Below, you can read our interview with Dirty-Dirt McGurt, and listen to his album, Hard Work & DIRTermination. Check out our full music review of Hard Work & DIRTermination, HERE.
Q: You were born in the small Cajun/swamp town of Marksville, LA, as the son of a professional bluegrass musician. That’s some rich culture right there! How did that town, and your father, influence your musical endeavor—then & now?
A: My father was a bluegrass musician, but didn’t always make the time for his family. His music was his entire world, and we didn’t see him much. I often watched him playing his guitar and banjo, sometimes when he didn’t even know I was watching. I eventually saved up to buy my own guitar and banjo and began to emulate him, mainly in hopes that he would take notice and perhaps teach me a few things. Unfortunately it didn’t work as I planned, but I continued to play and teach myself using videos, books, and lots of practice.
Growing up in such a small town, there wasn’t a lot to do. Many kids often get involved in drugs, and get into trouble. I was not much different in that sense. I had a good head on my shoulders and was smart and talented, but my biggest fear was that if I didn’t make it out of that town, I would slowly destroy myself. Much like many troubled youth, and other hip-hop artists, I sold drugs, partied, and got involved in my fair share of negative circles. The only difference was that I made a promise to myself that I made sure to keep. I took my drug money and used it to buy instruments, book shows, and market the rock band I was playing with at the time. The band was called, The Big Red Blimp, and though nothing much ever came from it, it gave me a chance to grow my independent music artist skillset and get myself out and about doing more positive things.
Later on after high school, I would join a non-profit performing arts group called, The Young Americans, which gave me the opportunity to leave my hometown and travel to California, where I left my trouble-filled youth behind. I spent several years traveling the world, performing and teaching music and dance to kids in schools, and sharing my story as motivation.
Q: Your a self-taught multi-instrumentalist who—as a kid—taught yourself to play guitar, trumpet, bass and piano. What possessed you to keep adding to your repertoire at such a young age? How in depth have you gotten with each instrument? Which instrument do you prefer? Do you still play often?
A: I started with guitar and banjo, and also took a few years of piano lessons as a kid. Then, I joined the school band for a couple of years and learned to play trumpet. From there, I purchased a new instrument every year or so, adding to my repertoire. I now own and play guitars, basses, banjo, mandolin, dobro, violin, piano, drums, harmonica, turntables, and a full recording studio. I love learning new instruments and utilizing them in my writing and recordings. I don’t think I will ever stop playing or learning new instruments. Unfortunately, after the expense of education from several different universities, and growing my recording studio, I’ve had to part with some of my favorite instruments in my collection to pay bills, so I am soon planning on looking to add a few more new pieces to my collection.
Q: After studying dance and music production in school, you released your debut album, First March, in 2009, and your performance career started to blossom, which led to an opportunity to be an opening act for a standing show in Las Vegas, global performances, and sharing the stage with the likes of Fat Joe, Lazy Bone, Talib Kweli and others. What was it like being on tour with those icons of hip-hop? Tell us about your global touring…where have you been? How long were you on the road and overseas? What were your top three venues?
A: One of my favorite events was a red carpet event in Beverly Hills at a place called The Aqua Lounge. It was a private event with many talented artists including The Brothers Johnson, Slapback, and more. This was a show that allowed me to perform around a variety of different styles of artists, which I always enjoy—as opposed to playing shows exclusively alongside hip-hop artists. Some of my other favorite venues in and around L.A. were Skinny’s in Noho, The Airliner, and The Observatory. I also enjoyed doing competitions with Coast 2 Coast Live, as well as other competition shows where I’ve gotten to share the stage with artists like Hopsin and more. I’ve also gotten the chance to return home and perform on television, and in clubs in my home state of Louisiana, which was lots of fun.
Performing as an opening act for Talib Kweli was super memorable and fun as well. I remember playing at a show in Pasadena and seeing many fans wearing Talib Kweli shirts coming up to me after the show and telling me that though they came to see him, they were probably more entertained by my set. Not a bad compliment to hear as an up-incoming act just trying to get his feet wet. I even wrote a song, “What the World Needs” on my debut album (First March) just to perform with Talib, since I felt I needed a political/conscious hip-hop track to match what he is so well known for. As for overseas, I have played all over the U.K. (England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales), as well as Germany, Japan, Canada, and more. Most of this was during my early days with The Young Americans performing arts group, but it gave me a chance to rap and premiere some of my early writings and raps, which would lead to the birth and growth of Dirty-Dirt McGurt.
All in all, I spent close to 7 years on the road overseas, 3-6 months at a time, and changing towns and venues every 3 days before loading up and moving to the next. Lots of long roads trips, plane flights, and boat trips, tearing down, setting up, teaching, performing, and learning from the different cultures and people along the way. Germany and Japan were two of my absolute favorite places to visit and perform.
Q: Hard Work & DIRTermination has some old tracks and some new tracks. All in all, how long did it take to record the album? What important knowledge did you gain during that process?
