Interview: Dino Smokes Talks Project, “Since ’98”, His Sound And Influences

Newport News producer, Dino Smokes talks his sound, influences and an upcoming project, "Since '98".

Kahlil Williams, best known as Dino Smokes is a producer, artist and songwriter originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, but currently resides in Newport News, Virginia where he grew up. He is currently working on his first debut album, “Since ’98”, which will be released this year (2018). In the meantime, he has a fire archive of tracks via his SoundCloud. A few of his most popular tracks include Twozzday, Lone Wolf, 6ixTen and All I Know.

Dino Smokes is aware of his gift and wants to create with no restrictions. He’s driven by feelings and moods, which play a huge part in what he creates. Be prepared to tap into your inner self, catch a vibe and experience the music. His sound is like no other and with his support system backing him, Dino is well on his way to success.

Shoutout to Paul for sending me your info! I’m not familiar with who Dino Smokes is, but I’m always looking for new artists and music to vibe to. Prior to this interview I’ve familiarized myself with your work and you’re talented. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

First off as you know I am Dino Smokes, I’m originally from Erie, Pennsylvania but I grew up in Newport News, Virginia. I moved when I was seven. I didn’t really like it when I first got there, I thought it was weird but it was cool. I’m 19, ya feel me 1998. I went to Warwick high school, graduated class of 2016.

’93 this way! I’ve never been to Pennsylvania or Virginia. You’re young, when did you get started with music?

Naw I’m getting old. I’m ’bout to be 20 soon, lol. It wasn’t really until I turned 13, to be honest. My homeboy Manny showed me FL Studio. I met Manny at church. Shoutout to Pastor Manny. Manny, and the whole Collazo family. Once I learned the basics of FL I started experimenting and started making things I liked. My grandfather played the drums so I’ve always been around it.

Who were your influences during your stage of experimentation and now, in 2018?

Hmmm, I can definitely say Tyler, The Creator played a major role. I’ve been fucking with him since 7th grade. Erykah Badu, my idol. I’ve always loved the way soul sounds but the way she does it is out of this world. J. Cole, Chief Keef, A$AP Rocky, Childish Gambino, Jhene Aiko and Schoolboy Q. I listened to a lot of indie, hip-hop, pop, and experimental trap I found on SoundCloud. That was a few years ago, I still listen to a lot of those artists, but I listen to a lot of music on SoundCloud as well. I tend to go to experimental trap/EDM Trap, I mean the good shit too, lol. I’m talking ’bout people like my brother Senojnayr, Tek.lun, Esta, Kaytranada, Gravez, and whatnot.

I need to feel music when I make and listen to it. If I feel the song it’s a hit. I can get on anything.

That’s a nice mix there! Would you say that your own music is a representation of your influences? How would you describe your sound/style?

Not at all, don’t get me wrong there are a few songs that I can say were inspired by my influences, but my sound is very unique, because I don’t necessarily think I have one. I don’t try to sound like anything honestly. I just go In the studio and make what I make regardless of what anyone says. I love my music. If you were to ask me what kind of sound am I looking for, I’ll say give me anything the bumps. I need to feel music when I make and listen to it. If I feel the song it’s a hit. I can get on anything.

That’s the way to go. I like your approach! When I got home today, I went to your SoundCloud and two to three tracks in I was hella relaxed. It’s what I needed after a long day. I agree that your sound is unique. I have a great deal of respect for artists who stick to what it is they want to do. There’s so much over saturation with the same songs, beats, flows etc., but kudos to you and others who aren’t sticking to the mold.

Thank you, it’s much appreciated. I totally agree though, music made some major changes last year, and with the artists out now, it’s getting very exotic. But it’s exciting to watch!

You’re a producer, artist and songwriter. You’re doing your thing! Multi-talented. Is there one title or role that you prefer out of the three?

I honestly can’t say, I love making beats and creating new melodies and playing with sounds. At the same time, I love recording and writing songs. I’d say producing, it bring me joy when I hear the beat. It’s the first thing I listen for when I hear new music. The beat really makes the high of the beat.

Your track, “Popstar” is my favorite. I love the vibe. What’s the backstory behind that track?

It’s funny you asked that lol, I’ve always wanted to be asked that. I was in my room one day and I was trying to make something cool. I came across this loop. I liked the chords but I didn’t like the sequence, so I chopped it up and played it out in a sequence. It’s funny cause when I’m really feeling, I immediately start rapping some crazy catchy ass lyrics, and that’s what happened with “Popstar”. Out of nowhere I just started saying “Im a popstar, you a block star, I be t’d up you just re-up” and then boom, it happened. Everything else just clicked. From the “aaahhhhsss” in the beginning to the way popstar makes me swing.

You did one hell of a job on that track! How do you typically approach a new project? Walk me through your process if you will.

Thank you, thank you. I usually go in with a blank mind. I’m always making something new In abundance. I tend to make projects when I’m most inspired, for instance for this project “Since 98”, I’ve been making things based on feelings and the mood I’ve been in. Lately my life has been amazing. I think it’s cool I’m making a business, a brand, paving the way for my people and creatives. Regardless of how my life has gone I still feel as though my success is very close. I love what I do, and how I do it. The people I have around me and my team, we making waves and we’re not even in the water yet.

Keep that mindset and energy! Since 98…your upcoming project? Any details you’re willing to share? As I was browsing on your SoundCloud playlists, I wondered if you were working on anything because I could only image what that would be… an experience I’m sure.

Yes, it’s going to be my first album, I don’t like to toot my own horn or sound arrogant, but I know my worth and I know what I can do with this gift I’ve been fortunate enough to have. I’ve always  felt like I’ve been destined for greatness, majority of the people I meet tell me all the time. Plus my name means friend of God so I’ve always been the boy the day I was born.

Claim it! There’s nothing wrong with that. With this being your first album, are you going to J. Cole, double platinum with no features route or will you be working with other artists?

It’s actually just me on the album right now, there may be a feature, there may not be.

What’s the music scene like in Newport News?

There’s so much talent in Newport News that’s waiting to be discovered. You got artists like Boris The Lucid, Kliftxn, Reck and Part 2.

Are there any artists you would love to work with both up and coming and big names?

I definitely want to work wit Treez Lowkey, Pharrell, Tyler, The Creator, The Internet, Take A Daytrip, Ronny J, Smino, Kaytranada, Buddy and A$AP Mob.

Speak it into existence. It’ll come to fruition. Just speaking with you, and vibing to your music… I’m anticipating this project, “Since 98” and all that follows. What’s your support system like in your city? Some artists find it difficult to thrive and connect with others who do the same thing.

Luckily me being in college actually benefits me due to the fact that most of the people I associate with closely are also musicians or photographers or videographers. As far the city, I get a lot of plays within my city. I try to promote as much as I can as best as I can, but I definitely feel like people in my city are listening. It’s just a matter of getting them aware at this point.

You’re making moves. It’s good to hear that you have people backing you, too. You’ve gained a supporter in Arkansas! Keep with the grind and I’ll be on the lookout for the release of Since ’98.

Always, I appreciate you taking the time to rock with ya boy.

Stay updated with the sounds of Dino Smokes via his Soundcloud. Link up with him on Instagram.

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