In The Studio: Daseca

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Three young Jamaican dancehall producers storm international charts with a fresh roster and new-school riddims.

Brothers David and Craig Harrisingh and their friend and musical partner Craig “Serani” Marsh combined letters from their respective names and dubbed their dancehall production studio Daseca (for David-Serani-Craig). Located on Red Hills Road in Kingston, Jamaica, Daseca has quickly established a radio, club, and chart presence by producing hits for Mavado (“Dying”), Busy Signal (“These Are the Days”), and their signature artist Bugle (“Doh”). But the trio has resisted categorization, adding hip-hop, R&B, and even techno influences to their original Jamaican sound. Now, as Serani and Bugle tunes rule the international charts and bigger deals loom with American major labels, the crew says they’re not in a rush to bust out big, but instead seek to organically build their brand. Oh, and they want to make another thing clear: They don’t use AutoTune or samples! XLR8R caught up with Craig Harrisingh to get the lowdown on Daseca’s methodology.

XLR8R: Where is your studio located?

Craig Harrisingh: It’s in a plaza, with lots of shops in there. We share a vocal booth with another studio in the same building run by Razz and Biggie from Bembe Squad.

What are the crew members’ different roles?

Everybody does everything, basically. We share the work. Even if just one or two of us builds a beat or a riddim, everyone gets credit as Daseca.

How did you come up with the Airwaves riddim?

We build most of [soundsystem owner and producer] Fire Links’ riddims, [including] Chaka Chaka, Clear, Drumlane, and others. We and Links have a good vibe and a good chemistry. Serani was in the studio and [Airwaves] just happened, it was a natural vibe. We were just playing the keyboards and played a lead riff and Links just say, “I need that!” But we’re not really juggling riddims anymore; we’re concentrating on producing individual singles.

Do you consider your output to be strictly dancehall?

We’re doing music for the whole world. It’s still dancehall music ‘cause it’s coming from Jamaica. Some people say there’s hip-hop in [what we do], but we’re not trying to build hip-hop, it’s just the vibe that we’re working from. And it is excellent that dancehall is embracing different beats and tempos. We need that. We’re listening to producers like Neptunes, Swizz Beats, and Dr. Dre, but at the same time we’re listening to dancehall producers like Dave Kelly, Jeremy Harding, Sly & Robbie, and all that–those are people we look up to.

What’s the vibe in the studio?

From day one it’s a good vibe ’cause [Daseca] is based on a friendship. We enjoy what we’re doing. All of us have the same goal and vision. There’s no individual goals. So when Serani break through, it’s Daseca; when Bugle do well, it’s Daseca.

What are your essential pieces of studio equipment?

Definitely Nuendo running on a PC. We use keyboards to build all the beats including the Korg Triton workstation, Roland Fantom, Yamaha Motif, and we just started using Propellerheads Reason 3. Sometimes we bring in live instruments to add to tracks, but most times it’s just the keyboards. We’ve been doing good with Nuendo, but we’re going to eventually get Pro Tools because it’s the industry standard. If we ever cross over and Jay-Z sends us vocals, it’s gonna be a Pro Tools file.

How do you feel about being a mostly computer-based studio?

That’s how most, if not all, studios are right now. But we don’t do any sampling. We don’t use AutoTune. The only time we used it was when Serani did the hook for “Dying” with Mavado. We wanted his voice to sound like a sample. But Serani as an artist and us as producers, we’re not into using AutoTune. Recently we did a producer contest with the Jamaican Star newspaper where we picked the winner. And there were some good songs in there but, like, every track had AutoTune. It’s an excellent effect, y’know, but it’s overdone.

What are Daseca’s future goals?

The main focus is Serani and Bugle as artists, and Daseca as a production team. But we’re just taking our time, trying to make good music. We want to cross over and do American music, soca, Jamaican music–we even have some alternative rock beats, techno. We have everything. We just did a track with Mavado called “Don’t Worry,” and [one with] Bugle and Mavado called “Set Me Free” and a whole heap of stuff with Bugle.

How do you keep the equipment cool?

The studio is definitely air-conditioned. Every studio should be.