What about the LIVE aspect of Dynamics Plus? How often are you getting out there on stage with all of this recording going on? Honestly dude, you’ve barely left yourself time to shit, shower and shave from my calculations…are you able to get out and tour these songs at all?
Dynamics Plus: Unfortunately no. I’m more of a lab rat. I rarely perform, not to say I don’t enjoy it, but my world, right now, is heavily focused on production. I would love to put together a stage show that matches my vision. I’d have to grab Julie Taymor and ask for help with a C.H.A.O.S. Legion tour or show.
SBS: Okay…so if there ARE 12 or so of these volumes of The Dynamics Universe…how deep is this concept going to run for? Do you have a specific goal for the length of The Dynamics Universe? Like at album 30, you’ll drop the mic on stage for the final bar and peace out for good; or is The Dynamics Universe patterned out as infinitely as the universe in an astronomical sense? You gonna be rockin these beats as a 78-year old hip-hop artist & breakdance champion one day? How far do you see into the future of The Dynamics Universe…and what do you see happening as you get older?
Dynamics Plus: Oh you nut! I don’t know. There is no plan. There’s a disrespect for the rap genre like it’s little kids music. Music for teens and such and once you ‘grow up’ you should move on to other styles and only have throw-back days. I’m an artist and will remain so until I can no longer create worthy art. I am fine being older and rapping. I see no problem as long as my music reflects the proper level of maturity and focus. I am grown, I write grown-man bars. My videos are doing things that make sense. The video for “What Comes Up” is me at an amusement park and playing pool on a date. “Dash the Cloud” is me working in an office. Not the stuff a teen would really consider a fantasy, but it’s more of a grown man’s reality. So I say it’s up to us who get it a different way to push something unique out here.
SBS: We gotta do it brother! Gotta roll that promo-carpet out for the people out there…where do they go to find out more about what’s happening with Dynamics Plus in the future?
Dynamics Plus: My social links. Main website www.TheDynamicUniverse.com
@DynamicaMusic for my twitter and Instagram.
SBS: Just want to say a massive thank you to you once again, I really appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into answering all my rambling questions, and also the extreme amount of time and effort you’ve put into your music. At the risk of you and I tying up what’s undoubtedly a long interview already with even MORE length here at the end, I’d like to offer you, my fellow wordsmith, the open-floor here at the end as we do with all of our guests. Anything you want to say at all, the floor is yours.
Dynamics Plus: Not really much more. I gotta thank you for this interview. I rarely think this deeply about my own work so this is new. I hope it brings your readers value and provides insight for anyone that cares.
SBS: It’s been a slice and we’ll be seeing the video for “Phase Shift” pop onto an episode of SBS Live This Week very soon I believe…thank you for everything my friend!
Dynamics Plus: No, thank you, sir!