A: The album took far too long to record to be honest. Life likes to throw a lot of curveballs in the way sometimes. After a few bad breakups, moving, changing jobs, college, a DUI, getting too close to some of the wrong people, etc., there was a point where I thought I’d never finish this album. I had a lot of learning, growth, and soul searching to do during my late 20’s. I think this may have been indirectly the result of me missing my wild teen years. While most college age youth are out finding themselves, I was traveling the world helping others. When I got back to reality after traveling and performing, I got close to many people who used me and clouded my vision. Money burned, bridges burned, and then there was the rebuilding.
“The album cover pictures me as a mad scientist, with business functions for profit scribbled on a chalk board, while I mix blood, sweat, tears, time, and money to create success for myself.”
Now in my 30’s, things have come a long long way. I’ve rebuilt, refocused, and found ME this time. I’ve gotten bigger dreams now, like family, kids, business ideas, etc. But I still make and produce music because it is my bread and butter. I took all the experiences from those years and finished Hard Work & DIRTermination, and also am currently working on some other side projects, including a jazz album. Hard Work & DIRTermination is titled appropriately because that’s what it took for me to get it out. The album cover pictures me as a mad scientist, with business functions for profit scribbled on a chalk board, while I mix blood, sweat, tears, time, and money to create success for myself.
Q: This new album is roughly a decade after the success of your debut project, First March. What’s been going on since then? What made you hold off recording until now?
A: There was no holding off on recording. Locations changed, co-producers and featured artists came and went. Entire tracks were scrapped for various reasons and the roller-coaster of life took the controls as I was just riding along for a good while. It took a lot of hard work and determination to find my way sometimes. I was always a romantic at heart, ever since I was a kid writing love songs and poetry to crushes. I continue to do so even to this day, as I have chosen not to let go of the strength of my heart no matter how many times its been shattered. Songs like “Just A G” from the album (First March) and “Call Me Casanova” off of the new album (Hard Work & DIRTermination), continue to show my romantic side. While songs like “Samantha” and “Flutterby/Girl Talk” off the new album show some of the heartbreak that I’ve endured over the years.
These kinds of emotional hardships made me fragile, sometimes weak. That’s why I had to take a long time to heal and grow in order to know just how strong I really was. Many people prey on emotional weakness, they take advantage of it and make it much harder to remember who you are—and what you are worth. That’s why I have songs like “Look At Me”, which is written as growth takes place and strength returns, after taking a long look at yourself and seeing what you are really made of. I have so much more, and I’ve only just begun to show that to the world.
Q: In one sentence, what is it that you’re trying to express to the world with this new music; what’s your intention?
A: We all struggle, make mistakes, doubt, hurt, and want to give up at times. But if you take your pain and hurt and turn it into passion and art, work hard, stay determined, and keep on going, you will achieve and find everything you were looking for.
Q: Perhaps in some unspecified amount of time, your musical career explodes in the best of ways…what does that look like for you?
A: I see myself performing and working in the studio with some of my favorite artists and inspirations. Perhaps, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino, or maybe some cross genre collaborations. I’d love to make some hip-hop/jazz tracks with Jamie Cullum or something. That would be incredible. I also see myself back on tour, as well as the continued growth of my recording studio, IYAM Entertainment Studios, into a larger record label or artist development marketing firm. I also see myself with a family of my own, raising my kids and playing and teaching music to them—as my greatest success is family, friends, and loved ones before money and material things. I want to bring music, and especially hip-hop, back to the poetry, meaningful lyrics, and passion that it began from before it all became about cars, clothes, and other status symbols that it is today. Music is about love first and foremost, and whether I become incredibly successful or not, I’m gonna keep on making music because I love what I do.
Q: You get to collaborate with anyone of your choosing—dead or alive. Who is it?
A: Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, Eminem, Outkasts, Jamie Cullum, Amy Winehouse, Frank Sinatra, this list could go on forever. I love collaborating more than I like writing and performing alone.
Q: Your favorite album of all time?
A: Wow! Thats incredibly hard to answer. I don’t even know how to compare across genres. I have jazz albums in mind, but also hip-hop and rock albums. Then I start thinking of how many independent artists albums that I listen to over and over, day to day because even though they aren’t huge names, their music is absolutely perfect to me. But, one choice: Z-Ro – I’m Still Living, due to personal memories, friends whom I’ve lost, and so much that it takes me back to.
Q: Your favorite song of all time?
A: Easy. Toto – Africa.
Q: What would you like fans to know about you that they’re most likely unaware of?
A: I am obsessed with Penguins and anything Halloween. Those two things are quite random and totally unrelated, but that’s me. I’m random like that.
Q: Any shout-outs you wanna make?
A: Shout outs to Julian Moon, check out his album Common Dangers on iTunes (One of my fav indie albums). Shout out to Sol Akiva, Daniel Kirkpatrick, DeAndre Flewellen, Chris DCipher, Octavius Womack, Steve Maggiora, Bryant Huber, The Young Americans. My family and friends and girlfriend Molle Miller, and anyone else who has helped with writing, producing, performing, inspiration, and growth of Dirty-Dirt McGurt. Love you guys and thank you for all the support.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: No, I don’t have any music videos. I know, I know… two albums, shows, performances, tours, etc. and no music videos? I would love to shoot one, but have yet to meet anyone who could assist me in an affordable option or creative vision. So someday hopefully. For now though, there are some live videos on YouTube, and much more new music and projects to come. Stay tuned y’all!
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