Deep Ends Turns Individual Talent into a Collective Sound

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Over the past few months, the Sacramento-area collective Deep Ends — made up of a handful of teenagers just a year removed from high school — have compiled together an eight-track, 30-minute album that has quickly gained traction, including a shoutout from Injury Reserve rapper Stepa J. Groggs on Instagram. The album is the accumulation of each artist’s unique sound, ranging from AU’s boom-bap lyricism to Jaye’s soulful, atmospheric tone, mixed together to create a unique, stellar project.

I sat down with the rap group in a nearby Mr. Pickles Sandwich Shop to talk about the group’s uprooting, the process of making the album, the struggles along the way, and what’s next to come.

How did this collective begin?
Sister: I mean, the idea of starting a collective sort-of came in 2015. We had this Twitter group chat; me, you, [Bye]Milo, and two other friends —

Yeah, I remember that.
Sister: Yeah. And I wanted to make a group with all of us, but there wasn’t much interest since we didn’t really know each other all that well and we were just starting out. But I remember being in the shower and thinking about making a group, and I asked around with Enzo and Milo to see if they wanted to be in a group. This was around late 2016. I just asked everybody that I know who made music if they want to start a collective.

Milo: Jeff [Sister] texts me and asks if I want to be a part of this collective called “Deep Ends”, and I was all, sure. We should mention that Jeff and you met me in late 2015 in Sacramento, some area that I knew was, like, a bad area. I was rapping out there. So, Jeff asks me a year later if I want to be a part of Deep Ends, and I say sure.

Where did the name “Deep Ends” come from?
Enzo Dane: I remember Jeff and I were actually right outside of the Solano Community College campus, in the parking lot. We were brainstorming ideas for the group name.

Sister: Yeah, we were sitting in the car, and there’s this song, Deep End by Sean Leon, and that’s what I thought of.

Enzo Dane: We spent a long-ass time considering whether to call ourselves “Deep Ends Records” or “Deep Ends Productions”, both of which sound so ass.

Jeff: So ass.

Milo: We had “Records” on the end of the name for a while, I think. We dropped that part in 2017. Enzo kept it just for the label name.

AU: I want to say just about everybody joined by this time, too.

Jaye: I was added into the group chat, but I didn’t know anybody at the time. At the time, I was just making beats. I was a producer.

Enzo Dane: Jeff really added him without anybody hearing any of his beats.

Jaye: He made a valiant choice.

Drool: Yeah, and I remember Milo didn’t follow me for a minute, bro. I always thought he was hella weird for that.

Milo: I didn’t even know who you were, bro. Then you made King Kong and I saw you on there. But at the time, I was like, who the fuck is this?

Enzo Dane: We all thought Milo was hella old, too, because he would get drunk. I was like, “Oh, he’s gotta be 21.” Naw, he was our age.

I can honestly say that I cannot accurately compare this album to anything else I’ve ever heard, which is insanely cool, I think, considering that everybody here is so young. Is there a certain sound that you guys are striving for?
Enzo Dane: I was telling Jason what we were going for, and I think, and this sounds cliche — we have both elements of the Bay and Sacramento, where the Bay is like a party scene, whereas Sacramento is more artsy stuff. Since we basically live right in the middle, we kind-of accidentally came up with both. We never say “Let’s make a song like this,” we just open something up and come up with ideas and go to work.

Milo: I don’t think we necessarily, like —

Sister: It’s not on purpose.

Milo: Yeah, whenever we start a project, our goal is basically to make something good. We never try to sound “like” something.

Enzo Dane: We don’t think, “Let’s make a song like this”. We just go to work on something and find inspiration along the way, I think.

I’ve heard you guys discuss “MP3s” before. What are MP3s and how did that affect your guys’ work?
Drool: Man, if we didn’t have MP3s, we probably wouldn’t have made this album.

Sister: The first four songs are from MP3s. Damn near everything is from MP3s. Basically, MP3s are Jason’s idea. Jason would give us a rough sketch, like, the outline of a movie plot that we would create music around. He would then try to make a movie out of our little soundtrack. It’s like some reverse process. It’s a really creative idea.

Milo: Jason pulling all of this together was huge.

That’s insane.
AU: I wanna say damn near half of our stuff came from the MP3s. I remember Jeff gave me the beat for Crack on that, and I started writing on that there.

Sister: We made a lot of fucking music from that.

Enzo Dane: I think it really taught us how to work together, too, and work in close quarters and stuff.

