Aristotle once said: “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” For Los Angeles-based producer, beatmaker, DJ, and composer Dday One (birth name Udeze Ukwuoma) that has meant finding a quiet life in the bustling big city, and staking out his own territory.
Over a profound body of work spanning LPs, EPs, and mix-albums, Dday One has furthered the sample-based lineage of instrumental hip-hop with an invigorating organic feel, a transporting musical sensibility, and the ability to conjure the spirits of outside influences without referential appropriation. Now, he offers an intriguing entry in his artistic dialogue with Gathered Between (The Content (L)abel / P-Vine)—a transitional album rescued from obscurity after a technology malfunction years later.
“When an artist makes something of real depth people recognize that. It’s like eating food made from love—that’s the experience I want to offer people with my music,” the Los Angeles-based artist shares.
Dday One came up surrounded by a vibrant mélange of cultures and genres and has gone on to be able integrate the soulful essentials of many perspectives into a signature aesthetic. He’s of Nigerian and American backgrounds, and growing up his father owned a nightclub that regularly hosted a diverse roster of global musicians and DJs. There he was exposed to music from around the world and saw firsthand the art and craft of being a DJ.
Each of Dday One’s productions are intricately arranged note by note and meticulously programmed. This uniquely organic philosophy extends to his live show where he eschews the safety of a laptop performance and, instead, performs his composition in real time through banging out musical passages. Dday One’s live setup is similar to a hip-hop DJ, and he often pushes the boundaries of his compositions during live appearances with rhythmic improvisations. His intrepid artistry encompasses break-beat, world music, free jazz, musique concrète and hip-hop, among others without recalling specific artists or stylistic conventions.
As much as his cultural milieu has informed his music, Dday One’s vision has been drastically shaped by technological limitations. “Everything has evolved naturally, nothing has been planned,” he reveals. In his formative years, he would collect records and construct his early compositions from his crate digging explorations using a broken tape player. The deck’s malfunction actually worked in his favor, enabling him to make loops from music passages that stood out to his artistic ear. Dropping the needle on the record and painstakingly constructing a sample was a formative exercise. “Using crude materials in those days expanded my creativity, and even though I’ve advanced in terms of the equipment I use now, I still stay in that mindset to make sure the human element comes out in my current work,” he confides.
Dday One’s career began in earnest in 2005 with the release of his debut full length Loop Extensions. Since then, he’s issued five LPs (including his latest), one EP, and three mix-albums. Through it all, he’s been able to remain faithful to muse through establishing his boutique imprint, The Content (L)abel.
Dday One creates immersive and ambitious narrative statements with his long-playing releases. Each entry in his catalog is carefully curated to examine an overarching theme with sonic eloquence. His latest, Gathered Between, is something of a lost album and a treat for fans. The concept is that we live between the past and the future. The album is an aural snapshot of that existential grey area. It’s the LP that was supposed to be Dday One’s third release, but a hard drive crash erased most of its contents.
Through poring over demos, Dday One recreated the album, filling in his artistic continuum at a pivotal time.
Dday One debuted with 2005’s Loop Extensions (Content (L)abel / Needlework UK) which explores the elasticity of sampled motifs, innovatively breaking boundaries without sacrificing enthralling musicality. Limited vinyl copies of the album were pressed up and distributed to scene tastemakers, and, within a month from the album’s release, LA hip-hop’s underground king Mike Nardone was spinning album cuts on his radio show “We Came From Beyond” KXLU 88.9 and Cut Chemist was requesting a copy.
In an interview with HMV Online Dday One has said: “When I originally pressed up Loop Extensions in 2005, it was limited to 500 vinyl copies. Through word of mouth the majority of the records spread to Europe and Japan.
Out of deep appreciate for this I decided to release Loop Extensions Deluxe and Mood Algorithms, which is an early works project and kind of an unofficial debut.”
His follow-up, Heavy Migration (Content (L)abel / P-Vine), boldly takes on the quest to find the perfect beat. And,along the journey, Heavy Migration, explores the movement of sound from one medium to another. This concept is analyzed metaphorically, reminiscent of humans who migrate, sounds retain traits established from their origin (pitch, cultural markers, ambiance of the original recording session, etc).
His next release, Mood Algorithms, was something of an early-works anthology that originally circulated as a very limited edition cassette. The title is evocative of the compositional process in which beats were created with inspiration from daily moods.
In 2014, Dday One released profoundly personal, Dialogue with Life (Content (L)abel / P-Vine). Half of the record was made before open-heart surgery, and the other half was made after the operation. The two sections of the album are distinct in feel because of this—the first half is moodier and darker, and the second half is more spiritually centered. The album is a cathartic piece of art.
In an exclusive Q&A with Textura.org, Dday One revealed: “In terms of the surgery’s impact on production, with both Heavy Migration and Dialogue with Life, the prospect of having surgery was a strong motivator to complete the albums and also became a source of inspiration for titles and cover-art. Actually when I got a date for the operation, I was working non-stop trying to finish the album before going in. I almost did finish it but am glad I didn’t because the love I got from friends, family, and supporters after coming out of surgery gave me a new outlook that broadened the project.”
Philosophizing about his varied output, Dday One says: “The thread through it all is connecting with people across the world. Music transcends language. I hope my music helps people see the high parts in themselves.”