Not many artists get to make a second first album. But looking at the musical career of artist Dieter, whose aptly named EP, In Due Time , was recently released, that’s exactly what he’s done.
Coming back from a lengthy hiatus, Dieter has changed not just as a musician, but as a person. He cites the loss of his father as a transformative period during which he broke away from music, only to come back with a new perspective.
But seven years after he last released something, the landscape of the music industry has completely changed. Streaming culture and new technology that brings the grandeur of a recording studio to one’s laptop have taken over. There are new conveniences–and new expectations–to be found, to measure up to. Dieter left behind a music industry on the brink of reinvention and came back to find a new world of possibilities.
And after such a long break, Dieter had no urgent reason to return to music–he had disconnected from the fanbase he built so many years prior. But he had the rare chance to rebuild his musical career and experience what it’s like to be a new artist all over again.
We spoke to Dieter about his new EP below.
Tell us a little bit about In Due Time.
Basically, it’s a culmination of my thoughts and feelings and emotions in the life that I’ve experienced since my hiatus from music, which was not necessarily voluntary because of my dad’s passing. You don’t really know how that stuff kind of effects you. I didn’t have the maturity back then to know that I should’ve been making music.
I spent so long on this EP. It’s basically me trying to put something together. Also, I made an EP because I felt it may take too much out of me to make an album!
How did your approach to making music change from before your hiatus to now?
I assumed that people who had heard my album the first time around or people who I had connected with on social media the first time around that liked it had forgotten about it or figured I was done with music. I was silent throughout that whole period. I essentially approached it again as like, “I have forever to make my first album again.”
When we got closer to releasing it, something just kind of clicked. Now, I’m trying to be more relaxed about it. I’m trying to make it something I don’t put pressure on. That’s my favorite part about making music now. Just making something I would want to share with a friend.
How do you know when a song is finished?
I’ve sort of developed a framework, like a formula, to follow. It’s working for me right now, but in the long run, it’s almost detrimental to do that. I’m creating constraints for myself which is kind of the opposite of what art should be. I should be able to freely create a bunch of random stuff. I guess at this point I know it’s done because I’m following that formula.
What does your songwriting process look like?
Right now, it’s my formula. And the biggest variable in that is probably the song structure and lyrics. The melodies and the instrumentation come so easy to me. The lyrics are probably my biggest challenge. And structure. I always want to make some like verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus, but that gets frustrating.
I try to look at it from a bigger perspective. You have to focus in on one song at a time–you can’t make a whole album at once. I’ve tried that, where you kind of weave it together and work on one bit here and there. I feel like I’ve been more effective at saying, “here’s the song for the week, let’s just bang it out, export it from ProTools, and I can come back to it later.”
When you’re writing what usually comes first? Music or lyrics?
Usually, it starts with the hook. The best ideas, I think, start with the hook. The instrumentation is first, I’ll get a beat or a hook, something repetitive that’s in my head, and then I’ll build it up. I’ll create a chorus. Then, I have to take it back and figure out how I’m going to build a song around this chorus. It’s something I kind of want to move away from, though.
I used to write songs in middle school, like exclusively on guitar. Now, the songwriting process becomes so interwoven with the production process. I almost want to get back to just writing songs on guitar. And then transposing it into a larger production later. I guess, I’m kind of at a point where I’m looking for some sort of change and will myself to change.
Who are some of your musical influences on this EP?
That’s a really tough question. I’ll be honest, I don’t really digest music like I used to. Some of these songs are like a relic of something from years ago. Specifically for “Trapped,” the influence was Enya. I wanted to create a soundscape. I wanted to create a movie plot or an ambiance around it. The relic of a happy family.
But I’ve always been influenced by Kid Cudi. I felt like he was one of the first mainstream artists to wear their heart on their sleeve. And Mike Posner. He had his come up when I was in college. I saw the formula he was using and was so inspired by it. These days, I look more towards my own life experiences that I feel compelled to write about. Whatever I need to get off of my chest and transpose into music.
What made you want to get into music?
I wanted to create music back in 6th grade. I started taking guitar lessons and my teacher encouraged me to write songs. It started to turn into production when I was in 7th grade. I had this project where everyone had to make a song on this old digital recorder. Those don’t really exist anymore. But I was like “Man, I need to get one of those!” I started making songs, in a limited way, limited to what those capabilities were.
But my production stepped up my freshman year of college when I got a computer set-up. I made a song a night for like four nights in a row. Looking back, they’re really poorly produced and poorly mixed. But I was really excited about it. That’s what I want to recapture.
There’s so much music now. People digest it differently now from when I really fell in love with it. I want to create for my friends more so than these huge expectations that it’s going to go viral. Seeing someone’s reaction in the flesh, someone being excited about my beats or my lyrics, is more fulfilling for me.
What people think of In Due Time, what do you want them to think? What does it mean to you?
I made that title as an apology to the people that really vouched for me when I first started making music, when I released my first album. It’s my subtle way of apologizing and saying I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long.
For me, I hope it’s worth it. I wanted to make something that was meaningful. I’ve gotten people who’ve messaged me who I haven’t talked to for years, so I think I accomplished what I wanted. I got to lay a new foundation. And I guess in due time, I’ll be back again!