Catching Up With Fave
Dantrel Robinson, better known as Fave, brings a fresh, fun and creative perspective to music. This Houston-based “cross-functional aficionado of soulful expression” has many talents, including his work as a designer, writer, producer and photographer. I first heard about Fave through his excellent podcast, the Friday Favecast, which was voted Best Podcast by the judges of the 2010 Black Weblog Awards this week. The Friday Favecast does exactly what he intends by entertaining, encouraging and uplifting listeners. Fave has a gift for combining positive messages, comedy, special guests and even health tips with playlists that always include something for everyone. In fact, after listening to the Favecast for over a year now, I can say that each episode has included at least one song that I’ve never heard before.
Fave also shares his creativity and love for music through his concert photography and web comic, A Pug Named Fender, which has had several witty episodes with our favorite artists including N’dambi, Eric Roberson and this week’s story arc with Lalah Hathaway.
Fave and I had a great chat about the independent music movement, how he blends his many interests and what he hopes to accomplish with his work. Here’s the conversation.
Mimi Soul: How did you decide which of your creative expressions to share with the world?
Fave: It chose me actually. When I was a kid, I used to draw. When I became a teenager, I kinda put the drawing down and started doing music. Then, as an adult I chose marketing as a career and that’s what I went to school for. So, I found a way to do public speaking, graphic design, music and writing and I wanted to channel all that. So, I use the tools like writing, music and visual arts to express the things that I see in the world. I mean, the world is alot bigger than wherever we are from so that’s why I decided to try to capture all of it through those mediums.
Mimi Soul: Your photography, web comic and podcast all seem to fit together like a really cool puzzle. Did you have a strategy for that or did it just kind of happen that way?
Fave: A little bit of both. They are blessings from God, not something that I really practiced and studied for hours out of my life. I feel like the Favecast is something that I birthed out of boredom because I was trying to do the marketing thing and I just really wanted a creative outlet. The photography is something that goes back to the visual arts because of the things I see. It’s just another medium to use so I try to do that more by capturing music, particularly concerts and things like that. And with the web comic, I hadn’t drawn in years. I would do a logo here and there but I hadn’t actually done a hand drawing in at least 10 or 12 years. So, what happened with that is my dog died. I used to call him the mascot for my podcast because when I used to work on my podcast, he would always be in the room with me. He died suddenly and he was only two years old. So, I decided to do a web comic.
The strategy for me was just to present it in a way that has some type of direction. For me, the direction is to do things that are fun. It all points toward encouraging people or uplifting them. If you can look at a clip of a comic strip and chuckle for a minute or two, that’s a minute or two that you didn’t spend worrying about whatever situation you’re going through.
The Favecast has been therapeutic for me. In addition to sharing artists and music, I know how excited I get and how fun it is to discover new music and support artists that are doing great work. It used to be hard to connect the dots between people and artists but now you can do it much easier through the internet and social media. So, that’s another way to kinda build that camaraderie and then say “while I got you here, here are a couple thoughts to share”.
Mimi Soul: Considering all that you’re doing with your photography, A Pug Named Fender and the Friday Favecast, I’m guessing you probably have a lot on your daily schedule. What is a typical day like for you?
Fave: Umm…let’s see. I get up in the morning and pray to thank God for the day. I usually make a list of what I need to get done the night before. I have what I call a Secret Six, which are six things that I absolutely positively have to get done that day. Those six things are usually a combination of household/family type things, business/work type things and the creative stuff that I like to do. I actually automate alot of different things throughout the day. Even most of the comics are done. I have enough comics to last until April of next year.
On the weekends, I kinda calibrate what I did, how I got it done, what I need to do more of and the plan for the next week. I have to do that otherwise I will wake up in the morning and I won’t get anything done. I guess the word to summarize everything is structure. There has to be structure to do everything that I do.
Mimi Soul: What is one of your favorite moments since you started the Favecast?
