Adam Blanchard, also known by his stage name smol, is a Canadian electronic producer out of Calgary who’s really starting to stir up some noise in the bass scene. With his genre-bending cinematic style, smol captivates his listeners through sound and vibrations, creating a sonic experience like no other. The Calgary producer is also proving to be one of the hardest working DJs in the game, dropping new music almost every week while running his own label called DoYu. From his Obsessions EP released with Headbang Society to his latest single, Touching reality featuring Fresh BVCKED, smol is on pace to becoming bass music’s next big thing.
The Daily Frequency reached out to smol to discuss his new EP, his passions, and much more!
Read the full interview below!
First off, congratulations on your new EP Obsessions! How has it been working with Headbang Society?
Thank you! Working with Headbang Society has been a wonderful experience so far, and I am really excited to move into the future with them and make it down to the US when virus things settle down. The team is really engaged and motivated by the love of music and bass music culture. They’ve been very kind to support my genre-bending ways and provide a platform to share my unique music.
How old were you when you started creating music? Was this a lane you always envisioned yourself going through?
I was 5 when I became obsessed with piano and music in general because my grandmother enrolled me in lessons and encouraged artistic expression as a way to pacify my intense curiosity and very high energy. Within a few years, I was already playing classical piano at a university level and knew I wanted to tour and perform. Over the course of my life, I fell away from my pursuit of a music career due to external pressures. After a full decade of pursuing music via the party in my 20’s, I realized I had spent the bulk of my time celebrating but not actually accomplishing much beyond my corporate leadership role in the grocery retail industry. As I approached my 30’s, I had a life-changing experience that led to me to create both smol and my label/community initiative we call DoYu. In creating both, I aimed to facilitate growth for both myself and others through the idea that embracing your true self and living a full life would bring on and sustain perpetual joy.
I wasn’t going to let anything or anyone else hold me back. I was feeling unsupported by my friends, family, and peers, so I created my own support network and started finding other ambitious people who just wanted to be themselves and express that through art, friendship, and community. Now that I am fully in this lane, there is nothing that could make me believe I am supposed to do or be anything else.
Your sound has such a cinematic feel in a sense where each song really takes the listener on a journey. Is this something you really focus on with your productions?
Thank you for taking notice! I am trying to replicate an experience I’ve had many times over the past two decades while experiencing our simulation from a heightened state of awareness. I hear rhythm, playful sonic expression, and life in the atmosphere and throughout my surroundings. From animals singing, to the flow of the wind through the trees, to the rumbling of thunder and slightly predictable rate of water dripping from an eavestrough. Our world is constantly producing a sonic story, and I aspire to replicate its chaotic ways in my own music. I have been diving into psychoacoustics since coming onto the idea a few years ago from a friend but have always subconsciously taken note. If any of the listeners out there appreciate this focus in my music, I invite you to check out my everyday listening project, ‘nwmi,’ which is grounded in the pursuit of taking the listener to a different space through listening.
Walk us through your creative process in the studio. Do you have any routines to get you in that creative state, or do you just go with the flow and find inspiration as it comes?
I always have piles of projects that I am working on with friends and family, and I aspire to do everything in my life with an artistic perfection behind it. My cooking, skateboarding, family life, hula hooping, label, and everything in between is what drives my inspiration. I don’t really believe in motivating myself daily, but do manage and engage in evolving task sheets to keep myself on track and break down big goals into small, executable directives. I think accomplishing all these goals, reviewing them, and creating more does lead to inspiration, though, so perhaps this is a foundational process that I have.
I really believe staying inspired is the key, and what it takes to facilitate that for yourself will be different for everyone and evolve over time. The framework I live within for a healthy life includes eating beautiful, healthy food, staying active, practicing introspection, taking time to rest and chill out, sustaining the mindset of trying to become better at life activities perpetually.
