- Gettin Mines - D-Natural
Descending from a family of musicians and creative individuals, Daniyel “D-Natural” Artis began playing various instruments as early as the age of 3 years old. His grandfather, a Pastor, owned a church where a very young Daniyel began teaching himself to play drums, piano, and organ during his summer vacations. He seemed to have a knack for quickly grasping each instrument and playing songs by ear. This is also where his experience of playing in front of various audiences began as well, playing during his grandfather’s church services. His uncle was known as one of the best bass players on the underground scene in the Richmond, VA. area. Whenever he could, he would sit and watch his uncle practice to various records, absorbing the techniques. His uncle eventually handed down his basses to him and he was able to sharpen his skills further. His grandfather was also a guitar player and he would be introduced to the guitar this way. Gifted with a sharp ear, he would further teach himself whatever he didn’t learn from others by playing to various records.
A native of the Washington, DC. area, where his mother, a single parent, worked as a police officer first assigned to the legendary Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, he often accompanied her to work. The theatre became a home away from home, where he was able to see various performances for free hanging around as his mother worked, further adding to his musical knowledge at a very young age. Also he discovered he had a gift for writing, often placing in national school-wide writing contests as early as third grade. He began writing poetry in elementary school which would later evolve into songwriting over his original instrumentals in high school. After selling one his first beats to a manager at the record store he worked at during this time, a burning desire was born in him to become a professional music producer/songwriter.
Later, during his time in the U.S. Navy, D-Natural founded Artistic Visionz Productions. As an music producer, poet and songwriter, D-Natural will continue to expand his brand and make a mark on today’s digital world.
What is your background? tell us where you grew up and some information about your upbringing/experiences as a youth:
I am originally from Capitol Heights, Maryland, which is in Prince Georges County and sits right on the border of Southeast, Washington, DC. I was raised by my mother, a single parent, who was a police officer. Being raised in the DC area had a great impact on myself becoming a musician at a very early age. In DC, originated Go-Go music, which is a type of music that is created with live instruments and is very percussive. So from the start I was being influenced by live instrumentation from listening to various Go-Go bands. I was also brought up in a family musicians and taught myself to play several instruments from watching them play growing up. My grandfather played guitar and piano while my uncle played the bass along with several others throughout the family playing an instruments. Since my grandfather was a Pastor who owned his own church, I had access to all the instruments in his church from an early age. When I would visit them in the summers, I would spend hours and hours teaching myself to play all the instruments in his church such has the drums, piano and organ. Back at my grandparents house were more instruments such as my grandfather’s guitars, upright piano and the ability to see my uncle jam out to various records on his electric bass who was living there at the time. I would eventually be handed down their instruments growing up and before I knew it, I was already playing bass, organ, drums and guitar by the time I got to middle school. My mother further encouraged me to expand my musical skills by placing me in lessons in grade school where I learned how to play guitar, a little viola in elementary as well as the tuba in the school band in middle school. Another key inspiration and influence during my childhood was all the time spent at the legendary Kennedy Center for the Performimg Arts in Washington, DC, where my mom worked as a police officer. I literally used to accompany my mom to work and even spend the night at the Kennedy Center during her shifts. It was literally a home away from home. I had access to all the symphonies, plays, musicals, balets and concerts that came through the area and attending these shows for free nightly would greatly inspire me to become a better musician. I was consistenly seeing music performed at a very high level. I developed an early appreciation from classical and jazz music stemming from the countless performances I saw at the Kennedy Center as a child. This would greatly impact myself on being a more rounded musician at an early age. My mother being a poet herself, also pushed me to explore my writing talents from childhood, resulting in me writing my first short stories and poems in elementary school, even winning national school wide writing contests and being published in Highlights magazine, a popular children’s magazine, after I sent them a short story I wrote when I was in 3rd grade. These writing skills would later evolve in spoken word and songwriting when I got to high school.
At what moment did you know that music was part of your life and what feelings did you have towards making an active impact with your music?
I knew that music was going to be a huge part of my life from a very early age, like around 3 or 4. As I just previously stated I was the next in my generation in my family to become a musician. Some of my earliest memories were playing different instruments that were around me. As soon as I could read, I was opening CDs and cassettes to read the liners to see what instruments were on certain records and who was playing them. Seeing all the amazing symphonies and musicals nightly at the Kenndy Center was a driving force to me wanting to learn how to play music professionally. It was planted in my mind for me to be one of the musicians I saw playing on those stages. It pushed me to experiment and practice as much as I could at home. As I grew older, when I got into high school, I saved my money from my first jobs and bought DJ equipment and studio equipment like drum machines. This is when I started to teach myself to DJ and start making my first beat tapes. Also working at a popular record store in the DC area during this time, where my manager took me under his wing and schooled me about all the types of music, I was determined to also have my own records out in stores one day.
What artists inspired/influences you and if you could collaborate with any artist (alive or passed) who would it be and why?
