Producer Ish D Pays Ode to Disco on “Just Keep Loving Me”

Disco never truly died but evolved into a multitude of forms while influencing generations of electronic dance music into the 2020s.

Strains of the euphoric horns- and strings-based style intertwined with thumping beats can be heard in synthpop, freestyle, and Eurodance and, into the present, nu-disco and post-disco.

Los Angeles-based producer Ish D fuels this revival on recent track “Just Keep Loving Me.” Released after a short hiatus, “Just Keep Loving Me” fuses disco with house and funk and serves as a harbinger of more music to come later this year.

Also paying tribute to these early years, the producer draws from his Southern heritage to appeal and open electronic dance music to more black and brown youth and reflect the region’s bounce style.

Ish D was raised in West Texas, where he discovered beat tapes and eventually started producing music at age 13 with FruityLoops.

Initially, his style reflected the sounds of unreleased mixtapes shared by his older cousins, as well as albums by Anita Baker, Kool G Rap, and Parliament that his parents leaned toward.

Later, he moved to Dallas, where his career in hip-hop took off – including producing for Lil’ Wayne and Snow Tha Product and for television, with his work appearing in Criminal Minds and NFL and ABC programming.

While Swizz Beatz and The-Dream influenced his production over these years, Ish D began veering more toward the disco-inflected sounds of Daft Punk, Moon Boots, and Conducta. By 2014, he shifted his sound in this direction and released his first electronic album, Marina’s Melody, four years later.

We spoke with him about this long-awaited release and his musical influences:

What do you think about the present’s disco revival/post-disco sound?

I personally love to hear it – the musicianship, the grooves. There’s no question about how you’re supposed to feel when you hear these tunes come on the dancefloor.

With disco and post-disco being the foundation of so many other modern dance genres, I think the groove got lost for a bit unfortunately.

So, it always brings me joy when I see people really having a good time to songs that’ve been around for ages. Certain elements just stand the test of time.

Also, I was all cooped up in the house for the last couple of years, so a lot of us had the itch to get out and dance, tap your foot, or do a little two step. 

What styles and other factors influenced your track “Just Keep Loving Me”?

I observe, like any decent DJ should. Understanding what gets people moving is so important.

I wanted to craft a song that felt large sonically, yet poignant. Soft yet firm. So, I really balanced having the heavy low end with interpolating all of the bright musical bits. 

Plus, it’s just a fun tune if you’ve ever been in love. “Just Keep Loving Me” – relationships can be hard, growing with someone can be hard. But you’ve got to find someone that you can wake up and choose and keep loving every day. 

How did you get started with music and production?

Growing up, my dad showed me his record collection. It eventually became my collection, but it’s full of funk and classic hip-hop records.

I immediately wanted to get into DJing as a kid. But this was years ago, when the cost to get into those things was a lot more. Plus, growing up in a small town, there weren’t any Guitar Centers around.

Back then, all I had was a Playstation 2 and a video game called Music Maker Pro. It was pretty much laid out like FL Studio. I would get lost in that game, forever putting together beats.

But not really knowing how to get beats outside of the Playstation, I took over my family’s computer and loaded a crack FL Studio and was off to the races.

It became my life pretty much day in and day out until I got decent enough to show it to friends and started uploading beats to the internet. And I was able to find a super-large community there.

You’ve worked with Lil’ Wayne and Snow Tha Product and produced music for film and TV. How do these projects vary from your solo works in terms of sound and approach?

My electronic work is truly who I am. The work has soul to it.

I can create and use sounds that I wouldn’t normally use for other forms of music. Not feeling limited is super important to me, so it’s something I take very seriously.

Other genres I participate in can feel boxed in. Constantly creating or recreating the last big sound. That’s not something I have to worry about in this space.

You’re planning an extended play for later in 2023. What should listeners expect?

A story, a growth, and continuation of my previous album, Marina’s Melody

These bodies of work are a reflection of interactions I’ve had with people, friends, and lovers alike. There’s this idea I have, it’s more of an idea than an experience.

Producer Ish D

“More than friends, less than lovers”. It can be an intimate relationship and friendship that you can confide in, share your secrets and desires with. 

For me, there’s people we come across in our lives that we share experiences with. We’ve all got them. Right person, wrong time. Right time, wrong person. Short lived moments we have with people we come across. Friends and lovers.  

How do the sound and production vary from your 2018 debut album?

I know what sounds I really love now. I’ve got a better sense of what makes people dance – BPMs, melody, song structure.

I just spent the last few years living, downloading from life experiences, and making those things translate through the music. 

Watching people sweat, screaming, and shouting when they hear something they love. Learning what that is and how to pull that out.

This release will also showcase a few collaborations. What do you look for in a collaborator for your tracks?

It’s all about the human connection. I like to work with my friends. I’m fortunate enough to have really talented ones.

People that I can call in real life, talk about life. It makes the songs that much deeper and relatable. 

What else – either in terms of new music, touring, or other projects – do you have planned for the rest of the year? 

For this year, it’s just to keep putting out grooves that become undeniable. Continue to make people dance. For me, it’s always been about getting a physical response from art I create.

Writer

Ivan Yaskey is a Philly-born EDM and synthpop enthusiast and interviewer who recently relocated to beautiful Boston, MA.

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