Local music artist Daniel Southard, who records music under the name “DSouthh,” drew on the feeling of cruising down Frederica Street with the windows down for his most popular song to date.
Music is a new endeavor for Southard, who was an accomplished cross country runner at Daviess County High School and the University of Kentucky. But he said deep down, writing rhymes has always been his thing, too.
“I can remember writing poems in elementary school,” Southard said. “It was just a way for me to get my thoughts out. In school, I might have been asked to write a paragraph, but I’d write a whole page. That sort of thing. I always say I was writing raps before I ran a single lap.”
Putting thoughts on paper started turning into songs when Southard’s friend, Ethan Dossett, asked him to put some of those poems to a beat. One of their creations, “Frederica Street” has become DSouthh’s most popular song so far.
Owensboro Times talked with DSouthh about his increasing passion for music and the story behind the song.
OT – Your musical journey started in 2018. Three years later, you say you’re just getting started. What is your motivation?
DSouthh – The whole thing for me is to inspire people to try something they’ve never done before. It’s all about trying to influence others to do something they believe in and not be afraid to try. That’s the biggest challenge for me, especially going from something like running for so long, to doing this now. Because I know exactly what people are thinking when they’re like, “Oh, so, you’re a rapper now?” I think that’s cool because I’m doing something that no one thought I could do. So I want to be myself, but also inspire others too.
I consider myself a spoken word artist with a beat behind it. People might want to categorize it as hip hop or rap, but if I compare it to anything, it would be clean hip hop like NF. He’s amazing.
OT – Tell us about your song “Frederica Street.” How did it come about?
DSouthh- It’s definitely my biggest song. It’s gotten way more streams than any of my other songs so far. The thing about it is we actually made that song in about five hours. My buddy Ethan Dossett from KWC produced it and made the beat. That was back in 2019. What happened was I had some lyrics typed up — just basically random thoughts, but I had a couple lines about driving down Frederica Street and we started playing around with that idea. I was just starting out, so I thought if I write a song that anyone from Owensboro can relate to, then people will click and listen.
So that night I started writing some more stuff and Ethan had a beat and we just tried it out. So I stepped up to the really cheap mic I had at the time and it just came together in a few hours. With my ADHD, I can’t really focus for much longer anyway. So I just let it be what it is and called it finished.
I think people like it because it’s catchy, it’s fun. And people from Owensboro can relate to it. I’ve also heard a lot of people say they like that I don’t curse in it and they like that it’s not explicit. That’s part of my art too. I’m not going to cuss in my songs. I want kids to be able to listen to my music. And parents too. So it’s important to me to express something positive. If I’m on there dropping F-bombs and talking about girls and degrading people, that wouldn’t reflect who I am as an artist. Personally, I think cussing is lazy. Not to talk bad about anyone else who curses in their music, but it’s just not for me.
OT – So that one came together quickly, but you already had the start of an idea. What is your writing process?
DSouthh – Usually, I write by freestyling at first. Most of the time, I don’t even hear a beat. I’ll just start freestyling to get a feel for it and see what direction I want to go, what tempo I want to use, and see how it flows.
But that idea for Frederica Street came to me one day when I was actually driving down Frederica listening to Jack Harlow and in the song but he was also talking about how he got rejected. So it was a fun song, but kind of down too.
I just thought I should write a song about Frederica Street that embodies exactly what I’m feeling right now, in that moment. I’m on Frederica. Just a kid. Driving down Frederica in my Jimmy listening to Jack Harlow. And my heart was sort of broken at the time, so that’s where that line came from “she says she’s from Utica so I know she’s not committed,” meaning that she wouldn’t even drive to town to see me. So I had some lines like that.
That was the first time I made a song that was actually about me. A lot of my songs are real and to the point, but I wanted this one to be a fun song too that people would enjoy listening to. So that’s how it came about. Ethan is really good and that beat is so simple but so awesome. It just had that summer-time vibe to it. It gets your head bobbing.
OT – How did the reaction video come about?
DSouthh– It’s a service for indie artists. I sent my song in to get a reaction video from this guy named Mansa Mayne in Louisville who has 300,000 subscribers. He accepted it, did his reaction video, and he even hit me up on Instagram and we’ve been talking about getting together in Louisville to work on something together ever since.
I know it might sound odd to pay for something like that, but it’s a really good way to get your name out there. He could have declined it, but he accepted it. It was definitely worth it to me. He got over 1,000 views on his reaction video for “Frederica Street.” But what was more beneficial to me was making that connection in general. It’s part of the process. The song was already pretty big before I sent it in. That’s why I sent that one in, because I knew I had something.
OT – So what’s next?
DSouthh – I’m working on a mix tape now. I probably have 50 or 60 songs I’ve started that I haven’t put out yet. So some of those songs I just need to finish and put them out instead of waiting and waiting. NF talks about that in his new song, and man, I needed to hear that. I don’t know if it was COVID or what, but I’m tired of stalling. I should have it out in the next few months.