A picture of the Dartmouth Green in the Fall with beautiful fall foliage.
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A picture of Denva's 3 current album covers.

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Dartmouth Senior ('24) Denva Nesbeth, Jr. from Brooklyn, New York about his amazing music production! Denva is a Mathematical Data Science Major who can be found spreading joy around campus with his kind fistbumps and who likes producing beats in his free time. He's produced three instrumental albums which can be found on all platforms: In The Stacks, Reach Higher and Back in The Stacks (here's the link to listen: linktr.ee/denvajr ).

For Denva, music has always been a big part of his life since he was young and he played around with the music creation app GarageBand for fun as a kid. He recalls the summer of 2017 as containing his true spark of love for music: "I was listening to Daft Punk's album Random Access Memories, specifically the songs "Give Life Back to Music" and "Lose Yourself to Dance," and I was just in the zone. I was enthralled listening to those songs and it gave me the urge–I want to learn how to produce music, I want to know how to do this. I wasn't even thinking that I could somehow make a career out of it in the future, I was just thinking, I want to learn how to do this. I started using GarageBand more seriously and that summer, I really started to learn how to make music, beats and just have fun with it. From there I would just make beats all throughout high school.

A picture of Denva Jr. sitting down and wearing a green Dartmouth hoodie.

At Dartmouth, he started playing some of his music for friends, and they told him that he needed to start putting his music out there. "Finally, late last year 2022 I gained the confidence within myself to put something out there and the first song I released was "In The Stacks. It's funny how "In The Stacks" came about because it was in the Spring of 2022 and one of my friends invited me to go study with them and I was like "okay, cool." We go to the East Reading Room in Baker Library and I do some work for my math class and once I finish, my friend is still working on their stuff so I think okay, I have some free time on my hands, let me pull out my iPad and make beats. All the music I've made has been on my iPad. I just look around, and I'm seeing people locked in, focused on what they're doing. They're either reading something, studying or typing out essays. I'm sitting next to a window on my left side and when I look out it's raining, there's gray clouds and it's moody. I wanted to create something sonically that fit what that vibe felt like to me."

Anytime Denva's friends listened to that song they really enjoyed it so he wanted to make a full project of vibes anyone could listen to "whether they're studying, working or just chilling." He went on to say "That's what inspired that album and it's crazy to be here now when I have three projects out.  The cool thing about each project is that they connect but have some differences; my second project Reach Higher which I released in the Summer, has a high energy so it's great for playing at the gym or at a party. It's very sonically different from In The Stacks which was definitely intentional since I wanted to showcase versatility and how we're all human and have different emotions and vibes."

On campus, we actually have a library space called the stacks that's notoriously known for being the home ground of true grinding. While I personally prefer to study elsewhere because of its dark and uber quiet cave-like nature, I completely agreed with the sentiment and said "Exactly! Sometimes we're feeling in the stacks and sometimes you know…we're out of the stacks!" We laughed then continued on to talk about his most recent project, a sequel album called Back In the Stacks. "I released it on my birthday, October 13th and that was really special. Finding the style that I have as a producer, which is making music that is simultaneously chill and upbeat, and being able to solidify that for that project was great."

As I'm not well-versed with music production, I asked him how he comes up with his beats. "It varies from time to time, sometimes it's just me trying different chord progressions in GarageBand and seeing how I feel in the moment, sometimes I'll go through some of the loops GarageBand has, be inspired by them and try to chop it up and add different instrumentation to it. Sometimes I'll start with drums and get a groove first before I add anything else. I'll often have a mood sonically in my head that I think I want to fit. I'll also just play around and if I hear something that sounds cool I'll go from that initial feeling. There are these dreamy synth pads that I use in a lot of my music because they help to add to the vibes of the tracks."

In terms of how he's able to fit music production into his busy schedule, Denva said that google calendar is a big thing that he uses because "It's so good to plot out your day within a schedule because I know, okay I have class at these specific times of the day, I'll make sure to make time to eat and outside of that I have time for the different organizations I'm a part of. In my other free time I can chill and work on my music; that's when I decompress and I'm in a space of flow. I'm not overthinking it, just being fully present and having the most fun with it."

When I asked him how he's felt about the success he's received after his releases he said, "People just listening to the music in general, that's in itself already a compliment to me because people could be listening to anyone and no one is entitled to listen to my music. The fact that people even give it a chance is something I'm super grateful for. People telling me it's something they enjoy listening to as a go-to when they study is a huge compliment and especially for In The Stacks since that's exactly what the initial vibe I was going for was. To me, being "in the stacks" represents being locked in and focused on different things you may have going on. For someone to say they've added one of my songs as part of the process for how they do things—people just living life to your music—it's kind of the highest compliment you can ask for as an artist." 

A picture of Denva Jr.

"I'm definitely looking forward to continuing to make more music, definitely be on the lookout. I'll have new stuff coming out in winter term so when midterms come around and people are in the stacks, they'll have a soundtrack to the grind. In the future I see myself in the Tech industry doing data science work while also continuing to put out music, having fun and showcasing that creativity. I just want to reiterate my gratitude to everyone, people taking their time to listen out of their own volition. It's a surreal thing to have just made beats for fun and now have stuff on all streaming platforms. I'm excited for anyone that might be checking out my music for the first time, I hope you enjoy it."


Writer's Note: While I wrote this blog post I had some of Denva's music playing in the background and I especially enjoyed "9-to-9,"  "Love Cafe," "Reach Higher" and "The Peace Within."

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