Fave: Honestly, the first thoughts I had were about hanging with the Navy, going to the Grammys and a podcasting conference we had here in Houston. That stuff was cool, don’t get me wrong, but I think the favorite thing was there was a young cat in New York who emailed me about a year ago. He sent me a note that said he really appreciated the way I put encouraging messages in my podcast and that it had really been helpful in his transition in life. To me, that was a favorite moment because I really do have the approach of taking the focus off me and focusing on how God can do everything for you. I think that emptying myself out to let that shine and knowing that it impacted somebody was the best thing. I know that probably sounds cliché but I felt the best knowing that somebody listened and was actually entertained by the music, encouraged by the words and uplifted in life. If I did that, then I did my job. It was about letting the most positive part of my life, which is the God aspect, shine through enough to reach somebody. That’s cool to me.
Mimi Soul: That’s very cool.
Fave: I have to say this or else I’d really be doing myself a disservice. That’s actually how I really got my start in music. I started playing piano in college. I played for a gospel choir and that led to me playing for just about every kind of church you can think of over the years. So, I have the background of being a church musician and I think that kinda plays into what I do now too inadvertently.
Mimi Soul: Can you tell us more about Fave Photography?
Fave: Again, it goes back into the music. I really wanted to have an outlet in music and capture the essence of music performances through photography. It’s kind of taking what I see in my head and where I’d typically draw it or use Photoshop to graphically design it, I use photography and learn about lighting. I can honestly say that it’s not a gift. I went to a photography class and I read books to get better at it. I try to combine that with opportunities like taking pictures at the Hennessy Artistry Tour and the Grammys. Taking the things I learned in those photography classes and combining it with my own creativity is what kinda birthed the photography side of what I do.
Mimi Soul: What do you think about the independent music movement?
Fave: I think the movement is just getting started. There’s a scripture that says your gift will make room for you and I think room is being made for independent artists. People have always done great music whether it was exposed or not but I think now there are more people who have access to create great music on their own. There are more tools and distribution channels to share that music across the globe for free. So, you add those dynamics to talent that has always existed and you have a movement that has really grown exponentially in the last ten years. Eric Roberson and Foreign Exchange are independent artists who are not backed by any major label and received Grammy nominations on their own terms.
This momentum has been created and those people who were once discouraged and thought that they couldn’t get their stuff out there are inspired. So, it jumpstarts a whole new group of people and that’s what keeps it going. I think independent music has gotten exposure and the cool thing is that that exposure is breeding success in a new group of people and it’s breeding success globally. I really enjoy what the artists do and I want to uplift them.
Mimi Soul: Are you planning to do any production work in the future?
Fave: Definitely. I have a couple things going and a few things coming up next year. The first is the Cross Country Collective, which is myself, another podcasting pioneer Todd Kelley in Oakland and my brother Fresh, who does the Sunday Soundtrack podcast in D.C. We are virtually putting together an EP of songs where I play keyboard, Todd does drums and Fresh does guitar.
Mimi Soul: I’m going to try a play on the word fave. I’ll say a phrase and you say the first thing that comes to mind.
Mimi Soul: Fave’s favorite song
Fave: Uhh Ahh the sequel by Boyz II Men
Mimi Soul: Fave’s favorite musical memory
Fave: I sang a version of Say Yes when I had a band back in Albany, Georgia
Mimi Soul: Fave’s favorite quote
Fave: “Whether you do good, whether you do bad, whether you do nothing, people are going to talk.”
Mimi Soul: Ok, I have to ask the classic desert island question. If you had to part with all of your music except three albums, which three would you have to keep?
Fave: It would be the Boyz II Men Anthology and I know that’s cheating, A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory and Faith Evans’ first album.
Mimi Soul: Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us?
Fave: I think it’s important to say that anything that is good, positive, uplifting or worth something out of what I do is not really of me. It’s really God-centered and the purpose is not to shine on Fave, Dantrel or whatever people call me. It’s really to help somebody. Anything out of what I do that helps anybody is really not of me, it’s God using me.
A Pug Named Fender: http://apugnamedfender.com/
The Friday Favecast: http://www.fridayfavecast.com/wp/