What counts as a comeback these days? If someone never left – or focused their attention elsewhere – is their career truly being revived?
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Producer Dances With White Girls has seen his career progress in stages to the point that he’s always evolving as an artist. Right now, he released a collaboration with Walker & Royce titled “Skinny Dipping” – the first track he’s produced in 10 years and one to launch the duo’s new label, Rules Don’t Apply.
Dances With White Girls transitioned from hip-hop to electronic music back in 2008, assisting producers create hits, making his own tracks, and becoming a local DJing presence in New York.
Of his many achievements, he delivered the vocal drop for Pitbull’s “Don’t Stop the Party” in 2012, which then went onto become a multi-platinum selling track. Additionally, he co-wrote Chris Lake’s “Operator,” which has racked tens of millions of streams to date.
While “Skinny Dipping” puts him back in the spotlight, his relationship with Walker & Royce goes back a few years to 2017’s “Take Me to Your Leader,” followed by “Love & Marriage” and an appearance at Coachella in 2019.
Getting him through each stage is an attitude of perseverance, as well as a distinctive aesthetic that emerges in his music videos.
Beyond the visual elements, Dances With White Girls curates his own wardrobe, preferring brands like Margiela, Telfar, Suicoke, Martine Rose, Daily Paper, Doublet, Rick Owens, and Opening Ceremony, and maintaining friendships with New York-based designers.
Especially relevant to today’s world, he’s spoken out about the quality and mediocrity of fast fashion.
“Skinny Dipping” sees Dances With White Girls delivering vocals plus leaving his imprint on the production. We had a chance to speak with him about this release and his varied career to date:
Tell us about “Skinny Dipping”: What inspired you to release an original song after a decade?
“Skinny Dipping” is a song that started as a demo I just sent over to Walker & Royce. I made it on FL Studio in DTLA. I made the beat, started singing a tune, [and] the bars came out wild quick. Then, I said this is going to go, sent it over ASAP.
After about 40 minutes of work, it was going to be just a collab, but at this moment, I’ve been doing so many features and am sitting on a lot of music. It felt right to open the floodgates with this banger, ‘cause people been asking
What was your vision or goal for “Skinny Dipping”?
My goal was to have a fun vacay song for any time. You can be in the dead of NYC winter and go skinny dipping – “we’ll make it hot if the water’s cold.”
Also, I’m a big fan of old-school booty club songs, but I wanted this one to vibe for all and not come from the perspective of shame but celebration
You’ve worked with Walker & Royce on this and other tracks. How did you first start collaborating together?
I’ve known Gavin from Walker and Royce for years. He had asked me to work before. I didn’t feel it was the right time, but we talked after my accident recovery while I was in a wheelchair, and he EASILY got me on the list for the W&R show NYE with Get Real, which I only wanted to go to hear Chris Lake “Operator” featuring me, and he was so accommodating with my disabled needs.
I was down, also liked the music, [and] thought we could do bangers. They sent me over a pack of beats. I had an ounce of weed come, [and] I wrote three songs for them in a few hours
You started in hip-hop but transitioned to electronic dance music. What inspired you to make this move?
Growing up, dance music was always around. Being from Philly, the home of disco and Baltimore club records were always played in the club, but after I stopped working my job programming URban Music, I got heavily involved in the NYC nightlife and underground scene, meeting friends and clients while DJing and hustling.
I started going to dance clubs. One night while rolling, I saw how a DJ could tell a story same way MCs do on stage but keep my attention late nights.
What do you do differently, in terms of writing and producing music, as an electronic artist, versus when you were a hip-hop performer?
I do a count on the bars that is very rarely 4 x 4. It doesn’t resolve until the end, so the effect is I’m off beat but on something you don’t want much in hip-hop, but in dance, it makes it hip-hop. Also, I’m very focused on my voice being an instrument – that’s a blended focus more of a trumpet than a saxophone.
In terms of advancing your career in dance music, how did appearing on Pitbull’s “Don’t Stop the Party” help your career?
It got me a plaque, which raises your fee. Praise the lord, Pitbull and Rihanna. She’s not involved but shouts to her – she’s a deity. From doing that song, I ended up working with Chris Lake, which has only helped – shouts to Chris.
You believe in perseverance, especially when it comes to your career. How has this belief helped advance or transform your career?
I have a tweet that says “YOU GOT TO WORK HARD NOT TO PROVE YOUR ENEMIES WRONG BUT TO SHOW THAT EVERYBODY WHO BELIEVED IN YOU WAS RIGHT.”
Everyday I wake up and say, this is what I’ve wanted to do, this is FUN, why wouldn’t I do it??? I’ve been making beats and rapping since a child, so I’m just going to do it, and continuously doing it, it pays off, and I truly believe the homies ride for me, so I go, “Yeah, I’m going to do it. Why make them look dumb?”
Since you’re also a successful DJ, have you gone back to performing live? If not, how do you plan to transition back into doing live sets?
I haven’t been DJing recently. I miss it, TBH. I plan to transition by going to try to practice as much as I can in shady party environments where it doesn’t matter. yo.
You will see me at the house party and afters MAYBE. Or, it might just be me and a homie’s crib or Pirate studios messing around, cyphering, sharpening swords, but I need to party – going to watch streams, get in the vibe, anything.
Outside of music, you speak out against fast fashion. What’s your approach to fashion, both in terms of personal aesthetic and selecting brands to wear?
My approach to fashion is I, one, shop so the clothes can stay with me for a long time, and I have an emotional attachment to them. If I cop a brand, I have to respect their work on the runway, them repping the style streets, or it has to truly fit my lifestyle.
I don’t shop for imaginary activities l’ll never do nor will I be forced to shop because of a trend that’s going on. I only care about what will work for me the next few years, and as I change moods, I’ll still be the same person, so I can reach into my closet and the clothes still slap.
I need the designer to not be a biter. Influences are okay but looking at today will have you lost tomorrow. And, my caring about the style streets is why I’m always trying to look for brands on the come up.
Two, I always try to keep it hip-hop because that’s who I am, no matter what brand it is going to keep the steez fresh. Three, I’m going to try to keep it skateboard, because even if I’m not a skater they are in the clubs stunting.