Houston's Ape Drums is one of these producers that's been steadily brewing under the radar for a bit. Extremely well respected among his producer and DJ peers, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before there was going to be a big announcement or moment in his career that would anchor the beginning of some major exposure. Whether or not his recent announcement of going on tour as direct opening support for UK electronic music producer legends, Chase & Status, is going to be that anchor moment remains to be seen. But it did completely make sense to reach out and find out some things on what makes this dude tick as his dancehall influenced EDM sounds are definitely unique in the familiarity of the (dare I say post) moombahton world. I recently linked up with him on Skype for a chat and he went in on some inspirations, reveals album plans as well as a new alias and why it's important to "do you."
So to those that don't know who, tell us who you are.
I'm a DJ/producer who goes by the name of Ape Drums, I make all kinds of dance music specializing in tropical sounds.
Those tropical sounds you speak of intrigue me a lot personally. I've heard all different styles from you and yet, I feel like I can always tell when it's your tune. Tell me a bit about how you developed your sound and who were some of your biggest inspirations.
I'm glad to hear, when I first started producing EDM, I was trying to develop my own sound and would compare the popular tunes at the moment with mine, just to see if they were up to par and to see how well I sounded. Eventually everything started sounding the same and I realized I was making music for others to like rather then making music I enjoyed myself. I grew up listening to all kinds of music, but was naturally a dancer. Good music to me meant making someone dance/groove, if it didn't do that, then it wasn't "good." Dancehall music has always been one of my favorite genres, so when I was trying to come up with something fresh & new, I figured why not make dancehall sound BIGGER. I used the same sounds and structure from my earlier EDM projects and used them to make a dancehall riddim. And thats how "Worl' Boss" was made. Eventually I realized it was basically "Big Room Dancehall" or "New School Dancehall." Basically, dancehall music for bigger crowds & venues.
I know exactly what you mean with your sound and I've tried to explain to a number of people a bunch of times and they always look at me like it doesn't make sense to them. Do you feel pressure to come up with a formal label for what you're doing? Or is it more of a keep it moving mentality and let people perceive it however they want?
I REALLY want to push that it's specifically dancehall riddim based. I want more people to become familiar with this kind of music. Almost everyone who goes out knows a lot of the classic dancehall tunes, so I want them to understand that this is the same thing, just newer and fresh, because nobody's ever made dancehall music for EDM events. A lot of people are calling it moombahton which is similar, but very different at the same time.
Not to be a purist or anything, but I never considered your sound to be moombahton at all. Majority reason is because it fell at a more riddim based tempo and it didn't have the dutch or Latin elements. Always felt dancehall based to me. For what it's worth. Big ups on the Chase & Status tour and being direct opening support by the way. Is this going to be your first major tour experience?
I'm glad you can hear the difference! And thanks man, yes this will be my first major tour period.
That's rad, man. I take it your excited about the opportunity?
Of course! I wish it was sooner (haha). I have no idea what to expect about the crowds so I'm very curious and excited to play for all of those cities.
I bet. I'm guessing you've got a lot of new material to debut as well. Can you give us a bit of a rundown on what to expect from you on the release front over the next few months?
Well, I'm halfway done with an album I randomly decided to do. It's going to be weird because it's going to be all kinds of genres. Yes, I'll be debuting some banging new Ape Drums material but also debuting my first track from my alias, Mommas Boy. This is actually the first time I'm speaking about it (haha), but yeah as for releases, I'm just working on my album & and a BUNCH of collaborations. Some big names and some unknown but talented guys.
That's what's up. Exclusive talk of the alias. I dig it. Anything specific you want to say about that?
It's going be the other half of the music that I love and grew up listening to, old school house music. I think people are going to dig it. By the way, I won't be speaking much or releasing anything else from the alias as of right now. Just that one song.
Sounds fresh and we'll definitely keep an eye out for that. My last question here really. As someone who's still on the come up and has been grinding for a minute (I think I got my first tune from you at least a couple years ago), things seem to be looking up for you with the AM Only situation and a lot of support for your music. Any advice to these folks out here still producing in their headphones on their laptop hoping to get a look someday?
Man, the most important move I've EVER made in my career was to make the music that I want to make and play live. Make music for yourself, not others. If I would have done this sooner, I probably would have become way more successful at a younger age. Stop imitating and try to make something nobody has made before. The only way to get heard, is to have a different sound. Simple as that.