DIXSON On His Life As a Producer and Singer-Songwriter: “How Blessed Are We That We Get to Do This On a Daily Basis?”
It’s not a guarantee in your career trajectory as an artist that you’ll be nominated for both an Academy Award and Golden Globe. Yet, for singer-songwriter and producer DIXSON, he’s reached such milestones thanks to his tremendous talent and collaboration with Beyoncé on “Be Alive” featured in the movie King Richard.
In addition to flexing his vocal chops, DIXSON also plays 11 instruments! Outside of his infectious passion for music is the gratitude he has for being able to bestow upon his listeners the inherent skill he’s been granted as a multi-hyphenate artist. Regarding being an artist, DIXSON says, “How blessed are we that we get to do this on a daily basis and not have to clock in? This shouldn't feel like work. This should feel like joy. When you’re in it and getting notoriety and going viral on social media, people start to get involved, and you forget how important a gift being able to make music is – and I never want to forget that. I'm lucky to have mentors who constantly remind me of the gift that I have.”
We had the opportunity to chat with the Roc Nation signee to discuss his forthcoming projects, and what’s he’s learned through his experience in the industry.
Your tweets are always little truth bombs. For example, one you recently tweeted talked about how dreams aren’t the same as working toward them. So, how has living this mindset worked in your favor from your perspective?
TALKING ABOUT YOUR DREAMS IS NOT THE SAME AS WORKING TOWARD THEM.— MR. (@DIXSON) January 21, 2022
I only tweet what I know and what I experience. I have stopped only dreaming. I stopped that four or five years ago, and I started figuring out what it would take for me to get to the next thing. There is no secret code to it. I stopped talking about it and started working toward it, even if it was small things every day. It's like anything. You go to the gym, and you may not start off being great at it. But as you keep training those muscles, they develop and grow, and then you have to work harder to keep challenging yourself. You don't want to get into a routine that becomes monotonous. That's what my tweet means. Also, it's reassuring people who may be in that moment where they have stopped working toward the dream too. Just a little reminder, don't just talk about it, be about it even if you don’t get the results right now.
Absolutely, and you're right. When you're just talking about it, you kind of set yourself up to be in a stagnant position, which defeats the whole purpose of dreaming in the first place, right?
Also, people are always listening if you're always talking. People are watching you maybe not holding yourself accountable, or people are watching you running with those ideas because you aren't working toward it. Talk less if you can.
Speaking of talking less, you have hinted at dropping some new music. What can we expect soon if you can reveal anything?
I can reveal a lot. Personally, I have two projects dropping this year, and honestly, the music is a different world for me too. I got into a space where I wanted to challenge myself creatively and see how far I could push myself. I can say that my team is scared the same way I am, but we're scared because it's so good. We're trying to prepare ourselves for what that's going to be once it releases to the world. And that's the fear that we feel. Not that the music is bad or anything like that. We all get a little nervous when we know something is going to be successful. I have two projects this year. I'm working on a lot of music right now as a songwriter and producer. I feel very lucky. I try my best not to say who I'm working with until that artist feels comfortable talking about things, but it's some pretty cool stuff that I've been making. We ended last year with some really cool sessions. And then, right out the gate this year, I was back in the studio with some really dope artists. I'm excited for people to hear all the music I'm making.
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That whets my appetite. I cannot wait! I know last February to date, you released your debut EP. What would you say you've learned about yourself since then as an artist?
I think I've learned a couple of things. I think I've learned that it takes time. It takes time for people to catch on, for things to catch on fire, and some things happen very quickly with viral videos and things like that. I've never really been that type of artist that is too hip on what's happening on TikTok and Instagram. I make the art that I want to, but I recognize the art that I’m making has some universal likability. It takes time for people to catch on. R&B is a very slow-moving word of mouth kind of genre. Thanks to social media, it's moving a lot faster than it used to. I think with Darling, some big things happened. We went number 13 on the radio, the NFL picked up the title track from the project to play in last year’s seasons and throughout all the stadiums. It's been some big things that have happened for me as an artist, but sometimes we get impatient with ourselves. I think that's the best lesson I've learned, be patient with yourself and let the art come as it wants to versus trying to force it out of yourself.
