With so much material out there, it can get difficult to learn about all the keynote individuals who are actually pushing the culture of hip hop forward. TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment) has been an innovator in the music industry for quite some time now, so it’s no surprise that along with talented artists they also have gifted producers.
Introducing D. Sanders (@Sondaehyun). By now we’ll assume that you’re more than familiar with Isaiah Rashad’s debut album The Sun’s Tirade. Well then, there’s a good chance Sanders produced all your favorite songs. Let’s take the time to get familiar with this producer on the rise. And be sure to have a listen to the SoundCloud playlist provided at the bottom of interview titled: Produced By D. Sanders.
Tell us a little about yourself as a youth.
Had a pretty regular childhood. I’ve always listened to music, whether it be from my dad playing stuff to making my own mixtapes by recording the radio. As a child through high school, I was really into sports as well and thought that’s what I was gonna end up doing. Life really turned around when my dad died when I was 15. It definitely made me rethink a lot. My mom always said, “Do something that you wanna wake up and go to work for, not drag yourself out of bed.” I really took that to heart and started making beats at 21 when one of my friends freestyled for 45+ minutes. Met BlackMetaphor and really started putting a lot of work in. Later that summer Isaiah asked me to go on The Smoker’s Club Tour with him in 2012. After music started taking off a little I dropped out of college and moved in with Isaiah in LA. That’s the shortest version I can think of.
When did you begin playing instruments? How old were you?
I began playing piano at around 11-12 years old and did for 3-4 years. During that time I also played clarinet and violin.
What motivates you to create?
It’s how I express myself, really. One of the only ways I can get out of my head–what I’m thinking when words aren’t enough. Plus, music or art really can pass the mind and go straight to the heart. You can connect to people on such a high level.
What makes your music unique?
It’s really just me. I don’t really know how to explain it. Nobody thinks like you, so nobody can make the things you make. They may be able to do something like it or imitate it, but when it’s straight up from you, it is you. Everybody has their way. Formula. Process. That’s what makes everyone unique.
Which artist(s) has/had the greatest impact on you?
I listened to a lot of R&B like Aaliyah, Mary J Blige, and Musiq Soulchild when I could buy my own CDs… so Timbaland of course. I’m also a big Pharrell fan. Others would be Drumma Boy, Shawty Red, Bryan Michael Cox, Kanye West and Mike Dean.
How often do you practice? How long?
Everyday for at least a couple hours–whether it’s just messing around trying to find some sound or working towards a certain goal. Or even searching samples.
How do you feel being an unsigned artist?
Being unsigned is great, in that, you have total control over every aspect of your career. But it can be a lot to handle at times.
What are your views on major label vs independent music?
I feel that independent music is really starting to grow and show its potential. Today’s technology has made everything so accessible. Anybody can be the next big thing out of nowhere and last, if they have the work behind it.
What is your near future looking like?
I just plan on getting my sound out more and working with more artists–especially ones I look up to. I’m flying out to Korea soon to get in the studio and work on things with some artists out there.
What can we expect to hear from you and when can we expect it?
I definitely will be rolling out some news closer to the new year. Couple surprises in store for sure. Right now, I’ll just be uploading random beats and what ever I work on through my SoundCloud. Expect some stuff from me on Isaiah’s next project.
Lastly, leave our readers with some final words.
Wake up and go chase after your dreams. There isn’t really the right way to do it, but there definitely are infinite bad ways to go about it. Stay focused and never give up. Usually when stuff seems to hit the lowest, they shoot back up. Gotta keep believing in yourself. Never ever feel like you know everything. Always be a student ready to learn. And last, make sure you are doing what you do for the right reasons.