29 Sep Exclusive Interview: Inside The Mind of DiCE MaN
DiCE MaN is the alias of the brilliant Wade Appleton, a rising artist who currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. With a background in musical theatre and a burning passion for bass music, DiCE MaN is a natural performer with a bright future in the EDM scene.
You may know DiCE MaN from events such as Dubday NYC (a successful series of events which he founded), or from his performances at music festivals all over the country. I recently had a chance to catch up with the young artist to ask him about his budding career.
1) What is the meaning behind the name DiCE MaN?
Well, my birthday is actually 7/11, so my father has been calling me ‘DiCE MaN’ ever since the day I was born. Around high school it just kind of stuck.
2) Who or what first inspired you to start creating your own original music?
I’ve always been inspired to create art, and I think most of my inspiration just comes from the world around me, the friends I have, the relationships I’m in, and my own head space. For me, creating music is just a reflection on all of those things. I used to make sounds and noises when I was very young, but then was gifted a guitar for Christmas when I was 13-years-old. Back then, I was inspired to write guitar songs by bands like Hop Along Queen Ansleis, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and the Moldy Peaches. Then later in life, I discovered bass music and specifically attended a Bassnectar show as one of my first dips into the world of electronic music. After that, it was game over. I knew I wanted to write and create this new kind of music that insights intense feelings of emotion and release. I knew I had to start getting into it so I could communicate myself more effectively.
3) You are from Toronto, grew up in South Florida, and currently live in Brooklyn, NY. How have each of these areas influenced your brand?
Each of my homes has had a massive influence on who I am as a person, and therefore, how my art comes to fruition and what it’s about. Canada will always be my home, and the times I get to spend back there visiting my family and our cottage leaves me feeling all sorts of love and nostalgia (and helps connect me and ground me to the more simple beauties of life). My time spent growing up in South Florida was just a party and a half! The DiCE MaN project really came to light down there, and it’s where the whole thing began. It’s where I learned to party, but also to discipline myself and push myself. And my new home, Brooklyn, has really shaped the DiCE MaN project into what it is today. The music I’ve been writing during my time here has been a complete reflection of my surroundings and my circumstance. Brooklyn is gritty, it’s grimey, and I love it! It’s also where I began building a community around my music and my movement. It provides me with an overwhelming amount of support and love. I still have a whole lot of stuff I want to accomplish here before moving on to the next phase, though.
4) What are three of your favorite music production plugins you use on a regular basis?
I basically produce all of my music with stock Ableton plugins. I have always used Massive for most of my bass patches, etc., and I just recently purchased my first external plugin, iZotope Trash 2, and I’m in love!
5) What is the extent of your theatre background? In your opinion, how has it impacted your outlook on live sets?
I studied theatre/acting extensively all throughout high school and got my BFA in Theatre Performance at Florida Atlantic University after that. I’d say that acting is my strongest skill set, and that my background in theatre is far more developed than my music background (which I am solely self-taught in). I’d say that my background in theatre is what sets my music project apart from a lot of my contemporaries. The whole goal of the DiCE MaN project has been to bring what I know and have learned from the theatre to the bass music scene. In turn, each of my sets becomes an intensely thought out journey filled with little segments that all tell their own stories or evoke their own emotions. I also sprinkle some performance elements like live spoken word poetry, Shakespeare monologues, and things of that sort to heighten audience engagement (and to mess with their heads a bit!)
6) You founded Dubday NYC, a series of underground events that are becoming a huge phenomenon in the bass music scene. Why did you start Dubday NYC?
I started Dubday NYC to bring the community together, and to harbor a space where artists can be seen, heard, and felt. In NYC, an incredibly difficult market to find opportunity in, I noticed a gap between the larger shows and the underground. It basically wasn’t there. There wasn’t a home base—no place where the community could come together to grow, get to know each other, or find comfort. Dubday is a place where patrons can come get to know each other. It takes relationships from the level of ‘facebook friends’ to ‘real friends.’ It’s a place where young, aspiring DJs/producers can come be seen and get their big break. It’s a community for the community.
