RDFO caught up with emerging Hip-Hop start-up Dandelot (pronounced DON-de-loh) AKA NY-based, artist and producer Kevin Shoemaker to discuss his second single “Tutu”, musical influences, and what it’s like being an artist in New York.
Following the release of his debut single “David”, Dandelot returns with another genre-defying track and visual that’s sure to grab the attention of Hip-Hop heads and Indie fans alike. With new singles and a full project on the horizon, this eclectic visionary is fast proving to be an artist to keep on your radar. Check out the video for “Tutu” below and keep scrolling for our interview.
RDFO: Congratulations on the new single“Tutu”. Tell me about the concept behind the track and visual:
D: I play piano at a variety of ballet and dance companies and a big part of the idea behind the track was to try and take some of the work I do there and bring it into the track. It was sort of my experiment to try to do that when I was making the instrumental and then that continued on into the video as well. I even created a few alternate mixes for the dancers to perform to when we were shooting that felt more like ‘traditional ballet’ so it was easier and more fun for everyone to choreograph to.
RDFO: In the video for your debut single “David” and new single “Tutu” you’re wearing blue face paint. Tell me more about the decision to perform in a “mask”:
D: I really prefer that people focus on the work rather than myself. I actually think you’re kind of showing respect to the audience by making that choice, as well as yourself. You’re reducing everything down. You are saying, “this is important, not that.” If you are interested in what I’m doing, it’s probably because you like the music. And that’s kind of how it should be.
RDFO: You’re also a classical pianist for various NY ballet institutions. How has your background in classical music influenced your music production?
D: I’d say pretty massively. I’ve been a pianist all my life, so when I was like ten years old I was listening to Ludacris and Jadakiss and Cam’ron, but I was also playing Bach and Debussy and Beethoven. And that continues today. I’ll go play a ballet class and then go work on something at my studio. It all ends up getting mixed together.
RDFO: What drove you to start making music as “Dandelot”? Can you tell me about the name and your move into Hip-Hop production:
D: I’ve always been making beats ever since I started learning how to produce. Sometimes I would produce stuff for others, some were just for myself. It kind of was a natural evolution to eventually releasing on my own. Dandelot was the name of a music book that I used to study from when I was in school. It felt right to name the project after something from that time because I really liked studying pieces and being a student of music. I like trying to learn new stuff and opening yourself up to new ideas and notions and I think I’m trying to bring that spirit into what I’m doing here.
RDFO: Have you always been a New Yorker? How has the local music scene influenced your sound?
D: I’ve lived in New York for about 5 years now and the city definitely influences you. You can get it all here so I’ve tried to get immersed in a variety of stuff. Jazz spots, hip-hop acts, dance companies, street music. If there’s any way that all that has influenced my sound it’s probably that it has helped free me up to go anywhere stylistically, so long as it works aesthetically. I really like trying to bring disparate influences together into something cohesive.
RDFO: What is your favorite part of being an artist?
D: Being able to do what you love for a living, that’s the best part.
RDFO: When did you first start playing music and what instruments do you play?
D: I first started on the violin when I was 5, but switched to the piano when I was 6. I dabbled on drums for a while, and do vocals, but my main instrument will always be piano and keyboards.
RDFO: Who are your biggest musical influences?
D: It’s tough because there are so many. I have big board in my studio with a lot of their pictures on it. Daft Punk are very big for me. Kanye West as well. Those are the obvious ones if you listen to my music, I think. Less obvious would probably be Bill Evans, Led Zeppelin, Herbie Hancock, Rachmaninoff. There’s many more but those are some of them.
RDFO: What’s next for Dandelot?
D: I have some more stuff to release this fall and then I have a larger project to release in the new year. I’m really excited for it to finally be out in the world. And after that, more music!
Keep up to date with Dandelot by following him on Instagram.