Dre London Interview: ‘The future is yours, if you want it’

FEATURED: Former Billboard manager of the year Dre London — who is responsible for discovering Post Malone, as well as managing Tyga, Tyla Yaweh, Tank God and others — caught up with us to discuss his career, relationship with Post, overall sentiments about the music industry and more.

In his grandparents’ house in London, UK, a young Dre London would sit enamored by the sounds of Reggae music from his grandfather’s record player.

With music in mind, he started to buy his own records at 12-years-old, leading to his teenage hobby as a DJ — working family parties, christenings and other events of the sort. However, in those innate moments, Dre unknowingly let music encompass his entire existence.

“Music is the energy that runs through my soul,” he said. “I remember I used to be mixing, scratching, pulling needles in and out of the record — breaking needles, replacing them… it was such a headache. Back then, I didn’t think I was growing or learning about music, but that really was my entrance into it.”

Now, decades removed from his days as the “family DJ,” music is still what keeps the former Billboard manager of the year going. Moving to New York City from London with his first artist Cerose in 2008, Dre had initially linked up with French Montana in the States, building his reputation at the pinnacle of his career. After his stint with French, he discovered Post Malone in 2014 — developing him from a homegrown Texas talent to a Grammy-winning multi-platinum superstar.

With his artists like Post, Tyga and Tyla Yaweh, Dre is in their corner unconditionally — unafraid to let them know his perspective. Remaining down to earth, joyous and full of life in every regard, he isn’t out to make enemies, rather becoming an ally for those who brim with originality and a fondness for their craft.

“A lot of these artists are not planning their 10,000 hours to be professional at something. Like, Kobe wouldn’t be Kobe without those 10,000 shots, those 10,000 hours of practice,” he said. “And me trying to be the best manager I can possibly be, I had to go through those 10,000 hours like everyone else.”

Dre isn’t like most managers, remaining hands-on throughout the creative processes of his artists. He’s not only truthful, but brutally honest — getting the most out of his artists in every possible way.

“I look at from a different point of view, but always musically first. I always tell my artists the truth, I’m very hands-on of telling it like it is… If you really know your artists, you should have an ear for what’s best for them.”

Dre London

Knowing your artists also comes with overcoming shared adversity. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, Dre found a way to pivot the lost experience of live performances in AUX Live — an independent, subscription-based digital streaming platform that enables users to watch exclusive content from around the world.

Malone’s “Posty Fest” is among the platform’s marquee events, as Dre idealized festival performances, concert streams and documentaries surrounding music history as an integral part to AUX Live’s allure.

“I brought the idea to Post [for Posty Fest] and he loved it. Basically, I came up with this idea before the pandemic about doing a pay-per-view shows, and when it happened, I wanted to move on it quickly because I thought someone would take the idea. I started to develop and build this brand. I wanted to figure out how it could become the ‘Netflix’ of live entertainment. Now, our catalog is massive — complete with content on music’s greatest in Jay-Z, Elvis Presley, Fall Out Boy, etc. We have everything from the first major hip-hop tour with Snoop Dogg and so much more. I wanted to have our generation today know what the history of yesterday was.”

With Post, their relationship has always mirrored brotherhood, as the partners plan on releasing music in the form of two full-length projects sometime this year. In April, Dre took to Instagram to tease these LPs ahead of Post’s first single in over a year, “Motley Crew.” While his comeback tour has just begun, Dre alluded to what fans can expect from Post in the months to come.

“The music that he has coming out — and I can’t say anything about its progress — is insane. He’s been working on this music through the last year, and it all sounds incredible. It sounds like ‘Our Generation’ for the next two years.”

Dre London

While our generation patiently awaits for Posty’s next move, Dre continues to embody the love he has for music through his work. Whether it’d be working in the studio until 6 a.m. or traveling months at a time on tour, he didn’t get to where he was today by sitting idly by. He had to learn, make mistakes and grow from them, because “the experience is the best part of learning.”

“You don’t even know you’re learning at the time, and you’re learning because you’re going through the experience. It doesn’t matter what you do, you need [that] experience, research, up late at night, out in the mornings, phone calls, learning from mistakes — that’s the only way to get to the next level.”

