Dday One (Born Udeze Ukwuoma) is a producer, turntablist, and owner of The Content (L)abel, an independent brand focused on quality and artistic solidarity.
With a unique acoustic sound as a result of minimal compression and organic elements, the Los Angeleno has elevated and distinguished himself within the thriving underground Hip Hop community. His prolific knowledge of vinyl can be heard throughout his vivid sample selection that transcends any one particular genre. His acumen is constantly on display and as a result, he possesses a catalogue that has garnered much acclaim over the years.
His latest release, "Gathered Between" acts as a travelogue of sorts, detailing his stops as he traverses the perpetual now. With a discography spanning a decade and with signature flavors on full display, this project easily represents a visionary who is on top of their craft.
Apart from his virtuoso compositions, he is also a photographer, vinyl collector, and outdoor enthusiast.
Prox: Who were some of your favorite artists growing up? What was it about that Hip Hop that interested you the most over other genres?
Dday: While growing up I didn’t really have to get interested in Hip Hop because it was such a staple in my environment. Actually, my interest in Hip Hop led me to other genres through learning about sampling and seeking out the sources. This got me into collecting records, DJing and then producing.
As far as favorites growing up, it’s tough to pick a few artists because there seems to be a torrent of styles unfolding and everyone is building off of previous efforts. In the absence of social programs for the arts, Hip Hop provided an invitation for me to explore my creativity and I am grateful for that.
Prox: Despite being labeled as a “Hip Hop” producer, there are various genres being infused into your projects. Is it ever difficult to incorporate these other ingredients into tracks while maintaining your sound?
Dday: Well, I feel Hip Hop has gone down a similar path as other genres by moving away from the openness of it's origins to getting narrowly defined with commercialism. Even with that said, I am very comfortable with being labeled as a ‘Hip Hop” producer, because to me Hip Hop is about the blending of various sources and creating something original. That’s what I enjoy doing when making music.
Prox: One signature element of your compositions is a chambered (almost live or acoustic) feel. What was it about this particular sound that caught your attention? Do you think that your time listening to music in a club setting as a child contributed to this?
Dday: It’s possible that my early exposure to the club setting could have influenced my sound. One thing I know for sure is that the exposure helped me understand how a DJ interacts with the crowd and can set the mood with their selection. The chambered quality you noticed could be from my preference for sampling acoustic instruments with minimal processing to retain an organic sound.
Prox: You’re well known and celebrated for your marvelous sample-based production. What are some of the things you look for when searching for vinyl? Do you remember what your first record was?
Dday: I am kind of fuzzy on the first record I bought but I think it was either Bob James or The Crusaders from a local thrift store. If you mean the first record I was given as a child, it was a 7-inch of Thomas Dolby’s "She Blinded Me with Science", probably handed down from a sibling.
As far as searching for vinyl, it really all depends. Sometimes, it could be a cover that catches my eye or a label, artist or genre that I am specifically looking for. I definitely look at the back of records for the liner notes and credits, looking for the type of instruments, track length, musicians, and if it’s an independent or a major label release.
Prox: In your opinion, what are some elements that make up a quality sample? What should beginners look for when crate digging or looking for content to sample?
Dday: It’s a personal preference but I would say listen for samples that trigger an internal feeling.
Prox: Aside from music, you’re also a photographer. What are some elements of photography that can be likened to music production?
Dday: My interest in photography and music both started around the same time and have influenced each other over the years. In fact, collecting records has helped my photography skills because of the exposure to so many images on record covers. I approach them both the same way, from the perspective of a storyteller using rhythm, repetition, and energy, seeking balance.
Prox: How does your most recent project "Gathered Between" differ from your previous releases? What is the significance of the title and these compositions?
Dday: I would say the biggest difference each time around is actually me. Even though the methods of producing have been consistent throughout most releases, I feel that I am always learning and growing; so It’s like the saying "you can never step into the same river twice". Each time I turn on the sampler, I am building on experiences of the days gone by.
"Gathered Between" is the first time that I reconstructed an album. The title’s meaning comes from the idea that we are always between the past and the future in a place that can be described as the perpetual now.
Prox: The Content (L)abel seems to be very streamlined and even touts “quality over quantity” as one of it's primary objectives. What are some of the benefits of releasing your own music and keeping the roster small?
Dday: Besides the apparent benefit of creative control, keeping a tight roster has also allowed us to develop deeper relationships with the contributing artists and our extended partners, which has translated to quality and collaborative projects.
Prox: Favorite hobbies?
Dday: I enjoy collecting records and instruments from around the world plus gardening, hiking, reading and book making.
Prox: What are some tips that you’d offer to aspiring label owners, artists, and crate diggers?
Dday: For tips and advice, I would have to say from experience, have an understanding of your motivation for choosing your specific craft and then focus on your strengths and learn from your weaknesses. Learn to delegate and work with others because you can’t do everything.
Prox: Information on upcoming projects?
Dday: Currently, I am focused on supporting "Gathered Between" but afterwards I am planning on releasing an extended version of a previous release and finishing up a split release with Paris based beatmaker Lex de Kalhex.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Dday: Once again thanks for the questions, it’s been a pleasure. For updates on mixes and releases visit ddayone.com