We are back with the Underground Uprising's "Artist of the Week" and this time we have a director/videographer to showcase! D. Carter, the man behind "To the Top Visuals" is the first "AOTW" to be chosen for their skills behind a camera and after you get to know him and his work a little better, you'll be a fan or an eager artist that wants to work with this diversely skilled man from Arizona.
Where are you from? What was it like growing up there?
"I was born in Mesa, Arizona. Raised in the East valley of Phoenix, bouncing from Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, and Tempe. I've been here my entire life. I moved a lot, but mostly throughout the east valley. I love AZ, it is a place I'll always represent and call home. I've met several solid people who've played huge roles in my life. I've had a lot of great memories and a lot of bad one's. But I'm sure it's like that anywhere you are from. The one thing i love about Arizona is its difference in nature. You can go from the Phoenix desert at 120 degrees and take an hour and a half drive up North and be in cooler weather and surrounded by pine trees. Growing up here has been a long experience and journey. I don't know any other place better than i do Arizona."
What kind of videos/movies/tv inspired you as a kid? "I grew up loving a lot of sci-fi and comedy films. "Star Wars" brings out my nerdy side and i could watch those movies over and over despite how many times I've already seen them. I also loved movies like "The Matrix" , "Romeo must die", "Predator", "Alien", "Rush Hour" "Chappelle show" and stand up comedies to name a few. As a kid I was heavy into "Pokémon" and "Yu-Gu-oh!" I don't care what nobody says that was my thing. Lol. I really enjoyed movies or shows where their was a main character who was separated from the rest "The one" or they had special abilities that no one else had. Some badass "lone ninja" type stuff. Lol. I actually try implementing that on my own projects. I think it's cool."
When did “To the Top Visuals” start?
"[It] originated as "Carterora Productions" about two years ago. As I was building my portfolio as an artist going by "D Carter", I needed content. I didn't have the money to afford photo shoots or music videos all the time with what I was trying to do. I knew I needed to put things out but I was limited. I hated that feeling. I originally invested into camera equipment with a business partner who had experience in multimedia in hopes to grow as an artist and build a business shooting music videos and doing photo shoots for other artists. My partner and I had conflicting schedules and (life happened) at the time and couldn't run it full force attacking it head on together like i was intending to. So I ended up doing it by myself. I started building relationships and taking on big projects like Weddings, Corporate videos, small business videos, artist photo shoots, artist music videos etc.. I really had no experience what so ever with a camera or knew anything about it. But I did my research and learned more and more over time. I had to learn the ins and outs of a camera, a drone, editing, all while having my own style to it. It was very over whelming for a while because I was also trying to be a music artist. Then all the sudden I was a videographer and a photographer.
I've had my fair share of gigs and the experience is really what took me to a new level. Although I still am the learner and have much more to figure out. It has skyrocketed my opportunities and building relationships being able to it all. Until I met my manager, (Danielle Ellis) aka "The Matrix" We built a team together under the label "To the Top Music Management". She has helped me immensely to grow as an artist. We decided to partner and run the multimedia business I had built, together and rebrand the name to match what we had already started in To the Top Music management. To make things simpler, thus the name "To the Top Visuals".
Favorite director? "I loved Tarantino films, Spielberg, and of course George Lucas for giving us star wars lol." What do you both think of the current state of AZ Hip Hop?
"I think anyone can agree that Arizona is a hotspot for talent. I've met so many talented and credible like minded individuals who are all here trying to do the same thing. The driving direction in AZ hip-hop is in full acceleration. One day i believe AZ will be known for Hip hop like California, New York or Atlanta. One driving force will be Respect the Underground and what they have put on for the city, year after year. Especially with the showcasing of talent at each years Annual Hip hop festival."
Advice for up and coming creators and artists? "My best advice, do what you love to do. Not because it's cool. If you truly love the ART and can dedicate your life to it, then take every opportunity thrown at you. I mean that as in right away. Not next week, next year, or when you're ready.. Because you will never be "ready". The time is now fam."
Biggest lesson learned in your career?
"My biggest lesson as a music artist, was to stop making music for other people. Make music that YOU like. Don't follow the trends. Separate yourself from the rest. I see to much of the same things nowadays. I also learned that this is a business, not a hobby. You need to have both a business mindset and a creative mindset or else this will be very difficult for you. It was for me. The last important thing I learned is don't listen to what people think or criticize you on about your art. And that goes for the multimedia side as well. Your art will never be good enough for some people and that's okay. You have to accept that. The ones who enjoy what you do will follow."
What are you most proud of, what is your biggest accomplishment so far?
"What I am most proud of in this journey in the music business and multimedia business is the experience itself. Never did I think 4 years ago I would be where I am today, strategizing and executing a clear vision with Mic Myers, Talika, KMRN, Genesis, and Drk Matr, all of which are a part of our label “To the Top music management” as well as hosting Hip-hop night at Good Time Charlis in Chandler. I've worked with or had the opportunity to surround myself with several successful artists and media artists such as Whitney Peyton, Sincerely Collins, Fat Belly Filmz, Shot by Dub, Delly Everyday, Bag of Tricks Cat to name a few. I've collaborated with super producer Kato on the Track, on a beat and had the opportunity to meet and learn from him. I've taken pictures of several local artists whether it be photo shoots or performance photos for groups like The Kotton Mouth Kings... The opportunities are out there.. I'm proud of my journey and I cant wait for what's next."
Who would you like to collab with in the future? "I would love to collab with Futuristic one day, but I'm sure everyone would want that since he's one of the faces of AZ hip hop right now.. J Rob the Chief is another artist i believe is next level. I'm open to collabs with anyone who is serious about this honestly. Eventually I'd like to expand outside of AZ and collab with other we'll known artists. But overall I want to grow and help others grow too."
What’s the next move for To The Top Visuals?
"To the Top visuals has a few videos coming out that we are excited about. One of which being Whitney Peyton. She is an incredible talent and has given us the opportunity to collab with her. So stay tuned for that. Otherwise, To the Top Visuals is open for business and taking all inquiries for video, photo, beat production, studio recording, album art or cover art, or even if you need help learning the business side of music etc.. So hit us up we got you!"
by: Steven Sandage