Wesdaruler is a producer/emcee from Athens, Georgia who is about to release his first full-length album, Ocean Drive, on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records. He took the time during the Secret Stages Festival in Birmingham to talk to us about the new album.
Scratched Vinyl: You have the new album coming out, Ocean Drive. Where did the title come from?
Wesdaruler: So…I didn’t really plan the album, per se, but when I came up with the songs and had the idea, I was going on a trip to the beach. So Ocean Drive because it’s kind of like a trip, at least in my thoughts, a trip through the mind trying to get to a good place – a ride to the beach.
SV: You said you didn’t necessarily plan out the album, but it does sound like you came up with a cohesive sound that was a little bit of a switch – having seen you last year and having your heard your mixtapes and stuff, it definitely seems like a little bit of a switch.
Wesdaruler: Right, right. Like I said, I didn’t really plan it, as much as the tracks kind of came together. There were a couple that were made before the album. Some of it was..people were just broadcasting me as a boom bap producer. Which isn’t bad, but I felt like I was capable of doing other things. Maybe I just hadn’t showcased it as much. I thought, I’m producing these joints, I’m going to showcase a little bit of everything I can touch on, at least at this time. And then it just kind of sounded the way it sounded.
SV: One of the things that kind of hit me about the album is that in a lot of ways it kind of felt like a bit of a Trojan Horse. With the song titles and the sound, you might think it’s one thing, but then we you listen a little closer, you’re like, “Oh, wait!” A song like “GeturAssintheCar” actually has a lot more deeper emotional content to it than you might be expecting.
Wesdaruler: Yeah, yeah. Essentially, the song is dedicated to my mother, who actually just came back home recently, so we’re very happy about that. But she had been gone for a while and dealing with some things, and while she was dealing with her things, we were dealing with it on our side, so a lot of the album is surrounded around her, not just in particular, but how I felt about the situation. So that’s what a lot of it is about. Kind of that.
SV: It also feels that there’s a good portion of the album that’s about the every day life.
Wesdaruler: Yeah, absolutely.
SV: Work/life balance, real relatable everyday stuff.
Wesdaruler: Yeah. Like “StayatHome,” I called out from work and made it. ‘Cause I just didn’t want to go in that day. Just wasn’t feelin’ it.
SV: That might be one of the most honest songs of all time. When you’re putting together an album like this, and we’ve talked about this before, but for a while hip hop has been in the corners of the Athens music scene, but recently it’s started to emerge in a more prominent position. Where does an album like this fit in, especially now that you’ve shifted gears a little bit?
Wesdaruler: I don’t really know, to be honest. I guess most people that hear it will still call it rap, because I’m rapping, you know, but I just feel like there’s jazz, and then there’s multiple branches from jazz. You’ve got your avant-garde, you’ve got all these different styles. It’s still hip hop, but it’s some weird space that other people occupy, I just don’t know what to call it.
SV: Did you have any particular influences that you were drawing on when you ended up on this sound?
Wesdaruler: Mndsgn. was a huge one. A lot of the beats was right after Body Wash came out, so the spacey funk sound came from Mndsgn. I’m a huge Mndsgn. fan. Some of that came from there. And then a lot of it was in general some weird stuff. Like I was listening to – I can’t remember his name right now – he’s very synth-based, very airy, with no drums or anything. Just a lot of weird sounds. So I was listening to a lot of records like that. That influenced the different direction I guess.
SV: You’re playing [Secret Stages]. Have you had a chance to play the music live yet?
Wesdaruler: I’ve had a couple of shows in Athens, I played this, and then I have a show with Mndsgn. in Atlanta on Wednesday. And then I’m playing in Asheville for Radfest. And the day before that is actually my album release show in Athens.
SV: And this is your first official album.
Wesdaruler: Yeah, this is my first official full-length album. Officially released piece of work.
SV: How are you feeling as you approach the release date?
Wesdaruler: Super anxious. Nervous. It’s really weird giving someone else a product and then just kind of waiting for everything to happen. I’m used to just putting out the Bandcamp link whenever I want and there it is. But this is like, I’ve given it away months ago, and now the date’s coming and I’m just freaking out. It seems old to me. I’m doubting things and stuff like that. But I’m ready for it to be out. I’m excited but still very nervous.
SV: Have you had a chance to see the vinyl yet, or is it too soon?
Wesdaruler: They haven’t done the test print yet. That happens next week. I do have the vinyl covers. I’ve got the slips. I’ve seen that.
SV: You mentioned the shows, but are there any videos or anything else that people should be looking out for?
Wesdaruler: I’ve got the “StayatHome” video, which is out now. I’m also doing a couple of shows with Linqua Franqa in he next few months, actually. I want to say the Pride festival in Atlanta…trying to figure out a way to do a tour, but with kids and work and everything else, I just go when I can go. I was happy that I was able to make it out here tonight for Secret Stages, though.
SV: I’ll leave you with a question that I asked you last time, which is if there were three people that you could work with that you haven’t, who would they be?
Wesdaruler: Mndsgn. is still on the list, Dibia$e is still on the list, and for the third…John Average, who actually played last night. Me and him are friends, but we’ve never had the opportunity to sit down and work. I’d really like to work with him on something one day.
SV: That would be dope.
**To listen to/purchase Ocean Drive, visit: https://wesdaruler.bandcamp.com/