Smelling The Roses: A Conversation With Danny Wolf About 6 Dogs, 808s, Chaos Club And More

Danny Wolf

Danny Wolf doesn’t conform, he deconstructs. With a resume that includes production credits for the likes of Lil Uzi Vert, Juice WRLD, Ugly God, iLoveMakonnen and others, he is easily regarded as one of Atlanta’s most in-demand producers. His signature tag – “Danny I See You” – is globally embraced, balancing atmospheric production laced with bass and distorted melodies.

Since his inception in rap, Danny’s come up story has been one prolonged game of favor. And by the grace of God, things have continued to work to his advantage, musically speaking. Throughout his career, Danny’s faith-driven approach to combat his problems doesn’t imply that struggle was absent, it just meant his work ethic had to match his credence. From interning with Hoodrich Entertainment by day and sleeping out of a friend’s closet by night, he was willing to do whatever it takes.

Danny radiates selflessness. Innocent moments of good-humored discovery is what ultimately strengthened his friendship with 6 Dogs, rap’s beloved underground influence. “We would talk about the afterlife and our conversations would be different,” Danny tells me over Zoom. Even in death, 6 Dogs’ heightened sense of self-awareness is symbolic of the comfort found in song and through shared memories. His impact is bigger than music, bigger than a moment, as evident by Danny’s otherworldly outlook and newly discovered “breathing techniques.”

Today, for season two of Red Bull’s acclaimed “Mystery Pack” series, the Atlanta-via-Mexico City producer embraces the challenge behind building a beat from scratch. With a sample pack of 10 random sounds and a boundless imagination, he managed to trump his assignment, in a subconscious effort to save face. “…that’s why I probably did the three beats subconsciously, because it’s like nah man I’ma make up for that.”

There’s something to be said about Mr.Wolf’s creative process. His meticulous attention to detail starts with a unique ability to hear beyond natural sound. Across his catalog, an experimental soundscape lays the foundation for Danny’s groundbreaking talent to be displayed. He’s been in the lead for quite some time now but still takes a moment to reset and smell the roses.

Check out our full conversation below, lightly edited for clarity and context.

Is there a limit to how much time you’ll spend on a beat?

It depends on if you have an artist there. If it’s just me and I’m cooking up by myself, or it’s another producer, it just depends on the dynamics of the room. If there’s an artist waiting on you to finish up a beat or if you’re trying to make something from scratch, the vibe can go away if you take too long. I’ll try to keep it like 5-10 minutes because it’s really about the vibe of what the artist is trying to do. For example, if it’s a melodic artist, you can’t make a Trap beat because he’s not going to want to record on it. You gotta fill the room out. There’s no rules or nothing, but there’s a time limit. But if I’m by myself, I’d take around 10-15 minutes on a beat. Sometimes it may take five minutes, but those are the ones that go platinum. Try to not think too much about the outcome of it, just feel it out and whatever happens happens. 

Can you describe the in-studio dynamics behind working out of Red Bull’s custom-built space?

With Redbull, they gave me my own custom studio so I felt really at home. They had put this big Saturn in the back and the carpet was glowing. It was just like a new element, a new dynamic that they put me in, so I was like shit –  at this point, by the time I got there, it was straight muscle memory. You get in there and pick the sounds, and my body, I’ve done this shit so many times. It was a lot that you could do with those ten sounds. You can chop ‘em up in a certain way and make 60-80 different sounds if you really wanted to. Once I heard the texture of ‘em and everything they had going on, I already knew automatically what I could make out of those. But the dynamic overall was chill, very homey, spaced-out vibe. There was no pressure. I had practiced the night before too, mentally – just to be there and get comfortable. A lot of times you’ll see producers get on camera and they’re just not comfortable being themselves and that’ll fuck up the work flow. I think I ended up doing three beats and I was only supposed to do one. It was like a blur to me honestly [laughs].

With the Mystery Pack, is it a priority to make use of every sound or are there any outliers?

Yeah, there was this one sound that went like, “I love you bro” or some shit like that. I think I didn’t use it, I used it as a beat tag. There were different sounds that I didn’t see myself making use of them, but you can really flip any sound into whatever you want. You don’t have to use every sound, you can use the first second of it and just put reverb on it, tweak it up a bit. You don’t necessarily have to use the entire loop. That’s where a lot of producers mess up at, they get an entire loop – like a sound pack or whatever – and they think they have to use it exactly how it sounds. But in my episode, you’ll see I damn near tweaked all of ‘em into something different. 

In terms of melody, how natural is it for you to pitch down?

What do you mean – as in like, to go down an octave? 

Yeah, in a sense. In terms of production, a lot of the sounds that you use derive from beat manipulation or altering an original sound. With this in mind, how natural is it for you to pick apart a beat?

