Speaking to Dickinson in his home studio outside of Toronto, Canada, he tells us he’s always been musical, playing the trombone in middle school and high school, as well as bass guitar for a number of years. “My whole family is musical — I’ve just been around it for a long time, and I’m a musically-inclined person,” he says. “I have an ear for things.”
But how exactly did he go from a sleepy Canadian suburb to the worldwide pop charts? After churning out beats in his bedroom, Dickinson started sending music to the rapper Famous Dex, who linked up with Rich the Kid shortly thereafter. “I actually just DM’d Rich on Instagram,” he says. “I told him I’d been sending Dex stuff, and I just asked him for his beat email. He started liking my beats and pretty much started messing with me from there.”
Now, Dickinson has put together an exclusive kit for Sounds.com called The Lab Cook: Plug Walk Kit. The release includes over 100 one-shot sounds and loops, and it’s all samples Dickinson created himself. “I don’t use a lot of sounds that other people made,” he tells us. “I like to take the time to create sounds that are different. I tried to create stuff that was kinda unheard of and unique in my own way.” He says users can simply drag some of the drum loops into their tracks, and throw a melody on top of them. “They’re all mixed and levelled right, and keyed properly,” he notes.
Dickinson says he uses Native Instruments’ KONTAKT and Spectrasonics Omnisphere, primarily, for sound creation and manipulation. “I don’t really need much else,” he says. “ I don’t use a lot of synths — I like to use keyboards, bells, strings, stuff like that. I tend to make a lot of up-tempo melodies. I like to do a lot of reverse stuff as well; I’ll reverse sounds to give a cool element and texture to the melody. A lot of times I don’t really know what I want to do, so I just experiment — that’s what you’ve gotta do.”
Dickinson insists that what’s included in the Plug Walk Kit is pure Lab Cook. “These are all sounds I use — my signature sounds,” he says. “I like to create things that sound like you’ve heard them before; I like to trigger some sort of subliminal nostalgia, but make sure it’s unique in its own way.”
And, as Dickinson reminds us, he’s only just getting started. “Personally, I don’t think I have a sound quite yet,” he admits. “I’ve only been producing seriously for two years. But I think my music preferences help; I listen to all types of music, all the time. It gives me new ideas. If you just listen to one genre all the time, it can only go so far. Producing is oversaturated — everyone’s making beats, everyone’s making music — so I try to keep it unique.”