Count Bass D is a legend. With 15 years of rapping and producing under his belt along with 23 solo releases and almost 7 full-lengths, Count Bass D (real name Dwight Farrell) has earned his place among heavyweight hip hop producers by bringing a unique and soulful sound to the likes of long-time friend MF Doom, (along with his early group KMD) and J Rawls. Farrell is not afraid of flexing his multi-instrumental ability either, especially on his early release “Pre-Life Crisis” where he strayed away from the world of beats and played every instrument on the record. While notable as a rapper, Count Bass is determined to share his love for early soul with the world
Channeling some pure gospel from his home in Nashville, Count Bass D is making a new move again by teaming up with STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) to release another live album called “L7” which is sure to be as honest and unique as his earlier joints. As Count Bass spans genres and styles, he remains passionate about his craft and especially his fans. We got a chance to talk before he packed up for Chicago for the weekend where he was embarking on a live EP to be produced in three days with Man Man‘s private label Obey Your Brain. Take a look at Count Bass D’s notable passion and isolationist attitude about to materialistic music business today in this exclusive Cosign interview.
As you read, enjoy the first single of “L7” called “Can We Hang Out Tonight?”
So first off, what are you working on right now?
Right now I’m about half way finished with an album with a MC from Boston named Insight. I’m also about a third of the way finished with a project with J Rawls out of Columbus called “True Ohio Players”. Also, my solo album will be out July 29th called “L7”. It’s my seventh record and I’m just two songs away from finishing it up, I just released the first single yesterday. I’m also going to do a live instrumentation EP in Chicago the first weekend in June for a record company called Obey Your Brain. One of the co-owner’s of that label is in the indie rock group Man Man. Outside of that, I’m doing projects here and there for some friends of mine. I’m pretty busy right now, definitely in the middle of a lot of work and working hard.
What label is “L7” dropping on?
It’ll be on 1320 Records which is the record label of STS9. They’ve been good friends and have shown me a lot of support. I’m just going to do this project with them so I still have my freedom which they know is very important to me. A lot of these projects have been in the work for awhile but I was in different situation with a label so my hands were kind of tied. Luckily I’m free of that so I can give the people a lot of music that had been missing from me in 2007.
Ill. So with this work with STS9 and a live instrumentation EP, it seems that you’re experiencing a shift from production to live music.
Yeah, I started out doing live music for my first album “Pre-Life Crisis“, but at that point I didn’t really know how to sample myself and do the type of things that I did later on. Back then, I would just start a click track with the TR-808 in my headphones and play drums first, play bass second, and play my keyboards third. Thats pretty much how I did that whole first album. Well, I did parts of my second album the same way but when it came time to do a couple of 12″s like “Violatin” and “On The Reels“, I really started letting people know how much I grew up on hip-hop. It wasn’t until “Dwight Spitz” when people were able to see my whole range of hip-hop in it’s proper perspective. I think that has put the rest of my releases in perspective ever since.
True, you’ve done some great stuff for the genre.
I was a traditionalist when I started to sample full time because I learned from the guys who were masters of the MPC like VIC and Doom. I used only vinyl and only originals but its gotten to the point where technology has shifted the whole usage of samples and the drum machine has become somewhat a lost art. But I think I’ve made my mark on it and I’ve done some spiritual cleansing that has actually made me feel a little bit guilty about the usage of samples. At the same time, with everyone having access to everything that was on vinyl, there’s really no art form to the whole thing. Right now, I’m happy to get my chops back up. I’ve been really influenced by a lot of underground gospel cats right now. Not the mainstream gospel that’s been coming up but the cats in the churches. Now, I’m just trying to flex my skills once again and try something new.
Is there anyone you’ve been feeling lately that’s also trying to bridge the gap between production and live instrumentation?
I don’t really listen to a lot of current music right now. I think with me living in Tennessee all this time and not really being in a scene that people are coming through I’m not feeling much of an influence from other people, I’m just trying to do what I do. I’m barely in contact with a lot of people in the industry, so I don’t hear a lot of new records. I put out records sometimes and the labels don’t even send me copy of the records. I’m sure there’s a lot of wonderful things out there, but I make a conscience effort to avoid it sometimes. When I’m riding in a car or around on tour when people are playing music I really enjoy it, but I don’t seek out to add other people’s work to my collection that often. Unless it’s like, classic soul or classic jazz and stuff. There’s still so much of that stuff that I have to catch up on. I’m still studying “The Sound Stylistics” and “The Persuaders” and those types of cats. The new stuff is the new stuff and I’m leaving it to the younger generation to soak it up and take it to the next level with their art.