That is something I try to do with all of my stuff. I try to use mainly keys that artists record in. For me, for what I’ve seen, it’s a lot of B-minors and F-sharps. A lot of artists stay in that vocal range, but that’s the majority of the time. There are some artists that go in that E to A-flat, between that range on a piano. To me, that’s where some of the best music comes from. For the Trap stuff, it sounds better in a B-flat. When I first started out, a lot of my key notes started in F-sharps. I just kept it in certain scales or certain keys. My success rate was way quicker with playing a beat that was heavy on bass. Playing in a B and then going to a C would have a better success rate than a beat that started in G-sharp. 

Were you forced to stay in a certain range throughout the production process of your episode? 

Not really, because artists go off of what people like, so I was going off of what people wanted to hear. I know people don’t want to hear something that’s very high pitched. Sometimes you might hear a guitar and it makes you feel very uncomfortable, or a certain key on that guitar might feel good to you. I just go based on what I personally think people want to hear. I pictured fans in a stadium blasting this shit. If you’re in a car and you’re not excited, I’ll try to not make some shit that’ll kill your mood. If you’re down and you put your AirPods in and boom, the beat grabs your attention. Shit like that.

Personally, what does Danny Wolf consider to be the perfect 808? 

That’s really hard to say because I’m always thinking about some next level shit that people would like. Obviously, everybody’s go to is the Spinz 808 ‘cause that shit’s so clean and it fits with almost any beat. Lately, I don’t know what 808 Travis Scott used on that “FRANCHISE” beat but I really like that 808. I just really like distorted 808’s, shit that brings the room life. But if we’re doing R&B shit, more melodic stuff, I’d rather pick a synth bass or something like that. 

Did you use a synth bass during your Red Bull episode with T-Pain last year? 

I think I used a drum kit that I had already made. For this episode, I definitely feel like I brought my A game. That episode was crazy, it was like eight in the morning. He had hella tequila there, so it was like eight in the morning drinking tequila with T-pain, shit was crazy [laughs]. It was not what I expected. I thought we were going to end up doing something else and I think he wanted the vocals, but I don’t think they told me to bring the vocals or my management forgot to tell me – I don’t know what happened, I just knew I didn’t do too well on that one. But with this episode, that’s why I probably did the three beats subconsciously, because it’s like nah man I’ma make up for that. I went back and saw that episode and it’s like bro, what the fuck was I thinking. But then again, I’m going to sleep normally around 7 AM,  8 AM, so for me to wake up at that time, it was like a surreal moment. Growing up as a producer, and going from seeing T-Pain to working with him, my brain wasn’t in that zone yet. But now, we can run it and do 10-20 beats. 

Have you ever had producer’s block or a lapse in creativity? If so, how do you overcome that?

Thank  God I’ve never experienced that. If I did, it probably would come from me making too many beats and my ear just got ear fatigue or I just got tired of listening to music. It’s just like with anything, if you do too much of it you’ll get tired of it. Beat block or if I’m not inspired to make beats, thankfully, I keep a balance, so I feel like that’s what has kept my career afloat. It’s about finding that balance. You can’t do 1,000 beats per day, go hard all day – sometimes your body just wants to rest. It might not even be beat block, it could be that your body just wants to go find inspiration somewhere else. But if I do get in a mood where it’s like I don’t feel like making music, I’ll still make sure that I keep myself balanced and watch a Netflix documentary about Rock, Spanish Rock – I’ll call my mentor and be like, “Hey Donny, what’s going on” or “What do you recommend?”, and he’ll send me the Alexander McQueen documentary. Just stuff like that, you just kind of get in a different headspace. It’s almost like similar things that you go through, but in other industries, you just get that inspiration. Or even in watching a documentary on Animal Planet, I saw this documentary called My Octopus Teacher and it’s like, oh shit – octopuses are just like us [laughs]. Then it just snaps you out of it and it’s like aight, lemme make a beat. 

Talk to me about your relationship with 6 Dogs.

Yeah, I mean…a lot of people, after his death, they were new friends. These people weren’t really around when he was just starting. I would pick him up from high school, right after classes. We would go to the first apartment I had – and this was around the time I first started getting some sort of something going on. I had just went platinum for the first time and um…, it was just two friends making music together. We’d record on this Blue Yeti microphone and we’d be like fuck it, let’s just drop it. And then we’d need artwork, and be like oh let’s go to Home Depot and buy some Pokemon cards. I had geckos at the time, so he took the Pokemon cards and put ‘em in the gecko tank and we just took a picture of it and uploaded it to Soundcloud. It got like 2 million streams. I never thought about numbers and streams. I mean, of course now that I run a label it’s different, but at that time it was just two people having fun, and then it turned into something. He got signed by Benny Blanco. Literally, while he’s getting signed we’re getting tacos, he’s having relationship problems, it was just a lot. He was like 18, I was 21, it was just a lot going on ya know. 

It sounds like it was bigger than music for you. You two were genuine friends. 

We would always bump heads because I would be on his ass about staying on top of his music. I’m just always like that because I like to see my friends win. If I know you can win a championship and you have what it takes to win, I’m not gonna be that friend that sits here and is like, “Bro, make sure you tag me on Instagram.” It was never nothing like that, the music shit was at the end.  

You honored him [6 Dogs] for what he could be. Something you alluded to learning early on life, during your No Jumper interview [2017].

Yeah, I’ve always been like that with anybody I have a relationship with. Even with the new people coming out today like Faygo. Faygo, when he had his album release party, he came to my crib the day before and we’re watching “Off The Map” release in my room. With everything that’s going on, it’s very in the moment, present. With him [6 Dogs], it was never this master plan that people think: I never planned on coming up off of him. You know how industry people think.

Personally, do you have a favorite moment with 6 Dogs that you can recall? 

Ah man, it’s so many of ‘em. See the thing about 6 Dogs is that, honestly – the first few times we hung out, he would always know about life. He taught me a lot about sacred geometry. He was just a very deep person. We would talk about the afterlife and our conversations would be different. It was never really about music, we’d talk about transcending as humans and energy, or he’d have these famous talks with everybody about positivity, like why you don’t need to think negatively. He’d call everyone at his school around at the lunch table, everyone at his school had this talk with him. He’d always be big on manifestation and spirituality stuff. One thing that I do recommend to a lot of artists is to not dive too deep into that stuff because not all knowledge is good for you. That’s something we kind of struggled with him a little bit. Not to say it in a bad way, but I know there’s a lot of people out there in life who worry about simulations and if you might reincarnate as this – but don’t fall into that rabbit hole. The real truth has yet to be revealed. Honestly, I’ve had this conversation with my mentor and he’s said that if you think life is a simulation, if you think all of this stuff is fake, you have way too much time on your hands – you gotta hustle. But yeah, that was something that I really cherished, being able to get over that life bump. This life journey, there’s speed bumps where you figure out certain things about life and it’s kind of scary at first because it’s like what are we doing on this giant rock floating through space? But my favorite thing with him was teaching me breathing techniques. He would teach me the craziest shit about life, it was never no music shit. He painted my whole apartment actually. I have this footage of him, he fucked up my whole wall actually [laughs]. It’s like this combo of graffiti and acrylic painting. He actually dropped a snippet on Instagram, you can probably find it on YouTube, of him painting on the wall. It’s so many things about 6, he’s just a great person. 

If you had to select one song from your catalog to define where you are now at this stage in your life, what song would it be and why?

I’d have to think about that one. Honestly, it would be “Moon Relate” with Lil Uzi Vert, that was on EA [Eternal Atake (Deluxe)]. Just the lyrics with it, “me and the moon relate,” I see what he was trying to say [laughs]. It just feels very, I feel very non-reactive to anything. Very laid-back, I think things through. Someone could come in here and try to piss me off but I don’t go for it. I stand still, I try to see where they came from – maybe they had a bad morning. I just try to not take anything personally. Everything is what it’s expected to be. Whatever happens is damn near expected, you’re not really surprised anymore. Friends, life and family, you might be on your way up to the top and your friend might betray you and show disloyalty, or you can be in a relationship. It’s like at this point, I’m not resisting: whatever life throws at me, I’m in this mental zone where I’m at peace. I’m forgiving myself more for things I did in the past so that I can heal better and perform better for everyone around me. It’s just a lot of self-awareness and growing faster, meditating and focusing on that. 

Going forward, what can we expect from Chaos Club? 

Chaos Club changed my life honestly. It came from my mentor, I was running it up producing and stuff – made a couple hundred thousand dollars. When you’re young and making all of this money, when you come from the struggle and shit like that, it’s like shit – I just rap up three hundred thousand or whatever, you think you’re on top of the world. And then you realize life is expensive, or your taste has become more expensive. I was talking to my mentor one day and he was like, “You know what Danny, you make a lot of money but you don’t make enough money to have 60 employees.” I was like damn, you’re right. So, we had to figure out a way that I can do that. Just by him telling me that one day, I had to figure out a way to run it up. I’ve been around so many people and so many resources, why not just do the shit myself. We started the Chaos Club channel, the label, we started this in September [2020], five months later it’s a multi-million dollar company. We just received a lot of favor and a lot of grace from God honestly bro. Out of nowhere, Chaos Club is worth well over five million in under five months. And it’s like damn, how the fuck did this shit just escalate into some whole other shit [laughs]. It started with our producers and then our producers coming in here cooking up, and then people wanna sign to us and their artist, then all of a sudden we’re a label. Right now, we’re building our studio in Atlanta and we’re trying to compete with everybody. We wanna take 80% of the market share, so it’s like yeah…their time is up ya know. Now, it’s just more about enjoying the journey and not focusing on the outcome, just taking it all in. When you’re doing these deals and doing these contracts, it’s like damn, this is really happening. Chaos Club, it’s a complete takeover. Right now, we’re just letting everyone have fun and do what they like to do. But eventually, three years from now, Chaos Club will be running Atlanta and the entire music industry.

About the Author

Derrius Edwards
Derrius is a music industry professional with experience in content strategy and editorial writing, sharing relevant and resonating stories as a conduit for hip-hop culture advancement.

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