Photo: Prince Williams / Contributor via Getty Images
  /  03.24.2023

Producer and engineer Derek “206derek” Anderson was right by Don Toliver’s side recording him for every song on his latest album, Love Sick, including tracks the world still hasn’t heard. No one making music now sounds like Toliver, and Anderson knows why.

“When he records, he uses the room like Michael Jackson used the room. What I mean is a lot of artists record straight into the mic. Don will turn his head recording certain ad-libs, so he’ll use the room and maybe cover his mouth a little,” Anderson told REVOLT.

In this “Studio Sessions” exclusive, Anderson explains how a large chunk of Love Sick was made in two weeks, Dave Chappelle and T.I. collaborating, and how Toliver is already working on new music a month after releasing the album.

Check out this rare look into the making of Don Toliver’s Love Sick below!

Don Toliver’s Love Sick was released just 16 months after Life Of Don. When did you two lock in the studio to work on the new album?

Possibly April/May last year. We had our first camp around then. We were locked in, living in this house for about 10 days. It was magic, though. We locked in. A lot of amazing creatives were coming in and out. Some of Don’s favorite producers came through.

What song on Love Sick did he record the earliest?

People like Don and Travis [Scott] record a lot of songs, so it’s hard for songs to stay for a while because they’re always catching new vibes. The oldest song is probably one of the album’s last songs, “Company Pt. 3.” We made that about three years ago. It was supposed to be another artist’s song. I remember I linked up with LosHendrix, and we were playing some of the songs he had done with Don prior. We played that song and loved it. We said we had to get it on the album. I remember hearing that song and saying, “I don’t ever do this, but I’m going to text Sickamore and Don right now and tell them, ‘We have to put this on the album.'” We played it a few times, and they said, “Nah, this one is special.”

A lot of the stuff we made [for the album] was made in the 10-day camp… A lot of magic happened during those couple of weeks. We didn’t even leave the house. We were just waking up and going straight to the music. I would wake up, and Don would be downstairs in the studio playing the music.


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What is your daily schedule like in production and writing camps that are nonstop for days and sometimes weeks?

We’re working all day from when we wake up until we go to sleep. That’s usually how it goes when we’re locked in on the camps. There was only one day I stepped outside the house. I had a runner get me socks and underwear, and he got me the wrong size. I was so mad because I thought we wouldn’t catch the magic if I left. When Don hears a beat or music that inspires him, the mic must be ready to go.

They do say the magic hours in the studio are after midnight.

There’s actually magic in the morning, too. I appreciate working with Don lately because we’ll start at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m.

You’ve been working as Don’s engineer since 2021. How did your role change for Love Sick?

This was the first album I had creative input on as an engineer and producer. I produced on five songs on this album. On other albums where I’m exclusively engineering, my only responsibility is vocals. For this, I think Don started realizing I’m a great producer as well. He and the whole team put a lot of trust in me to work on the production. That was a huge change.

What was your favorite session from the latest album?

Off the top of my head, there are actually so many memorable sessions, but I’d have to go with the Charlie Wilson session [for “If I Had”]. That was epic. Charlie, his wife, and his team pulled up, and we played him a few songs. Then we played him “If I Had,” and he loaded it up, got in the booth, and was an absolute legend in the booth. He started doing background [vocals], but we wanted more. So, I left an open verse, and he recorded that verse in one take. It was pure instinct. We were all in the control room looking at each other, smiling. At the end of the song, we were all waving at him to come out of the booth. We told him, “We got it.” There was really some magic in the air.


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What does Don do to produce his unique sound?

When he records, he uses the room like Michael Jackson used the room. What I mean is a lot of artists record straight into the mic. Don will turn his head recording certain ad-libs, so he’ll use the room and maybe cover his mouth a little. I’m also following his lead with the effects that I do the majority of the time.

Were there any emotional sessions?

This album was incredibly emotional for me on a personal level. This album was very, very emotional for me. I lost my brother at the beginning of last year; this album was therapeutic for me. I also went through a breakup at the same time.

My condolences to you on your brother’s passing. Going back to the beginning, how did you first connect with Don?

I used to engineer for T.I. and Nipsey Hussle from 2014 to 2018. At some point, I stopped working with T.I. and was over the engineering thing. Then, my friend Shaan Singh asked me if I wanted to work with Sheck Wes. This was right around the time “Mo Bamba” was going up. So, Shaan introduced me to Sickamore. Through that, I got introduced to the JACKBOYS sessions. I got introduced to everybody through those sessions. We were working on a collaboration between Travis, Don, and Sheck, and that’s where I met Don. I hadn’t heard of him yet. He was doing melodies that made me know he was different. He reminded me of all of my favorite types of people to work with. 

The magic of the studio is that door can open, and creativity can draw anyone in. What was the most star-driven session you’ve been in?

I’ll forever remember that day I recorded Dave Chappelle for T.I.’s Dime Trap album. T.I. asked me after a show, “Do you want to go with me to Atlanta to work with Dave Chappelle?” Of course, I said, “Yes!” We got done with the show around  4:00 a.m. and ended up flying out to Atlanta right after that. He was funnier in person than on [“Chappelle’s Show”]I was off no sleep and was laughing the entire time. He and T.I. are actually homies, so it was good vibes. That was an amazingly epic session.


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What was Dave’s creative process?

I noticed that he was running everything he was saying through his mind and would record sporadically throughout the day and night. We were on and off at the studio for a day and a half. They’d eat, have some drinks, have an hour-long conversation, and then out of nowhere, Chappelle would grab the headphones and say, “Turn me up, maestro.” He’d be saying some wild s**t like that.

Don Toliver popped up on SZA’s “Used” from SOS. Did you record him knowing it was going to be for her album?

When we did that song, we considered potentially using it for Love Sick. But [we recorded it] for SZA.

Are you already working on a follow-up album?

We are working on new music already. Plus, as I said, he has albums worth of songs ready, and they’re all amazing. Whenever it comes to picking a tracklist for an album, it’s tough because every song is great. Most of the time, some of my favorite songs might not make the album. But, I appreciate the team’s approach to making a cohesive body of work. There are several stages to a tracklist getting made for a Don Toliver album. At that first camp I was telling you about, we had an album tracklist at the end of that camp that could have been the album. We had a full listening party and everything. Half of those songs ended up getting replaced with new songs.


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What do you have coming up for the rest of 2023?

I’m focusing more on my production now. Now is a great opportunity since Love Sick came out, and people are starting to recognize that I’m capable of working on fire records as a producer as well. I’m always going to work with Don as his engineer and producer. But I’m definitely branching out and collaborating with more producers. I’m also trying to work with more artists. Those are my main musical focuses this year.



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