Like everyone, I experience procrastination and stress. However, my resolve and perception of both have evolved over the years. When I am stalling out, I just start with one thing, no matter how big my list is. When the next stair on my journey is too high to climb, I simply ask a friend or family to help lower it. I might be a smart person, but I would be a fool to think I know everything. This is why choosing who and what you subscribe to is important. There is not one person in my network that would be unwilling to help me and vice versa.
If you are just building a network of support, remember this formula for success. Give, give, give, then take.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
My grandmother, Minnie. Yes, she is very, very smol with a massive heart and all the patience in the world for my explosively curious, energetic ways. She showed me how to cook, how to garden, how to treat and communicate with animals, how to play instruments of all kinds, how to paint and draw, how to work on being a better human. She is the GOAT, and I love her and thank her dearly for the influence she’s had on me.
Math. I was blessed with a math brain and see everything as a set of data that can be tracked, analyzed, and manipulated to produce new, predictable results. I live in the land of facts and use math to affect and benefit my choice-making ability. This goes for both music and life in general. Even in skateboarding, I take into account the physics of what’s happening in order to position my feet and body to nail a new trick.
Music-wise it would be impossible to explain this quickly because I’ve explored so many genres over my 28 years of being music-conscious. But here are the most loved humans in my life right now that encourage me to pursue the best in me every day. My fiance Jenny and our daughter/collaborator, Keura. My best mons, TOFA and INNOCENT, and of course Riley SkyMillz, who is also my label partner at DoYu.
You just released a new EP, and you’re already announcing new music. Can fans expect more releases as the year goes on?
Fans can expect an extreme amount of music for this studio this year over multiple projects, including smol, nwmi, and our label DoYu Digital.
You can continue to expect biweekly self-releases of flips, beat tapes, sound packs, remix stems, and more on both smol and nwmi. There will also be label releases every month, but I guess let’s spill the beans here a bit and tell you who. I am extremely stoked to have worked out a release with Fresh Bvked (who is also on HBS with me) on Wavecraft Collective for May, and then a pseudo-riddim track with Camnah of Spicy Bois on Hybrid Trap the following month.
Other labels I aspire to release with this year are Sleeveless, Break & Enter Society, Wormhole Music Group, and Gravits – let’s see where 2021 goes….
It’s clear that music isn’t your only passion. As a skater and self-proclaimed foodie, how important is it to have interests outside of music? Do you believe having other lanes to put your energy into, such as skateboarding and cooking, helps your creativity when you are in the studio?
In my eyes, they are all essential to one another. The cooking, skating, creating thing is a beautiful cycle of activities that each feed a different part of my body, mind, or soul. It is important that everyone implements a passionate pursuit of something or some things and realize the synergies between these quests that they dedicate their time to in order to reach the goal of their pursuit. Basically, be present in the journey and build your awareness so you can intercept more opportunities and be fully present in all of the moments of your storyline. I feel the closer we get to maximizing our personal human experience, the more creative we become… but no matter what, it does come in waves, so you always have to be ready to harness it when it arrives.
Aside from electronic music, what genres would you say influence your sound the most?
I’m basically looking at every genre and asking, why do people like this so much? Or, why don’t I like this? What is the best thing about this, why and how can I take that back to my own writing? Sometimes the results of my self-questioning are paradoxical in nature. It could be a hit tune with the worst mix down you’ve ever heard, and it can be hard to make sense of that. I’ve learned to look for the advantage within the disadvantage. There is an exploit to each genre, an exploit to each social platform we use, an exploit at the supermarket where you can eat the best food and pay the least.
To intercept both the obvious and hidden opportunities, we must remain aware. This requires staying open to new ideas and evolving concepts to truly embrace their power and transfer maximum influence into our own writing.
If you could make a song with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I’ve been very inspired by Kaytranada’s writing for the past decade. I would love to see what his creative process is and how he develops that insanely catchy vibe in all his music.
Lastly, if you could say one thing to your fans, what would it be?
