An artist’s path is often sprinkled with chance. It’s what you do with those opportunities that make all the difference. And when passion and opportunity mix, the results can be tremendous.
Inspired by hip hop artists like OutKast and Pimp C, and rick bands like Radiohead, Dalton Boles started singing and rapping at the age of 16. A couple of years later he found himself needing music to sing and rap to. Unable to afford to pay for any, he began teaching himself how to produce his own.
Today, Dalton counts artists like Drake, Tory Lanez, PartyNextDoor and Post Malone as his biggest influences. On his future aspirations he says, “I hope to be talked about in the same breath as those guys, make a career out of it, and be just as successful as the people who inspire me.”
Dalton first heard about Music In Motion when one of the judges, Grammy Award-winning music producer Jesse “Corparal” Wilson, who he follows on Twitter and has long wanted to work with, posted a video about the contest.
Bouncing and balancing
The inspiration behind Dalton’s winning track Bouncing is the struggle he’s experiencing as an aspiring artist. “I don’t have a lot of money right now and I’m trying as hard as I can to get to where I want to be,” he says. “I feel like I’m working hard and still barely making rent; trying to be successful doing something that I really love.”
Recognizing his raw talent, Jesse chose Dalton as his winner out of hundreds of other hopefuls who entered the contest. The prize included a trip to Los Angeles to meet Jesse—who’s worked with everyone from Usher, Justin Bieber and 50 Cent to Dionne Warwick and Celine Dion—and work with him in the studio on his winning track.
For Dalton it was the opportunity of a lifetime—both to work alongside someone he admires and for the direct feedback Jesse shared. “He gave me some pretty cool insight,” Dalton says. “I showed him some beats and he took three of my instrumentals that I’d been working on for a while and said that he would build them out in collaboration with me, and maybe get some major artists on them.”
Jesse’s advice to Dalton was to focus his efforts on making music that appeals to a wider audience while being true to himself. “He talked about a lot of inspirational stuff—that you’ve got to make music for everybody,” says Dalton. “His best piece of advice was don’t be anybody but yourself. Just tell the truth and make it sound good.”
Dalton has used Pro Tools as his main digital audio workstation for mixing and mastering for several years. “It’s absolutely the most intuitive DAW for mixing—everything’s clean and effortless,” he explains. “When you’re scrolling through hundreds of tracks, it makes for a very organized workflow, which is super important to having a good sound mix. As long as everything’s organized, you know what’s going on with each track and you have total control. I feel that’s missing in other DAWs—the amount of control that you have over every aspect of the mix.”
Working with a lot of samples, Dalton’s favorite Pro Tools feature is Elastic Time, which enables him to make any sample fit with the tempo of the track he’s working on. “It’s a really useful tool and it sounds so clean,” he says. “You can fit any sample into any tempo and it will sound great.”
Dalton’s experience with Pro Tools puts him in a good position to offer some advice of his own. His top Pro Tools tip? Break up a track into different busses and give each bus its own characteristic. “I like sending all my drums to one bus, all my instruments to one bus, all my vocals to another—and even breaking it up into all my low end and high end—and processing each of those stems using different saturations,” he explains. “On the low end kicks, you want high saturation, and on the high end you want to remain pristine. By breaking it up into certain stems, you don’t have to layer the saturation over the whole song—you can pick and choose how you want each aspect of the song to sound.”
Dalton also uses several Pro Tools plugins extensively. “Even in production I use all the Avid effects,” he reveals. “I use the Smack! Compressor; Reverb One is one of my favorite reverbs, and the Classic Compressors Bundle sounds great.”
Pumping up the volume
As well as studio time with Jesse, Dalton’s prize included a complete studio setup, featuring Pro Tools, Pro Tools | Quartet, Eleven MK II, and Classic Compressors Bundle. Dalton is excited by the possibilities of Avid Cloud Collaboration in the latest version of Pro Tools: “I have a lot of guys that I work with that use Pro Tools as well and it seems like it will be really helpful. Being in different rooms but in the same session is completely mind blowing. If anyone would have said something like that was possible a couple of years ago, you’d think they were crazy. It’s awesome that they have that now.”
Reflecting on the opportunity that winning the contest has given him, Dalton says, “I’ve said thank you to a hundred different people but I can’t say it enough. It was an incredible opportunity. I’d never been to California before, so it was awesome just to go there. And then they put me in a studio with a Grammy Award-winning producer—that’s just next level. I was so grateful for the opportunity, it was unbelievable.”
Dalton’s advice for other aspiring pros mirrors the advice he got from Jesse: “Always stay true to yourself. That’s something I’ve had to hear too. You want to make music that’s hot right now and be successful. But just be true to yourself, make the best music that you possibly can, and work as hard as you possibly can.”
And who knows, maybe they’ll find themselves collaborating with an award-winning music producer too.
Read how other winners rocked Avid’s Music in Motion Contest on avidblogs.com/musicinmotion.
To kick start your music career, visit the Avid website to discover how Pro Tools can help get your music heard, download Pro Tools | First for free, and start composing, recording, editing and mixing using the same tools as the pros.