Stefan Dismond appreciates how rap gives a voice to people whose voices aren’t normally heard.
The third-year English student will be performing his rap music with the band Stefan Dismond and the Love Supreme at Spring Sing. The band will play a slightly adapted live version of Dismond’s latest song release on SoundCloud, “6th Story,” at Pauley Pavilion on Friday.
This year marks the first time in several years the talent show has prominently featured a rapper, said Spring Sing Executive Director Paige Allenspach.
“Rap and hip-hop are the most dominant and influential form of music right now,” said Daniel Coles, a third-year economics student and the drummer for Stefan Dismond and the Love Supreme. “It’s cool to see Spring Sing step out of the box a bit and be welcoming of genres like rap, which are such a huge part of the culture in our college community.”
[Read More: Daily Bruin coverage of Spring Sing 2017]
Dismond said his musical ventures first began with creating ringtones, which later evolved into Dismond rapping over ringtone beats as a background. Looking toward rap legends Kendrick Lamar and MF Doom for inspiration, Dismond honed his skills by rapping lyrics of his favorite songs over their respective instrumental versions and beats.
Dismond began to rap his own verses over beats he found on SoundCloud or made himself.
Dismond said he raps about his lived experiences, which often gravitate toward themes of love and relationships. His work centers around his own self-reflections and attempting to glean meaning from them.
After releasing his mixtape on SoundCloud last year, Dismond and five students he met through campus organizations like SLAM! and the Cultural Affairs Commission assembled to become Stefan Dismond and the Love Supreme. The band has performed at UCLA’s JazzReggae Festival and Ecochella in 2016, but the Spring Sing crowd will be the largest they have ever faced, Dismond said.
“Thousands of people will be attending this event so it’s important that I work on my energy,” Dismond said. “I have to be active, engaging and interesting to watch while still having enough of my breath to be able to deliver the lines.”
Adapting the SoundCloud version of “6th Story” for live performance has been tricky in terms of translating the original electronic, synthetic-sounding song into instruments like guitar, bass and drums, said Coles. Group work as well as trial and error were the main ways the group was able to make the musical conversion, Coles said.
“It is a delicate challenge that’s also fun because there is still creative room for change and improvisation,” Coles said.
“6th Story,” released three months ago, references Dismond’s personal romantic life and addresses universal feelings of uncertainty in early stages of a relationship, he said. The song features both rapping and singing with alumna Kelly Noe as a featured vocalist.
“One day I caught myself watching my girlfriend walk away from my dorm on the sixth story of Sproul Cove,” Dismond said. “And I realized that I did that every time.”
Dismond’s song represents a bridge between pop and hip-hop music: While the song still has a pop music appeal with its strong chorus, it also involves complex lyrics common to the hip-hop genre, Coles said.
Although anybody is free to engage in rapping, the genre is traditionally a mode of expression for people who have not had their voices expressed in other realms of entertainment, Dismond said.
Growing up in the suburbs of Belmont, California, influenced his sound. He said he did not grow up in the same context as many of the traditional rappers.
“I think it’s pivotal that this genre was able to succeed in being included in the event,” Dismond said.
Throughout the course of viewing around 80 auditions in five days, the Spring Sing committee thought Stefan Dismond and the Love Supreme stood out as one of the best groups, Allenspach said. She appreciated the diversity of music – jazzy notes, rap and hip-hop condensed within a song that college students can relate to.
“They captivated us in the short amount of time they were in the room with us, and they seemed confident yet willing to be vulnerable in front of us,” Allenspach said. “You could just tell Stefan was completely being himself, and at the end of the day they were selected because they were one of the best bands that we saw.”
Including rap in Spring Sing helps to better represent the diverse musical talents of the 40,000 Bruins on campus, she said.
Dismond has been actively engaged in perfecting “6th Story” for delivery at Spring Sing, said Noe. He added a guitar solo to the song for intrigue and inclusion of the whole band, Noe said.
“He is detail oriented, so during rehearsal he is very much listening to everyone’s contribution to the overall song and making small tweaks or fixes,” Noe said.
Dismond said he rarely notices the passage of time while he is performing on stage and having fun.
“It’s like an out of body experience,” Dismond said. “It’s an honor to be a rapper at Spring Sing this year, and in the future I hope there are a lot more.”