Curating the world of beats can be a mammoth task.
With amazing artists creating beautiful works of art every day; keeping track requires a great ear, a tenacious spirit and a whole heap of passion. Luckily there are collectives like Dust Collectors with just those traits. Amassing almost half a million listeners in just over six months, the group has enjoyed incredible success without ever sacrificing their vision. With the launch of their new compilation coming in August, we took the opportunity to speak with one of their general managers, Bretsil, about what makes Dust Collectors work.
So first off, what is Dust Collectors? What would you describe it as?
I’d say it’s a mix of a collective and a label. It’s collective in a sense we’re all family and we all support each other but we don’t have any exclusive contracts we have to sign or anything like that. It’s more label like in the sense that we support artist’s releases and I would say that’s what a label is for. Like, supporting the artists which in turn support us, so it’s like a cycle.
So would you say that one of the big aims of DC is to not only create things as a collective but also be there as a support network?
Yeah, for sure. For example Yimello (who is a producer with us) got placed on a Lo-Fi playlist on Spotify from our compilation, which is a big deal for us but it was more exciting to see him progress. We try to support our artists in all realms. We repost stuff. We put our artists on Twitter and social media and stuff like that. So it’s kind of about showing people new artists as well as ones they already know and love.
How and why did the group come about?
It’s funny because just recently Kudasai actually found the original Reddit post where they started Dust Collectors. That was about nine months ago and I joined later in January but it seemed to me that it was a group of dedicated artists that just wanted to start a music collective.
What made you want to get involved with them?
This is actually kind of a funny story. There was a contest to join another collective and I got second place in it and I was really bummed out. I was looking for another collective to join and I had been working with a producer named Merish who was in DC. I asked to join the Discord and it went from there. I asked for a management position in the group after that. That’s how it all began. I'm very grateful for the support I got when I joined.
Do you know what the thinking was behind the name?
I think it refers to sampling in Lo-Fi. When you use old records no one’s used before, that have collected dust. People sampling like 50s records or something like that, which are very old, obviously. So I think that’s where the name comes from. It’s like have you ever entered a record store where you go in and there’s just dust everywhere? That’s all you feel? That’s where I think it comes from.
So the name’s more of a reference to digging up great things from the past and repurposing for the future?
Yeah, I would say so.
When you organise for a DC release, what are you looking for? What’s the DC sound?
I would say just being unique and being you. Not trying to copy anyone else’s vibe. That’s the most important thing. You’re making music you’re happy with and you’re making music for yourself, not for anyone else. We take any music that sounds great. You know what I mean? It’s not only about fitting into one box; we don’t have a preference with that. We’re looking for a good vibe and something that the artist is happy with.
Yeah. You’re looking for the artist to have the passion and belief in their art before you get involved.
Exactly. We want something unique too because there are so many different sounds you can cover in Lo-Fi or Beats. You know what I mean? But at the same time I think it would be unfair to just call us a Lo-Fi collective because of the diverse sound we have. We’re definitely a Lo-Fi group but it’s like Hip-Hop, you know? Like jazz and soul, and stuff like that. It’s all melded into there, I would say.
Let’s talk about the roster. You’ve got a very large and impressive group of artists in the fold.
Yeah! We are at 55 people now on the main DC collective alone! It’s cool because they have a follower range from 90 to 100,000s, which is great. You get all different types of sounds which we were talking about earlier. Different artists from different places have different sounds and different fan bases. We’re trying to mix it into one bigger pot.
How do you go about deciding who joins? What are you looking for when you’re looking for artists to join the roster?
For me, personally, it’s personality and music. I would say personality is the most important thing because if I see that you have got potential to grow and you’re willing to cooperate as an artist, then I know the music is going to be great. Obviously your music has to be good to join DC but if your personality’s not there and you’re not supportive of other artists and stuff, then we don’t want you.
What’s the theory behind having such a large roster? Was it always part of the plan?
It’s just all clout. That’s all it comes down to, just pure clout tokens haha! Nah I'm kidding. Before I joined the roster was a lot smaller and I think most of those artists aren’t on there anymore because of inactivity, but it’s levelled out now. With a large roster it gives us a lot of freedom. It gives our smaller artists a chance to relate to different audiences, because our bigger acts don’t have to submit to every project. They can cycle it out. It gives the smaller artists more chance to connect to people.