Thank you for reading this, thank you for your support and interest in my music and creations. I really appreciate all the back and forth on the DMs and encourage anyone who wants to talk to me to simply reach out on any platform and start talking. It’s been a lonely hibernation through covid for us all, and I am so grateful for this community of wonderful humans that help make life brighter.
Grant Hergenroeder, who goes by the name HYPERDAZE, just dropped an incredible, conscious expanding LP titled Mind. The 13 track project is the first studio album by the Maryland-based producer who takes his listeners on a journey inwards as he explores the deepest realms of the mind through sound. Mind is an album you’d expect from a seasoned vet, let alone a new producer, but HYPERDAZE makes it look easy. While it’s clear he draws inspiration from artists such as Flume, his sound is undoubtedly unique as he combines luscious emotional soundscapes with eccentric bass creating an unforgettable listening experience. It’s also impossible to box HYPERDAZE into one category as Mind is as much of an exploration through genres as it is consciousness.
The Daily Frequency had the opportunity to sit down with HYPERDAZE to discuss Mind, his plans for the future, and a whole lot more!
Check out the full interview below!
Congratulations on your new album, Mind! It’s such an impressive project, and I really love the concept. What drew you to explore the inner workings of the mind, such as dealing with love, loss, and triumph?
Thank you! I’m really happy you connected with it. I put a lot of time and effort into the project, so hearing things like this mean so much to me.
I had the idea for the concept in August when I was starting classes again. Being away from others gave me a lot of time to think and reflect in general. The main push for the idea was that I wanted to connect my most meaningful experiences with others. The title “Mind” stems from this concept.
Many upcoming producers release a single here and there, but you, on the other hand, were able to put together a full-length album. How does it feel to release such a massive record so early in your career?
I’m really happy. I view music purely as a way to share experiences and emotions – writing an album allows for so much more of this, I feel. The HYPERDAZE project has been evolving over the past year, but I thought it really needed a cohesive piece of work to set its direction – this album does that.
I love your sound. You’re able to hit on many different genres while still sounding original, which is no easy task. What’s your secret?
I really admire the way Flume was able to craft “Skin” and tried to apply some of his techniques. For example, when I wrote these tracks, I was constantly thinking about progression (within each song and from song to song). I tried to scale the energy level of each track (1-10) and have it flow (gradually build/fall). The way I see it is that when complex things get broken down into simpler problems, really cool things can happen.
You’ve been getting huge support from some big names in the scene. Alison Wonderland even played out your track Mind on her radio show. How does it feel to get recognition from some of the best artists/DJs in the game?
I feel very honored. I remember randomly doing a google search of myself and seeing that Alison’s radio show played had it and just feeling so happy. A lot of these artists and DJ’s are people I’ve looked up to for a very long time and words can’t express how crazy it feels.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
Flume and What So Not. Those two will always be my biggest inspirations.
Take us through your day in the studio. Do you have a specific routine, or is each day different?
I’d say each day is pretty different. I love getting out and about and writing in weird places. For example, I made “Scorch” on an airplane.
Take us back. How did you get into producing, and what drew you to electronic music in the first place?
When I was 14, I downloaded FL Studio and started making beats. I remember picking it up pretty quickly and searching everywhere for sounds and plugins (I actually destroyed a laptop doing this because of viruses). The hobby eventually grew into a passion, and now I’m constantly writing music.
Are there any genres outside of the electronic realm that have had a significant influence on your sound?
I grew up around a lot of rock music – definitely some influence there. Not a huge fan of the heavier stuff but more so bands like M83, Fun, Kings of Leon, MGMT, 311, and Arctic Monkeys. I have a lot of great memories attached to that genre of music, so I’d consider it a big influence.
What can fans expect from you as the year goes on?
I have a lot planned that I don’t want to talk too much about yet. I can say I really love high-tempo stuff at the moment. A lot more is coming, and I’m really excited.
Lastly, where you do you see yourself in 5 years?
Writing music, exploring life, and continuing to grow the HYPERDAZE project.
Jakeshoredrive is an upcoming tech and deep house DJ who is quickly rising to stardom throughout Chicago. Known for his high-energy, feel-good sets, the 28-year-old DJ knows how to throw a party. Whether it’s offering direct support to artists such as Don Diablo and Da Baby or DJing parties in the Hamptons, Jakeshoredrive knows how to electrify any crowd.
As the 2021 season kicks off, Jakeshoredrive is already making big moves. He just released a massive g -house track called Scandal along with new tour dates in Nashville this June.
The daily Frequency caught up with Jakeshoredrive to discuss the scene in Chicago, musical influences, and more!
Check out the full interview below!
How did you get into producing music, and when did you decide this was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
I have been producing music for 1.5 years. It all started with a vision I kept having every time I’d close my eyes. I kept seeing myself in front of thousands of people rocking to my music. I looked at where I’ve been and what I’ve done up until that point and knew I had to evolve from DJ to artist if I wanted to live out that vision. Then the process began.
Everyone has that one song that got them into electronic music. For me, it was Kaleidoscope by Tiesto. What was yours?
Wow, this is a great question. For me, it’d have to be Loca People from Sak Noel and Cry Just a Little (Kids at the Bar Bootleg)-Bingo Players …shout out Red Lion (U of I)
You are a house DJ from Chicago, which is widely known as the Birthplace of house. What impact has your city had on your musical taste?
It’s EVERYTHING. I consistently ask myself, can I play this in Chicago? Or how can I sprinkle some Chicago flavor into this track? Many great artists have paved the way for me to make music from this city, and I always want to do right by them by putting something with soul, swing, grit, and groove out there. I was blessed to actually grow up in the city, where I was thrust into a melting pot of different cultures, ethnicities, and musical tastes. It’s given me the ability to sample from and get inspired by a wide range of music from hip-hop, juke, latin/reggaeton, R&B, and beyond.
Although you define yourself as a house DJ, it is clear your sound has a lot of influences from other genres. How important is versatility when it comes to production?
I take pride in pushing the limits within house music. I believe it’s so necessary when you want to stand out or try to be different. Blending in other genres is just the DJ in me. It’s what I do in my live sets. I’m very intentional with it because it makes your music that much more marketable and familiar when people hear a melody, vocal chop, or sound they already love.
You’ve been putting in work this past year, releasing a bunch of new music. How were you able to stay motivated in such trying times?
In such trying times, I found the silver lining! For me, the silver lining was all a sudden, I have all this TIME since my day job was severely relaxed back to very minimal work. I looked at it as a blessing. Obviously, there was a lot to worry about and be cautious with the realities of COVID, but I’ve never been one to waste time when given it. I also looked at it as, ok, I’m not DJing, so how can I stay relevant, and the only way was to release music and push content.
You basically live a double life being an elementary school teacher for seven years now. How are you able to juggle teaching and producing music at such a high level? Your students must think your pretty damn cool.
“The juggle is real!” I’ve made some serious changes in my life in the past two years that have helped me take on the workload. My standards for both teaching and producing are that they are two full-time careers, and my time is balanced around them. I teach from 9-4 pm and focus on music in some capacity (creating, meetings, branding, content, marketing) at night. I rarely go out anymore unless I’m DJing or networking. Although, I’ve learned over the past year that balance is so EXTREMELY important for my creative and mental health. I make time for family, close friends, my dog Chief, and just living to avoid creative block and burnout. Thank you, I hope they do!
You are a great producer but also have a solid social media presence. How important is social media when it comes to marketing your music and connecting with fans?
In an industry that has had its in-person connection stripped away in the last year, it has been so important in both marketing and connecting with fans. I have really tried to solidify and focus on my branding and connectivity through social media a lot in the past 6 months. I’m trying to stay authentic to myself while giving people meaningful content that makes people happy, informs them or helps solve a confusion or debunk a myth about music, DJing, or producing. Again, it’s been the only way for me to stay relevant but also helps with narrowing down those super fans!
