Late in 2022, I was privileged to converse with one of my colleagues and recent associates, D.A., who is now releasing music under Grandvillain Productions. His story is motivating and will inspire musicians and artists at any point in their careers to do and be more. A simple google search will bring up loads of information on him as an artist, and I shared some of his story in a previous music review. His journey is unique but highly relatable, particularly for the artist or musician who has become disillusioned with the music industry and driven to create despite those feelings. Read on to be inspired: D.A. returns to music and has been cooking up for early 2023.
D.A. and Grandvillain Productions
Photobombshell: From talking with you and working with you professionally, I know a good bit about your unique and truly inspiring backstory. Would you be so kind as to share a little bit about your first run at music and what brings you back into the fold these days?
D.A.: I knew I wanted to take music seriously when I won a rap contest at 19. It was at the Circle City Classic, an HBCU football tournament in Indianapolis. I wasn’t going to participate, but I heard the first couple of guys rap and then decided I should shoot my shot. It turns out I had a pretty good shot at winning. For the rest of the weekend, people recognized me and told me how good they thought I was. It was then that I thought to myself, “maybe I CAN do this.”
My love for music and being in a good place are the reasons why I’m back. I walked away from music because of things that didn’t happen career-wise, and I needed to figure my life out, so I never gave up-I gave in. The emergence of social media and the tools we have access to far exceeds what was available back when I was going hard, and that has made fans more accessible.
Photobombshell: Now that you are back in the scene, in what ways have things changed, and in what ways are they the same for artists in your experience?
D.A.: Everything has changed, from how we find, share, and listen to music to the way we promote. Without a social media presence, you’re doing your business a disservice. Even as a consumer, you need somewhat of an online presence. Change is constant and necessary, so this is one of those moments where you either roll with the rush or get crushed.
I think the hustle and grind and the commitment to your craft/brand are the same. There are so many more people doing it, and independence seems commonplace because everyone knows how majors typically structure deals.
Photobombshell: As an independent artist this time around, what do you find to be the most challenging aspect of your chosen path as a musician?
D.A.: Finding time for everything has been the most challenging. Being out of music for so long meant I needed to update my catalog, so coming up with new material, finding producers, and learning how to use social media are things I have to find time for while working a full-time job and coaching basketball. On top of writing and creating content, I record everything in my home studio. In the past, I’ve always gone to a producer’s studio and had someone else engineer the session. Now, I’m doing it alone and learning as I go, so things aren’t going as quickly as I’d like them to. But it does allow for more precise recordings, and I prefer quality over quantity.
Photobombshell: I know you focused on placements and creating something bigger and different than a performance career. What has that experience been like, and how is that going? Talk to us about Grandvillain Productions.
D.A.: I discovered sync licensing a year ago, and now that my catalog is updated, I can finally start pursuing the right opportunities. The best part about this whole thing is that the music I create for sync, and the music I release as an artist, will be done through Grandvillain Productions.
When I was going hard back in the day, all I wanted was to get signed by a major label. That was my goal. I knew that if I had the machine behind me, I could be successful. Luckily, it didn’t work out that way. I always shied away from the business side because I only wanted to create. Today, I am fully aware of why ownership is important, thus the reason I started Grandvillain Productions. Eventually, I’d like to get into artist development and have Grandvillain Productions be a place for up-and-coming talent to call home.
Photobombshell: I love that. I love how you have been strategic, but also your growth and student mindset, which I think is crucial for any artist. Speaking of mindset, how do you get in a space to create when juggling competing responsibilities, and what inspires you?
D.A.: Inspiration comes from everywhere. I am inspired by my past. I get inspired by other creatives and by coaching my basketball team. The universe often dictates what I’m inspired by, so I don’t force anything. I’ll sit with a beat for months before I write to it until something hits me.
Photobombshell: You take inspiration from so many places. I imagine social media is one of those places. I love seeing you remix videos on Instagram where you add a verse to a beat. Is this something you plan to do more of in the future on social media?
D.A.: I love doing reels! Remixing reels is what drew me to Instagram. They’ve allowed me to meet some great producers and establish relationships with other artists and creatives around the world. It’s been amazing to see how many people I’m reaching as a result of remixing reels, so you’ll see many more reels from Grandvillain Productions in the future.
Photobombshell: What are you looking forward to in 2023 besides totally dominating Instagram reels?
D.A.: I’m looking forward to closing out the basketball season with my team. I’ve got a great group of kids, and they’ve worked hard all season, so I’m looking forward to finishing the season strong and bringing home a couple of trophies. I’m also excited to release my first EP and album in 2023. It’s been a long time coming and I’m thrilled to let the world hear what I’ve created.
Photobombshell: That’s awesome. As always, I am looking forward to new music, especially from you! What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment as an artist?
D.A.: My greatest accomplishment is being here; right now. I’ve been through a lot, and I feel like most people would have given up and never looked back if they were to endure some of the things I did. I have always believed in myself, and to still be here after a 10-year break, preparing for an album release (that people are anticipating) under my label, is a huge win!
Photobombshell: You said it all there. I could not agree more! Your story is one of perseverance and passion, and I thank you so much for allowing me to share it. What is one piece of advice you’d give another independent artist who is just starting?
D.A.: Don’t give up. Life happens, and you may need to take a break or hit the reset button, but if you truly believe you’ve got what it takes, don’t give up. It doesn’t matter what anyone says. What does matter is your commitment to your craft. Separate yourself from the rest.
Photobombshell: Wise words! Thank you again, D.A., for sharing your story and plans with us! I am so excited about your upcoming release and hope to help spread the news of the EP drop soon! Please take a minute of your day and follow Grandvillain Productions on Instagram, stay up to date on all of the cool things he is doing in music, and connect. You won’t be disappointed.