ON THE COME UP: Introducing Dre'es

By Kelsey Tang

ON THE COME UP depicts promising artists in a new light a gentle reminder that they’re flesh and blood like us. We had the chance to link up with Dre’es, a 23-year old rapper/singer from Wilmington, CA.

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There’s something different about a California summer spent in the suburbs – maybe it’s the hot pavement warping the air to appear wavy, or the dry heat slapping our faces into disorientation. Whatever it is, one character born out of the boredom of suburbia is Dre’es – a 23-year old artist most well-known for his sun-drenched earworm “Warm.”

“Warm” is a testament to Dre’es’s talent, having racked over 8 million Spotify streams and 75,000 YouTube views. And while the song acts as the soundtrack to our sunset drives down PCH, it’s only one dimension of Dre’es. In his most recent album release Swamp 00, the Long Beach based artist demonstrates his capacity as both an R&B crooner (“Recluse”) and rap menace (“Heatwave”).

“We recorded everything in my room,” explains Dre’es, “and called my room ‘the swamp’ because it’d get really hot in there. Over time, the meanings kept stacking on. After high school – realizing your friends are stagnant in life and don’t really know what they’re doing – we’d call that ‘the swamp.’ Like aw damn, they’re stuck in ‘the swamp.’”

A recurring theme within the album is this idea of escalating irritation: “The whole album is about my frustration of being stuck. Getting stuck means getting super comfortable – content with mediocrity.” Envisioning the safe enclaves of suburbia, it’s easy to understand where Dre’es comes from. A quick glimpse through his music videos will leave you feeling sentimental for idle days: lounging on the lawn during golden hour and running into the ocean at night. In the words of Frank Ocean, “Why see the world, when you got the beach?”

Not to my surprise, Dre’es proposes meeting at a cliffside beach park. It’s 8pm and 50°F outside when we decide to settle on a vacant outdoor stage. Dre’es stands tall as he speaks, frequently tugging down his sweatshirt sleeves to battle the cold while shuffling in frayed checkerboard Vans. Born as Andres de la Pena, the 23-year old first began rapping like most others did: freestyling with friends, writing “braggadocious songs and talking shit.”

It was in sophomore year of high school when Dre’es and his friend hatched an idea. “My friend Maurice was like, ‘Alright, come over on Saturday. We’re gonna skate to Best Buy,’” recalls Dre’es. What followed was the purchase of a $100 mic, and the freestyling antics gradually grew into a production of sorts.

That ambitious nature drove Dre’es to keep scheming and dreaming for more. “I wasn’t able to get any shows at all because I didn’t have any connections with the music industry,” he remembers. “So I threw my own show in my backyard called Backyard Boogie. Only like 20 to 30 people showed up.” That was back in 2016. “In 2017, 100 people showed up. The year after that in 2018, almost 200 people. We’re not gonna be able to do it this year in my backyard.”

Now, Dre’es is in the process of founding his own record label, Futile Sounds. Backyard Boogie 2019 will expand even larger in respects to both venue and attendance. And the future looks stunningly bright for the humble artist. If Swamp 00 is about the fear of “getting stuck,” then Dre’es is already well ahead of the curve. “I pray for a field of flowers across the swamp,” he sings in “Tulip Garden.” Looks like the flowers are just beginning to bloom.

Swamp 00 is now streaming on Spotify.

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Jeffrey Wu