Not only do you produce, DJ, and Teach, you also have a radio show called WEHAVEFUN. How did that come about, and what’s the vision behind it?
WEHAVEFUN Radio was a way for me to showcase my musical taste and also market myself digitally to potential venues. It also was a way for me to showcase/sharpen my skills as a DJ and love for other people’s music. I have been able to connect to so many artists looking to get more exposure just through a music centric podcast. I will admit WHF Radio has taken a back seat recently, but I am ready to start gearing it up again for the summer. I would like to feature artists for interviewing and guest mixes. If you are in need of a jackin high-energy hour-long mix for car rides, workouts, or pre-games, then this is the radio show for you.
In September, you announced that it had been one year since you decided to quit drinking, which I applaud. But, obviously, DJ culture and party culture go hand in hand. How are you able to resist temptations? What advice would you give someone who just decided to quit?
I’m glad you asked this question, I honestly shy away from posting about it too much, but I’m always open about speaking on it because I know it could possibly help others.
Personally, THIS was the life-changing decision I alluded to in an earlier question. The temptation is always there, but I’ve learned to be at peace with it and not let it even phase me. This didn’t happen overnight, though. It was a one-day at a time process. I have a strong support system and true friends that have made me realize that I never needed it to be who I truly am. The music gives me that high now. I also view it as a transfer of addiction from partying to my music career. There’s a direct correlation between the amount of time I’ve been sober and the time I’ve been producing. I’ll be honest I have had a couple of small setbacks in the past 1.5 years sober, but that just means I’m human. I’ve learned and grown from a couple of times, and each time I come out more focused and locked in than ever before. It’ll always be a battle for me all my life, but it’s a battle I’m not willing to lose.
For anyone out there thinking about quitting, DO IT. The pros immensely outweigh the cons (if any cons at all). Here’s some of my best tips:
-Do it for yourself and no one else
-Take it one day at a time. Literally, say “I will not_______ today” and watch the days add up.
-Tell those around you and make it well known what your goals are. Communication is so huge!
-When you’re out, always have something in your hand. This will eliminate people from asking you to take a shot or have a drink.
-Just know you never needed alcohol to be the beautiful, fun-loving spirit you already are.
It seems you have such an optimistic outlook on life. You are always enjoying the moment and having fun. Is this something you try to incorporate into your music?
Three words, baby, “WE HAVE FUN”! It’s my slogan. I’ve used it for years, and it’s definitely the type of music I want to make and music go-er I want to attract. It embodies the energy I bring to my original music, remixes, and DJ sets. People are attracted to good energy, and I just try and put that out there at all costs. I currently have my own night centered around this idea. We Have Fun Fridays at Clutch Chicago! Come by and say hi if you’re in town 🙂
Take us behind the scenes. How do you prepare for a set, and do you have a pre-show ritual?
Oftentimes I try not to over-prepare because I’ve learned I get too caught up in being perfect, and it throws off my energy. Usually, before a set, I always think about the room or venue and the audience that is going to be there or the artist I’m directly supporting. The time of day is also a big factor for me as far as what music I’m lining up for the night. I’ll create crates of music that I definitely want to play, but it is always open season once it’s go time. Never really had a pre-show ritual before covid, now I usually call or text my mom or dad, letting them know I’m here, sober, and ready to rock this mf.
With live music coming back, what’s this summer looking like in Chicago?
It’s looking promising! Clubs and bars are slowly opening up and releasing restrictions. I saw some festival lineups posted so good as it can be, I guess. I’m honestly not gonna be here for a large part of it. I was able to damn near manifest my own unofficial tour at several cities around the US, starting with Nashville June 4th. So I’m very excited about that!
Last but not least, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
On top of the DJ booth on the Perry’s stage at Lollapalooza. With a Stone Cold hat on, waving the Chicago flag as my dad drops one of my bangers in front of 10 thousand hardcore members.
