He has collaborated with the who’s who of UK Hip Hop, Is a long standing member of the Terra Firma family, and has a voice which is capable of giving you goose pimples and his debut album is dropping this year… I’m off course talking about D.ablo. I caught up with D.ablo at T.R.U.E management offices to find out what he has been up to and how long we have to wait for the album…
‘Hackney Nineteen eighty one… that’s where my story begun’
LB: Hello D.ablo, so for anyone who’s late can you introduce yourself please?
D.ablo: My name’s D.ablo, I’m a singer / songwriter / instrumentalist errr, I wouldn’t say extraordinaire but I do all those things. I’m currently in the process of finishing off my debut album which is going to hit everyone midway through next year, and I’ve got a lot of other sideline projects that I’m working on at the moment with people based in the grime industry, the UK industry. I’m also featuring on the Terra Firma mix tape ‘The Foundation’ which is in all good shops now, go get it! That was a long introduction innit?
LB: Na that’s all good. You’ve got a really eclectic background with your music, can you tell me a bit about that?
D.ablo: Um, yeah, I started playing music when I came back from a visit to Trinidad with my dad, I was inspired by bands that we saw over there, when I came back there was a band in the area, so I just went there and played the tunes that they were playing, learnt them parrot fashion and just kept going from there. And to this day I do enjoy playing in steel bands a lot, we play up and down the country with some really amazing guys in that scene, so I try to learn from them, and try and have a solid understanding of the instrument. Around the same time I started the steel drums I started playing the piano, and kinda took it on my own from there. I picked up a guitar when I was about 13.
LB: You’ve had a lot of influences do you think they have shaped the sound and type of music that you make today?
D.ablo: Yeah, I mean I would say so, I’m really into quality in whatever area it is, if I listen to reggae then I wanna listen to a live band play very well. You know, that’s what I want to hear. That’s how my journey kinda progressed, just through searching for good things I wanted to listen to, and along the way some people thought what I was doing was good, so they decided to work with me. I just try and play well, I give respect to the old school in terms of um, melodies and songs and that, but I just try and do what’s in my head, and try to gravitate towards that instead of trying to gravitate towards I don’t know, playing really fast or playing really complex things, I enjoy playing all instruments. That’s pretty much the core of how I do my stuff now, go on feeling and seeing whether you like doing what you’re doing, don’t just coast along when you don’t like what your doing.
LB: Ok, so you’ve toured with Jehst can you tell me a bit about that?
D.ablo: Well I think it was 2003. I was just performing one track, ‘Monotony’ which was a track off his album, I think the second single of the album, ‘Falling Down’. I was just performing that track. I came on and did a little accapella in the Terra Firma shows, up and down, nothing too high profile, just did a bit on his show and did a bit on the TF thing, did a lot of vocal backing on the TF live thing. Again that’s something that was really enjoyable for me to do and not just be a guy on stage shouting, you know, trying to get the lyrics right and raise the crowd up at the right time.
LB: Working with TF must be a good experience?
D.ablo: Yeah definitely, it was good, learning from Skriblah and Klashnekoff, it was great seeing them on stage and Skriblah at the same time was learning a lot of things that I was learning so we were kinda going through the same period of development that other guys had done ages before. It was good to see how they worked the crowd and how regardless of how they felt they put in energy into each show, yeah it was good, it was an amazing experience.
LB: You have also toured with Lady Sovereign, what was that like?
D.ablo: Yeah I did keys for her, I did a lot of the synth lines, some of the keyboard bass and things like that for some of her live shows last year, yeah it was a pretty good experience, she’s ummm… one in a million. It was really good experience to do London Arena, Hyde Park these kind of places, it’s really invaluable to actually perform at these kind of places. It definitely opened my eyes to see what being a solo artist is.
LB: You have collaborated with so many artists I’m not going to continue asking about it all; do you feel that this was the right way to do things as opposed to focusing on yourself as a solo artist?
