Interview: David Heartbreak Speaks on Signing With OWSLA, “The Foundation,” and Working with No Limits

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On May 14, David Heartbreak‘s debut release with OWSLA, The Foundation, will be released. It’s not been a short journey for the Brooklyn (by way of Charlotte) producer, but his story is one of dedication. He’s didn’t chase the big money – if he had, he wouldn’t be aligned with Skrillex‘s seminal imprint. He held out for the situation that felt right and made more sense, and is looking to further his craft while not compromising his art. We had the chance to speak with David regarding his EP, the seven “vibes” it contains, and why he feels no producer should limit themselves.

First off, congrats on the great news! How long has this move with OWSLA been in motion?
I like to keep things quiet until things are 100% confirmed, but this has been brewing for quite sometime. It wasn’t an overnight process, people assume that it’s an overnight process, but things worth having are worth waiting for. You can rush things, and be hot for a year, or you can take your time, learn your craft and have a career.

How important was it for you to align yourself with OWSLA for your original material?
I never said I MUST be on OWSLA, it just worked out that way, because we share a similar energy. I had other offers on the table, but honestly they weren’t the place for me. Once I met the entire OWSLA family, I knew that was the place that I should be. It’s all about the vibe: You gotta love where you work, or it becomes work, and if I would have signed to another label it would have hindered my creativity, no longer be fun, and ultimately became a job. I signed to them because everyone from the top of the chain to the newest intern has positive vibes, and that’s what I’m all about. You HAVE to be with a team that wants you to be YOU and not pretend to be something your not. It’s just about making what you love, because if your not it’s going to show in your music. Your music will be good, but it won’t be great because your heart is not in it, and you’re not making what you love.

In prior conversations, you’ve spoken about not wanting to be pigeonholed in terms of your output. How important was it for you to craft The Foundation with seven different genres?
I wouldn’t really say seven different genres, I would say seven different vibes. I don’t really make a true genre of music. I take different elements from different things. My entire being for making music is to make people vibe together. When I produce, I look at as if I’m DJing, I say to myself “how can I make everyone in the room rage to this song? Let’s add reggae, let’s add electro, let’s add acid, let’s add Bmore, let’s make this into a fusion, so everyone can appreciate it, whether its their thing or not.” Music is like food. I love pizza, but I don’t want to eat it everyday, sometimes I crave Italian food, or sometimes I just want a burger. My music is the same way. Creative freedom is a must in today’s climate, everything is so over-saturated [that] it’s almost relieving to not have to conform to anything and just do me. My circle of producer friends is so broad that they have all brushed off on me. I don’t like a lot of forms of music, but there’s so much you can learn musically, sonically, and technically from studying different forms of music. Having multiple influences brings better music, in my opinion. You can’t be afraid of the unknown. Don’t limit yourself; some of your best songs are the tunes that you make for yourself that you’ll never let anyone hear.

What do you feel are some of the standout tracks from this release?
I actually enjoy the entire EP to be honest, I can’t really pick a song. I love “Acid Youths Redux (Legalize It),” that track is just crazy. I just love what its about. My music is all about contrast, and that tune is the perfect way to describe the perfect contrast. The tune isn’t supposed to work, but it does. “Yardcore Pressure” is just ridiculously reggae vibes, which is my foundation, hence the title. Man, I like all the tracks. I also love “Boogie Monster,” that one is just nuts… you can’t tell from the teaser, but the beat switches up like four times. I just try to be different, because if not then it gets boring, you gotta keep it fun, or it’s pointless. There’s a song for everyone on there, whether you like dubstep, reggae, acid, glitch-hop, hard house, electro, etc., there’s a tune on there for you.

Do you think any of the tracks on the EP that might surprise Heartbreak fans who are expecting one type of style or sound?
I would say the “Heartbroken” track… when I produce tracks it’s either very soulful and emotional or very aggressive and energetic. I think this is the first track, I was able to fuse soul and aggression together and make it work, so I would say that track. It’s something I call aggressive soul, it’s just real soulful, but very aggressive at the same time. “Heartbroken” and “Raindrops” are actually songs, so people might surprised from those, because it’s the first time I’ve actually encompassed so much of an artist’s vocals in one of my track, which I think is key nowadays.

While we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, have you planned out what might be coming next from you on OWSLA? Do you have any plans for album-length releases?
I would actually call this an album; it’s seven tracks – most people do one tune and five remixes, that seems pretty standard nowadays. I prefer to not do singles and do albums (full length EPs), that way there is some continuity on the project and it’s not just random shit all over the place. Even on The Foundation every song is different, but they all have that common denominator, which is reggae, and that glues the entire album together. As far as the next project, it’s already titled, and I’ll probably start working on it after the summer, but it’s going to be even more out there than anything that I’ve ever done in the past. I’m working with a wide array of artists, from alternative to punk to rock to hip-hop and r&b. I just want to make music that has substance and that’s not disposable. The next one is going to be more musical than this one. I’m just trying to challenge myself to make better music with each project I take on.

Will you be doing any touring in support of The Foundation?
Yeah, there’s definitely a tour coming, I’m not sure of how many cities, states, or countries at this time, but it’s definitely going to be happening in the immediate future. It’s not like a Skrillex tour with big lights and projectors and shit, haha, it’s a normal tour – just me wrecking shit!

There’s been a lot of talk about the “state of EDM” or where dance music will be heading, particularly in America. What are your thoughts about how dance music has grown in the U.S., and what do you think are some of the positives (and negatives) of the scene?
Honestly I don’t get caught up in all the “EDM” talk, it gets annoying to me after a while. Too many people bitching about genres, and “don’t call it this call it that,” “this is hot, this is not,” “this genre is dead, this one’s been birthed,” it becomes too much for me. I’d rather make music than waste time and energy on some of these topics. But music is in a good place to me because there’s no boundaries, it’s almost limitless. You know longer have to have a huge studio and lots of gear to make great tunes. All you need is a laptop, a DAW, drive, and the desire to make quality music. I think electronic music is turning into the new rock & roll, who knows, Woodstock might even make a come back. It’s getting bigger and bigger, and the festivals are getting better and better. People are raging and having a good time, how can you not like that? There’s a lot of negatives in the scene, as well. I try not to look for the negativity; nothing’s perfect, instead of bitching about what you don’t like, redirect that energy into things that you do like.

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David Heartbreak’s The Foundation EP will be released May 14 on OWSLA.

UPDATE Complex has premiered David Heartbreak’s “Raindrops,” which features Skylar Grey and The Partysquad.

Related: The 25 Best Songs on OWSLA, So Far