It is no secret that EDM was hit the hardest when Bonnaroo announced the 2021 official lineup. While about 60 percent of the original 2020 lineup stayed intact, some notable acts were removed without replacement, especially in the electronic realm. We lost Ganja White Night, Flume, Bassnectar (for numerous reasons), Rezz, Bonnie X Clyde, and tones and I. However, aside from not one headlining act, the electronic undercard runs deep. It may not look like it at first glance, but the more you go through the lineup, the more EDM heavy hitters you will find.
To be clear there are many reasons why EDM may not seem as strong as it did in previous years. As we all know, Covid hit live music especially hard. It’s not that Bonnaroo’s EDM scene is fizzing out but that it is just a strange year overall for the festival circuit. September is flooded with festivals trying to make a comeback, and each fest is fighting for a spot for each artist. On Labor Day Weekend alone, there are five major festivals, including Bonnaroo taking Place. Being that 4 of them are exclusively curated for EDM makes it even harder for Bonnaroo to book all the artists they would have wanted.
The good news for EDM and Bonnaroo fans is that despite everything, Bonnaroo was still able to book 35 electronic artists with a wide range of styles that know how to throw the fuck down. Bonnaroo’s EDM stage, The Other, has also been revamped with better production and lights for the best possible experience. Also, for the first time in Bonnaroo’s history, The Other will be going all night long, so look for secret sets and surprise b2bs. Mix that in with the Where in the Woods stage, and you have a ravers paradise!
Scroll through for your complete EDM guide to Bonnaroo!
Genre – Future Bass, Melodic Dubstep
If you love Illenium you will love Dabin, and not just because he’s the guitarist in Illenium’s Awake band. Dabin has been making a name for himself in the electronic scene with his electrifying live show, and euphoric melodic dubstep. Definitely a must-see act on Thursday night!
The Funk Hunters
Genre- Electronic, Dubstep, Soul, Disco, Funk
If a jam band went electronic The Funk Hunters would most definitely be it. Members Nick Middleton and Duncan Smith mix everything from dubstep to soul, and rock n roll creating a one of a kind future funk sound!
Genre- Dubstep, Bass, Hip-hop
To be Frank, He$h throws the fuck down. With a perfect mixture of southern hip-hop and heavy wubs, He$h is someone you headbangers won’t want to miss!
Genre – Dubstep, Bass, Hip-Hop
As one of rap star Pouya’s favorite producers Spock is another hard-hitting dubstep DJ with a hip-hop heavy sound. Expect his set to be dirty, grungy, and full of energy!
Genre- Experimental Bass
One of Wakaan’s brightest prodigies, Mize has been pushing the boundaries of bass music with his hypnotizing tripped-out sound. Be prepared for a spiritual experience once Mize takes the stage!
Genre- Melodic Bass, Future Bass, Trap
Taska Black is quickly rising to dance music stardom with his top-notch production and genre-defying sound. Expect his set to be full of warm melodies and festival anthems.
Zía has been making noise in the bass scene catching the attention of labels like Bassrush, Deadbeats, and Gravedance. Inspired by her love of metal and dubstep the Philly producer will have one of the heaviest high energy sets on Thursday!
Genre- Ambient, Trip-hop, Downtempo
Even if you are not a huge EDM fan don’t sleep on Tipper! Recognized for his visuals almost as much as his music, Tipper will take you on a spiritual journey!
Genre- Electronic, Indie-pop
Bringing back 80s nostalgia with a modern-day EDM twist, Big Wild knows how to throw a party. Don’t be surprised if he throws down one of the most fun sets at Bonnaroo!
Genre- House, Trap
Things will get weird in a good way once Troyboi hits The Other! Expect dirty trap mixed with bouncy electro-house beats!
Genre- Dubstep, Bass
If there is going to be any moshing at The Other it’s going to be during SVDDEN DEATH’s set! If you love heavy wubs and metal inspired dubstep don’t miss his epic bass-heavy show!
