Interview: Eric Dingus Talks Prime, Jimmy Johnson, and His Connection With Oliver El-Khatib of October's Very Own

This 19-year-old producer out of Texas has earned the respect of one of Drake's closest friends. Keep him on your radar.

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Complex Original

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Who is Eric Dingus? Well, for starters, he's a 19-year-old producer out of Austin, Texas who has received the seal of approval from Oliver El-Khatib, co-founder of OVO Sound and creative director for Drake and October's Very Own.

Co-signs aside, Dingus has established himself as one of brightest new producers on the scene thanks to his versatile style and work on Jimmy Johnson's debut mixtape In God We Trust. Both members of Prime—an art collective based in Toronto—Dingus and Johnson deliver an impressive project that highlights the syrupy melodies of Texas mixed with the hazy nightlife of Toronto.

Jimmy's influence goes beyond the music, as Drake has credited the fellow T-Dot artist for giving the city its new motto, "The 6." That and OVO debuting Jimmy's first record from the project, "Pray," led many to believe the 21-year-old rapper would soon be joining Drake and his crew, with Eric likely sliding in as an in-house producer. Not just yet, says Dingus.

Complex recently spoke with the budding producer, who shared the story behind his success with Prime and how he linked up with Oliver of OVO. A self-professed workaholic, Eric Dingus also discussed what he's got lined up in the near future. 

Complex also premieres Eric Dingus' new record "Kairo" below, which was initially meant for the Been Trill EP Where Are Your Dreams that came out in January and was immediately removed for undisclosed reasons.

Interview by Edwin Ortiz (@iTunesEra)

Tell me about growing up in Austin, Texas.
Growing up in Austin, I was homeschooled from fourth to eighth grade. It was pretty typical.

Were there any artists you were into around the area?
No. Austin doesn't really have a big hip-hop scene at all. I didn't really get into hip-hop until ninth grade. The first artist I was actually into and bought his stuff was Weird Al Yankovic. Very embarrassing. My parents used to be in a band years ago, before I was born. So we had musical equipment around the house.

What kind of records were you listening to?
The song that really got me into it was "It Was a Good Day" by Ice Cube. And N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Comptonalbum.

My parents showed me N.W.A when I was in the ninth grade.

What was it about that music that got you into it?
“It Was a Good Day” by Ice Cube, I really liked the sample. That got me into the production and how good the beat was. I had always thought the hip-hop I heard was just stuff on the radio. I didn't really realize there was older stuff ‘cause no one told me. My parents showed me N.W.A when I was in the ninth grade.

How did homeschooling go for you?
I honestly didn't do any schoolwork the entire four years. I just went to a whole bunch of dumb homeschool events to try to socialize. I became very unsocial during those four years. Like in fourth grade when I started homeschooling, I was really immature and stupid, like a typical fourth grader. I just got really quiet and awkward. But I'm better now.

When did you start taking music seriously?
When I started, I wasn't really planning to do anything, I just did it because I liked it. But eventually I just wanted to get known. When I was 17, I stopped going to school and started doing music every day. And that was the time when I was like, I'm really going to focus on music.

I noticed that you have a pretty extensive catalog for only being 19. You have close to a dozen different projects already?
Yeah. I don't really take any days off. It's just what I did in my free time and now what I do for a job. I really love it.

In the past you have taken down full-length projects because you weren't satisfied with the results. I don't think you usually hear that with other artists.
Well, I realized for new people finding my stuff, it's overwhelming for there to be like 15 projects for them to listen to. So I thought it was more professional to have less.

You're a part of Prime, which also houses Toronto rapper Jimmy Johnson. Tell me about hooking up with Prime and working with Jimmy on In God We Trust.
Prime is like a collective of artists. Videos is how it started, they directed music videos. Now there's rappers, and I'm the producer in Prime. It’s just an art collective. I guess that's what you would call it.

