No, the title isn’t clickbait. Four weeks ago, dvr was a sixteen year-old Scottish kid making music in his bedroom. Today, dvr is still making music in his bedroom—except now he has thousands of fans and a song with Kenny Beats.
The story behind the collaboration is nothing less than amazing. On June 15th, dvr released his first-ever EP, Tape_01. Being an avid fan of producer Kenny Beats, dvr posted the link to his EP on the KennyBeats discord server: a fifty-thousand strong community centered around making and sharing music. The quality of the tape immediately caught the attention of the community members. In fact, one of the moderators liked it so much that he decided to send it to Kenny Beats himself—while Kenny was live on twitch with over 2,000 people watching. Initially reluctant to listen, Kenny only gave in once he saw his viewers erupt in support for dvr. Upon listening, he was so impressed that he decided to produce a song for dvr. That song is called “Missing You,” and it comes out in a month.
However, there’s a lot more to dvr than just “Missing You” and the story behind it. His EP Tape_01 — the project that started it all — shows an enormous amount of promise and proves that dvr is something fresh and worth listening to from across the pond. Read our interview with him below.
LISTEN IF YOU LIKE: DOMINIC FIKE, MK.GEE, REX ORANGE COUNTY, OMAR APOLLO, FRANK OCEAN, PEACH TREE RASCALS
MUST LISTEN: MUSCLES, AM SLEEP, THRU THE CITY
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Hi! I’m dvr, I’m 16 years old and I make music.
Let’s get right into it. First off, I learnt that you’ve only played guitar for a year? And you learnt from your dad?
Yeah. So, I first learned “Self Control” by Frank Ocean in 2018. Then in March 2019, that’s when I decided I was going to learn properly. I started out with “Stay” by Post Malone, and then from there I just went on guitar tabs and taught myself all the songs I wanted to learn, and then I would play for my dad, who’s a pretty experienced guitarist, and that really helped move along the process.
I can see the Tyler poster in the background and you mentioned Frank Ocean. Who are some of your musical inspirations, people you listen to, people that you like?
I listen to quite a lot of stuff. For the EP, a few of my big influences were obviously Frank, mk.gee, and Foo Fighters — Dave Grohl, I grew up listening to them, all the time. Oh and also, this little indie band called Loving, and also Steve Lacy.
Incredible. Let’s talk about your first EP, ‘Tape_01’. What was the process of making that like? How long did it take?
The first song I made was “Am Sleep.” I made that in my school’s crappy little studio with their 30 year old input deck — I made that in like 2 days. I finished it on the last day of school before lockdown started and just managed to post it on Soundcloud. The second song I made was “Muscles”, I got the idea for that at like 2am, the night before my audio interface came, I just got the idea for the opening part of the bassline — I still have the notes recording on my phone, it’s horrific. But yeah, I made it all just here, on my laptop, in my bedroom. I used my Dad’s 30 year old Fender Strat that he got when he was still in South Africa in the 80s.
That’s so cool. Obviously you produced, performed and mixed it all on your own. I think I read that you made the entire EP on the Ableton Free Trial? Is that true?
Yeah I’m still on the Ableton free trial, it would’ve run out by now but I got the 100 day extension which is pretty clutch. I used all Ableton stock plugins.
That is clutch. Let’s talk about the Kenny Beats Discord – there’s a pretty big community of people sharing everything from unfinished instrumentals and snippets to concept art – asking for feedback and thoughts – what is that community like for you as a musician?
That was a really helpful community. I’d just be in the feedback channel, asking people for help on stuff. And then there’s a few guys who really liked my music, who were really looking forward to when I actually released, so I started talking with them, they gave me more feedback on what I can make better, and that was a really good experience, cause I have a couple musical friends, but they’re not really in the same lane that I am. So it’s tough, getting constructive feedback on what I’m making. So to have a community like that was really helpful.
I’m assuming you were asleep when Kenny listened to ‘Tape_01’ on stream? What was it like watching the clip the next day?
That was quite surreal. Cause I actually had no idea what was happening. Felix and Korson [mods] didn’t even tell me that they were gonna send it to him. Big love to those guys, I talk to them a lot, they’re really nice guys. I woke up at 8am and I had like hundreds of notifications on my phone of people just like telling me to wake up, cause Kenny’s listening to my stuff. So I immediately just started watching the clip, and that was a pretty surreal moment. My two elder brothers are massive fans of him so when I told them they were quite excited.
That’s so cool. I’m assuming you saw the clip where he was like, “yo anything you need, feel free to hit me up,” what was that like?
That was awesome. I think that’s what really carried it on, cause if it was just a shout out then that would be like awesome, but the fact that he actually wanted to work with me was massive. I’ve done my part on the song, he’s done his part, and now we’re just waiting for Alex [Tumay] to mix it.
I have to be honest, I’ve probably listened to the “Missing You” snippet about 50 times already. Was that something, did you already have the song or did you make it within those few days?
I had the guitar part, and the bassline. That was about it. So, when I woke up, I immediately started working on it. So I finished it in a day, that’s where the line comes from “Kenny hit me up, I’ll get it done in a day”.
Do you usually write after you have the instrumental, or do you write first?
Yeah, cause I’m more of a producer first than a vocalist, I only recently started singing on my stuff, which is good I feel like, then I can, this sounds cringe, but I can view my voice as another instrument, so it’s easier for me to slot it in.
And then my lyrics are always just gibberish.
Well, I caught some things – I don’t think they’re all gibberish, but, anyways, I know you were awake when Kenny was reproducing it on stream. What was that like, watching him mess with your guitar, your vocals, your basslines?
Yeah. I was in the lounge watching that with my whole family, that was really cool. It was nice seeing that he actually really liked it. Cause he didn’t change much about what I sent to him, but he just made it sound so much better, it was a really cool experience watching his process, it’s stuff that I can learn from too.
Speaking about “Got It” – there’s a rap verse on there – which isn’t something that was on “Tape_01”. Also “Thru The City” is more of a R&B ballad. Is that something you want to do – expand past the “bedroom” pop style of music?
Yeah. I do have a lot of love in my heart for like the indie rock stuff, that’s a lot of what I make, but the poppy avenue seems to be working for me at the moment, so I might keep going down that road. It just really depends on what I can be bothered making, to be honest. It’s like the first idea comes to my head and then I’ll try it.
Fair enough. Now, obviously things then went crazy on that livestream when Kenny played the song for FINNEAS and Billie Eilish was in the back – were you still watching with your family at that point?
Yeah. Laughs. That was really cool. I texted my girlfriend first thing and she went nutty over that.
What are your plans for the future in terms of a second EP, you can tell us as much (or as little) about a release date for ‘Missing You’ as you like!
Well, I’m making new music. As soon as Alex Tumay mixes “Missing You,” I’m going to get it out as soon as possible. I think give or take a month. I got school starting in September, that means it’ll be a bit slower, but I want to get a second EP out by at least January next year.
I have to ask, I know you asked for the tag, what was hearing the ‘Woah Kenny’ tag on it the first time like?
I’ve been a massive fan of Kenny’s for a long time. One of my favourite parts of his songs is his tag – so to hear that on something that I made is really cool.
Listen to dvr’s EP Tape_01 below: