2021 has been a successful year thus far for R&B producer Dernst “D’Mile” Emile II, who took home his first Grammy Award for H.E.R.‘s single, “I Can’t Breathe,” and an Oscar for H.E.R.’s other single, “Fight for You,” from the Judas and the Black Messiah soundtrack.
D’Mile tells ABC Audio his inspiration and influence comes from legendary artists such as Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.
“It’s…so many other people as well. I would say, Donny Hathaway. There’s so many more. It’s just like that whole era of like artists and music,” he explains. “I grew up just listening to them…from my mom and dad listening to them, especially my mother. I’m a music first guy. I listen to the music first and the lyrics second.”
“The arrangement and the emotion that they were able to convey, it’s almost like I knew what they were talking about, even though I wasn’t listening to what they were saying yet,” he jokes. “Because you felt it and I thought that was like the most genius thing that anybody can do. It’s…almost like magic.”
D’Mile describes himself as a “concoction” of their influence, his church background and his jazz-loving father.
“It’s kind of like I get to wear different hats at certain times, which is hard to do. I also have to be in the zone to do that,” he says. “Because…I do want to be the guy that people can call on for a lot of different things, even outside of R&B. But of course, especially R&B. I’m really just doing what I love and what I’ve grown up loving to hear.”
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