Stoney Creek native Dre Pao has accomplished so much since launching his music career in 2012. Dre was discovered while singing on a beach in Spain by recording artist Xuso Jones (Universal Music). He has since opened for B.o.B (2015), was named People’s Choice award winner for the “Turn it On” Hamilton Songwriting contest during the 2015 Juno Awards, and was a 2016 recipient of Business Link Hamilton’s Top 40 Under 40 Award. We talked to Dre about his music ventures and his newest single, WithoutChya.
Last summer, your Spanish/English remix of Enrique Iglesias’ ”Duele El Corazon” was heating up. This summer, you released WithoutChya. Tell us about that single. What inspired it?
Creating covers is always a lot of fun — but I have been songwriting for some time now and felt like it was finally time to release an original tune. It was just one of those “now is the time — it just feels right” type of things. “WithoutChya” is about empowering yourself and recognizing that it’s important to let go of toxic relationships. With “WithoutChya”, I wanted to really show how important it is to feed positive energy into a relationship. A relationship (friendship, intimate, or family) should be about giving. And I think too many people are in relationships to take from the other person. “WithoutChya” is suppose to remind people that you don’t need someone who drains your energy or doesn’t accept you for who you are.
Your first piece for Hamilton Musician was on social media tips. What role has social media and YouTube played in your career?
Social media and YouTube have really been “THE thing” that has helped my music career exist. I firmly believe that these are the ultimate tools to use when building a fanbase. The amount of time that the average person spends on their phone everyday is incredible. So for me, it makes a lot of sense to make sure that my music is where all of the eyes and attention is — places like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. These platforms are also incredible for networking and meeting new people. I’ve actually created some incredible business relationships by simply reaching out to people on places like Instagram DM. I don’t think I would be where I am today without social media and YouTube.
You have worked with media such as Hamilton Musician Magazine, Urbanicity Magazine, and HamOntMusicReviews.com. Who were some of the most interesting people you got to chat with?
It’s been incredible getting to interview rising artists from Hamilton and some of Canada’s top influencers. Two conversations really stood out to me. Chatting with Max Kerman of the Arkells was really cool. I’m a fan of the band and have a huge amount of respect for all that the band has done to help put Hamilton on the map. Another great one for me was chatting with business mogul Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary is definitely my biggest business influence. I have learned a lot from his content about marketing and the power of social media, and it was just really great to get his perspective on “How Hamilton can become Canada’s top music city,” Of course it was also great to chat with guys like Jeremy Widerman of Monster Truck, Spanish cover artist Leroy Sanchez, and all of the rising artists from Hamilton.
You are songwriting, singing, writing for a magazine, judging local competitions, getting involved in the city — what do you enjoy the most?
I genuinely just enjoy interacting, connecting, and communicating with people. I think that is the one thing that all of those things have in common. It’s about connection and making each other feel good. That’s what really drives me. I mean, songwriting will always be my first love, but in the end i’m very driven by communication. So really, I genuinely love them all pretty equally.
What do you think about Hamilton being branded as Canada’s music city?
I think Hamilton has some of the most talented artists in the world. I definitely believe that in the future we will be “Canada’s #1 Music City”. But I think there is still some work to do — which motivates me a lot. I know it’s going to happen because I know some incredible Hamiltonians who are super dedicated and passionate about making it a reality. The talent is here and so is the work ethic. Groups like the Arkells, Monster Truck, and The Dirty Nil have really done a lot to help pave the way. I think all that we need is time. The seeds are planted, and once everything has fully bloomed, Hamilton will truly be unstoppable.
If you could meet any one of your musical influences – who would it be? What would you say to them?
It’s so difficult to just pick one! But if I could pick anyone, dead or alive, it would definitely be John Lennon. I’d probably just say “Thanks”.
What was your earliest music memory?
I remember seeing Oasis in 2001 at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto — I was only about 10 years old. That was definitely a moment that made me go “wow. I want to do that”. I feel like any 90’s baby who liked pop/rock wanted to be Liam Gallagher at some point in their life — haha. But that’s definitely one of the big moments early in my life that made me want to make music.
Thanks for sharing Dre!