Musicians' Spotlight: The Collective Dialect

Name: Ty Graham (pictured left)

Age: 23

Major: Marine Biology

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

 “The rap game Emile Hirsch” – Graham says he doesn’t have a doppelganger, but this nickname emerged as a product of the following interview.

 He enjoys diving as a hobby and worked in one of Pittsburgh’s only dive shops as a teenager.

His favorite thing about UNCW: the Spanish Moss.

 

Name: Anthony “Nino” Nastasi (pictured right)

Age: 22

Major: English, studying Professional Writing

Hometown: Bayville, NY

 “The rap game Adam Sandler” - Nastasi’s appearance and personality commonly get compared to that of a young Adam Sandler, which he takes a compliment.

 He says his favorite thing about UNCW: the girls. “Beautiful women, I’m so proud of all of them. I love you guys.”

 

Over 23 thousand views in just 3 weeks. That’s the success that Collective Dialect’s official music video for their newest hit song Circus Satanicus is getting.

 

These UNCW seniors, graduating in a matter of months, have a lot on their plate, and a lot more going for them. The hip-hop duo balances the demands of college with regular live performances, music video shoots, and of course, recording their jams. Their newest album, “Drowning in Sound,” released in Nov. 2014. Transplants from up North, they now call Wrightsville Beach home, and are working hard to establish themselves as leaders in Wilmington’s rap scene.

 

HC: How did you meet?

CD: “We met in Freshman Seminar, Parker G was in there, that was an interesting class,” recalled Graham. “I remember looking around realizing that I didn’t know anyone, and everyone seemed to be in friend groups already. I also had a weird roommate freshman year.”

The duo first first bonded over sports.

“Nino was the one kid I saw wearing a lacrosse shirt,” said Graham, “so he was the one kid I figured I should talk to in that class.”

They both played LAX on the club team for their first 3 years at UNCW.

HC: When did you start making music?

CD: “I’ve been making music my whole life,” said Graham. “I’ve had different bands of different genres since I’ve been at UNCW.”

Before the days of Collective Dialect, an old roommate of Graham’s bought a microphone and they began recording for the sake of humor. “It kind of all started as a joke, we would record really ridiculous things,” said Graham.

“Around 2012, when Nino moved in, I realized how good he was with words, and how distinct his voice was, we started taking it more seriously.”

HC: How would you describe your genre and style of rap?

CD: “If I could describe it in one word, I’d say we’re diverse,” said Graham. We don’t focus on just one sound, and we’ve gotten criticism for that, but I think it’s cool to have a wide range in everything from new age trap music to the boom bap style where hip-hop has its roots.”

Collective Dialect’s work includes samples of everything from jazz music to tunes from vinyl to mp3s.

HC: Who are your musical influences?

CD:  “We both really draw from Slug and his group Atmosphere,” said Nastasi. “Another influence for me would be Eminem. If we talk hip-hop, and what I’ve learned from it, it’s mostly from that guy. Growing up, my introduction to rap music was by Slim Shady, and from there it stems.”

HC: So how do you make the music?

CD: “We use a drum pad to make the beat with the samples and synthesizers,” said Graham. Both artists contribute to writing the rap lyrics.

This equipment is a recent upgrade from the duo’s humble beginnings. They once recorded in what they called The Shower Booth, a modest space in their Wrightsville beach home in which they recorded – and yes, it was actually done in the bathroom.

The small enclosure offered a noise barrier and great acoustics. But now, they have a more permanent space dedicated to recording set up in Nino’s room.

 

A close up of the group’s recording equipment in Nastasi’s room.

HC: Tell us about your music videos.

CD: “I pretty much come up with the ideas for the music videos,” said Nastasi. “But it’s a collaborative effort. Ty finds the locations for the videos and he executes it.”

“We want to do things in our videos that are different and stand out, and keep the audience enticed,” said Graham.

From their first, self-titled album, one music video does just that.

In the video, Graham and Nastasi are seen wearing gas masks and rapping in the woods.

The song is called Carcosa and is themed after a story told in HBO’s series True Detective. The duo confessed an unabashed obsession with the TV show.

“We were so captivated by it, cause it was a sick series, so we got the gas mask idea from the show. We named the track Carcosa ‘cause the beat to that song is really creepy,” said Graham.

 

 

Nastasi and Graham on the “Carcosa” video shoot.

Nastasi and Graham said they are currently working on the video for their title track for “Drowning in Sound”.

HC: What are some past and upcoming shows that are worth mentioning?

CD: “The Halloween Costume party at Ziggy’s last year was the best show we ever played.”

 The Collective Dialect recently performed with DY Na$ty at The Juggling Gypsy. They are playing in Raleigh on February 19th, and opening for the legendary AFROMAN at Ziggy’s on the 21st.

 

Editor's note: Updated on Feb. 18, due to actions that Ziggy's does not condone, Afroman will no longer be performing; however, Collective Dialect, DY Na$ty, and other supporting acts will have their own show at the same time and date for $5.

 

“It’s kinda weird,” said Nastasi, “cause I grew up in middle school singing ‘Colt 45’ and ‘Because I Got High’, and now we’re gonna share a stage with him.”

Nastasi added that Collective Dialect will be playing at Wrightsville Beach’s Palm Room on February 27th.

HC: How do you manage the workload of school with the challenge of consistently working on your music?

CD: “It’s definitely a full-time hobby, it’s crazy,” said Graham.

HC: When you graduate, do you suppose your subject matter about the party lifestyle will change?

CD: “I'm sure as time goes on, we will find new topics and subjects to write about so the possibilities are really endless. But we love to party, so I'm sure that won't die out any time soon,” said Graham.

Nastasi said they go for shock value and humor, but mean no harm by their content.

HC: What are your post-graduation plans?

CD: “I’m going to see what happens”, said Nastasi. “If I can stay here with my job at Nextglass for a decent salary, I will. But at the same time, we’re talking to major producers right now, and I mean we get to open for AFROMAN… if we can gain traction”

Graham continued, “I want to start an independent record label, that’s my goal. I think there’s potential for some ground up expansion, but I’m definitely willing to stay in Wilmington and work part time and make music.” 

 

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