Yeah, that makes sense. I find that when you just step back and have a patient disposition about everything, that's when it starts to flow freely. With “Darling,” I love the music video for it. You're not really bound to one genre, even though it’s classified as R&B. With that particular track, it has this indie rock element. With the next project, what are you hoping to tap into musically?
I’m excited for people to hear me more as a producer. I feel because I'm widely known as a songwriter, a lot of the time me being a producer gets lost in the sauce. I have a very different sound. “Darling” is one of the tracks that I produced on Darling. It's cool that you picked up on that. It was a departure from what I normally do. That means the world to me because what I want people to know is that I'm in there making this stuff myself, which is why sometimes it takes a little longer to put it out. I love pop music. I love all genres. I love country. I write in all those spaces, too, as a songwriter.
I'm interested in these next projects to really expand the palette for what people consider Black music. I feel a lot of times we get pigeonholed into one space, and it doesn't leave room for us to explore and try different things. And I've always been anti-that, as an artist. I think most of these genres were invented by people that look like me, so why not tap into them? Why not dive into a pop space, or a country space, or a folk space, and especially when you're capable? I'm excited for people to hear my take on different genres. That's so cool that you picked up on the indie rock thing because that's kind of exactly where I was mentally. I want to do more of that. I want to do more trying things this year.
Love it. I'm excited to see what you come up with for these next two projects. I've learned that you play 11 instruments. Then, you are producing as well as singing and songwriting. What would you say is the motivation behind being this jack of all trades?
If you ask my therapist, the motivation is that I'm just anti-people telling me what I can and cannot do. I never was a rebellious person growing up. I followed the rules. I paid attention. I was respectful. But anytime I got in trouble as a kid, it was because somebody told me I couldn't do something, and they didn't have a justifiable reason as to why. My therapist said I'm doing it to the clap back at all the people who told me I couldn't do it. But I'll say I'm doing it because I want people to know that it's possible to be more than one thing. You can try more than one thing. You can exist as more than one thing. I think a lot of times, it goes back to the last question. They really try to tell Black people what we can and cannot do in this life – and I'm here to be anti-that. I'm here to be the antithesis of that.
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I am here for it that. You brought up a good point about the different genres. You look at even electronic music, such as house, music, and techno. Those genres are all rooted in Black culture. I'm looking forward to where you take the next project. My last question has to pertain to the highlights of your career so far. You were nominated for a Golden Globe, which is awesome and exciting. You got to collaborate with Beyoncé, and you've had so many other exciting milestones. What would you say is a big takeaway from either a mentor or just what you've learned from yourself?
I will say that through that process, especially working with B, more people are calling my phone now. I am grateful for the mentorship that that situation has given me. The head of the publishing company that I’m signed to, we had a deep conversation before I signed about being in service to the music. I never want to become bigger than the art and the people that listen to my art. I think if I go in with that mentality when I'm going into work, the fans will be satisfied, and I will be satisfied. I continue every day to strive to be more in service to the music, to learn more, and to study more so that I can encapsulate a feeling that I can give to people when they're looking to feel, they come and look for my music. I think you can only get that when you love what you do. I feel so sorry for the artists I see lately, saying they just don't feel it anymore.
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It's funny because I used to be the same way. I would be at home making music and singing and had a lot of commentary about what goes on in the music business, having not joined it yet. But now that I'm in, I completely empathize with the artists who are ready to give up on that. I say you have to remember why you got in it in the first place. I got in because I wanted people to know that I'm in service to the music. I care about what it feels like, what it looks like, and what it sounds like. The business comes with it.
Obviously, with every good thing, there are some bad things. But I hope to God that I never lose sight of why I got into music in the first place, let alone the business. I feel like God has given us so many incredible talents, and then you add people to the equation, and you start to lose the love for the gift that you would get. It's like somebody gives you a nice gift at Christmas, and you see somebody else got it, and then you start to lose love for the thing that you were given. It’s like, no, no, no. You got to be mindful of that. That's your gift, and you have to love your gift. And that's why I'm hopeful that I continue in this business and continue to inspire others to do it with so many artists as a songwriter.