Josh Epstein of Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr Talks Detroit, Beck and Burritos


At SFCritic we always love to get some of the story behind the music when a cool act comes to town and we were lucky enough to get Josh Epstein (pictured right) of genre blurring electronic duo Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr to answer a few questions for us before they headline at The Fillmore this Saturday, March 1st. Tickets are still available to see the group with opening act Chad Valley here.

SFCritic: Did you always think you would be a musician? When did you know?

Josh Epstein: I was in a band that toured a bit in high school. But I never thought I’d do it for the long haul. That all changed when I got meningitis in college though.

SFC: Did getting mentioned during the Daytona 500 get you any new fans? But seriously, how often are you asked about the name? I read that you picked it to make sure people didn’t know what to expect when they first heard you; what other names did you consider?

JE: We never really considered another name. It all happened so quickly. We wanted a name that we felt wouldn’t pigeon hole us and it came up and was over in 15 minutes.

SFC: Is this your first time touring with Hugo Manuel, how did you all connect? Any funny stories about the differences between Detroit and Oxford?

JE: I went and saw him in New York after the last show we played there. Our manager and I jumped in a cab and caught most of his set and both thought it was a perfect fit. From what he says, Oxford is similar to Detroit in that the people who grew up there remain fiercely loyal and proud of their home town no matter where they end up.

SFC: I love your new mixtape Produce. Is this something you have wanted to do for a while? What is your background in hip hop? I love “Beach Boy Biggie.” What inspired you to put together this project?

JE: We grew up with the internet, and as a result listened to everything we could find. From oldies to Nigerian 70’s music and Pavement to Biggie. I guess we sort of grew up unaware of genre. We have always made all sorts of music, and this project was just a way to stay busy while on the road and kind of play more of the traditional producer role.

SFC: What artists are you listening to right now? Who would you most like to collaborate with?

JE: I’ve been listening to the latest Danny Brown record and the new Schoolboy Q record lately. Also, a ton of old soul music from the Midwest that has been digitally archived recently.

I really would love to work with Beck. Today’s music landscape is sort of confusing because by the time an artist like Lorde goes to make her second record, there are five artists releasing records that sound like her first. It’s hard to have a “sound”…and yet Beck has one and still does. He is incredible.

SFC: What’s the scene like for indie artists out of Detroit? It seems like tough times for the city, but tough times can create amazing collaboration. Would there ever be a billing of you and Slum Village (ie. Detroit hip hop)?

JE: We would love to work more with the Slum Villages and Danny Browns of the city. Detroit really is in a better place than it’s been in my lifetime, so it’s kind of a great time there. Obviously, the city is getting things sorted out, but in terms of development and creative population, it’s stronger than ever there.

SFC: I saw Taco Bell decided to use your music for its “Beefy Nacho Burrito.” That must have been an pretty surreal milestone. What was it like when you found out they were using your music? Follow up, what city has the best burritos in your experience?

JE: Honestly, I had moved into a new place and hasn’t been able to furnish it yet, so that commercial literally made me think, “I can probably get a couch.” San Francisco obviously has the best burritos. The mission is where it’s at. I learned the hard way to eat them after the show though. They’re like four pounds of food.

SFC: What is the thing you guys miss most about home being on the road?

JE: My dog. Although I’m going to bring him on the rest of this tour starting in LA, so I’ll have to find a new thing to miss.


Check them out live Saturday but in the meantime take a listen to Produce below:

Image courtesy of Paradigm Agency