Damien Styles, a.k.a. Styles The Kid (14) of Wichita, KS is definitely an artist you need to keep your eye on. Damien has been writing and producing music since he was five years old; however, he was featured on his first track earlier than that. When he first started recording he went by the moniker “Lil Bounce” and was one of the top 20 artists on wemix.com (2008), established and run by Ludacris, which featured over 100,000 artists, worldwide. Styles has proven he’s not just a studio artist – having performed in front of thousands of people with such artists as Hurricane Chris, Lloyd and Baby Bash.
Being surrounded by music at such an early age, what was your household like growing up as a child?
Crazy… Haha. I grew up in a dysfunctional household infused with a lot of drama and pain and bottled up emotions, so music was always kinda my escape. It’s like for some people, they talk to a shrink or whatever… For me it was “Oh, you mad? Write about it.” and I always did. Music helped me through a lot. I was always either listening to what my pops was doing downstairs, listening to Eminem’s MMLP with my headphones in, or writing songs of my own. I don’t know where I’d be without music… I don’t even wanna think about that.
Did the city you grew up in also have an impact on what you do as an artist in music?
Hmm… Yes and no. I put on for my city just because I was born and raised here in Wichita, KS and I’m proud of my area code, but no one else in the 316 is really putting out the same type of music that I am, and I don’t think they ever have. My sound is my own. My music isn’t a product of my city, it’s a product of development and experimentation of my own. I’m not one of those corny celebrities who strives to be different… I’m just an ordinary kid who has always happened to think a little bit outside the box. I’m a firm believer in free thinking, so for me to be influenced by the sounds around me is expected. But I’ve never thought “Oh, Wichita is making this type of music, I better follow suit.” That’s not me. Stay true to yourself and you’ll be alright.. Word to the wise.
What hip-hop artists were the biggest influences for you?
Honestly, early on my biggest influences were probably Lil Bow Wow and people like that, but the people I look up to the most right now would be cats like Eminem, MF DOOM, KRS1, Grandmaster Caz, De La Soul, Mos Def, Tribe, etc.
When it came to your debut album, Young Picasso..The Legendary Fossil, and follow up album, Pain, Scars, & Wishes, what was the first impression you wanted to leave audiences with?
With Young Picasso, i wasn’t too worried about the impression I left on my audience. I was just making the type of music that I like and tracks that I would listen to as a fan. The people that like it will like it, and my fan base will grow from there. I feel like if you make music for other people and not for yourself, it won’t come out as well as you wanted it to. And plus, I don’t want to be put in the “people pleaser” box, because if I make music strictly for other people, when I decide to make music for myself, the people may not like it… I make music because I NEED to make music, not because you want to hear it. Simple as that. As for Pain, Scars, & Wishes; that will no longer be the title of my next project… But keep your eyes peeled for Young Picasso. Whatever comes next comes next.
Listen to “This Far” below.
What is your process like when you’re in the studio? What is your process for songwriting?
It differs, man. If I’m gonna write a song, I have to really feel the beat, and usually; it will write itself. I’ve never been too worried about structure. If the song needs a hook, it will have one. If it needs a bridge, it will be included. But if I just wanna spit straight bars for 2 minutes, I will. It just depends on my mood. As for recording, though, we usually get my levels first thing, and then I do a one-take on my verses, and a set of ad-libs or two afterwards.
You’ve been able to work with producers like Audible Doctor and Statik Selektah, as well as rappers such as Skyzoo. What has been some of the most valuable lessons you have learned in these collaborations?
Stay humble… All day long, that’s the most important thing I’ve learned from those experiences. Because I could be super cocky about the list of people I’ve worked with, but I’d rather the list grow longer. If I’m bragging and boasting all the time, who’s gonna want to work with me? I wouldn’t. I hate those people, man… Haha. Humble, humble, humble. All day.
You say that you cannot confine yourself to just one body of music, you’re an embodiment of hip-hop, pop, reggae and rock. What are some of your favorite elements of these other genres, and who do you enjoy listening to outside of hip-hop?
Well, for the most part my music is strictly hip hop. I could never see myself making other music. I hate pop music, so don’t ever expect me to go pop. But, I am influenced by many other genres, like you said. I listen to a lot of classic rock bands such as; The Beatles, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, etc. As well as grunge music like Nirvana. Shout out to Kurt Cobain by the way. Dude was a genius. But anyways, I also listen to musicians like Bob Marley, The Dirty Heads, Sublime, and others.
Currently in hip-hop, who are you loving?
The best emcees out right now would have to be King Los, Kendrick, J Cole, Joey Bada$$, Mick Jenkins, Wiki, The Underachievers, Earl Sweatshirt, Bishop Nehru, Vince Staples, and Stro. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit.
Outside of music and being in the studio, what do you enjoy doing with your time? Where are you hoping to see yourself 5 years from now?
I like just chilling to be honest. I’m not one of those dudes who has to be doing something 24/7. It’s the end of summer and I haven’t been to the water park once. You feel me? In five years; I see myself in the studio, still progressing with a lot more accomplishments and hopefully a little more money. It ain’t about that though. I just want to keep making dope music, and we’ll see what happens.
“Young Picasso” as well as “Pain, Scars & Wishes” will be available for download at www.newliferecordsllc.com, iTunes, and Amazon, among other digital distribution sites. Damien Styles, as you read, has a very eclectic team of producers such as WLPWR of Supahot Beats, Audible Doctor, Statik Selektah, Entreproducers, & LG the Experience to name a few. He also has features from such artists as and artists as the Legendary Grandmaster Caz, Skyzoo, Bobbe J Thompson, & Bilistic helping to make these projects ones to be remembered.