An elite producer working with some big names in the underground, Dr. Alien has really set himself apart from his contemporaries with a consistently dark, oppressive approach to production. His grasp of melody is astounding, and based on what I’ve heard from him over the last few months I’d confidently say he could tackle almost any style. I say this a lot, but he’s also a really down to earth bloke and definitely one of my favourite people to interact with. I hope you enjoy our interview!
1. Firstly, I want to ask how you came up with the name Dr. Alien? It really suits the eerie, spectral vibe of your beats.
Right on, I appreciate that. The name actually came from a sketch I drew in 10th grade science class. I wasn’t really paying attention to what my teacher was saying, but he started talking about aliens and it caught my attention. I don’t remember if it was my idea, or the way he might have phrased it, but I remember I started drawing an alien wearing a beanie smoking weed (I was in 10th grade give me a break). That ended up being the original idea behind Dr. Alien. Around that time I was uploading my first beats on Soundcloud and I changed my username from my full name to Dr. Alien, and it ended up sticking.
2. You dropped an album, What’s Up, Doc?, last year. It contained features from a bunch of talented rappers, everyone really came together to go crazy on your beats. How did that project come together?
It was a lot of hard work, and I owe a lot of it to my roommate Max at the time. The idea was that it’s a soft reboot of Dr. Alien’s sound. While my style never changed, I have explored a lot of genres. I felt like the huge 2016-2017 wave in music was something I needed to be apart of, it was very inspiring seeing so many new artists and this new sound in music. It took me probably half a year to work on this project. The beats that ended up being on the album were probably made all in the same month, the time consuming factor was figuring out who was going to be on the project and actually going about getting them on there. A handful of the artists on the tape I know in person, it was pretty easy to get in contact with them and I’m very blessed they all were so eager to be on the album. The rest were artists I had spent the last year or two listening too, and had only known them online. It wasn’t difficult to get in contact with them, I just made sure to come prepared, cash in hand. My roommate was a great help, and actually funded half of the album. When I got all the tracks back, I decided that I’d just release the album on 4/20 because it was only a week away or so. I actually waited last minute to make the album art, Max and I drove out to a parking garage and took photos. We ended up finding an elevator and got a great shot of me in there, we went home that night, edited the photo, and released the album when we woke up.
3. Your upcoming project is titled ////loading…, and you dropped the first single, ‘No Reason’ last week. Can we expect to hear more of the grimy, mechanical sound found on that joint?
I’m not actually sure! For awhile I was actually thinking about only having one or two features, and the rest being some pieces I put together that are more of an ambient/ indie soundtrack sound; but I’m still debating. I don’t think I could ever stray away from that grimy mechanical sound and enjoy myself, even when I try to make something upbeat it ends up sounding darker than intended.
4. What artists can we expect to hear you collaborate with in the future? Both on the tape and any other future tracks.
Good question, I have a lot of unreleased content with a lot of great rappers. Booshido and I have so much stuff in the vault, but we’re both pretty picky on releasing them. We currently are sitting on two albums, both collecting dust. Boo and I have discussed time and time again that these albums need to be properly advertised or no one will hear them, so we are in the brainstorming phase. Locally, I’m working with a good friend of mine, Gray Newbanks. He has a crazy work ethic, I have no idea why he invites me over, I swear his beats are better than mine. Every time I come over I leave with at least one song done. He actually just dropped a project I produced on his Soundcloud called “The Invasion”, an EP/Tape we made in a week or so.
5. You really have come up with some incredible beats, the production you did for Fades on ‘Broad Street Kid’ is one of my favourites. What’s your favourite song you’ve ever produced?
Thanks man, I really appreciate that. My favorite is probably “Hellrider” with Booshido, which unfortunately is not out yet. It’s on one of the albums I mentioned earlier, but I might talk to Booshido about dropping it as a single. However, out of my released content it would probably have to be “Gift Wrap” with Kid God on “What’s Up, Doc?”. I was playing Skyrim and the sample I used was being played in a tavern, I lost my shit! I guess I never noticed in all my time playing, but it really caught my ear. I had made a beat out of it pretty easily and sent it to Kid God, which serves as a great outro for the album.
6. How long exactly have you been producing? Your Soundcloud goes back a few years and your beats have only got darker and more intense since then.
I have been producing for 7 years! Originally I had actually gotten FL Studios so I could make Metal/ Electronica music. I was a huge Celldweller fan in 8th grade, and really liked his mix of Metal and early 2000s synth. It wasn’t until the next year that I started listening to Rap/Hip Hop and became pretty passionate about listening and making beats. It took a while for me to find my sound but the more I progress the darker the music gets.
7. Who are your biggest inspirations as a producer? It’s quite hard to pinpoint similarities between your sound and that of others.
I’m a huge fan of Hideo Kojima. Metal Gear Solid changed my life, without a doubt. His newest game “Death Stranding” looks incredible, it has that melancholy vibe that I can’t get enough of. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of electronic music, over rap/trap. The Dust Brothers are a favorite of mine, as well as Daft Punk, and old school Celldweller. I also really like Avengers: Infinity War, it has a lot of cool themes and the ending is totally up my alley.
8. Is there anybody you’d particularly like to work with that you haven’t had the chance to yet? Maybe some producer collaborations?
As of right now I’m not too sure which direction I want to take. I’d love to produce for artists like Ski Mask, Valee, or even Lil Pump, but I know those dudes busy and have a million other producers trying to work with them. I’m always looking for new artist to work with, but not hard enough.
I’ve never really considered working with another producer, I watch Gray Newbanks make beats on FL Studios and it’s completely different than the way I make beats. I’m sure if I really tried I could make it work, but I just haven’t had a good chance to do so.
9. Where are you from, and is there a scene for hip-hop that you can take part in? If not, where do you think the hottest artists are right now?
I am from Sioux Falls, South Dakota in the United States. Believe it or not, there is a pretty large Hip Hop scene here in town. There are a lot of rappers here in town, and I’ve had the pleasure with working with probably 60% of them. I was apart of a group called Silent Obliteration, which consisted of 4 emcees, Stanley Milgram, Wantedallah, Hazmat, and Moe Bitches, and myself as the groups producer and Dj. We played a lot of shows locally and even went on tour. For a while I was only playing shows in town and working with Silent Obliteration, but have been focusing on my internet presence for a couple years now. I’m not too in sync with the local scene anymore, but still work with artists like Gray Newbanks, Kid Brother, and Cardiac.
10. Thanks for this bro, I’m a big fan and I’m looking forward to the new project a whole lot. Any shoutouts you want to give?
I appreciate it man, thank you so much for the interview. Huge shout out to all the artists I named, shouts out to Max for all the help with “Whats Up, Doc?”, and shouts out to Chris for running such a great blog.
Listen to Alien on Soundcloud. Follow him on Twitter at @DOCTORALIEN_.