Milo: We had this song, Wreck, that was some lyrical-miracle type shit. It was hard. 1TIME4GENE was a MP3 song, too.

AU: You guys could still make something out of Wreck, honestly.

What was the toughest part of the album-making process?
Sister: Honestly, working together. We’re all 18, and we’re all focused on what we do individually, so you get eight guys and place them into one group, and there’s going to be a lot of butting heads and shit like that. Learning to work together as a group and get things done is hard. Also, organization and managing all this stuff is fucking awful.

Enzo Dane: Yeah, I think working together is something we’re still working on.

What was the best part about making the album?
Milo: It was finally getting to hear everybody’s individual style come out at the end of it. My favorite song on the project might be Dirt, because you’ve got everybody on a track, and you can hear everybody’s unique style and growth.

Drool: Yeah, when that shit came out, it felt insane. I dunno, just the feeling of seeing it on Spotify is so crazy. Seeing it go from Google Drive to streaming services, that’s probably the best part. Seeing it in public and people streaming it is sick, I think.

Enzo Dane: Yeah, going from being on my phone with this album, with some bootleg cover I made, to having a serious album with a serious cover and label on it. That’s cool.

Are there any future plans or goals that you guys have?
Enzo Dane: Solo material. Get our price up. Then some singles here and there, maybe, before we make another project.

Jaye: Yeah, we all want to grow as individuals in music, too. So we want to work on our own art and do things how we like.

Milo: One of the things we’ve talked about — a lot of us haven’t been putting out a lot of stuff individually — so it can sort of feel like, if you’re not on a song, you might kinda take it personally. Like, “Oh, I wasn’t good enough to be on this song.” It can be competitive. That’s the thing with group dynamics. That’s why we wanna work on solo shit as well, because you feel that self-worth and know you still can make good music on your own. You can say, “If I’m not on this, I’m still fire.”

Drool: And that’ll make our next project even better, because we’ll be even more fire individually, and having our listeners see us together with our different styles will be cool.

Sister: I think everybody’s in agreement that we should pull out more genres and different song structures and stuff for the next project, whatever we do.

Enzo Dane: We have a lot of diverse talent, obviously. And yeah, trying to be more creative with the next album and make it more unique is our goal.

Sister: We wanna do two more videos if we can.

Enzo Dane: We’re definitely working on playing live, for sure.

Milo: Performing live in the summer is a goal of mine. I wanted to perform in the summer with the group, if we can. Except Jaye.

Enzo Dane: Golden’s gonna do Jaye’s parts and Jaye’s gonna do Golden’s parts.

Where do you guys think you’ve developed most since you’ve started making the album?
Milo: As a group, or…

Group or individual, either way.
Drool: I’ve found a lot more motivation, especially with this album. I feel like I sort-of found my own sound and my approach has changed.

Enzo Dane: Yeah, like — my Dirt verse really changed the way I write songs.

AU: I’ve learned to write in a catchier way, rather than just, you know, rapping-rapping-rapping. I’m learning to write catchier stuff, and I’m really learning to switch it up, basically. I’m writing verses that I’ve never written anything like before.

Milo: I think I’ve got a lot better at writing my verses, too; there’s a healthy competition in the group where everybody wants to be the best on these songs, so it really kicks your ass and makes you think, “I’ve gotta do some crazy shit.

Drool: I’ve always felt like that through this album, too. I’m thinking, like, you guys are stepping it up, and so I’ve gotta do that, too.

Any last words?
Milo: Shoutout to Autumn. She’s plugging the album more than anyone, probably. She’s followed everybody and stuff. If we ever go on tour, we gotta get her in for free.

Milo: I think what we want to represent —

Enzo Dane: Is Brockhampton.

Milo: I mean to say, what we want to represent is being true to yourself and standing up for what you say. We all met each other and accepted who we were, and accepting each other as a family is a big part of all of us being together. That’s what we want to push, I think — where we’re all obviously really different from one another, yet we all accept each other and everything we say is true to who we are, nothing more. We make good-ass music because of it. Inspire the youth and whatnot.

Drool: Yeah, that’s a really good message. I think there’s all been a point where each of us had been down, but we get together and keep working.

Enzo Dane: Don’t take shit from nobody.

Milo: Oh yeah, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, and do whatever the fuck you want. Imagine if all the Chads from high school bossed us around. That would be real bad.

Jaye: Deep Ends for life, baby.

Sister: Deep Ends for life.

AU: Enjoy our album, because we worked really hard on it.

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