Grad ‘DiViNCi’: In The Studio and On the Road with Ms. Lauryn Hill

Glen Valencia, Jr. (better known by his stage name, DiViNCi) tends to look at the world through a different lens. Take the drum machine/sampler, for instance: While most music producers have used tools like the Akai MPC as staples in their studio rig, DiViNCi saw it as an instrument that deserved to be showcased on-stage. He’s done just that through his role as a member of the group Solillaquists of Sound and alongside hip-hop icon Ms. Lauryn Hill.

That inventor’s spirit – to break down the walls of convention and implement new methods to the creative process – has driven DiViNCi since graduating from Full Sail’s Recording Arts program in 2001.

“It wasn’t immediately apparent that my aspirations as an inventor and my passion for music could be fulfilled simultaneously,” DiViNCi says. “I knew I liked to create and I knew I loved hip hop, but it wasn’t until years of plugging away that I realized just how symbiotic and fulfilling the music making process would be to my hunger for innovation.”

That approach has been a fundamental element in the success of Solillaquists, which formed in Orlando, Florida, in 2002. Propelled by DiViNCi’s explosive, button-mashing performance on-stage, the group had toured the world several times over before Ms. Hill’s manager (and a former Orlando promoter who had booked Solilla early in their career) brought a unique offer to the table nearly a decade later in 2011.

“Ms. Hill needed someone to program drums for her on-stage for the 2011 L.A. Rising Festival,” DiViNCi says. “I immediately said yes, and that led to her inviting me to join her as a member of her touring band and eventually part of almost every other aspect of her operation.”

Playing alongside veteran musicians from groups like Living Colour, Bad Brains, and the Wailers, DiViNCi soon assumed the role of “traffic coordinator” on-stage, using programs like Ableton Live to provide a series of both visual and audio cues to help corral Ms. Hill’s often-changing set.

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DiViNCi onstage with Ms. Lauryn Hill

“I never would have thought that all those years of making music in my bedroom would build a skill set that is so useful to other people, let alone to such influential musicians,” he says. “But I think what really helped my career to evolve in the way it has was what I learned from the relationships I’ve developed over the years. There’s no better skill than being able to communicate well and that has been at the core of my success, on stage, in the studio and in life.”

After a whirlwind few years of circling the globe with Ms. Hill and implementing his process into her studio recording sessions, DiViNCi has recently shifted his focus back towards Solillaquists, as well as playing a more active role in shaping the future of the tools that he has built his career with. As an Akai Pro Artist and Ableton PUSH artist, he’s sponsored by both companies and contributes creative input into the development of future hardware and software products for the world of electronic music production.

“For me, refining the ways in which I make music is just as fun as making the music itself. I just love creating, whether the creation is music or a process. I love the fact that I get to be involved closely with the development of the tools I love using,” DiViNCi says. “In music and life, I’m constantly trying to learn how to better turn my compulsions into contributions. It’s a process that my parents, SoS and Ms. Hill have helped me in immensely. I’m extremely blessed to not only work with such incredibly creative and powerful people but the fact that I can also call these people family is probably my greatest reward.”