Genre-Dubstep, Melodic Bass
Bringing those intergalactic vibes to Bonnaroo, Lucii will bring you on a wild ride through outer space with trippy bass and other worldly wubs!
Since her emergence into the dance scene in 2018 Lp Giobbi has been quickly rising to become EDM’s next big star. Known for her feel-good house and deep bass her set is sure to light the dance floor on fire!
Genre- Bass, Dubstep, Trap
Not much is known about the masked extraterrestrial duo except for the fact that they go hard with filthy wubs and earthshaking bass!
Genre- House, Bass house
Already Bonnaroo Famous, Mija broke into the electronic scene with a surprise 6 a.m b2b with Skrillex at Bonnaroo in 2014. This time she’s back to throw down on The Other as one of EDM’s most electrifying house DJs!
Genre- Experimental Bass, Dubstep
A heavier version of Tipper, Detox Unit will not only stimulate your senses but will have you getting down to filthy bass!
Genre- Experimental Bass, Glitch Hop
Another unknown Artist, Tripp St is rumored to be the alias of a big-time DJ/Producer, possibly even Liquid Stranger. Mysteriously coming out of nowhere Tripp St. has been taking the electronic scene by storm. Definitely, a must-see act at Bonnaroo if you love trippy experimental bass!
Genre- Experimental Bass, Dubstep
NotLö will take you on a sonic adventure with her dark, low- end bass and celestial sound!
One of the most versatile artists in all of EDM, Seven Lions will have you headbanging, crying, singing, and falling in love all in one set!
Genre- Electronic, Synth Pop
Not necessarily classified as EDM but Sylvan Esso is definitely heavily influenced by electronic soundscapes. The fact that they are playing the super jam makes their set even more of a must-see!
Genre- Riddim, Dubstep, Bass
Subtronics will surely turn Bonnaroo into a frenzy with his hard-hitting face-melting dubstep and riddim! One of the hardest working producers in bass music this is a set you won’t want to miss. Just be cautious while head banging, you don’t want to break your neck!
Inspired by Korean indie rock, 90s hip-hop, and electronica, Yaeji has created a form of house music that is simply out of this world! With mellow vocals switching back and forth from English to Korean, and lo-fi house beats Yaeji’s set will be a party like no other!
Genre- Future bass, Future House, Trap
Playing everything from aggressive bangers to beautiful downtempo anthems Ekali’s set will have you lost in your feels while getting down at the same time!
Genre- Dubstep, Future Bass
If you combined Excision with Illenium you would get Wooli! The perfect balance of heavy dubstep with euphoric future bass!
Genre- House, Bass House
Whatever you do not sleep on Dr. Fresch! If anyone is coming with the heat and the weed it’s going to be this Canadian house legend who will absolutely set the dance floor ablaze!
Genre- Future Bass
Don’t be alarmed if you shed a tear during his emotionally heavy performance! With a knack for uplifting melodies and emotional soundscapes, William Black will having you hugging your friends and maybe even strangers mid-set!
Genre- Riddim, Dubstep
Don’t let her small size fool you! Level Up has a massive presence on stage and will rattle the earth below The Other with some of the hardest bass-driven dubstep there is!
A Bonnaroo favorite, DJ Mel always finds his way onto the Bonnaroo lineup! Also, as an electronic music vet DJ Mel’s sets are always a good ass time!
Genre- House, Bass House
Known for his high-energy, heavy-hitting house, Lick has gained support from the likes of Jauz, and Zeds Dead. Be prepared to jump and move your body once Lick takes the stage!
Genre- Progressive House, Electro House
A true EDM legend Deadma5 will be rocking Bonnaroo for the first time since 2015! Definitely a set you don’t want to miss!
Genre- Trap, Dubstep, Future Bass
Boombox Cartel just has a way of perfectly blending hip-hop elements with his bass-driven electronic sound! His sets are high energy, heavy, and uniquely creative! Another must-see Sunday act!
