L+T: In your work with Beyonce for the 2011 Billboard awards, you merged a graphical video with her live performance. What role do you see that type of merger playing in the future of live performance?
KD: There are innumerable ways to merge live performance and video that haven’t yet been considered. I’m currently studying and concepting several techniques that I hope to apply to other performances soon. In regards to Beyonce, her performance was very technically intensive in regards to both process and choreography. That kind of show is only possible when you have an artist who has the experience, vision and stage awareness that Beyonce does… it’s really rare to come across an artist who can sync her moves so seamlessly and nail it.
L+T: You’ve said before how you prefer to be very hands-on in your work. If you’re in a situation where a project needs something that you don’t know how to do, do you tend to bring somebody on, or learn it yourself?
KD: It really depends on the timeline and nature of the project. For instance, City of God’s Son was just something I knew I had to make because it’d been brewing in my head since high school. I invested a bunch of my own money in music production gear and put my record collection (from when I was a DJ) to use. I taught myself how to make beats while making City of God’s Son because, as a director, there was no other way I could have achieved the exact tone and feel I was listening for in every song/scene without producing the individual tracks myself. It took some time to get the hang of it, but knowing what I wanted creatively was a good starting point; it made figuring out how to get to point B fun. When I’m working on projects that are too time-consuming or technical for one person to handle alone, I let professionals handle what they’re best at. Collaboration is great, and I have been fortunate to work with some of the best people in film, art, music and sports both behind and in front of the camera.
L+T: You’ve worked with some of the biggest and most extravagant names in the music, sports, and fashion industries. Yet, your office environment is not extravagant, but instead very humble. Do you find it hard to remain grounded while working with cultural icons?
KD: Yeah, the old spot was kinda dusty! I’m in the process of moving to a new studio, but in the last spot, I wanted to retain the feel of still being in high school, when you’d cram a ton of gear into your shitty little basement and just make stuff. It was basically a higher-budget version of the spaces I used to work in when I was younger – where I’d DJ and write graffiti. Essentially, I’ve always liked the idea of making projects out of tiny spaces that could potentially have a huge impact on the world. Per staying grounded… like anyone else, I love working with people who are the best at what they do, and it has truly been an honor to work with individuals like Beyonce, Kanye West, Dwyane Wade, and Nam June Paik (the father of video art), and every other artist I’ve collaborated with. Once I partner up with you on a project, we become brothers stuck in the trenches working towards a common goal. When I was working with Beyonce, I’d have to pinch myself and be like, “Damn, that’s Beyonce sitting next to me at 4 AM in the edit suite, putting in work!” I pride myself in always striving to work harder than the next guy, but I gotta admit, it was hard not to be inspired by her work ethic. She would knock out a photo shoot, a music video, a rehearsal for another music video, a studio session, and an edit session with me in one day – and at 4 AM she’d still have the energy to argue with me. She’s on another level.