Three Music Thingz with Dez Niboh
photo credit: JpgDre

Three Music Thingz with Dez Niboh

Oh my goodness. We've got another Three Music Thingz on deck. That's the blogseries where I ask musicians for three thingz that are essential to their music-making.

Very stoked about this one because it features St. Louis-based producer Dez Niboh!! I got connected to Dez through previous I Enjoy Music interviewee Adam Chandler, aka the rapper thatdudechandler, as they're both fixtures in what sounds like a vibrant independent music scene in St. Louis.

Put simply, Dez Niboh crafts immaculate, soul-warming beats. His 2023 album Bedtime Stories, Vol. 1, which he described as "my own personal lullabies," is a smooth and mellow remedy for the rude stresses of life. "ReadToMe" is a standout for me, because I'm physically addicted to the sound of a good saxophone, and Vintvge Vibes donated an excellent sax part to the mix. Bedtime Stories, Vol. 1 was truly a collaborative effort, with contributions from artists like ZayTooLit and K Kudda Muzic.

Collaboration extends to other areas of Dez's artistry as well. March 20th marked the inception of a new collective called RENTS DUE, with the release of their first single and video, "First of the Month" (whose stuttering, diced-soul beat Dez produced).

RENTS DUE combines the powers of five creatives with an enormous pile of hyphens between them: Whit. (rapper/singer/media), My Friend Connor (rapper/singer/producer), Amaris (singer/songwriter/creatress), JpgDre (photographer/videographer), and of course Dez himself (producer/DJ). The group already sounds like an impressive aggregated force of talent, and especially as a sometimes-video person, I think bringing visuals creators onto the same plane as the musicians themselves is a fantastic idea.

I was thrilled to receive Dez Niboh's three music thingz, so without further ado, let's get to them...

  1. Collaboration
    Collaboration is key when it comes to creating the ideal environment for me to make the best music possible. It's not that I can't make music on my own, because I enjoy doing that as well. I recently released my second project/beat tape, LuvLoops, and it doesn't have any features/collaborators and is some of the best music I've made to date. However, I'm most energized and inspired to create when I can get in the same room with other creative minds and feel the energy of us bringing our ideas together to make something none of us could've made alone.

    I remember back in like 2018 or 2019 seeing artists across the music industry receiving what looked like Willy Wonka golden tickets. The tickets were essentially an invitation for those artists to come participate in the creation of the Dreamville (record label) compilation album, Revenge of the Dreamers III. The Dreamville team's goal seemed to be to get as much talent in the same rooms as possible, record as much music as possible, then figure out the rest from there. Some of my favorite artists and producers (Smino, Monte Booker, Saba, etc.) got invited and a documentary was created that shed some light on what that process looked like. When I saw that documentary, it put a battery in my back like few things had done before. I wanted to bring that same concept to St. Louis, but not necessarily as a one off thing, but more so as a new norm for the creatives here. There's so much talent in St. Louis, from music to fashion to videography and beyond. We've all done so much great work individually, but I know that together, we can take things to a level they haven't been yet. It's on the way though. Things in the St. Louis music scene are shifting. I feel it. And I'm starting to really see it. I can't wait for us to really shake things up and get people's attention so all yall can see it too.
  2. Inspiration thru Culture
    Connection to culture is super essential when it comes to making music for me. I'm a first generation American. My parents and all my family before them were born and raised in Cameroon, Africa. Growing up listening to makossa music had a huge influence on my musical taste. My dad also grew to love American soul music when he came to the States, specifically the 1960s & 1970s Motown era soul. I grew up an athlete and didn't start producing music until I was in college, but the seeds of those rhythms and grooves from the music I heard growing up were planted early on and I've still been able to access them.

    I'm also inspired by the city of St. Louis. Not just the music from St. Louis, but just the city as a whole. I was born in Akron, Ohio, but only lived there the first few years of my life so there's not a ton of personal connection there. I spent most of my childhood living in Branson, Missouri because my dad was teaching at a nearby college. Growing up there I met a lot of good people, but culturally, Branson was just not a fit for me. At all (anyone who knows Branson knows exactly what I'm talking about). When I was in high school my family moved about 30 minutes outside of St. Louis. My brother went to St. Louis University, so it gave me a reason to be in the city. As soon as I was, I fell in love. It's hard to explain exactly what it is, but even though I'm not from here I felt an instant connection. It felt like home. And I felt accepted. Being on the south side and just being outside, seeing the murals, hearing people playing music outside, smelling the smells coming from the restaurants I walked past, and just experiencing the city made me want to contribute to the the culture that makes St Louis, St. Louis. That's the way I felt back in 2014 when I got my first real experience in the city, and it's still how I feel now.
  3. My Ear & Laptop
    Like I said before, growing up I was an athlete. My dad encouraged me to pick up an instrument, but at the time I just wasn't interested. I wanted to play soccer. I wanted to score touchdowns. I wanted to hoop. And I was good, so I decided to make sports my thing, not music. Because of that, I never learned to play instruments, read music, or make very many friends who could. When I stopped playing football in college and decided to focus on music, I didn't even know where to start. I didn't have any formal knowledge. I didn't have a circle of friends who were making music. But I did have a good ear for music and a laptop. I loved old soul music, which is why I was attracted to hip hop producers like 9th Wonder, Kanye West, J Dilla, Monte Booker, and Thelonious Martin. Those producers sampled the type of soul music I loved. I already had a bunch of ideas about what I wanted to do with production, and those guys made me realize that there's an audience for that sound.

    From there, I downloaded FL Studio and started watching YouTube videos about how to sample. I didn't have a drum machine, keyboard, sampler or any other hardware other than my laptop, so that's just what I used. And I didn't necessarily know what I was doing, but I knew the songs I wanted to sample and I knew what it sounded like when a sample got chopped up and put together well. So I got started. Download a song, find a sample in it, chop it up, lay some drums, repeat. Over time, I got good. I still want to learn music theory and learn how to play because I want to be able to explain what exactly about a song attracts me, or understand why I make the choices I make musically. I love being able to be a part of this musical landscape, but I don't know if I can fully appreciate it until I can speak and understand the language. I feel like with that knowledge, it'll take my production to a totally different level. I also want to gain proficiency with other hardware as well. When all else fails though, I'll also lean back to just trusting my ear and cooking up on my laptop.

Thank you Dez! Make sure to check out RENTS DUE'S single, and explore Dez's work: his most recent beat tape, LuvLoops; and his general discography. Also, from Dez: "One of the artists in RENTS DUE, Amaris, is releasing her debut EP titled Enjoy the Journey. She's one of the most talented artists I've worked with and I'm so proud of the work we did on this project. It releases April 13th and I produced 4/6 tracks on it, so keep an eye for that!"

Thanks as always for reading I Enjoy Music. If you like it, tell a friend about it.