7) What challenges do you face in organizing underground events such as Dubday NYC?
The list goes on and on. It’s not really the easiest thing to pull off, successfully. I’d say one of the toughest obstacles for most people in my position is money—underground kids hate to spend it, yet these events cant function without it (especially in NYC). And when you start up these endeavors, you have to be prepared to lose quite a bit of money for a very long time until you develop a loyal and trusting community around your event. Most companies end up falling to the wayside because of this. Another huge challenge would be competition: I could never operate these parties in NYC on a weekend, so I’ve strategically taken over Tuesday nights. This has allowed me to flourish and grow amidst an already busy concrete jungle.
8) How do you go about choosing artists for events such as Dubday NYC? What specifically do you look for?
It’s always a unique scenario, but basically, I just put on what I like and trust that the brand/following I’ve built trusts in me. For headlining acts, I generally look for talent that lives in other regions of the country. I look for those who may have a harder time breaking out in to the Northeast scene. I like bringing up smaller acts for their first NYC debut, or maybe regional acts who have put in the work and are honing in on their craft. Once I have my headlining acts laid out, I carefully pick the support acts for the week to compliment that specific sound. I’m not too narrow, so some nights will be deeper dubstep, some will be weird space bass, some will be riddim, some will be downtempo. It’s just important that the whole night works together as a cohesive unit, and I try my best to make each night feel that way.
9) Let’s talk about the Dub Bus (a bus converted into a stage) that has been popping up at music festivals across the country. How did you manage to get the Dub Bus integrated into music festivals? Given your DIY attitude, is this something you would have considered organizing even without a music festival’s permission?
The Dub Bus first came about as an unofficial renegade set up that we did at Bassnectar’s ‘Basscenter’ events down in Hampton, VA. I wanted to cause a ruckus and make a name for ourselves down there so that we could gain some grassroots momentum and support. I wanted to hopefully take the concept to music festivals in a more official capacity. We ended up doing just that this past summer when we were invited to be the official side stage at Yonderville Music & Arts Festival. It was there that I was given the opportunity to book acts to play our stage all weekend and showcase the Dubday community and beyond. I really look forward to more excursions like this at future festivals!
10) During your set at Camp Bisco, you shouted out Austin Trout, the leader of Sermon (bass music event production company based in NYC). In what way has being associated with Sermon events helped your career trajectory?
At the beginning of this year, Austin approached me to hop on board with Sermon, and kind of be his right-hand-man in building that brand and taking it to the next level. I’d say that the opportunity to work closely with Austin has been a big impact on my career. He has taught me much about the industry, the game, and life in general. It’s really special having such a great mentor.
11) You performed at a handful of large music festivals this summer, and also traveled the country on your Summer School tour. What are the pros and cons of performing at festivals, as well as pros and cons of playing your own shows?
Festivals generally give you the opportunity to reach a wider/larger audience, and that audience is from all over the place which is super neat! I generally also feel more comfortable to get weirder/stranger with the music/sets in a festival setting because the environment usually calls for that. But, sometimes you run in to some crummy time conflicts or weather issues which could impact your set and how/if it goes. Tour stops/city shows are always great because you have a sense of feeling that the people are there for you—they want to see you do your thing. I love playing music in any capacity, in any setting!
12) What are your top three favorite venues to play? Why?
H0L0, the current home of Dubday NYC, is my home base and the place where I feel most safe to express myself and try new things. I also really enjoyed playing The Middle East in Boston, it has amazing sound, is a great room, and incredible vibes. And, I also played on a boat one time! That was pretty cool 🙂
13) You seem to be more social than other artists in the music scene. For instance, I can specifically recall seeing you interacting with your fans and raging with the crowd during Moon.Beach at Coney Island. Are you ever afraid of your fans potentially taking advantage of your personable, outgoing nature and overstepping their boundaries?
