December 17, 2021

Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!

DillanPonders is the Shroom Daddy, per his Instagram bio. Hailing from Toronto, the rising star is the definition of a music-lover, creating his own version of feel-good hip-hop and R&B while touching fans with his honest words and lyrics. Having gone through his own life struggles such as being homeless and overcoming addiction, Dillan is here to inspire the masses that if he can do it, they can too.

In describing himself, Dillan states, he’s merely “a human being, living and growing on the daily. I’m a creator, an artist, and someone who’s trying to be the best version of myself. My sound is genuine, raw, and personal.”

Fast forward to 2021, DillanPonders returned with the deluxe version of his critically acclaimed BECAUSE WE’RE ALIVE album. The 17-track project speaks volumes to his free spirit, and the motivation, passion, and good vibrations that ensue upon listening. Coming up next is his forthcoming project titled Mushrooms & Melodies.

Flaunt caught up with DillanPonders, who was posted in Toronto where it was cold and snowing. Read below as we discuss his roots in Canada, the making of “DIBBY DIBBY”, his Jamaican heritage, creating “Psilocybin” on a trip, his love for psychedelics, the turning point in his music career, forthcoming projects, and more!

What was a young DillanPonders like growing up in Canada?

Born and raised in Toronto, I’ve been all around the city. I lived in Mississauga, Scarborough, but I lived downtown for 90% of my life. I’m as Toronto as they come. Creating is something I’ve always been doing since a young age, whether it be painting, writing what I call poetry. Looking back on it, I don’t know what it was. [laughs] I’ve always used creative outlets to channel my deepest insecurities, as a way to channel my energy in general. Toronto’s one of those incredibly eclectic cities. There are so many different entities, different energies flowing through the city. I’ve lived in every part of it so I know the city pretty well.

My interpersonal experiences more shaped my sound, rather than the city that I’m living in. My relationship with my family, relationships with women I’ve been with, and unfortunately my relationship with my addictive tendencies — which my music really revolved around my drug habit when I first started. As I started to evolve as a human being, my music started to evolve with me, obviously simultaneously. All of that played into influencing the human being that I am now, and continue to become.

The visual for “DIBBY DIBBY” is out now, what inspired this record? 

I’m half Jamaican, half British. Growing up in a Jamaican household, my dad does not play. He’s always running tunes, all the time. I was very privy to the culture from a young age. Dancehall, Roots Rock, Deep dub, everything, I’ve always been surrounded and engulfed by the culture. When I got the beat from Bijan Amir, the song made itself. I didn’t really try to overthink or do anything outside of what I felt comfortable with.

As per usual we started this record, I wanted the hook to be dope as fuck. “DIBBY DIBBY” was one of those songs I made for fun, I didn’t really think anything of It. I just wanted people to feel cool and have fun while they hear it. Music is about having fun. I’m not ever trying to impress people. I’m trying to impress myself. Once I impress myself, a song is good to go.

I agree completely. Did you used to play soccer?

Yeah I did! My dad played soccer, he was incredible. My dad had a deal to go play soccer in another country, but when me and my sister were born, he turned it down. My dad was really, really good at soccer. When I was younger, I played, but the soccer scene in the video wasn’t necessarily showcasing the soccer background. We more or less wanted to go with a Coca Cola commercial aesthetic for that scene in the video because we thought it’d be funny. [laughs] Also in Jamaican culture, football (soccer), people don’t realize it’s a national sport. Technically it’s cricket but the mandem know it’s soccer.

How does the song pay tribute to your Jamaican heritage?

Realistically, my Jamaican heritage flows through me as a human being. The patois on the hook just flows naturally. I don’t think the song more or less speaks to boomers, I think the song is just dope. Jamaican heritage wise, it’s not even technically a full reggae song. In my humble opinion, I didn’t honor anything overly, I was just being myself, “Herbalist,” from BECAUSE WE’RE ALIVE would speak more to my Jamaican heritage because it’s an actual reggae song. It’s inspired by Eek-A-Mouse, which is one of Jamaica’s beloved artists. “DIBBY DIBBY” was just me having a lot of fun, nothing more nothing less.

What is your favorite song off BECAUSE WE’RE ALIVE?

“Psilocybin” is my favorite song because psilocybin in general is one of my favorite substances on the planet. One of the oldest substances on the planet, psilocybin can be used for anything. Whether it be self-expansion, medical use, healing depression, helping people who are near the end of their lives, the actual benefits of psilocybin as a medicine are infinite. The song itself was so fun, I found myself playing it all the time. I made the song while I was trippin’. Every time I go on a little bit of a trip, I find myself playing it and feeling like I’m in another world. The song is incredibly immersive. I’m not saying it’s the best song off the album, but subjectively it’s my favorite right now.

Was the animated visual inspired by a real trip?

It was. The animator who made the video is based in Barcelona, he was tripping on psychedelics the entire time he was making the video. We spoke about the storyline and we liked the idea of the psychedelic cowboy. In the end of the video, there’s a gunfighter. I wanted to not be shooting guns, but instead to hug the person. When you go on psychedelic trips, you realize the answer to any problem is love. Those who don’t see that problem don’t understand what love is about. The animation long story short was definitely inspired by psychedelics and psychedelic trips for sure, both by me and the illustrator.

Do you create on psychedelics as well? 

I used to create on psychedelics when psychedelics were more recreational for me. It was more of me experimenting, breaking the ceiling with my consciousness and making new sounds. Now, I take psychedelics a bit more seriously. I microdose pretty consistently. On a day to day basis, but 3 or 4 times a week I microdose.

Microdosing has infinitely beneficial effects, whether it be helping with depression, lack of energy, anything. I’ve been microdosing now consistently for about a year. It’s been very helpful. When I macrodose, which is a lot — maybe above 4 grams of mushrooms per say, I go on those trips with intention. Say I wanted to face my childhood trauma, I’ll say, “Okay, I want to use psychedelics to face this and feel it fully.” Nowadays I don’t create on psychedelics the way I used to, but they were definitely an incredible part of my music making about 4 years ago.

Who or what inspires you? 

I’m inspired by experiences more than people. I’ll have a really good night, whether it be having deep conversations with my older sister and having an epiphany. I know this might sound cliche as shit, but going out and watching nature do what nature does. Smelling the flowers, that brings me inspiration. I’m not really a person who likes human beings, but if I had to say someone who really inspired me, I’d have to say Kid Cudi.

Oh yeah! That’s who I thought of. 

Favorite energy in the entire world. Human being-wise and sonically, Cudi for sure. I’d put him at the top of that list right now, I love Cudi.

When did you realize you could do music for a living?

Wow, that’s a good question. When I started making music, I wanted to know if I was good at it because I’d been writing bars for so long and never really recorded them. When I started making music, I had this feeling that I’d be a well-known artist because I know that once I start doing something, I work hard and I try to be good at it. When I knew I could do this for a career is when I went on tour with Flatbush Zombies about a year after releasing music. My manager was the main Canadian booking agent at the time for artists like Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, Flatbush Zombies, The Underachievers when they were a bit more poppin’.

I got the chance to open for a lot of those artists and go on road with them. Being on the road and touring, being in front of fans and seeing this actual money that can be made in a live sense, because this was before streaming was poppin’ when I started going on the road. There was SoundCloud, YouTube, and Bandcamp. There wasn’t Spotify and Apple wasn’t the same construct as it is now. I didn’t even realize that streaming was a thing I could make money from either, but I remember touring was kind of what opened my eyes to the fact that this could be a career. Now, it has become one so it seems ya boy was right.

How did you get your name? 

My close friends and family would always call me a bit of a philosopher, as a young kid and as an adult even. I like to think things through really, really deeply and fully. They’ld always say I’m always pondering. Pondering was something that stuck. DillanPonders, it’s a sentence and a name in itself so I thought it was good. [laughs] When I started releasing music online, you know how thousands of artists all somehow share the same name so you can never find them in the algorithm? There’s no other artists named DillanPonders so I was always really easy to find, which is waa fire.

What is it you want fans to get from your story?

What I want fans and human beings to get from my story is that no matter what you’re going through currently, there’s always a possibility there for your situations that could essentially improve dramatically. I’ve had serious opioid addiction, which I fought through with the help and support of my friends and family. I’ve been homeless twice. Where I’m at now, if you were to see me back at my lowest points, you would’ve never thought it was possible that I’d get here. I still have a long way to go but I’ve also come so far. People need to truly understand that the limitations society puts us have nothing to do with who we are as human beings.  Our capabilities are boundless

When I was 5 or 6, my parents took me in to get tested psychologically, brain-wise to see how I work. It turned out that I was dislexic with severe ADD. I also had orthopedic shoes because I was bow-legged, so I wasn’t supposed to be an athlete. I wasn’t supposed to be that good in school, I wasn’t supposed to be artistic. I got diagnosed with depression at a very young age as well and they wanted to medicate me but luckily saner heads prevailed and my parents kept me off meds.. Several limitations were put on me from a really young age and everything that was said that I couldn’t do from a creative standpoint or an intellectual standpoint I’ve done 10 times over. There’s no such thing as limits is what I’m trying to say in a nutshell. The only limitations are the ones you put on yourself.

3 things you need in the studio?

I need weed, water and backwoods. I don’t drink anymore. I stopped drinking alcohol. My studio needs are just weed and water. If there has to be a third thing, I guess blunts.

What can we expect from Mushrooms & Melodies?

Mushrooms & Melodies is probably one of my favorite projects I’ve made to date. It’s very fun. Talking about psilocybin, it’s a little bit in that pocket. I’m really singing my ass off on this. I’m documenting my departure from being a full-time alcoholic to being a full-time healthy person. Throughout the making of Mushrooms & Melodies, it was documenting my process. There’s gonna be a lot of relatability for people trying to kill those habits, whether it be drugs or anything else that’s unhealthy for you. Obviously amazing music, but it’s stuff that really connects too because I pour my heart out on this shit. 

What’re you most excited for next?

Honestly, I’m excited to wake up tomorrow. [laughs] As a human being, I’m excited to wake up and see what’s next in general. Specifically, next year I’m dropping about 4 projects. Really excited to drop them all. Been working tirelessly. We promoted BECAUSE WE’RE ALIVE, which is my last album for the year and I’ve been working on a bunch of music during that year. I really want 2022 to be the year where I didn’t really slow down on dropping content. I believe in quality over quantity, unless you can pull off both. And I’m a person who can pull off both. I’m excited for my next releases. I’m excited to hit the road in 2022. Figuring out my touring situation right now, what booking agency I want to work with and what cities I want to go to first. It’s really, really exciting but I’m truly mostly excited to wake up tomorrow and continue this crazy journey!

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