As Dre continues to inspire those to chase their dreams, he implores our generation to not only chase them, but to make them a reality.

“Keep your head up, keep your energy right. Stay focused, because the future is yours, if you want it.”

Check out our full conversation with Dre London below!


Is there a story behind your name, Dre London?

“Everybody has been calling me Dre for years — no one calls me by my full name. The London part came from French Montana, believe it or not. About 13-14 years ago, French came up with “London Dre” because people were trying to describe who I was. It was always like, ‘oh you know Dre? Which Dre? London Dre, you know? Dre from London. It just kind of stuck from there I guess. Then, it came from being ‘London Dre’ to Dre London.”

What does music mean to you? How has it impacted your life for better or worse?

“Music is life. It’s the energy that runs through my soul. Without it, I don’t even know where I would be today. Sounds crazy, but I could do without television, but I couldn’t do without anything about music. I don’t know if I could do it. Every time I think about music, I think about the love of music and I think of the song ‘Hip-Hop Saved My Life.’

You used to be a DJ awhile back in your teenage years. Do you find any time to do it on the side for fun nowadays?

“So I started DJ-ing family functions, friends, birthdays, cousins christenings stuff like that. I started to buy records at like 12-years-old, and back in the day, you didn’t have mixes and CD gates — they didn’t exist. If you didn’t have certain techniques down, you weren’t going to be the greatest DJ. I remember I used to be mixing, scratching, pulling needles in and out of the record — breaking needles, replacing them, it was such a headache. Back then, I didn’t think I was growing or learning about music, but that was my entrance into it. I used to go to my grandparents house and listen to old Reggae records with them. So, music has been like a part of my life without even knowing that it was in my soul.”

Who are some of your favorite newcomers of the year? Can you give us a Top 3 list?

“I like Morray, my boy. He’s very good. Tyla Yahweh, my artist of course. I like Jack Harlow too, he’s one of them ones that came out of nowhere. And Ludmilla. She’s fire — and international. She’s also the seventh most-followed black woman in the world. Really love what she’s doing.”

You’ve represented a slew of artists over the course of your career — Post Malone, Tyga and Tyla Yahweh for example. How do your relationships change with the artists that you personally interact with and develop over time?

“It always changes. Mostly, it depends on where they’re going artistically and personally. But as far as my relationships with them, it’s very VERY family orientated. The way how I move and the way that my team and my company moves is very family orientated. So, once you come in, we work together.”

“It’s like a sports team shooting for championships each year. Whether we add another player or something along those lines, everyone’s happy that it’s a group decision — deciding if that is good for us — as long as we to try and move forward as a team. As you know in sports, if we don’t win a few championships, we have to shuffle the team, but it’s different — this is a great family sports team, but the franchise owners have to make sure that the culture is always up to scratch, and has to make sure that the players are always ready to go to battle.”

How involved are you in the music-creative process for the artists that are on your roster?

“VERY. Well, I would say very as in considering myself more hands on. Posty’s song “Congratulations” for example, was written about me. That song came from my laugh. We were in the studio and I laughed at something — everyone was laughing at it, and then Post made the song about that moment. It was a crazy thing. He put it at the end of the song too! I was upset when they took it out.”

So an executive producer of sorts?

“I would say I executive produce, definitely. For example, “Fall Apart” — that song wouldn’t have existed [without me] — he didn’t even know the producer at the time. He wasn’t jumping to work with someone he didn’t know. So, those are the things that I bring to the table in terms of where my ear adds to everything else. Because if you really know your artists, you should have an ear for what’s best for them.”

“I look at from a different point of view, but always musically first. I always tell my artists the truth, I’m very hands-on of telling it like it is.”

You and Post have been linked since 2014, in what ways have you two grown together throughout all the success you’ve both achieved?

“The best way to answer this is that we got wiser together. That’s what’s different about our relationship than most people. I think he liked that I understood money management and I was already doing so much different stuff, I was used to this kind of work already. So during this time, while I was learning, he was learning and it just tends to get to the next level. Nothing’s changed. We’re still the same people we were eight years ago, the only thing that has really changed is the information we have in front of us to move how we want to move.”

If you could give a younger version of Dre some advice during this time, what would it be?

