BigMuscleGang producer dontsleep is one of the hottest producers in the underground. His sound is extremely raw and filled with emotion. From learning to make beats from YouTube tutorials in high school, to making some of the hottest tracks for BBYGOYARD, dontsleep is someone you have to know.

First for the people that don’t know you, who are you and what do you do?

My name is dontsleep, but you can just call me “sleep” or “don’t”, and I’m a 20-year-old producer from Sydney, Australia.

How did you first get into producing?

Being, by far, my favourite genre and primarily the only music I listen to, I’d always been interested in making hip-hop/rap, and so were a few of my friends from school – notably JVLES. So it was 2014 when we started talking about doing music, and one time in class he told me that he had already been making beats for like 6 months or so on FL Studio. Naturally I was like “wtf is that? that sounds awesome!” and instantly went home that night to get that shit. Here I started fucking around, trying to learn the program and the basics of music production/engineering from YouTube tutorials and advice JVLES gave me; initially though I was remixing Chance The Rapper and J. Cole songs (because I was 16 and it was 5 years ago lol I was so lame). But yeah I posted my first beat on Soundcloud, which was a ‘remix’ to “Power Trip” by J. Cole, after only producing for like a few weeks I think, which got me heavily clowned at school due to it being atrocious, like I’m talking really awful! That shit was so fucking bad.

So, after that embarrassment, I started to quietly learn the program more on and off for a couple years, and even tried rapping a little bit. But I never posted any music publicly during this period (late 2014-mid 2016). However when we graduated at the end of 2016, JVLES and I decided to make songs, which were technically a lot better than everything we had made before but were still so fucking bad and cringe worthy. These songs were only really for ourselves and friends locally. This was until like April 2017 when we met Vick Lejet and Thrillboy, who both introduced us to the underground scene. We didn’t believe it was possible that Australians could make any noise overseas, so seeing that they had already done so inspired us. From then on, I quickly stopped rapping (because fuck that, I suck at it) and started to focus solely on producing; deciding to try and strive for it to be my career, I started taking shit seriously, networking and working with/sending beats to artists that weren’t just JVLES. However, I would say I didn’t get consistently good to the point where I was happy with every beat I was making until around September 2017. Nevertheless I’ve just been doing the same since, making beats and building connections. So long story short, I’ve been producing for almost 5 years but doing it seriously, trying to make it my career, for 2 years now.

Wow, that’s an insane backstory to all of this. I didn’t even know you and JVLES were close friends like that before bmg. Along with producing over those 5 years did you have any other hobbies you did on the side or did you focus all your energy into music?

Yeah JVLES is my brother, I’ve known him since grade 4 in 2010, when I moved schools to the one he went to. We were just acquaintances for a while but then became good friends throughout high school (around about when we started making music together), and best friends after we graduated. As for hobbies I’ve always been heavy into video games. Not so much online multiplayer games because my parents used to limit my internet time growing up (however I did play COD Black Ops 2 and Ghosts a lot when they came out). Over the past 5 years I’ve played basically every big RPG and single-player game that’s been released during the time, and I’m on PS4 so I’ve been blessed with some amazing exclusive games.

Other than that I play basketball, but not as seriously as I used to when I was younger, and am also into films. I really like all of the Scorsese, Tarantino and Cristopher Nolan films. Finally my last big hobby I can think of is my love for Disney, and especially Marvel. I’m a huge Marvel fan holy shit, but ironically I’ve never read a single comic, instead I’ve watched this YouTube channel called “ComicsExplained” frequently for the past two years so I like to think I know almost everything there is to know about the Marvel universe.

That’s super cool! You got a definitely have a wider field then some people that are boxed into one thing. Being from Australia how is it working with artists all over the world?

Well for starters, I don’t like Australian rap at all. I think it sucks ass so bad! Everyone is either still making boom-bap or trying too hard to be Travis Scott but with a shitty Australian accent. The only Australian artists and producers I work or associate with is our unofficial group “First Fleet”, consisting of JVLES, Kappa, Thrillboy, Jayoh, 2wenty7 and myself. That being said, working with artists from all over the world is honestly the most amazing thing to me and I cherish the fact that I’ve been able to do that immensely. No one here knows about our music or really understands what we do so it’s kind of our cool little secret. We have literally 0 local support. But yeah, to answer the question, working with talented artists and building friendships and families with people from the other side of the planet is a dream come true, regardless if we make it big or not. I just can’t wait to come to America, and later the rest of the world, to meet everyone!

So how did you come about joining Big Muscle Gang?

JVLES discovered, and introduced me, to DR DRIIP whom we have been a fan of since early 2017 – before we even met Vick and Thrillboy, and before we knew about this whole underground community. So we loved that Big Muscle sound. Then around mid 2017 we both started working with BBY GOYARD and around Christmas 2017 we both also discovered Goji through “123”, now called “123 Remix” even though it came out before the other 123 and is a completely different song lol. That song was so crazy and we instantly became massive fans. So, when I got back from the family holiday I was on at the time of first hearing 123, I decided to send Goji beats, and our sounds instantly clicked. A few months later I was working with DRIIP too. So, by Summer 2018 (Winter here for us Australians) we had already worked with all three artists a lot and had built personal relationships with them too, though it’s fair to say JVLES was more social and closer with everyone because he talks a lot more than I do – I was still relatively ‘in my shell’. It was around this time we made “Swole” which was JVLES’ and I’s first attempt at making dubstep-sounding beats, and I feel like that was the moment that solidified the fact that we were all going to be more than just frequent collaborators, but a family. So one day when Goji was with DRIIP, they got JVLES and I in a houseparty call and asked if we wanted to join BMG. Of course we said “AH FUCK YES CUNT!”

That’s super cool man! Going from a fan to basically a brother to them. Do you have any favorite experiences with them outside of joining BMG?

Yeah bro we were huge fans of each of them and I doubted if we’d get the opportunity to work with them but now here we are! To answer your question, I haven’t met anyone in BMG yet so I couldn’t tell you. The only thing of note, besides making great music together, is just joking around in the group chat and on houseparty. Nevertheless, when we do all link at the end of the year it’s gonna be legendary and countless great memories will be made.

I’m sure it will be. You guys seem like you are closely knit even without meeting in person. How do you feel about collectives in general in the underground? Do you think they are a necessity or we could live without them?

I’ve been in my fair share of collectives, most of which didn’t pan out well (obviously, as they no longer exist) and I can tell you the main mistakes people make when it comes to forming them. Half of the collectives I’ve seen have started from a tweet from someone saying “who wants to join a collective” and they just pick a bunch of people who have the most followers out of who liked it. That shit is ass. For a collective to function you genuinely need to be a fan of, and friend with, every member in it. You need to communicate and all be on the same page – and actually put in work! Collectives fall apart due to laziness and miscommunication all the time! In terms of collectives in general, they’re a great resources for friends to get together and help each other grow by sharing opportunities and resources. Also, the potential to create new sounds when teaming up with other talented artists is always super exciting.

However, by no means are collectives essential to get to where you need to go. While admittedly they can be a big help, don’t let that discourage you if you’re not in one. I’ve seen collectives carry people and then they lose their work ethic just because they already made their goal of getting in the collective. My point is, the most important thing is hard work, prioritize improving your own talents and brand rather than trying to impress people so you can join their collective. All relationships should be natural, not forced. But regardless of your opinion on them, please don’t be that person that hates on collectives saying shit like “oh here’s another one” because that shit is just unnecessary and loser-like.

I want to change the topic and talk about some of your favorite things you’ve worked on.

Here is a small taste of dontsleep’s producing discography.

Who is your favorite artist you’ve done work with?

Obviously everyone in BMG and First Fleet. But I’m really proud of my music with 10cellphones and Steele11. They’re some of my favourite artists to work with and it helps that I’m also a big fan of them too. Also, recently in the past month or so, I have gotten into making more guitar beats and more ‘emo’ style rap music. One notable artist I’ve worked with since attempting to make beats in that genre is Safe Sin, he’s one of my favourite artists fr I think he has a really bright future!

p.s. I know I’m forgetting some names so please don’t be mad at me if we’re bros and I forgot to mention you!

What producers/artists do you think are underrated in the underground?

In terms of artists, hands down Kappa. No one is making shit like him. His shit sounds like those YouTube compilation videos of “Hit Songs you remember from the 2000s” but he can switch it up and make some hard, aggressive shit too. His lyrics and references go crazy! Especially when combined with that ‘electric guitarish‘ vocal preset he made himself. Another underrated artist who I feel is really original is Citgo. His voice is unique and flows so well over almost every beat.

He makes music that really sticks with you mentally and emotionally and I recommend everyone checks him out. I’ve almost cried to a few of his songs. For producers, easily the most legendary producers I’m friends with that are severely underrated in the underground are DEEGS and M2K. DEEGS makes synthy, 80s style shit that is from another planet and M2K can make anything from Big Muscle shit to melodic hits. I respect both heavy and they inspire me a lot. I have to show love to Romeo too, he’s been consistently amazing with production for a while now and deserves way more recognition. Also I’m liking the beats I’m hearing from Jayoh and SORRYEENO, they’re both crazy talented and are on their way up to the top!

Who do you think will blow up this year or make some moves and get bigger in the underground?

You can never really tell for sure because it could happen to anyone but this year is definitely going really well for Lil Turbo, RewindRaps and 10cellphones to name just a few artists that I believe will go to the next level this year. Of course I’m gonna say BMG and First Fleet too, but yeah I believe in a lot of artists, too many to name.

Alright! I think we just about done. Do you want to give anyone some shoutouts?

Yeah thank you for the opportunity bro! Shout out everyone I’ve mentioned in this interview! Also shout out all my friends and everyone that’s ever supported or believed in my friends and I!

You can find dontsleep on SoundCloud below.