Ish D Creating a New Sound In Dallas Hip-Hop with “Holding Aces”

Photo: Franco Perry

Photo: Franco Perry

Dallas producer Ish D has his hands on almost everything noteworthy in the local Hip-Hop community.  The Brain Gang member has worked with some key players in scene like Sam Lao, 88 Killa and recently he produced the new EP from Terrence Spectacle, One Summer Night.  Armed with his debut single “Holding Aces”, Ish D is looking to pave his own path for success. The DEFDISCO signed artist changed up his production style for this single, fusing it with a refreshing take on 90’s House music.  We recently sat down with Ish D to talk about his new single and the influences behind his sound.

How did you first get into making beats and producing for people?

I wanted to DJ when I was about 12 or 13. There weren’t many MIDI controllers back then so it was very expensive to get into. I had a video game, “MTV Music Generator” and you could basically make beats on the Playstation 2. Then I thought, “How do you really make beats?” So I hijacked my family’s computer in the living room and found this program called Fruity Loops and went from there. I used Fruity Loops for a while and today I use Abelton Live. I always hung out with the guys in high school that were rapping. They were the first to get dabs on some production that I was working on.

Your new single, “Holdin Aces” is really different from your older work and has a real house feel to it. Why did you decide to change up your sound for this song?

I got kind of annoyed with rap music, as far as me working on it. I’ve always listened to house music since I could listen to music on my own. It’s something I’ve always had a passion for, but actually creating it was a challenge. When EDM became a thing, it was a little much for me so I had to find a space within it. I had to read up and look into the history of it. My approach is from the 90’s angle. In the 90’s there was a lot more soulful house and it was a lot more urban. It was okay for black people to do house, so my approach was to bring that back — real original house music.

How did the song “Holdin Aces” come about with Lakei Day?

Lakei had an original version of the song. After I had made the beat for it, I thought “Let’s take those vocals and put them over here,” then it just worked out perfectly. It was an R&B record originally. I’ve had the record for a while and the beat, but I didn’t have any lyrics. So she showed me the lyrics to her song and we scrapped the beat and threw her vocals on my beat and that’s how “Holdin Aces” came to life.

When you were brushing up on your history of house music, were there any artists that really stood out and influenced you?

There was this singer named Crystal Waters, she’s pretty awesome. Frankie Knuckles too. I watched this whole documentary on house music in Chicago that was pretty in depth. Basically black people started house music; they were playing warehouses back in the day. That’s literally where house music gets it’s name from, warehouses. It taught me a lot and so I thought I would tap into it. I knew I was on the right path when my industry buddies heard what I was working on and thought it was refreshing and something not too many people are doing currently.

As a producer and an artist, how do you choose who you work with?

I’m very picky, nine times out of ten if you approach me, I’ll probably say nah. 88 Killa, who’s my right hand man, will bring people to me. I met him through Twitter back in 09’ and I trust him and his vision 100%. With Sam Lao, he brought her over to my house back when I was working there and we pretty much cultivated her sound and image out of my room. I was in the room when she was picking her name, very much there from the mud. One of Killa’s geniuses is Sam. Most of the time I don’t like outside people, but I’ll work with anyone 88 brings to me. It’s very much a referral system.

Photo: Franco Perry

We recently did an interview with Terrence Spectacle, who mentioned that you produced his new EP “One Summer Night.” How did that project come together?

I produced the whole thing. We have a few other songs, there’s about a few EP’s worth of material. I produced all of that stuff. Terrence is a guy that I had been watching for some time. He’s been around and we have lots of mutual friends, so we finally connected on some things after his old situation fizzled out. He came to me and explained his vision so we were able to execute. It took a while (laughs). Terrence goes to Drugstore Cowboy in Deep Ellum every now and then, and they were having sort of an open mic jam session event. He was there and found some band. We brought them in and we created the beat first. It was a very different approach from anything else I had done because Terrence had the lyrics first and we created the music around that. Usually it’s the other way around. Once we got the production rhythm down, it started flowing.

Is “Holding Aces” a glimpse of a future full length or are you planning on just releasing more singles?

Mainly just singles. I have a few things in the works but mainly singles for now. I’m trying to see how this whole producer/artist thing works. I’m really just working my brain right now. For years I was okay with being in the background and that kind of came back to bite me later on.

You can check out more songs from Ish D’s catalogue here and make sure to check out his new single “Holdin Aces”.