Next month, Paris-born but Toronto-based producer STWO — whose name (which is pronounced "stew") is still most closely associated with the remixes he has uploaded to SoundCloud and his work on Views's track "Weston Road Flows" — will release an EP that he hopes will help establish him as an artist in his own right. Titled D.T.S.N.T. (formerly Distant), it was recorded in large part during STWO's first Toronto winter and it features a grab bag of great guests — including Sevdaliza, on lead-single "Haunted" and A.CHAL on the just-released "Out At Night." Check out the full track list, complete with all the collaborators names, at the bottom of this post.
Earlier this week The FADER spoke with STWO about the project. Below, he speaks on the folks he worked with to make this EP, keeping his workload balanced, and breaking free from SoundCloud.
What does D.T.S.N.T. stand for?
D.T.S.N.T. means Down To Say Nice Things. It's just a positive message and it's a pretty positive project: I got to meet a lot of people and we got genuinely connected, it was a really nice experience. I didn't really spend so much time on the name, because it's not what matters the most to me — it just made sense to call it that.
Tell me about these people, there are a lot of names on the track list—
There's Sevdaliza, of course. Then there's this rapper from Brooklyn, his name is Amir Obe. I really love Amir's music and I hit him up on Twitter, we started talking, and it was really easy. Daniel Caesar, who's this amazing singer from Toronto. MK Grands is a singer and a producer from Australia. He's really unknown but I found his SoundCloud. I had this beat that I had this idea in my head and his voice just made sense. There's BADBADNOTGOOD — amazing, talented musicians from Toronto and the nicest people too. Shay Lia is one of my close friends that's this amazing singer who's worked with Kaytranada. And there's this singer called Sunny Colon, he has this Frank Ocean vibe to him that's really cool, and the track we made is totally different from the rest of the EP.
Every collaboration on this album was really easy. I gave every artist full control over whatever they wanted to do because I genuinely like their music, and they came back to me with vocals that were already almost done, we didn't really have to do much work after. Every artist, the experience was really that easy and really natural.
What is your collaborative process like?
When I want to make a beat, I always keep in mind who I'm going to send it to or where it's going to go, and I produce in a way that I know they're going to feel it was made for them, because it was. Even if it's my EP, I really wanted to showcase the talent of the person as well. I never was like, "You have to sing this way or that way, or those melodies." I was like, "This is the song. I know it's going to feel right so just do whatever you feel." That's what they did, and everything was good to me because that's exactly what they wanted.
What does this EP mean to you?
This EP is about me moving out from France, having to figure my whole life, and being out there in Toronto and L.A. Before I moved out, I was just working from home. I travelled because I had shows and everything but I've never lived by myself. And when I moved to Toronto it was winter, and winter is so cold there. I was wrapped up and inside, and it allowed me to take a lot of time to work on music. Then in the summer it's like everything explodes and the city goes crazy. I just had to figure it out.
Is there anything else about the EP that you want people to know?
I want people to know that this is just a glimpse of of the music I love right now and everything that I can do. It's a way for me to tell people, "This is what I can do." I'm not just an in-house producer, I really care about making my own music and being free to do everything that I want. I really feel like I have two personalities: I have this personality that's the in-house producer that only wants to work with four other people, and then there's this part of me that needs to make my own music just for myself. Both are making me really happy. I just need a right balance between both.
You are releasing this EP through your own label, Huh What & Where, but you have a good relationship with Noah "40" Shebib. Did he play any part in this project?
Being around him really inspired me and my way of putting it back was being inspired and making music again. I had writer's block at the time I met him — I was working on my EP, I was making so many drafts and nothing was good enough. I think that meeting him and just being around him, having access to the studio, and just growing, I got the inspiration back.
But I also want people to know that even though I'm connected to 40, I still really care about my career as an artist and I really want to be able to keep creating my own music as well as being a producer for bigger people.
Are you nervous to share this?
I'm a little nervous because I haven't released an actual project in years. I've dropped remixes on SoundCloud and stuff like that, but nowadays everybody does that and I'm kind of tired of this SoundCloud vibe. My goal is to take my name away from SoundCloud, even if they did everything for me, there's still people calling me a SoundCloud artist — which is fine, because I've made everything thanks to that, and I'm thankful, but my goal with the project is that people see me more as an artist than just a SoundCloud producer. That's why I'm nervous. I don't know how people are going to take it. It's not really something I could have dropped before. I'm nervous because I really care about it and I hope that people will get it. But you know, I'm more excited than nervous. It should be fun, it should be good.
D.S.T.N.T. track list:
1. Far From Home
2. Haunted (ft. Sevdaliza)
3. Insecure (ft. Brent Faiyaz & Atu)
4. Fill The Void (ft. Amir Obe & Daniel Caesar)
5. Angeles (ft. MK Grands)
6. Out At Night (ft. A.CHAL)
7. All Alone (ft. Shay Lia & BADBADNOTGOOD)
8. Blue Sky (ft. Sunny Colon)
STWO's upcoming tour dates:
July 22: Fortune Sound Club, Vancouver
July 23: News Speak, Montreal
July 29: East Room, Chicago
July 30: Market Hotel, Brooklyn
August 5: Shambala Music Festival, B.C.
August 12: XOYO, London
August 13: Positiv Festival, Marseille
August 18: Pukklepop Festival, Belguim
August 20: Milsoc Festival, Poland
October 21: 170 Russel Melbourne, Australia w/ KAYTRANADA
October 22: Metro City Perth, Australia w/ KAYTRANADA
October 23: 170 Russel Melbourne, Australia w/ KAYTRANADA
October 27: The Tivoli Brisbane, Australia w/ KAYTRANADA
October 28: Studio The Venue Auckland, New Zealand w/ KAYTRANADA
October 29: Enmore Theatre Sydney, Australia w/ KAYTRANADA