D.ablo: Umm well I do think its been the right decision, when you start in any scene your going to start at a level that’s lower than others within that scene, the way I went about it was I worked for nothing, really put in time and energy into the projects that I was doing. There’s a few tunes on Micall Parknsun’s album, ‘Hidden Heavens’ is one of them, I remember when we talked about it and we were like "ok there’s not going to be any money involved, lets just really make some good tunes" and to this day I still listen too those tunes, I still like them, you know I feel that they are still very good examples of UKHH and that’s enough for me. Yeah I mean I’ve worked with Micall Parknsun, Jehst, Tommy Evans and those were projects to get me into a world I hadn’t been an insider in at that point.
LB: So that was a conscious decision?
D.ablo: Yeah it was definitely a conscious decision to work with people before, and get the kind of extremes of music, like ok, what the grimiest stuff people are doing what’s the most mainstream stuff, what’s the stuff that the streets feel the most. Trying basically to hone my craft. And obviously being in the scene has shaped how my albums going to be.
LB: And how is it going to be?
D.ablo: Well the album, ‘Find your Way’ is dropping late summer 2007. We are going to release a sampler in February to London and national radio, press and media. There will also be a single released but the date is yet to be confirmed. I’m collaborating with an amazing singer called Ny on a track, called ‘I’m Yours’ which is produced by Lewi White, big up Lewi White, big up Smasher also, they are the Legion of Doom for 2007, put it that way!
I’ve also got collaborations with Beat Butcha, YunGun, Skriblah, JustJack, Chemo, Lost Voices, Stan Dudley, Morgan of Spacek which are a major group, if you don’t know about them check them out. And Souwf, a London based production / live / writing collective that I’m involved with.
I think that’s it, I hope I haven’t left anyone out, but there’s always going to be a few surprises on there before it comes out, but at the moment I’m just trying to get a good core of songs basically, and have a solid album of songs, not just the newest beats, and the hottest this and the hottest that I’m just trying to make a core album of good songs.
LB: Sounds good, what concept were you aiming for with it?
D.ablo: I was just aiming for an accurate representation of myself.
LB: I do think you fill a void within the scene, by almost creating a completely unique genre, is this something you have done consciously?
D.ablo: Not really, the easy way out is to say I make what I make and I do what I do, etc etc, but the way I look at it is I’m just really trying to get an accurate representation of myself with this album, as I can, as is humanly possible. Its been very draining, money wise, time wise but I really think that it is going to be an accurate representation of me, it just happens that I’m a mixed race guy, I’m twenty five and you know maybe some people will try and put it in a bracket of this or that but I don’t think anyone else has kinda honed into exactly how they feel about things as much as I have, or hope to have on this album.
LB: Ok so the albums going to be taking a lot of your time next year, are you up to anything else or just focusing on that?
D.ablo: I’m goin to be really focusing on the album and then bringing it to the live forum. I’m also going to be featuring on YunGun’s album, which is out next year, and that’s gonna be a huge record. I should also be getting involved with some other exiting live acts but that’s all in the pipeline at the moment, so can’t really say to much more bout that at the mo!
LB: you featured on ‘The Foundation’ so will you be doing some shows with TF?
D.ablo: Yeah I featured with a track called ‘Not the kind of Bre’ it’s actually a snippet, it’s a long snippet, there’s also snippets of other stuff I’ve done over the years, just little things. As a whole the mix tape is incredible… go out and buy it! I hope to be touring with them, I’d love to do as many shows as I can.
LB: Cool, any shouts??
D.ablo: Uh, definite big up to Skriblah, it was his birthday on the weekend, so happy birthday geeza, all the rest of the Terra Firma Fam, Beat Butcha, Chemo, all the rest of the people collaborating on the album so far, I’m nearly there so hold tight, and the rest is coming, I’ve put everything I have into it, I’ve put all my heart into it so hopefully people going to appreciate that. Borrow It, steal It, buy it, I don’t care if you download it, just get it
Whilst at T.R.U.E management I had the opportunity to grab a copy of the sampler due to be released this year. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone so all I should say is I haven’t heard a better prequel to an album. It hasn’t left my CD player since the interview and D.ablo was correct when he said it can’t be pigeon holed. If I had to attempt to define it I’d say it’s a fusion of Hip Hop, Jazz and Soul. The tracks are beautifully introspective, beautifully composed and beautifully delivered. If you buy one CD next year, here’s a heads up, get ‘Find your Way’.