Recording artist, producer, multi-instrumentalist, filmmaker – label Don DiestrO however you’d like, but one thing is certain – he’s an artist in the truest sense of the word. After spending the last decade establishing himself as a respected producer in the Los Angeles trap scene, Don is launching his own recording career, armed with a unique artistic process drawing from his many creative interests, and a desire to finally express himself.
“When I was producing for other artists, I was just making what the local sound was,” he says. “But behind closed doors I was always experimenting and doing new things. I just wasn’t ready to put that music out because I wasn’t sure how people would embrace it.”
Encouraged to take the leap by his girlfriend and other close friends, Don approaches his own songwriting from the perspective of a filmmaker – chasing stories, themes, and emotions that elicit a palpable sense of place and time. His newest single, “Trust”, is no different, and for Don, the sonic, sun-warmed beat evokes a specific scene of 80s and 90s nostalgia.
“Just listening to the instrumental alone, I feel like I’m watching the old intro to Baywatch,” he says. “It’s like David Hasselhoff running on the beach in slow motion – that’s what the instrumental feels like. It feels like a breezy run down on the beach.”
Watch the music video for “Trust”, and you’ll quickly, and correctly, realize that this vintage, summer-in-Southern-California feeling is exactly what Don was aiming for. Produced by Don and his friend, who goes by “Pastel Papi”, the video chronicles Don and a new love interest navigating a road trip on the California coast and the early stages of their relationship. The video will make you question whether it was meant to accompany the song or vice versa. It’s a perfect fusion of two of Don’s creative passions, and it was no accident.
“(Pastel Papi) and I sat down and really evaluated my song, and then we went through a bunch of different films to get a direction of the video,” he says. “There was an old film where they took a road trip somewhere. The scenery, and them carefree driving down the road, wind blowing. It really fit the song. So, we just decided we’d build a film around that.”
Despite the summer-cruising vibe of Don’s newest single, his journey from trap producer to indie artist has been full of challenges and learning opportunities. A self, and YouTube – taught producer, he grew from making beats on his mom’s old Dell laptop and recording vocals on a Wii microphone to producing for prominent LA rappers Neff The Pharoah, RJMrLa, and more. When he decided to turn his attention to his own music, Don once again found himself learning on the fly.
“I feel like the biggest change was with public perception and creating a brand identity for myself,” he says. “I have lots of friends who work in creative direction, so I would sit down with them and ask them questions about how to create a strong brand. And yeah, once I figured that out it became easier.”
Don built a brand heavily influenced by his passions for skateboarding, fashion, and vintage film. Free from the binds of producing for others, he turned his focus towards perfecting his own sound – a genreless, indie-pop-R&B hybrid that transports listeners to his sunny hometown of LA.
In 2019, Don released his first solo album, Dear Summer. He views his second project, Wish You Well, which will drop in June, as an extension of his first – a conclusion to the narrative arc he began with Dear Summer. While he views the albums as two sides of the same coin, Don’s storytelling ability, creative voice, and personal brand are still evolving – and that’s just how he prefers it.
“Man, I have so many ideas in my head,” he says. “Visual ideas, film ideas – I’m excited to bring all my different art interests together and see them come to life. I want to bring those worlds together and just go crazy. That’s what I’m really excited about to be honest.”
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