Caffeine Vibes: A Conversation with Eric Dingus

We’re living in the age of the bedroom producer, a time in which the stars of easily accessible

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We’re living in the age of the bedroom producer, a time in which the stars of easily accessible music software and platforms to distribute music have aligned. A start to a successful career in music now requires little more than a laptop and a solid pair of headphones. It’s not a coincidence that Apple’s native music-creating application is called Garageband. Kids on their laptops making electronic music has replaced kids in their garages making rock. One of these kids was Eric Dingus, a soft-spoken teenager from Austin, Texas who began making beats around the age of 16, inspired by the sampling work in Ice Cube’s Today Was A Good Day. Armed with a laptop and limitless coffee from a local coffee shop, Dingus began creating a prolific catalogue, perfecting his sound to create a now distinctive emotional blend of sample-based hip-hop, ambient electronic music, and chopped-and-screwed southern rap.

Eric Dingus is 20 now and over the past few years he’s relentlessly put out remixes, instrumental projects, and a slew of production credits for the likes of Gangsta Boo, Jimmy Johnson, Main Attrakionz, Chris Travis, Xavier Wulf, and Drake. Most impressively, he’s produced entire albums for Bones as well as Austin-natives Dowrong and Bishop Light. On top of a constant stream of production, he co-runs Dream Sequence Records, an Austin-based independent label he helped found.

His ethereal electronic style combined with his ability to flip samples in unique ways has earned him a good deal of attention from fellow producers like Ryan Hemsworth, who also got his start on laptops in the bedroom. But like Hemsworth, Eric Dingus sees himself as much more than a producer. When I asked him about his inspirations, he told me he looks up to 40 and Mike Dean, producers who don’t just make beats but who produce entire albums’ worth of material, who craft a certain sound and mix the music how they see fit as well. And Eric’s pride in his ability to play a part in every step of the process, from producer to engineer to label head shows. His most recent and upcoming projects are entire albums he had produced, mixed, mastered, and put out on his own label.

With support across many different music scenes, from the electronic collective WEDIDIT to the OVO crew, Dingus is poised to achieve mainstream success. Chances are you’ve probably heard his production work without realizing it. I talked to him recently while he was on a trip to Atlanta about running his own label, his plans for the future, and why Drake is his favorite artist.

You’re in Atlanta right now, what have you been up to there?

I’m just here linking with some friends and planning a lot of sh*t for my label and my music with my manager. He lives out here. I’m [on the way] to DJ Burn One’s studio right now actually.

So talk about Dream Sequence Records a little — how did it start, who’s involved, and how have things been going?

Dream Sequence Records started about two years ago. It’s just an idea that my friend Zed and I brought to life. It’s a way to share what we love in music to whoever will listen. It’s Zed, myself, and James (my manager) doing all the business stuff with the music and label, then Dowrong, $dot, Tuk Da Gat, Bishop Light, and Drone working as rappers. We have quite a few things coming up. We also are presenting some cool electronic albums soon. I do probably 90% of the production for the rappers on the label. It’s fun to give these artists each a whole different world and feel for each of their label debut projects.

What are some of the challenges or unexpected things that you’ve had to do starting and running a label like that?

A big challenge is pushing my Eric Dingus music and the DSR music without oversaturating my market. It’s a lot of stuff to do with how it takes a lot of time, more than it is comfortable. But we have some projects I’m really proud of coming in the next 6 months. First is Dowrong & Eric Dingus’ Stack Or Starve. It’s a double album 100% mixed, mastered, & produced by myself.

Is everyone on the label Austin-based?

Currently yes. James is living in ATL though.

So what’s the scene in Austin like? How has it influenced you progression?

Austin has played a big role in life and growing up. The League of Extraordinary Gz are close friends and closely involved with the label. I would say the Internet and Austin have contributed to myself being me today.

How have you expanded outside of Austin, besides OVO, who else have you been connecting with lately?

They’re people all over really. From Two-9 to Danny Seth, to Suicideyear and to a lot of Internet friends. Denzel Curry, just a lot.

I love Suicideyear. He’s a really cool guy.

Yeah, he is. I’ve hung with him when he was in town, real fun dude.

He was at SXSW this year right? And you had a show, how did it go?

Oh yeah, I did the WEDIDIT showcase.

How have your live shows been? Do you see yourself touring or are you just strictly in the studio?

I’m [definitely] going to tour 2016 a good amount — just working on making everything perfect first. Been working hard, it’s soon time to show what I’ve done.

WEDIDIT is a good example of a group you have a lot in common with just sound-wise. Where do you see like your sound developing as things get bigger?

Probably finding a good balance between my spacy sound and what most people can like or move to.

Have you been listening to anyone recently that’s inspiring? Who are your favorite producers right now?

My favorite producers are probably 40 and Mike Dean, but I been listening to a lot of Z-Ro, Freddie Gibbs, Scarface, and 8Ball & MJG lately.

I have to get an update on the OVO stuff. What’s your current situation with them, do you have something signed?

I’d prefer not to say too much. They like my music and I support them fully.

How did the beat for “Now and Forever” end up on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late?

It was an old beat, I made it when I was 17, about to turn 18. That’s all I’m gonna say.

Do you have more stuff with Jimmy Johnson in the works? What drew you to him at first?

Not sure currently. We had the same manager so we got connected way early on. We just builded and put out two projects together.

Why is Drake your favorite artist and what draws you to his music?

It’s just how there’s so much feeling and passion put into it and it also being super accessible to the mainstream.

Yeah, that’s a good common point between your music and his: that ability to convey feeling and passion.

Yep, for sure.

Drake doesn’t make not-intense music

Yeah.

You produce a ton of material; how do you maintain that level of emotional weight and a steady output of stuff?

I’m not 100% sure.

It’s probably the coffee.

(Laughs) Yeah.

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Writer
Grant Fox
Photographer
Oscar Lewin
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