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Dave Coles recently released his debut disc, "Ten Tales."

Coles recounts "Ten Tales" in chill hip-hop / folk style

What happens when you take a city kid from Milwaukee, send him off to Colorado and give him a microphone? Well, if Dave Coles is anything to judge from, you'd get a sound that is hip-hop and with a folk-rock vibe.

Coles recently released his debut CD, "Ten Tales," mixed by Old Man Malcolm, and the 10 tracks here owe as much to the Beastie Boys and Run DMC as they do to G. Love & Special Sauce.

Produced by local hip-hop artists like Lotus Born, P.A.T. and Matchezz, "Ten Tales" is hip-hop with a mellow, chill vibe that seems to deftly reflect the attitude of its creator.

We asked Coles about the gestation of "Ten Tales" and where it's all headed.

OMC: Can you tell me a little about how you started making music?

DC: I started music lessons as a very young kid -- violin, voice, then clarinet/saxophone -- and sung in a choir at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music on Prospect Avenue. I think I wrote my first rap at age 9, during a summer program at Riveredge Nature Center. The Beastie Boys and Run DMC were the first artists I was exposed to -- they were THE cool groups in my world -- and many of the kids in my circle dabbled in rapping. I got more serious about it after college and released a demo in 2002.

OMC: How long were you working on writing the materiall for "Ten Tales"?

DC: I started writing "Ten Tales" in 2005 and it took more than a year to write all of the songs. Recording began in early 2006 and took a really long time due to a number of challenges; it was a collaboration with four or five different producers/mixmasters, all of whom were busy with lots of other projects and priorities.

OMC: Once you had it all and decided to record, was the process pretty quick?

DC: Logistically, just getting together with the right people for sessions, was very tricky. It was an incredibly frustrating process, but I am sure it is pretty typical.

OMC: Did you play on the disc yourself?

DC: The beats were produced by two Riverwest guys who were part of the now-defunct Tree Style collaborative. The only parts played by me are some baritone sax licks and some whistling.

OMC: How did you hook up with Malcolm? What did he bring to the project?

DC: I actually met him playing soccer on the lakefront -- he's terrible by the way (laughs) -- and remembered him from Citizen King shows. I knew he was a respected mixing engineer and DJ / producer, and I was very glad that he was interested in working with me.

Malcolm brought a level of professionalism, experience, and music knowledge that was in a different league from my other collaborators, no disrespect to them. We spent many, many hours in his studio fine-tuning the album, and his advice and assistance was crucial.

OMC: What's next for you? Are you using the disc to try and get signed? Are you touring in support of it? Working on a new one?

DC: What's next for me is a big question mark ... I'm still actively promoting the album in any and every way I can think of. Of course I dream of being signed, although I have friends whose experiences have shown me that getting signed can be a mixed blessing; there are many advantages to being independent, especially in this day and age.

I'm not touring right now, and actually don't really enjoy live hip-hop; I feel like the lyrics are almost never decipherable, and the lyrics are what hip-hop is all about. I do love to perform, however, and plan to perform more in the future.

I'm going to start working on another album this year, and I think it's going to be very different than "Ten Tales." It will be something I am more interested in performing live.


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