That’s very smart actually.
I know it comes off as us being clout-thirsty because of how many artists we have, but if you think about it from a logical standpoint, the more people you have on a team, the more chances you’re going to have to grow with them. There’s more chance to grow personally. Like let’s look at bigger labels, how many artists have they got on their teams? Obviously, we’re not a big label and we’re not trying to become that stereotype but the culture of having a large team and creating chance for them to work with each other is important. You know what I mean?
Is that the kind of culture that you want to develop at DC?
Yes. I love collaborations so much from any standpoint. I ask for collaborations a lot with other groups and I love it when they come together. I think it helps everyone involved. Sometimes it comes across as too pushy or something and the perception of Lo-Fi is that you’re timid or introvert, so when you’re up front with people it takes them back I think. Like ‘Do you have other ulterior motives?’ I just genuinely love seeing artists or groups come together, I think that in its self creates some amazing things.
DC also has a few satellite groups around the main collective. Were these sub groups always parts of the overall vision?
I don’t think so but it came with the need to diversify so not everything was in one basket. Like we have Obsidian which does really cool experimental music, like ambient. But then we also have DC UK which is just amazing producers in the United Kingdom. That’s really cool because it’s really is like DC UK, literally. It does everything DC does but just UK based. We also have the Sandbox which is run by Jay Vinyl and they do more gritty sounds. So yeah, with the sub groups we get a lot of freedom musically but also get to keep the spirit of the collective.
It seems to be working! You guys have had some big success on Spotify and Soundcloud recently. What is the philosophy or game plan when releasing? How does it come together?
It’s all down to the big roster. That’s the key. When you have people you can pull from anytime you can move quickly and with real diversity. For example The 420 mixtape was put together in five hours. I was on a college tour when I put it together! So it gives us a tremendous pool to draw talent from. Also the goal with the tapes is always Spotify, because that makes the artists money. We’ve had six playlist placements so far from our latest tape, Seasonal Sounds, which is just insane. It’s been crazy. I don’t even know what’s happening ha-ha. We’re so new to this too like we did not expect this by any means. We are still newcomers so to have our artists achieve stuff like this is amazing.
Why do you think collective culture is so important to beats?
I think the importance of collectives comes from their position as curators. They help to filter music so as a listener you get to hear the best.
Is that how you see DC fitting in the culture?
Yeah, kind of. For example, if you enjoy the more boom bap sort of stuff, you might spend a little more time listening to Radio Juicy. If you want more of the kind of very clean chilled stuff, you listen to Chillhop. If you want the dustier, unearthed gems you listen to DC. I think actually we’ve kind of figured out our sound over the past two tapes because the progression and the vibe has gone bigger and bigger. When you listen to our tapes it sounds like one long song which is so cool.
Yeah I feel you. It’s interesting because the scene seems to be turning towards more ambient type music now. Why do you think that is?
Oh, I love ambient. That’s my favourite. Just for the record, I love ambient music. That’s what I’m making right now, pure ambient music. But to answer your question I think it’s the pursuit of chill man. It’s all about chill. I think people are tired of hearing the same drum beat over and over again. Of course not everyone does that, don't get me wrong, but a lot of the stuff is starting to repeat itself.
Yeah, that off beat kind of thing.
Yeah. You have more ways to experiment in ambient music. If you look at classic ambient artist like Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin; they use and mould so many different sounds even in just one song. The ways they can experiment in that genre is just amazing. I think when you combine ambient and Lo-Fi; you’re going to have something really special. Even Inner Ocean has an ambient label now which is dope.
Can you see there being a split in the next few months between people who start turning towards ambient and the Hip hop based stuff becoming harder?
That’s a great question. I think we’re kind of seeing that now.
Do you think that’s a good thing?
I think it’s great because it’s a place where not many young artists have explored. I think when you have more people experimenting; the music on a whole gets better. If we can have an ambient-like scene pop up from Lo-Fi, it would still be connected in a way but we would have more kids experimenting with sound and diversifying and growing the scene.
What can we look forward to next from Dust Collectors? What’s next?
So we have a new compilation dropping in August but we also have merch and a new logo dropping very soon. Also we will continue to put out our singles every Monday!
Listen to Dust Collectors here:
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