One of the guys in Prime, Jermane, is my manager. And he also manages Jimmy. He started managing me a couple years ago. Since then I was sending stuff to Jimmy and we were building. We started working on his debut project, and in the last six months we really focused on the majority of the creative side of it.

Did you move out to Toronto for that time, or were you going back and forth?
It was pretty much all through the Internet. I went out there for like a week, but that was when all the songs were done. I'm probably going back up there in the next week or two for three weeks to work on the next project.

Is that another one that's with Jimmy Johnson, or is that something for yourself?
It's not like it's a specific project yet. It’s more so to just make more music with Prime and Jimmy.

You've had a few records that went up on the October's Very Own blog. The first one was the “Worst Behavior” remix last November. What was it like for you to get that recognition?
It was really awesome. Drake is my favorite rapper, so I feel honored that Oliver likes my stuff.

The next record you had up on there was “Pray” with Jimmy Johnson, and that definitely set Twitter abuzz because they saw a new Toronto artist on the OVO site. People didn't know exactly what was going on. Can you tell me how that came to be?
It was through connections through Toronto, my manager’s connection. In Toronto, a lot of people know each other. But it was done in a natural way, like over 11 months. It wasn't like [Oliver] just heard of us right away. We built with them for a little while.

I can't really say much on [what's going on behind the scenes with OVO and Prime]. We'll just see what happens.

There's been a few pictures that surfaced online of you repping “The 6.”
Yeah. “The 6” is like Toronto’s name, like a new name that Jimmy thought of. And people are riding with that, so that's cool.

Is the connection more than that? Like I said, when that record with Jimmy came out on the OVO site it was pretty cryptic. Is there more going on behind the scenes?
What do you mean? As far as OVO and Prime?

I can't really say much on it. We'll just see what happens.

You definitely have their ear.
Yeah, they're definitely paying attention. It's just like we're doing our own thing, and we'll see where that takes us. Prime is just trying to work on our own brand, you know?

Earlier you said Drake is your favorite rapper. Have you been able to meet him yet?
I haven't. When I was in Toronto, he was on tour. And I don't know if I even would have met him anyway. So no, I haven't spoken to him personally. Mainly just talking to Oliver, his manager.

What happened to the Been Trill EP How Are Your Dreams?
There was some miscommunication. It wasn't time for it to come out yet, so we pulled it.

Is that something that will be released soon?
I don't know as far as when or if it will. Those particular circumstances, it just wasn't the right time. So I'm not quite sure.

Going back to Jimmy Johnson, he did something similar to you where he deleted records before the new EP came out. Was that a planned move?
We wanted to start fresh with this new tape, because we were really proud of it. So we wanted the tape to represent us rather than other stuff. That's really it.

I saw you remixed Spooky Black’s “Without You.” Tell me about that.
So the day his tape came out, I heard it and hit him up ‘cause he was sort of into the Internet scene I was associated with. He sent me the acapella and I remixed it and put it up the day after the tape came out. He really blew up out of nowhere.

Were you following him on Twitter before he deleted his account? [Editors note: Spooky Black started a new Twitter account after this interview took place.]
Briefly, and then he deleted it a couple days after. I talked to him on Facebook too, then he made that private and deleted that. Now it's just email. He wanted to just have the music speak for himself and not deal with the social media bullshit. That's what he told me.

What can fans expect from you later this year?
I know I'm going to have another instrumental project at some point, not sure when. I'm also sitting on a ton of unreleased music, so now it's just planning on how to roll it out. I don't want to overwhelm people with too much music, so I'm going to take my time with releasing everything and making everything perfect. I’ll probably do some more remixes, but for sure at least one project.

RELATED: Listen to Jimmy Johnson's Debut Mixtape "In God We Trust" Produced Entirely by Eric Dingus
RELATED: Watch Jimmy Johnson's New Video "Sun Goes Down"
RELATED: Listen to a Calmer, OVO-Approved "Worst Behavior" Remix from Austin Producer Eric Dingus 
RELATED: A Guide to Who's Who in OVO

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