Besides all the classical and jazz I was being exposed to at the Kennedy Center growing up, I was also deeply influenced by Hip-Hop. Growing up in the 90s I got to experience Hip-Hop in its Golden Era, where Tupac, Biggie, Wu-Tang, Heavy D and acts like that dominated the radio. In middle school I bought my first Tribe Called Quest cd and fellow in love with their music and how jazz was incorporated into the production of it. Little did I know the very tracks I gravitating to the most was produced by J-Dilla or Jay Dee as he was called then. In high school I began listening to anything with Jay Dee I could get my hands on, resulting in me discovering Slum Village, The Pharcyde, The Roots and acts like that who greatly influenced the way I made music all the way until this day. So from listening to all these different types of music, it formed the basis of my style and sound that I have in my music today. But I consider myself very versatile and can get out of my comfort zone to play other types of music like rock. I learned a lot about rock through listening to my uncle play bass to his records. I loved bands like The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and this would also influence me as a musician. If I could collaborate with any artist it would be Jimi Hendrix. He is one of my musical heros especially when it comes to playing guitar and experimenting with electronic musical textures. Toward the end of his career I know he was moving more into soul and jazz music. I would love to have jammed with him and watch him craft his records in the studio. He was way ahead of his time.
What do you think about the current state of hip hop/mainstream music?
As far as mainstream hip-hop music today, I think it’s lost a lot of originality. On the radio you hear nothing but the same sounding production, mumble rap, artists delivering their verses in the same cadences etc.. Like I said I grew up in the 90’s when I believe hip-hop was at its best. Back then it wasn’t cool to sound like the next act. What was lit was being original and unique, having your own style. You can still find that today, it just exists in the underground scene. What I do like about music business today are the resources that the independent artists have to their music out in the digital landscape. The internet and new technology has giving the power back to independent artists like myself and you have acts who are making original music crossing over to the mainstream because of the internet. So that is one major positive that we have as artists to help break up all this monotony in mainstream hip-hop as well just music in general and I plan to be one of the artists in the forefront making this happen.
Currently, what projects do you have in the works that you are most excited about?
Right now the focus is on expanding my instrumental catalog, so that I can place myself in more situations where I can produce and write for other artists. I have my own solo projects out and I will definitely put out more but I don’t want to speak on those just yet. Of these projects I am most excited about my last 2 EPs Doin Me and Ceteris Paribus which can be found on Bandcamp.com I will be shooting videos soon for singles off of those releases. Also I will release a few brand new solo singles early this Fall. The focus now is getting more placements for my production on other artist’s projects along with executing great marketing campaigns my brand of music.
What are your short term career goals within the next 6-10 months?
Short term goals are to gain more production placements with both mainstream and indie artists along with adding more video content to the ArtisticVisionz Youtube channel. Having recently graduated from Virginia State University as a Mass Communications major, I’ve learned a lot about photography and how to properly shoot videos. Working at the our school radio station, the legendary WVST 91.3 FM, I’ve learned a lot of about how the radio industry works as well. I plan on contributing more in the radio space as well such production for commercials and having a radio show of my own. I want to really showcase this on my Youtube channel as well as shoot and direct other artists. Also completing my first e-book of poetry is major short term goal as well.
What are your long term career goals within the next 2-5 years?
Long term goals include touring, helping to to spread my music to more audiences abroad, more album placements for my production and songwriting, book tours with some film making where I can incorporate my music as well.
If you had one song out of the catalogue you have created to show a person what song would it be and why? It would be “Doin Me” off my last EP titled Doin Me because it is one of the latest songs that shows where I am as a producer and songwriting. Aside from rapping, one would be able to hear my singing skills as well, which will be further demonstrated moving forward.
To the person who had never heard of you what is it about your music and story that you would tell them to entice them to be a supporter?
That I truly live and breathe music. I was born intoit and I was meant to do it. I represent the type of artist that you don’t find that much today, at least mainstream. I represent sort of like the old school artist from the 60s and 70s where artists wrote, performed, and played the instruments on their own records such as Prince, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. They are all major influences on me in this respect. I will be an artist of their caliber but for today’s generation. When you delve into my music and my story, it won’t take long for one that has never been exposed to me to hear and see how my story intertwines with my art. My art is deeply influence by my life.
If your music could be described in five words what would those five words be?
Original Works of Dope Art
What do you bring to the game that is unique and different?
Being so hands on with my production and writing, the sound of my material is mixed uniquely and crafted so that you know it’s my brand. I’m working toward having a signature style and sound that can translate into all forms of music. What makes my content so different is the substance that I put into it. My wordplay and lyricism over my production, where I play all of the instruments unless I am inspired to sample, is what will distinguish me from others. I am literally a one my band and songwriting team will an entreprenuer mindset.
To the aspiring artist who is considering a career as a musician what lessons or advice would you give them to inspire them or to uplift them in the journey?
That it can be done and that you can live your dream especially in today’s world with all the technology and resources we have as artists. The internet has leveled the playing field to that the independent artist can have just as much impact as a major label or corporation. If an aspiring artist just focuses on their and get consistent with putting out good content on the internet as well as utilizing grassroots methods as well, they can be successful. I would also advise them to really be a student of the game and study the business side of things so they know their rights as an artists when it comes to publishing, contracts and licensing. That is where your longevity is in the business. That will give them the opportunity to really see residual income from their work which will further allow them to live a life doing what they love to do.
What are your social media profiles and where can people purchase/download your music?
You can always just Google D-Natural and Artistic Visionz Productions and most of my links will definitely pop up. On Twitter you can follow @ArtisticVisionz or @DNaturalAVP. Check out the ArtisticVisionz YouTube channel where I will have music visuals, poetry performances along with other quality content. Seach for D-Natural on Soundcloud where you can find new instrumentals and other exclusives. Also search for D-Natural on Bandcamp where my music is available for purchase along with free downloads.
What are your final words you would like to say to people that you have left out?
Just stay tuned and be on the look out for me D-Natural and Artistic Visionz Productions. From there my music and the content I am doing as always will speak for itself, hopefully entertaining, resonating with and inspiring the consumer receiving it.