So “L7” is coming out quite soon. What was the process putting that album together?
It’s a solo project and I’ve been working on it for awhile. Besides “Art For Sale“, I haven’t had to do a project in a real short amount of time. I usually just work on things as they go and when its all finished I let it be. I’ve been working on “L7” since 2007. Its usually a process where I make a bunch of beats and that establishes what the sound of the record will be like. At that point, I try to earn an income from those beats. On “Dwight Spitz”, everyone had passed on every single one of those beats when I try tried to sell them. It’s not until I put the vocals on top and people hear it in context that they say, “ah, I could have done that”. Then my phone rings and people say, “why didn’t you call me to be on your album?” but I’m like “this is the same beat that you passed on!”. A lot of people will have some of these tracks on “L7” already and they’ll be shocked when the hear the music on there. So far, I feel like it’s the best project I’ve worked on. When I don’t have that feeling, then I won’t put anything else out. Thats usually my test, if I don’t feel like something is the best thing that I’ve made, then I just keep working until I do.
What’s the album you’re doing in Chicago going to sound like?
Well a lot my records have some compositions on them, not just rap tunes and beats. So this will be likewise, just me playing keys and drums and playing with some of the local musicians up there and putting together a project with live music as opposed to beats. I’ll probably be using the Rhythm Ace drum machine made by Multivox that they guys out of the 70s used so it’ll probably have a throw back feel to it. That’s just the music I mainly listen to now, a lot of soul and R&B from the 70s and early 80s, thats just what I like!
Are you going to be playing any live shows to promote the two projects?
Right now I’m talking to STS9 about doing a tour with them in the fall and I think I’ll probably do few select dates in the summer. But honestly, I’m a recording musician and unless it’s a situation where I can put on a great show with a normal budget, I don’t plan on doing that much touring as guys traditionally do. If I get the calls and invitations thats cool, but I’ve never had a booking agent or a full-time publicist and I’m not actively looking for them. I just make the music for the people who seek me out and find out about me from a positive referral and not a cold 2-page add or something like that. That’s how you get a bunch of people who don’t want to be involved with what you’re doing, but have been bludgeoned to death by seeing your face everywhere and begin to talk bad about what you do. I’m not interested in that at all, I prefer to keep it simple.
Are you happy with the kind of support you get now?
I have enough now to support my family so I’m not looking for a ton new fans or anything like that, I think that the people who have supported my over the years are enough. As long as people purchase my record, I’ll be just fine with the money that I make and I don’t need to make much more. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I’m satisfied with my popularity, I’m not looking to take it to another level.
You seem to have a really positive outlook on the industry and success. Is there anything more you’d like people to know about it.
Check out my website countbassd.com and my myspace, that’s where you can usually find my opinions. I keep kind of a journal and I actually tell people what’s happening in my life, the ups and the downs of it. People write me e-mails that you can see on there and I write them back or I call them and I’m actually involved with the people that are involved with me. Those are the only people that I’m really interested in, I’m not really interested in blind fans for money sake or popularity sake. I’m looking for a quality listener and a music lover as opposed to the people who just buy a record to quote it around their friends like they do when they buy a video game or something. I’m not looking for that kind of person to be involved with what Count Bass D is doing. I’m looking for quality and not people who are there to criticize my every move. A lot of dudes are in music for the wrong reasons nowadays though. They’re not really trying to make music, they’re just trying to make fame and money, I see them and I know them. So I had to distance myself from that and get back to the music because thats the only thing thats going to last. I was supposed to be done making records long ago, you know how many times these record labels try to kill my career? But they can’t stop the music so as a result I’m going to be here until I’m dead!
Thats for sure! Thanks so much for talking to us.
No problem man, no nonsense from me. I’m trying to be 100% real with the people because thats what people want, so thanks!
interview by Justin Staple
For old times sake, take a listen to one my favorite D beats called “Jussa Player” off 2004’s “Dwight Spitz”:
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