It's no surprise why Daily Bread, AKA, Rhett Whatley, has made quite the name for himself as of late. The Atlanta-born electro-soul and hiphop producer has released 4 LP's since only 2014, has toured the country opening for the likes of G Jones and Pretty Lights, and continues to innovate musically all along the way. On top of his regional acclaim, he has a particularly dedicated Denver fanbase, which was extremely apparent during his time spent at Colorado's Sonic Bloom Festival, where he threw down a multitude of sets.
Brandishing his decks and MIDI controller, Whatley took listeners on a sonic journey through space and time – and not just figuratively; this is concept he has wanted to pursue for some time. By utilizing a series of mid-century sci-fi records on his latest work, he has been able to create something that feels so authentic and new, but also familiar, almost like a sense of Deja Vu. And when the thought of throwing a special event for his fans was pitched by his team, Whatley jumped at the chance to spread this new music with everyone. From this came the Bread and Breakfast event – a 2 hour curated musical experience paired with one of Denver's best food trucks and a crowd full of hungry fans at Sonic Bloom.
After the hype dwindled down – I got the opportunity to chat a little with the man himself. Below Daily Bread opens up about his new music, his passion, his hometown, and life on the road:
Navigator, Standby is your fourth LP since you started making music in 2014. How do you feel with this many full lengths under your belt – does this release mark any kinds of milestones for you?
Navigator Standby doesn’t mark any milestone for me necessarily but it is the most conceptualized release I think I've put out. It’s an album where mid-century SciFi records are used to tell my experiences on the road and all the emotions / feelings that come with it. The sense of accomplishment I feel comes from fans and supporters understanding and connecting with that concept. It’s an amazing feeling to see them sing along at shows and have them share their fave tracks with me.
The outer space Sci-Fi theme has been something I’ve wanted to explore for a couple years now as I’ve always been a fan of this aesthetic, specifically the 50s & 60s era. Philos Records founder Jordan Wengler shares an affinity for space travel as well and so when I pitched the idea for the record he was very supportive. That was when I decided to start piecing the songs together for it.
ES: What led you to play Sonic Bloom? What are your thoughts on the festival as a whole?
Sonic Bloom has been a festival I'd heard about since I started performing shows in 2014 and It's incubated a variety of amazing artists over the years. This year was my second year at Hummingbird Ranch and although I wasn’t able to experience everything the festival had to offer in the short time I was there, I had an amazing time. The weather was perfect, the vibe was easy and laid back, and the music / visual art was as on point as one could expect.
ES: How did the Bread and Breakfast event come about? How do you think it was received and what has made you so invested in your fans?
The genesis of the Bread & Breakfast idea came from two people, Taylor and Juanita, who had the idea to bring dB fans together one morning and cook a big breakfast out on the lot. We massaged the original idea a bit and were able to eventually make it official with Sonic Bloom organizers, so we teamed up with LandShark food truck based in Denver and designed breakfast menu items based off of dB song titles. We played two hrs of carefully curated music while everyone relaxed, ate, and grooved on full stomachs. People on both ends told me they really enjoyed it and I’d like to do it again somewhere, I was proud of how it went down.
Denver has become my home-away-from-home and I’ve played there more than almost anywhere else. I think part of this has to do with it being the birthplace of the electronic-hiphop sound that artists like Michal Menert, Late Night Radio, and PL honed in over the years. Another large part has to do with the mindset and ethos of Denver in general; almost everyone there relishes in live music and the social experience that comes along with it. It’s an inspiring place for lots of reasons.
ES: What was it like growing up in Atlanta and how did it shape your music? When were you living in Denver and what brought you here?
I grew up on the east side of Atlanta in the late 90s / 00s and still live here today. I definitely view it as my home and wear an Atlanta cap on the road. Growing up, everyone in my town had two 12” subwoofers in their car and lived to watch Louis Williams play basketball. I was exposed to a lot of amazing music living here. Lil John & Eastside Boys, STS9, Childish Gambino, and B.O.B all formed early in their careers around the proximity of my hometown. There are songs that I play out live, Iike this remix I made of The Backwudz – You’re Gonna Love Me – I’d never know about that song without growing up here in Atlanta.
A couple years ago I got booked to play Red Rocks at the end of the Summer of 2017 and got the chance to open for G. Jones & PL. I spent most of that Summer in Denver, living there for about six months while finishing a record I was working on at the time called On The Daily. It was a nice change of pace for me and I love the countryside out there, but it’s a lot different from what I’m used to here in Atlanta.
ES: So much of your music is based around crafting unique samples – what led you to this type of creative re appropriation? Do you feel that your more organic approach differentiates you from other artists – have you felt this approach evolve over time?
I kinda developed an affinity for sample based music without really knowing what it was or understanding it completely. I grew up skateboarding and collecting skate videos on VHS and those exposed me to NY sample-based hiphop artists like Gangstarr & Big L. I later saw Rjd2 play a festival set and he was using his MPC to tap out samples. This was a big “ah-ha” moment for me, it was like I learned a cheat code. I bought a broken MPC 2000 classic for $300 off craigslist the following Monday and struggled hard for a while. The tac switch for the shift button was broken and I didn’t realize it at first, I didn’t really know what I was doing.
Not for better or worse, but I feel that the organic approach does sonically differentiate sample-based artists a bit. Sampling records has its own aesthetic and vibe. I’ve started most of my songs in the crates over the years because that’s the sound I love and I couldn’t recreate it any other way. My approach has evolved over time to include more in-depth sample collaging & bring more intent to my songs.
Some of my favorite all-time favorite records from the past include McDonald And Giles – Self Titled album (1971), Isaac Hayes – Joy (1973), and Marvin Gaye’s – Whats Going On (1971). I could go on forever but these three tend to stay close to me. More contemporary artists that I’ve been listening to lately are J.I.D., Tierra Whack, Kruangbin, K+Lab, Of The Trees, Young Bae, & Lipphead.
ES: Name the best and worst thing about the music industry as you've experienced it.
Traveling and constantly meeting passionate like-minded people is continually one of the best things about the music industry. When it comes to downfalls, getting sick on the road is one of the worst for me.
ES: Who do you consider your biggest inspirations?
My biggest musical inspirations include Dj Premier, Outkast, James Brown, and Menert / PL. I love Dj Premier's approach to crate digging, Outkast’s Southern sophistication, James Brown’s energy, and Menert / PL's pioneering of the Colorado electric hiphop sound. I'm also heavily influenced at any given time by my Philos labelmates Artifakts, Derlee, and Late Night Radio.
ES: What are your plans for the future? Any ideas for future tours, collabs, or albums
My immediate plans include rocking Hullabaloo Fest in Omaha and What? Fest in Columbus before returning home on Aug 2 to play Terminal West in Atlanta. It’s the largest room I’ve played in my hometown and is also one of my personal favorites. We’re going all out for it! This Fall we’re scheming a string of shows with some Philos labelmates as well as some other things that I’m excited about. More details to come.
The next dB release will come out this Fall or maybe early next year. I’m designing a companion release to Navigator, Standby that will have four or five songs. I want to do a 12”inch 45rpm to conclude the space theme. I am thinking of calling it the Re-entry EP.
What is one bucket list item for you?
To learn piano. I write music with a guitar and I aspire to be as affluent on piano one day.
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