“I would say… to listen. To listen more because you were learn more. Same thing with a younger Post. It sounds crazy, but I truly think everything happened the way it was meant to happen. The movie unfolded right in front of our eyes the way it was meant to. If you keep the trust — the loyalty — between you and your partners in what you’re doing, I feel like the growth is genuine and it becomes even more genuine and organic, because you both want the same things. There’s no hidden agendas, no hidden intentions that hinders the growth. That’s how we grew together.”

Along with your journey with Posty, Tyga and Tyla, what’s the one thing that you’ve seen that separates these types of artists from the rest?

“Originality. It’s the number one thing. A lot of these artists are not planning their 10,000 hours to be professional at something. Like, Kobe wouldn’t be Kobe without those 10,000 shots, those 10,000 hours of practice. And me trying to be the best manager I can possibly be, I had to go through those 10,000 hours like everyone else. There were times where I was in the studio — before meeting Post — that I didn’t want to be there until 6 a.m. every morning. But, I was learning everything there was to possibly learn. You don’t even know you’re learning at the time, and you’re learning because you’re going through the experience. You have to understand the experience is the best part of learning, because your hands-on. It doesn’t matter what you do, you need those 10,000 hours of experience, research, up late at night, out in the mornings, phone calls, learning from mistakes — that’s the only way to get to the next level.”

“There’s no shortcuts. And if you do, it’ll end up with you getting your short cut.”

You said in a couple of social media posts before “Motley Crew” released that Posty has two albums in the works for this year. Can you give any insight as to what concepts he’s working on for these projects?”

“The music that he has coming out — and I can’t say anything about its progress — is insane. He’s been working on this music through the last year, and it all sounds incredible. It sounds like ‘Our Generation’ for the next two years.”

You were heavily involved in the UK drill scene coming up. How has it evolved since then and can you compare it to the massive drill wave happening right now in the States?

For me, the Drill wave that’s happening in the States is amazing because I’ve seen it grow in the UK for so many years. Because of artists like Pop Smoke using a UK producer on his big record at the beginning, it blew up the whole sound. Having New York identify it as ‘New York drill’ was very smart because he took it over the pond. Listening to the UK sound — which Drake has been listening to for so many years — it was like a breath of fresh air. I’m happy that the UK’s sound could come into America and have people understand it.”

The music industry has definitely become more fan-driven in recent years due to the rise of streaming services, independent artists/labels and the fan bases they cultivate. What are your thoughts on this new wave of independence and how has it affected the industry as a whole?

“I love it. I don’t know if the labels and everyone saw it was coming, but I did — because it started when [artist] development finished. When record labels got development intertwined with chasing the hit, at the end of the day, there was going to be two sides of the coin that weren’t going to flip on the same side. So, if they stopped developing, then managers will have to develop more often. And when managers and all those people start developing, it makes it more harder for them to give away these [assets]. If you have more time, more money, resources, research and development to discover more data — and you’re building your own community in the process — why would you just want to give that all away to a label?”

Even though we have a partnership with Universal, I love [the independence] because people are now getting what they’re worth. People are building up their own community, as big brands and companies are now having to now pay their own way to come into an artist’s circle — which creates more partnerships. If you look at independent artists that are not signing to record labels, they’re still getting the same amount of plays, they’re still getting the same amount of growth. No record label on their own could make or break an artist, there has to be a partnership first before they sign to a label — if that’s what they want. The independent route really makes you work for yourself.”

You’ve spearheaded the creation of a new streaming service for live events, music documentaries, concerts and more all accessible through AUX Live. Can you give some insight into how this came about?

“Basically, I came up with this idea before the pandemic about doing a pay-per-view shows, and when it happened, I wanted to move on it quickly because I thought someone would take the idea. I started to develop and build this brand and I wanted to figure out how it could become the ‘Netflix’ of live entertainment. Now, our catalog is massive — complete with documentaries on music’s greatest in like Jay-Z, Elvis Presley, Fall Out Boy and so much more. We have everything from the first major hip-hop tour with Snoop Dog… I wanted to have our generation today know what the history of yesterday was.”

What’s your message for Our Generation?

“Keep your head up, keep your energy right. Stay focused, because the future is yours, if you want it.”

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