How Vinyl, Wakeboarding & Electro Soul Yielded the Rise of Daily Bread
The origins of the Daily Bread project started back in 07-08, when Rhett Whatley began collecting vinyl records. At the time, his mother was moving and amidst packing up her belongings, came across the records that she collected growing up. The collection would be passed down to her young and continuously inspired son. Whatley recalls going out to an antique shop to purchase a record player, and vividly remembers the poignant experience of listening through this tangible medium of music.
When asked about early musical inspirations, Whatley remembers always having a really intimate relationship with music at a young age. Growing up in Georgia, he remembers listening to a lot of Country Western and Classic Rock with his parents. He spoke about his Dad’s love for cars, and the Corvette he owned with a fancy sound system. Any time he’d do something good, his Dad would reward him with a ride and blast Prince or Phantom of the Opera.
The first chance he ever got to play music was in 4th or 5th grade. A teacher at his school would teach free drum lessons to kids who came in early. Here he learned how to play drums and all different types of beats for over two years. After that, he got really into the guitar in middle school. He expressed how fortunate he was that parents could get him lessons and basically fed him whatever he was interested in. As long as he stayed interested, they’d support him however they could.
In highschool, he went to The Tabernacle and saw Roots Tonic, Matisyahu’s backing band. In particular, he vividly recalls watching guitarist Aaron Dugan and that being his “Aha” moment. He was hooked. He started studying the way he played and laid out his effects board.
“That’s when it came to the production realm. It all came full circle at that point.”
Growing up in Atlanta with a major Hip-Hop music scene, he would get rides with older high school friends. Whatley thought of this as his daily meditation – sitting in the back of his friend’s truck, blasting Lil Jon or D12 through his two 12-inch subs. This is where he truly got introduced to the energy of the music of that era.
“In a lot of my music, you’ll hear crossovers from that time,” said Whatley. “I try to fuse some of that old crunk style and use it to get that energy out.”
Whatley would continue on to college, where he would join the wakeboard club. After badly injuring his knee, he took some time off and began working on music. Whatley would take the records from his mom’s collection, as well as records from the dollar bin at the local vinyl store, and would attempt to make original music. He’d loop the intros, combine different themes and samples, and use them for the highlight videos his club buddies would film. This served as the humble beginning for his journey as Daily Bread.
“Looking forward to going to the record store on Saturday morning was sort of my bread and butter,” Whatley told MP3 MAG. “There’s a couple different meanings now, but originally it was record collecting and making beats [as it] was the most fulfilling thing for me.”
A year or two after his injury, he started going to the producer battles at Mic Club events that Dres the Beatnik was hosting weekly. That’s where he really fell in love with production – where it made an impactful and lively environment. Quickly, the producer witnessed the power his music had in resonating with people.
“A lot of the time the subject matter of my music can be existential and open to interpretation,” explained Whatley. “I do this on purpose so that anyone who listens to the music can find their own way to relate to it through their life experiences.”
Much of Daily Bread’s music is a result of his own reflection on what he’s going through in life. He uses different metaphors and euphemisms to get that point across, and it has helped make his music relevant on a personal level.
In the beginning, Whatley had been making music for a while without putting it out or promoting it. In 2014, he decided he wanted to put out a record under a label, and sent an expansive letter to Philos founder, Jordan Wengler. After he read an interview of Wengler talking about the label, he knew this imprint of like-minded people was the home for his music project.
“When there’s different people with the right motivation and similar inspiration, they can create a unit where everyone involved gets elevated,” said Whatley. “Within the unit there’s a lot of creative barriers that are eliminated because of how we all work together. 100%, without a doubt, this label has helped elevate the Daily Bread project.”
As much as the vinyl stores that shaped his foundation, Sweet Melissa Records & Criminal Records, Whatley gives credit to legendary inspirations such as Michal Menert, Pretty Lights, and Eliot Lipp. Without these founders and pioneers of this Electro Soul and Hip-Hop subgenre, the Daily Bread project wouldn’t exist today.
When asked what he believes separates him and his project from other artists in our electronic world, he gave all the credit to the music fans and the community they’ve created around this genre.
“It’s not anything I’ve done, it’s the community around it, the fans who get so excited about the events and shows and are all about being in the moment with me. That is the life blood for it all. There’s a community around this music, not just the Daily Bread project, but this subgenre of music we’re making. It’s those kids that really talk and keep everything in the mix and view everything with so much positivity. I feel as long as they’re here I’ll keep doing this as long as possible. This is me. This is what I love to do.”