David “Dos Dias” Bishop is one of the rare engineers who knows how to make you sound good on the record and feel good in the studio. As the primary recording engineer for Summer Walker’s record-breaking Still Over It project, he knew how to make sure the pregnant singer felt at home while baring her soul.
“When she came, she was pregnant at the time when we first started working. So, I had fruits there. I had water there. It was everything there for her,” Dos Dias told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the multifaceted producer and engineer discusses how Sean Garrett in the studio isn’t that different from Sean Garrett in VERZUZ, how studio sessions are like therapy, and Summer Walker putting together her verse for Kendrick Lamar’s “Purple Hearts” song.
Who was the first major artist you were in the studio with?
My first major artist experience was with Young Nudy. I was working under his engineer, and then so much happened around that time. Dreamville was putting together a project. We ended up going over there with J. Cole. In the studio with Nudy, I realized he has an incredible ear. I had to make sure that translated into the mixes and things of that nature. I learned a lot working with him.
You’ve also worked with legends like Sean Garrett. How did you connect with him?
I started working with him two years ago when I started working on the Still Over It project with Summer [Walker]. One day at LVRN, I just happened to pick up the phone. I was there, and Sean was already there. He was working on a couple of records for Summer. That was my first time meeting him at the camp. I took a lot of what I learned from recording with Nudy and those guys — the punch-in method. But, my background is in vocals. I love working with singers. My uncle’s an incredible vocal coach. So, when I linked up with Sean, it was like the best of both worlds. He’s moving fast, but he’s singing them notes. From there, we locked in.
His demeanor in his VERZUZ battle with The-Dream was a little wild. How does it compare to his personality in the studio?
You know what’s funny? That VERZUZ battle is one of the reasons I actually was super excited to work with Sean. I want to be in the fire and wonder why somebody feels the way they feel about anything. With Sean, it’s complete passion, man. How he came across in that VERZUZ battle is how he is. I don’t know another person who cares about music like him.
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I’ve interviewed Najee Travis and Archer about working with Summer. It’s not easy to get her trust in the studio. How did you develop that trust?
She’s very talented. She can record herself. She doesn’t even really need an engineer. So, the way that I thought about it was like I have to add value into the session. When she came, she was pregnant at the time when we first started working. So, I had fruits there. I had water there. It was everything there for her. I just felt her energy, man. She was just so pure. She likes to have fun, laugh and crack jokes, but she also knows what she’s doing. She’s vocally incredible.
How did her pregnancy affect the work you two did together?
It added a lot more emotion into the records. When we were cutting the records, you could feel them. You had to catch it in a moment. I recorded all of Still Over It.
Since you recorded all of Still Over It, walk us through what Summer wanted for the record while you all made it.
Summer’s always asked, “How can we color it more? How can we add more color?” The process with creating Still Over It was just like letting the artist go in, do what they do and figure out afterwards what we can do to make it better. There were so many 4 a.m sessions; I loved making “Screwin’” because everything was painted perfectly. I was in the studio with Sean while we [were] working on the song. It was 3 a.m. and we were like, “Man, there has to be a sex record on this album.”
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Summer also appeared on “Purple Hearts” from Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers album. What was the process like putting that together?
By that time, we had been working on a lot of features. She has a lot of those features that are coming out right now. Shoutout to her A&R, Justice [Baiden]. He hit me saying they had to cut this Kendrick record. I’m a huge Kendrick fan, but of course I kept it professional. When I linked with Summer, I felt like she was kind of holding her composure too. We worked on that verse for hours at a time. When we finished it, we both looked at each other and thought it sounded crazy. We sent it over and he loved it, man.
You’ve said in the past that studio sessions are like therapy. How so?
We’re all human; we all live lives. We all go through heartbreak. It’s always interesting to walk on those journeys with the artists, and see them just morph into somebody new. For me, it’s been therapy because sometimes the artist is just in a different phase of life that I’m not in, so I’m able to glance from a different lens and see what’s up next for myself. Or, if I’m even going through something that the artist is going through, it just makes the creative process even crazier. It just helps me get through life.
I’m a firm believer that we’re people that made our hobbies our careers. It’s really tough sometimes to separate it. I honestly gave up — I’m not going to separate it anymore. So, you have to figure out a way around it. The only way we can do that is the relationships we have with each other. Whether it’s me as an engineer or producer with the artist or anybody else creatively. It’s been therapy for me, and I’m pretty sure it’s been therapy for them as well. We’re all going through some of the same things.
You have a really close relationship with artist/producer Childish Major. How do you two work in the studio?
Childish is one of those people who knows how to do everything. You know, like, he’s an incredible, pro producer. He’s an incredible artist. He’s a Grammy-nominated engineer. I wanted to make sure I just went in and offered something he couldn’t do himself or taught him something if I wasn’t meant to stay there. We work in so many different ways. We’ve worked in an apartment for two years. It’s usually just us throwing ideas. Sometimes, it’s a day for him to write. But, most of the time, it’s me in the chair while he works on ideas that one of us threw out.
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What do you have coming up for the rest of the year and going into 2023?
I’m working on owning up to the fact that I’m not just an engineer but also a producer. I’m leaning into that even more to produce records. That could mean making beats or even vocal production. I recently worked on the song “Hood Rich” from the CMG project [Gangsta Art]. Another record I worked on, that Yung Lan also produced, was the “One Time” record from B-Lovee featuring Ice Spice, Skillibeng, and J.I. It’s a big New York collab. I’m leaning into my production bag, man. I want mine.