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Dibiase Guests at Treatment Club Night

In Clubs, Music
L.A. beatmaker Dibiase guests at Johnny V's Treatment night on Thursday.

L.A. beatmaker Dibiase guests at Johnny V's Treatment night on Thursday.

SoCal producer prodigy Dibiase remembers when L.A. became a beat mecca in 2005. Flipping his own first beats as a teenager growing up in Watts, he wasn’t too long out of high school when he started getting invited to events like Sketchbook, the weekly Tuesday night gathering of up-and-coming talent at the Little Temple club in Silver Lake. At this point, no one knew how huge the scene was going to get, and the early efforts of the West Coast’s best new beatmakers were blasting out every week through the speakers of Dibiase’s boombox.

“I would bring it to Sketchbook every week, and everybody would bring their beat tapes or CDs,” he remembers. “I’d pass the boombox around outside like a round table, and everybody’d play what they made that week. Some people might have made 12 beats, some people might have made 5. But the people who were playing their beats were like Fly Lo, Ras G, a lot of the cats killing it. Georgia Ann Muldrow, she would play stuff there. Sacred, Taarach, pretty much everybody that was in the scene.”

Now, as Dibiase (pronounced Dee-bee-ah-see) makes only his second visit ever to San Jose this week to guest at 2012’s first Treatment night at Johnny V’s, he’s still processing how much things have changed since then. After winning more than 20 beat battles around Los Angeles, he made his name once and for all winning the Red Bull Big Tune Battle in 2010. That same year, he released his first album with one of the hottest labels around for indie hip-hop and electro, Alpha Pup Records. Machines Hate Me, while not his most mind-bending record, was a good introduction to Dibiase’s obsessions for the world at large. Dense, ingeniously sample-heavy and influenced by everything from J Dilla’s MPC work to chiptune video-game music, it’s a natural progression for a producer who started out in junior high chopping up records with nothing but an 8-second sampler and a drum machine to make his beats.

“Stuff that I did in the beginning, a lot of that was trial and error,” he says. “That ended up becoming a sound that people like now. I used to distort a lot of sounds, do a lot of low-fi sounding stuff by default. People were like ‘Man, you need to clean that up.’ Now that sound is popular, that low-fi sound. Now they make equipment and software to do the stuff I was doing by default.”

As time went on, he started trolling pawn shops for whatever equipment he could afford. An MPC cost $2000, and he never thought he’d be able to buy one. But after he got a job, his family secured the credit and he made the payments. Still, his unpredictable style didn’t change.

“The eight second samplers, there were a lot of limits. It forced you to be creative. So once I got on the MPC, I felt like I advanced a lot, but I still tried to have the approach like I was limited. Cause once you feel like you can do anything, you’re too comfortable, you get lazy with stuff.”

Now his deft touch with technology is one of his signatures. “I like to mess with a lot of different equipment, software and hardware. Every piece of equipment, I try to have a different sound on it. Still keep my signature sound, but try to create a different identity with each. You learn new tricks, and that helps you evolve,” he says.

A classic example of his style is his beat for U-N-I’s single “Beautiful Day.” But the story behind it is even more revealing of Dibiase’s obsessive, never-throw-away-anything process. It turns out the beat to the song was just one of dozens he had once been selling online for $50 each. He met U-N-I when filling in as a DJ at a friend’s show, and when they expressed interest in his work, he remembered that one beat sitting unused in a gigantic file somewhere.

“They came through to the crib like two days later, and I played ‘em that ‘Beautiful Day’ beat from that $50 batch,” he says. “And the rest is history. I remember Y-O came up with the hook right on the spot as he was listening to it. Now it’s got like a million views. Somebody could have had that for 50 dollars.”

Dibiase will guest this Thursday, Feb. 2, at Treatment, the DJ night at Johnny V’s that features resident turntablists Squareweezy, Dandiggety, Joob, Wish1, Professor Panson, B.Lewis, Insightful, Shea Butter and R-Cade. 10pm; free.

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