Dalton Tennant, a.k.a. D10 is the musical director for Drake’s current touring outfit. Supporting the latest LP release Scorpion on the Aubrey & the Three Migos tour, Drake took the show across 41-dates in North America. Talking to Tennant, we found out how he became the musical director for Drake, and how he integrates Native Instruments hardware and software into a live setting. Scroll to the end to watch the video in full.
What was the moment you realised you wanted to get into music?
I grew up in a Jamaican household, so music was playing in my house 24/7. My parents exposed me to a wide range of music at a young age; Bob Marley one minute, and Kenny Rogers the next. Feels like music was always in my blood, but at age 18 I realized that music was the path for me.
Where does the name D10 come from?
D10 is just a combination of part of my first and last name (Dalton Tennant). D being the first letter of my first name and ten being the first syllable of my last name. Nothing fancy, just wanted to keep it simple so people would remember.
How long have you been playing keys, and what was it about the piano that drew you in?
My parents put me in piano lessons with my sisters when I was around six years old. I hated it, but my father always told me to do music — I guess he knew long before I did — and I quit within a couple years. I didn’t start playing it again until age 16, and taught myself how to play. The thing that made fall in love with the piano was melody. You can turn anything into a melody, so having an instrument that I can sit at and put melody to my innermost thoughts became my addiction.
What made you want to use KOMPLETE KONTROL for your rig?
It’s all in the name, ‘Kontrol’. Being able to control all aspects of my sounds while on stage and in the studio from the controller is perfect. Building my own sounds, and being able to tweak them as I play, gives me the chance to take the performance to the next level. Being able to make the sound my own, and being able to manipulate the sound based on the energy of the show, and the crowd makes performing even more fun. Also, the Komplete Kontrol keyboards feel amazing. Whether I’m playing synth basslines or I’m playing piano, the responsiveness of the keys allows me to move freely.
Tell us a bit about what it’s like to play on the Drake tour?
It’s amazing! The energy the crowd gives us every night is a blessing, and motivates us to put on the best performance every single night.
Even though the big stage and flashing lights are amazing, the truth is I get to work with my brothers and sisters and that is by far the best part of being on the Drake tour. I get to walk on stage with people I genuinely care about, and give our hearts each and every night. Nothing beats that!
What advice do you have for young musicians?
Be creative. Sounding like the best is one thing, but be the best version of you. Draw from your influences, and add your own twist to it and make it your own. Being the best version of yourself will always stand out more than trying to copy anyone else. Spend the time practicing and studying, and when it’s time to hit the stage, whether its five people or five million watching. We are just a vessel trying to share an experience.
You’re from Toronto, how did you get involved with Drake and the OVO camp?
We met through a mutual friend in Toronto. He was starting out rapping and I just started making beats. We met, and started making music. This was around 2004 and as things grew, and we incorporated a live band into the performances. It gave me the opportunity to work in the studio and then on stage.
How confident has the switch from all MIDI/ VST from traditional hardware synths?
MIDI and VST gives you unlimited possibilities. I spend so much time in the studio working with VSTs that I was never really worried about the transition. I was excited to take my playing to a new level, and excited to make the sounds more unique. The sounds I play during the show are mine, and I love having the ability to have full control of it.
What software are you using on stage?
You’re using Ableton Live as a host, how are you changing sounds from all the keyboards?
I’m using an iPad with Lemur software for sound switching. That setup gives me the opportunity to switch individual keyboards or switch multiple keyboards at a time.
I use the S88 for my piano and Rhodes sounds. The S61 is for all of my auxiliary sounds – strings, synths, leads etc., and my S49 is for my key bass.
You can also check out Highsnobiety’s feature with D10 filmed in London below: