If you’re looking for new music to listen to while in quarantine, then The Dharma Initiative may have the tune for you.
The band released a new song on July 17 called “Walk with Me,” featuring Newport-News based rapper Mr. Moe. All of the proceeds for the song are donated directly to the Urban League of Hampton Roads.
What makes this song unique was how it was recorded remotely.
The project started when Zach Moats, founder and keyboardist for The Dharma Initiative, received a two-minute drum track from friend and fellow musician, Scott Davis.
“We’ve been wanting to do some remote recording ever since he moved out to California a few years ago,” Moats said.
He and Davis had been playing together since high school, and Davis also helped record tracks for Moats’s father’s band, Roy Ira Moats and The Moats Dogs.
“I just took that two-minute track and started laying down weird synth stuff on top,” Moats said. “We wanted to try and make something as crazy as possible because we’ve always sort of leaned in that direction whenever we make music together.”
He then added a guitar track, recorded by Dharma Initiative’s guitarist Mikey Famiglietti, and presented the instrumentals to his fellow band member and wife, Megan Moats. It was then her idea to make a song out of the tracks.
“The idea to donate the money came along with the idea of what the song was about. Megan started writing the lyrics just as the Black Lives Matter protests started happening around the country,” Moats said.
He said the mission of the Urban League to better the lives of the Black community coincided with what the band wanted to accomplish with the song.
But after the lyrics were added to the instruments, Moats said they felt like something was missing. The band then posted on their Facebook page that they were looking to work with local hip-hop artists.
That’s when Emily Haus, a mutual friend of the band, showed the post to her boyfriend, Maurice Thigpen, who performs under the stage name Mr. Moe.
Thigpen said when he heard Megan’s vocals, he immediately thought of the singer Sade.
“When I heard Megan singing, I was like ‘Oh my stars, I got to do this,’” Thigpen said. “She gave me the motivation to do the song. Her message sounded great.”
Thigpen, who started rapping when he was 15, said his approach to the song differed from his normal style. He visited several recording studios while writing his parts, but eventually ended up free-styling the majority of his part.
“It was hard, believe that,” he said. “But it had to be done.”
Even though Moats and Thigpen collaborated on the song, they still have yet to meet face to face.
“I never met them, but when they sent me the beat, and they liked where I was going with it, they were the ones who gave me motivation,” Thigpen said, adding he credits the band and his friend Antonio Souljat Thomas for encouraging him to step out of his comfort zone.
Thigpen said he hopes to collaborate more with the band once more coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
“Walk With Me” can be listened to on The Dharma Initiative’s Bandcamp page. Listeners can buy the digital track with $1 donation or more. The song will be available on other streaming platforms at a later date.
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