Dillon Maurer is hard to figure out. Just when you have him pegged as a rebellious, suburban white kid with an odd infatuation for Dr. Dre's The Chronic, he casually informs you that he was a straight-A student throughout high school and college, and was even president of his senior class.
"I guess I've always just tried to be myself," he laughs.
It wasn't hard, he says, despite his ordinary upbringing in Jacksonville. While the hip-hop scene there left a lot to be desired, the tunes inside his house made him a music lover from an early age. With the sounds of Billie Holiday and Jethro Tull mixing in his living room, he entertained being a DJ at one point. "But being a DJ is a very expensive hobby to have," he says.
So he started writing instead, a gift that came naturally from his dad. When he entered the University of Florida, he finally found a hip-hop click to fraternize with and quickly transformed himself into Intellekt – a likely name for a smart MC. Eventually, the name would fade away, as Dillon grew more comfortable with just being his normal, abnormal self.
"Intellekt died tragically from overeating avocados and Dillon was born," he says. "When I was Intellekt, it was a certain persona that I could never break out of. But Dillon is just literally me."
After honing his skills and building a fan base in college – all while maintaining a perfect GPA and working as a full-time hibachi chef on the side – he decided to skip out on law school and moved to Atlanta in 2005 to pursue music after being invited to perform at the first A3C Festival. He later signed with ATF Records, the local label formerly owned by the festival's producers.
Dillon's latest project, Studies in Hunger – a collaborative effort with DJ/producer Paten Locke – offers a glimpse into Dillon's crowded brain. Known for his ability to merge wit and substance (check out the jazz-laced "Spin"), the album aims to satisfy appetites, in every sense of the word.
"I'm trying to touch on aspects of hunger with each song, whether it's the hunger for attention, or success, or literal hunger," says Dillon, who tends to his own hunger via his cooking website, DillonAteThat.com. "You don't know what to expect."
Now that's an understatement.