The 116 Life Ep. 30: Using Your Gift with Alex Dollar and Dre Hunter
Reach Records VP and A&R Lasanna “Ace” Harris sits down with Alex Dollar and Dre Hunter, A&R director and manager at Reach Records to talk about humble beginnings, being ready to hustle with what you have and working behind the scenes in the music industry curating music with the artists you know and love.
We started off by delving into our personal journeys and how we found ourselves in the music industry. As the host, I’ve been a part of Reach Records for six years, and I can’t help but admire the amazing work of our A&R team.
Dre, hailing from Miami, Florida, with Caribbean roots, shared his musical journey. Growing up in a household filled with music, he eventually moved to Atlanta and began collaborating with his first writing partner, Olu. Despite the challenges they faced in the music industry, they eventually landed a publishing deal. Dre candidly admitted that they weren’t initially great, but they honed their craft over time.
On the other hand, Alex made a career shift from overseeing a media division in the corporate world to pursue her passion for music. After eight years in a corporate role, she felt a strong calling for change after attending a music festival. She started dedicating more time to music during her downtime and stumbled upon an Instagram post about Reach Records hiring. After reaching out to Feel, she expressed her interest and joined our team.
Making great records
Our conversation often revolves around the art of making records. We all agree on the importance of having a good ear for music and constructing records that truly resonate with people. We emphasize the value of taste and the ability to enhance our natural talents through study and hard work.
We also delved into our involvement in the creation of the album “As I Am” by 1K Phew, which received a nomination for Best Album Packaging. Dre shared how a DM from Flex led to a collaboration that shaped the album’s concept. Alex discussed her contributions to the album, resulting in the creation of the songs “Speed Racer” and “Father Abraham.” We all stressed the significance of understanding arrangement techniques and limiting the number of melodic parts in order to create a catchy record.
We also touched on the process of creating the summer playlist and the song “Stay Low.” Alex shared how the idea for the song came about and how being in the same room together helped bring it to life. We all agreed on the importance of finding the right people to work with and the challenge of creating faith-driven music that remains fresh and appealing to a wider audience.
Dre emphasized the importance of patience and perseverance in the creative process, comparing it to the work of great artists who sometimes take years to create their masterpieces. As an A&R manager, Alex focuses on ensuring that artists feel comfortable and are willing to put in the effort to create the best record possible.
Towards the end of our conversation, we discussed why it’s crucial to fight for greatness in Christian hip hop, especially when it seems like viral TikTok videos and mainstream success are prioritized. Alex expressed her desire for Christian hip hop to break away from the norm and establish its own unique identity.
In conclusion, our conversation was a testament to the collaborative nature of creating music. We reminded artists that we are all working together to find the best ideas and create greatness. We encourage artists to keep fighting and not be discouraged by the process of refining and perfecting their work.
Thank you for joining us on this behind-the-scenes journey of Reach Records. We are grateful for your support and hope to continue inspiring you through our music.
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The journey of Dre Hunter [00:01:31] Dre Hunter talks about his background, growing up in Miami, his musical influences, and his journey in the music industry.
Learning to craft records [00:02:14] Dre Hunter discusses the challenges he faced in the music industry, including the importance of quality and learning how to craft records.
Transitioning from writing partner to A&R [00:07:01] Dre Hunter shares his transition from being a songwriter to becoming an A&R, including how he started working with a group signed to Atlantic Records.
The career change realization [00:11:12] Alex discusses her realization that they wanted to make a career change after attending a music festival.
Applying to Reach Records [00:13:24] Alex talks about how she saw a post on Instagram about Reach Records hiring and decided to apply.
The hiring process [00:14:23] Alex shares her experience of going through multiple rounds of interviews with Ace Harris before being hired at Reach Records.
The process of creating “As I Am” album [00:20:03] Dre discusses how the album started with a DM from Flex, and how they brought in Kelsey and a producer to work on the project.
Arranging and engineering the “Move It” record [00:22:23] Dre talks about how he heard the record being worked on and suggested adding a certain moment to it, and how he rearranges records as an engineer.
Creating the record “Spread the Opps” [00:25:58] Alex explains how they brought in a children’s choir to add a unique element to the record, and how Dre helped construct the verses and delivery.
The journey of creating “Spread the Opps” [00:29:28] Discussion about the concept and challenges of creating a single that resonates with fans and spreads a spiritual message.
The birth of “Deconstruction” [00:30:12] Alex shares the story of how the idea for “Deconstruction” came about and the initial reaction to it.
The making of “Stay Low” [00:33:00] Alex and Dre discuss the process of creating “Stay Low,” including the initial demo, collaboration with other artists, and the importance of being in the right creative environment.
Creating Art [00:38:56] Approaching art and the creative process, emphasizing the importance of patience and taking time to perfect a song.
Tik Tok Trends [00:41:52] The importance of fighting for greatness in music and why it matters to Reach Records, despite the popularity of viral TikTok trends.
Effecting change [00:43:44] The significance of Christian hip hop and its potential to impact and save lives, particularly within the black community.
Related Radio Show: 116 Life