Sometimes! I’m pretty fortunate because for the most part, when fans interact with me in person, they are super respectful and happy. But, I guess it’s always possible for people to overstep boundaries. I think this is less of a problem in person and more of a problem for me on the internet. When you’re the ‘nice, social DJ,’ a lot of fans feel comfortable enough to add you as a friend on platforms and DM you frequently about all sorts of things. Don’t get me wrong, I really do love being connected to my fans and I want so much for them to feel connected to me as well, but I think boundaries get overstepped online far more than they do in person.
14) What two things do you consider to be an advantage of being and staying an independent artist? What are two disadvantages?
I like having creative control about all of my endeavors and choices. I like making my own decisions and doing things on my own agenda. However, it’s also incredibly time-consuming to take care of a lot of the logistics behind the project, and this takes away from my creative time. Professional representation is also, more often than not, far more well equipped to get you better/more opportunities. It takes a lot of grind and hustle to try and find yourself your own work. I look forward to working with a team one day soon, but I’m not going to rush anything that doesn’t feel right.
15) Your cover art is always very unique. How do you go about picking cover art for your songs?
All of my cover art for my projects have been hand-made by my friends! I like to ask my friends to make something for me based off of their aesthetic and the aesthetic of the album/track. From there, I usually send them the music and have them make the piece based off of what they feel while they’re listening to it. In a few instances on singles, I made/conceptualized my own cover art, but I prefer to work with my friends who are more visually inclined on the albums.
16) The video for the song, “Demons at Bay” with Brightside is a wild ride from start to finish. It contains crazy, non-stop video effects and disorienting camera cuts. The video features shots of you hanging out on a rooftop, but also dark imagery such as you blowing out a candle while wearing a medieval robe. Is there any significance in the juxtaposition between the different tones on display in this video? Why or why not? How did you and Brightside come up with these creative concepts?
So, when we made the song, Eric (Brightside) and I discussed the tune being somewhat satanic. The line, “I’m from the South” is to mean ‘from Hell.’ So when we were conceptualizing the video, we wanted to draw on the cultish, religious, satanic tones of the piece, as well as keep it light and satirical (like we both are naturally). We kind of just fell onto what we were doing. We had basically no budget, and just used costume pieces I had lying around my house. We spent maybe $40 on miscellaneous props from the dollar store, and just started filming all these little snips and clips that we would put together later. Huge shoutout to Eric for editing the video himself!
17) Your bio on your SoundCloud page says that your, “style draws from all corners of the musical spectrum”. Which artists outside of EDM would you like to one day collaborate with? Why?
Childish Gambino. The G.O.A.T. The legend! I am so constantly inspired by Donald Glover and the work he’s done in the entertainment industry—it would be a dream come true to work with that man in any capacity, music or otherwise. I’d also love to work with some of my favorite folk-punk influences like AJJ, Kimya Dawson, and Adam Green to name a few. And for what it’s worth, I think Hobo Johnson and I would make something special.
18) On your Instagram, you said you plan to brainstorm new elements for your shows during your hiatus from live performances. What new production elements can your fans expect when you return to the stage?
Not trying to give away my secrets here, but I’m developing new ‘characters’ that will function within the DiCE MaN sets. I’ll also be working on filming and developing new visual content for the screens behind me to help push a narrative and tell a story.
19) What advice can you give to anyone considering becoming a bass artist?
Never stop. To quote one of my favorite writers, Samuel Beckett, “Ever fail? No matter. Fail again. Fail better.” Keep writing music (especially on the days where you think it sucks) keep learning, keep pushing forward, and don’t stop.
20) What are your long-term goals for your career as a bass artist? What might be a surprise goal your fans wouldn’t expect?
I want to keep building the project so it can reach more and more people. My end game is to make people think and to make people feel. I plan on using any and every tool that I can to make that happen. I’d love to one day reach a point where this is large enough and that I can hire/ work with many more friends and collaborators. I want to create better content for the screens, develop insane, large-scale productions, and beyond. I’m also working on writing a play that I’d like to premier on Broadway sooner than later, so I can further bridge the gap between bass music and the theatre. I can’t wait to show you all what I’m cooking up 🙂