Dustin Rapier

Thursday, Sep 24, 2015
Tagged As: alternative, electronic, pop
Dustin Rapier

Dustin Rapier makes the kind of organic-sounding electronic pop music that captivates and inspires. Released in 2014, Rapier's first album, the aptly named Spectrum, shows both confidence and empathy, with a willingness to play within the possibilities of pop. Despite a recent move back to Arkansas, Rapier made a big mark in Kansas City, his home of four years and where he still often performs. In this interview, Rapier discusses the personal struggles that led to many of the songs on Spectrum, his love of recording, and how "every song I've written is a product of my heart, soul, and mind."

*

Introduce yourself. Where do you live and work? What does a typical day look like for you?

I'm Dustin! I recently relocated back to my hometown of Rogers, Arkansas, but I have called Kansas City home for just shy of four years. I still visit and play in KC as often as I can. Currently I work for a pharmaceutical company based out of San Francisco, CA. As much as I love music, I love my job. I get to travel all over the country, meeting and working with brilliant, passionate people, and see places that I would never get to see with a desk job. It's pretty inspiring. Plus all the time spent on planes is great for songwriting.

Introduce yourself. Where do you live and work? What does a typical day look like for you?

I'm Dustin! I recently relocated back to my hometown of Rogers, Arkansas, but I have called Kansas City home for just shy of four years. I still visit and play in KC as often as I can. Currently I work for a pharmaceutical company based out of San Francisco, CA. As much as I love music, I love my job. I get to travel all over the country, meeting and working with brilliant, passionate people, and see places that I would never get to see with a desk job. It's pretty inspiring. Plus all the time spent on planes is great for songwriting.

According to your biography, you are not a classically trained musician. Who were your earliest musical influences? How did you come to learn what you need to know to create your music?

My parents were definitely my earliest musical influences. They're both brilliant musicians, and I'm very lucky to have had them around to pass that along to me. I have two sisters, and the five of us were constantly singing together. It's how I learned to harmonize. Imogen Heap has been a huge artistic influence, especially regarding my process. She's a true independent, and that's what I love about her. Her ability to create soundscapes and weave emotion into the music is something I've always tried to emulate in my own way.

Describe your creative process with songwriting and recording, especially with the songs on your second album, Spectrum. What songs are you most proud of and why?

There seems to be two kinds of songwriters: those who write lyrics before they write the music, and those who hear the music before they write lyrics. For me, the music comes first. It always seems to be the product of an emotion for me, something that I feel I have to express to the degree that the feeling itself takes on a life of its own in the form of music. The more I develop a song, the more life it takes on. Finally it gets to the point where I'm able to ask "What is the music trying to say?" That's when I have to get cerebral and give it words. Every song I've written is a product of my heart, soul, and mind.

The songs I'm most proud of from Spectrum are "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Seventeen". They both contain messages that are very important to me, but are so can be so easily forgotten: that I am loved, and that I matter. I've battled for most of my life, and have survived suicide attempts once as a teen, then again as a young adult. I'm proud of those songs, because I know firsthand that they have impacted others that have gone through similar circumstances. My hope is that the stories I've heard aren't the only ones out there, and that what I'm doing in music is creating a positive difference.

What artists do you look to these days for inspiration? What do you admire most about these artists?

I admire the Imogen Heaps, the Taylor Swifts, the Tove Los, and the Macklemores of the world. They're the renegades that dare to write their own music and speak their minds. They're not afraid to be original and take chances. They inspire me to be true to my art. Authenticity is the most relatable component of good music; people are drawn to it because it's such a terrifying thing to practice in your own life. I aspire to that level of authenticity both on and off the stage, but I sometimes fall short. Those kinds of artists keep me accountable.

What most excites you about music and creativity in Kansas City?

I love that there's always something going on. I love great venues like the Tank Room that are constantly changing things up and giving new artists a shot. I love that First Fridays is a place for both music and the visual arts. Kansas City celebrates creativity in all its forms, something that I think will only spark a nuclear reaction of amazing things.

*

Check out these book recommendations from Dustin:

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. This book gave me incredible perspective on how wonderful it is to be alive and healthy. It also broke my heart for those in long-term care and the terminally ill. If you have dealt with the death of a friend or family member from alzheimer's, cancer, or some other terminal illness, read this book. It's beautiful.

The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper. It's more of a teen read, but I have to pull this book from my shelf and read it once a year or so. It's such a captivating coming of age story that makes me feel like I can take over the world.

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This book changed how I interact with people. It's made me a more gracious person, and has allowed me to learn how to let trivial things go.

Ellipse by Imogen Heap. Imogen Heap bought her childhood home, built a studio in the basement, then recorded this album in it. They called their home "The Round House" as children, hence the name Ellipse. Moving, beautiful, inspiring, amazing. Just listen to it, trust me.

Vows by Kimbra. She sang the "girl part" with Gotye on Somebody I Used to Know. She's an incredible vocalist and writer, and there really just isn't anyone out there that nails her style quite like she does.

Bryan V.

Written by Bryan V.

Fun fact: I once met a guy who met Captain Beefheart.