Don't overthink things. It's a common piece of advice, but it's not always an easy rule to follow for artists who spend all day and all night thinking about their music. For Damon Johnson, the producer/rapper from Seattle who goes by Space Dolphin, it seems to come naturally. Whether it's a melody, a new song idea, or his own name, Space Dolphin just does what feels right. For his new single "Commando," he employs this effortless approach, and what he came up with was one of the catchiest singles we've heard so far in 2018. Listen below, read our interview with Space Dolphin under that, and look out for the Yoshi's Island mixtape.
Can you introduce yourself? Who are you, where are you from?
I’m Damon Johnson aka Space Dolphin. I’m from Seattle, Washington, and I’m just a wavy n***a that smokes pack and makes hits for my fans.
What's the story behind the name Space Dolphin?
So basically I was in the studio at my dad's with my bro P2 freestyling and making shit, and I said the bars, “Polo coffin, space polo dolphin” and he was like, “Did you just say space polo dolphin?? That’s heat.” So I went with Space Dolphin because it’s a cool ass name and also that was back when my niche was being all aquatic and wavy with my sound, so it fit.
How would you describe your music to someone who's never heard it?
It’s different. Like, genuinely different from a lot of rap music you’d hear today. I just stay in my own lane and I can’t really find anybody that sounds like me. Also it’s diverse—I switch gears with almost every song and do my best to form to any kind of beat and make some shit that I know people will get hooked on.
What did you grow up listening to? What music are you listening to now?
As a kid, like 8 years old, I was listening to 50 Cent, Ludacris, and rap I heard on the radio, but when I got to middle school and had a MP3 player I was really influenced by Weezy, Drake, and Wiz. These days I listen to a lot of SoundCloud artists and my own shit. Anything that’s catchy to me I save or download it and bump in the car hella.
What stage are you at in your career? When did you realize it was something you could seriously pursue?
I’m at the point in my career where I’ve mastered the process of making a hit it’s just my marketing and outreach is lacking, so my hits don’t go as far as I believe they could. I’ve been producing beats since like 9 on my dad's computer fucking around with loops and such but through the years it got more and more official that I wanted to produce and rap. By eighth grade I knew I was gonna go after my dreams and get serious about music. I just had so many ideas I couldn’t stop.
I’ve heard the most creative songs on SoundCloud from rappers that sound like they recorded off a rock and two sticks in a dungeon, but it was aesthetically dope as f**k.
Can you tell us a little about "Commando"? What's the story behind the song, who produced it, and what was going on in your head when you were making it?
Yooo my main producer Lil Rambo sent me the beat right before I woke up and when I played the shit I was instantly ready to do work on it so I hopped out my bed and went into the studio and started fucking around thinking about a thick tropical bitch on the islands. I came up with a melody that is “Commando” and finished the shit within a couple hours. Sent it to Rambo and he was like, “Bruh this is heat!” so I knew it was a wrap.
Did you know right away that this song would be the one that you drop as your first single?
Not right away, but after sitting on it and listening multiple times I realized it was a perfect first single to drop. The catchy but raw vocals and flow would attract a lot of ears and have them anticipate the next "Splashy" single. Plus, the bars are fire so it’s not just some catchy chorus and that’s it, the whole thing is hot.
Any thoughts on the argument of catchy, fun rap vs. more traditional "real rap"?
See, I’ve had this argument way more then I should’ve with people, and the answer is always gonna be that different people have different perceptions of what’s “real rap” and what’s not. I personally am not one for traditions, I believe that’s how you limit creativity, by setting out a big ass rule book instead of letting an n***a just record whatever he or she wants to and have full freedom. People get mad that SoundCloud rappers that sound “bad” to them do numbers but don’t seem to understand that the “bad” rapper has a whole fan base that thinks the opposite, and they love the music he or she delivers. It just is what it is bruh. I’ve heard the most creative songs on SoundCloud from rappers that sound like they recorded off a rock and two sticks in a dungeon but it was aesthetically dope as fuck and it wasn’t boring like traditional shit usually is.
What's next for Space Dolphin?
Dropping Yoshi’s Island mixtape. Unique features and collabs with artists I’ve been trying to work with for a while and mind-fucking music videos that will change your life.