Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dot Rotten on progression, Caribbean food and being a diva

This week we caught up with Dot Rotten, the South London MC who has been noted on Radio 1's "Sound of 2012" list and is about to go on tour with Labrinth. Dot tells us about his early music memories, his penchant for The Corrs and his ultimate goal - owning his own private island. See Dot's website here

We heard you wrote your first ever track on an Atari aged 7 – how did that come about?
Atari was pretty hard to use, so I got help from my uncle. He taught me how to use it and he gave me a little keyboard. This is when studio equipment was a bomb – you could be in there for a couple of hours and it would cost you a few grand.
Is music something that you always wanted to do?
It’s just something that’s always been around me. I’ve always been aware that it’s there.
What were you listening to at that age?
At 6 or 7? I was listening to jungle – hard jungle – hard raving jungle – that was me. But there was also loads of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson.
What was the first tape you ever bought?
My first tape? Well... the first CD I remember being bought was Mariah Carey Butterfly. The first CD I ever bought myself was in New York, Empire records and I bought Dilated Peoples Expansion Team, Worst comes to worst my Peoples Come First - that was on that CD. First rap song I ever heard was Ol’ Dirty Bastard Brooklyn Zoo .

There have been lots of changes in your career, including changing your name. Do you think they were a necessary part if the process or would you go back and alter anything you did?
During the whole process of my career I’ve had to grow. And sometimes you might think something’s good and then you grow and look back and you’re like ...‘that’s a liability’. That’s happened a lot in my career. I tend to cut off my liabilities and focus on all the assets. My talent is progression. I’m good at progressing and learning when to stay around or move. Risk assessment. That’s one of my talents. So it had to happen. Things have changed anyway they happened naturally.
You’ve been open about not wanting to be defined – either as grime, or urban, or any genre. Why is that?
I think once you put a title on something it’s always bad. It’s a weird thing because, for example, when you’re talking about feelings: love is a feeling, in a relationship you can feel it and say nothing but when a title comes into play things start getting a bit serious and that’s how I feel about titles. I think it’s better to just leave it as it is. Everyone’s opinionated – they could listen to one of my songs and think it’s an r’n’b song but I think it’s totally different. Leave the genres out of it and just focus on “That’s a Dot Rotten song”. It’s not even a genre, it’s a sound. You can hear it.
What are your musical influences?
My Uncle Jason and Aunty Dawn. They are my main influences, no one else. Without them I wouldn’t be doing this. They are my inspiration.
What are your musical guilty pleasures?
*Dot can’t think of anything, so Religion suggests Justin Beiber*
I think Justin’s sick! He’s one of the sickest! It’s only a matter of time till everyone realises!
Guiilty pleasures, umm, something I listen to that’s really moist...there must be something. I like The Corrs! They’re all hotties - I like them! They’re sick! I’ll be on the front row of their comeback!
So you’re a South West London boy – what are your favourite places in London?
My favourite place in South West London is Durand Gardens – I went to primary school there, I’d live there, it’s so nice. Apart from there, I like Brentford area, I like Chiswick area. And Ochi’s in Shepherd’s Bush does really good Caribbean food.
Describe your style...
My style? Rotten. One word. That’s all that’s necessary.
Do you think that it’s important to look good?
It’s an illusion but people like people who look good – sometimes people look past it and they don’t care about image but not often. It’s a brainwashing thing.

Tell us about your single that’s coming out.
I don’t know when it’s coming out! You can put that in. I don’t know. I’m not focused on single release; I’m focused on the music. When it comes out it comes out, if it sells it sells, if it don’t it don’t. I’m not about to go and sit on Twitter for 24 hours promoting. If you buy it you buy it, if I’m gonna make money I’ll make money, but I still have to sit in a studio and record and write songs. You’ll know when it’s out because you’ll see everyone Tweeting about it apart from me.
We were going to ask you about Twitter actually – you’ve got a live feed covering the front of your website. What’s the thinking behind that?
The reason it’s like that is because my album is called Voices in my Head, so it’s about that. I don’t have much to do with it. They say ‘We’re gonna do this’, I say that sounds all right, do it, yea.
You’re very trusting!
With everything apart from the music. Actually, not with everything apart from the music. No, no, I’m really not but I let them do what they gotta do. Until I’ve got something to complain about it’s alright.
And then what happens?
Then, I act like a diva. Really.
Are you looking forward to your upcoming tour with Labrinth?
Yea, I’m looking forward to it, to rolling with Lab’s people, me with my live band and creating a good vibe. Hopefully we’ll get in a studio after.
Do you think you guys have quite a similar style?
I think there is chemistry between us musically....I think we understand each other’s vision. When it comes to fans it’s a case of them listening and going....yea, I can see where he’s going. I just hope people get the time to appreciate the music. Even if they listen to it and don’t like it, or if they do like it, either way I’ve got no expectations. Everything’s a bonus.

What are your goals?
My main one, where I’ll know I’ve achieved something, is a private island. That’s when I’ll know.
Any island in particular?
Yea! Of course I’ve got my eye on a few! I wanna get to that point though, its’ a long way and you have to build up to that, but that’s how you know it’s a final goal.
Has being listed on Radio 1’s “Sound of 2012” list changed things for you?
No. Not for me, I’m not feeling any pressure. Right now there’s a big awareness on me, but I’m used to that from 3 or 4 years back. Artists who don’t have the experience I do might feel pressured in this situation, they could get big headed or overexcited, and loads of things come into play, but to me I’m just like, thank you, thank you everyone who put me forward for the list, I’m so grateful, but beyond that it hasn’t changed me. I’m going to continue to do what I do. I can’t allow myself to get excited just because my name has been put on a list. I lock myself away for 4 months working, come out and people like my sounds. I come out ten times smarter, stronger, and changing.

Follow Dot on Twitter here for all his latest news.