Genre- Experimental Bass, Dubstep
Known for his wobbly dubstep Peekaboo thrives at mixing funky grooves with heavy wubs!
Genre- Dubstep, Experimental Bass
There is a high probability you will leave LSDream’s set with a new outlook on life! He will surely to take you on an extraterrestrial journey through the void but,we won’t say much more about his show! It’s better you wittness the greatness first hand. Without a doubt a must see act!
Genre- Experimental Bass, Dubstep
Another Wakaan prodigy Luzcid will rattle your soul with heavy bass and spiritual soundscapes!
Genre- House, Electro
Performing a live show rather than a DJ set Elderbrook plays the keyboard, sings, and mixes as his feel-good demeanor will have you movin’ and groovin’!
Flynn Collins who’s known by his stage name Flynninho is one of the biggest names in house music coming out of Chicago. The 25-year-old DJ and producer has been on fire lately dropping huge releases and booking a performance at North Coast Festival where he’ll play alongside some of the biggest names in dance music. With roots embedded in genres like g- house and bass house mixed in with his love of old school punk, rock, and grunge, Flynninho’s high energy, in-your-face style is unparalleled.
A true modern-day Rockstar, Flynninho is quickly becoming a household name in electronic music and is set to have a breakout year in 2021. The Daily Frequency sat down with him to discuss his new Evanescence remix, the music industry, and a whole lot more!
Check out the full interview below!
First of all congratulations on booking North Coast! It’s such an insane lineup how does it feel to have the opportunity to play alongside such big names?
Thank you so much for the congratulations and for having me on to be interviewed! It really is mind-bending for me to think about this year’s North Coast. Being part of this year’s lineup in the first festival back from COVID, alongside so many of Chicago’s best artists and massive tour artists who have inspired me in my music and my pursuit of my dreams is honestly super humbling. A lot of these artists, such as Wax Motif and NGHTMRE, I have seen live at shows and festivals- now we are playing the same festival together! I am still kind of processing it all but what I can say is this- it definitely is a moment that kind of leaves me both speechless but also validates my dreams and all the work I have been putting in to make sure that my vision becomes a reality. I think when the moment comes to finally play though, I know I will just enjoy the moment, all that it is, and rock out with everyone there who comes to our set! The coolest part of it is the amount of people (friends, family, artists) that have reached out to me since the lineup drop telling me that they bought tickets just to see me!
So how did you get into producing? Do you come from a musical family or is it something that you gravitated towards on your own?
My story is unique in the sense that I actually planned on playing and being around soccer forever- I played at the highest level, thought I would maybe start a soccer agency after my career had ended! I grew up with music around me every day! My dad was a rockstar doing alternative and rock during the 90s and my mom was super into house music. While being brought up around music, I had never planned on walking into music production, DJing, and performing. I did choir, grew up singing, having rap battles with my little brother (who is actually a fantastic rapper and lyrical poet) but I never planned on pursuing it fully or making a career out of it. It was only when I hit college and went to my first music festival, Spring Awakening 2015, where I really started to fall in love with EDM and would be thinking to myself ‘Mannnn, I would absolutely crush it if I was up there and knew how to do all of it!’ I would be blasting dubstep, house, trap, or future bass every day during soccer workouts, but it was only really after soccer was starting to look like it was coming near an end that I ended up running into Nick Mazzei (NIICK NIICE) and Kyle Garcia who I had seen crush a festival set in Iowa as WITNESS the year before. I ended up chatting them up, fangirling about how good their set was, and eventually, they invited me out to their events they were starting as Be Nice Collective. I came out, joining Be Nice Collective as the intern, and became tight with the other artists who also were part of it. AYOO (another bass house duo who is on North Coast’s lineup), DJ Pharaoh, and NIICK NIICE pushed me to start DJing and make music at the end of 2017- fast forward to now in 2021 and I am full throttle into what I’m going to be doing the rest of my life! Ironically, I recently found an old homework assignment from when I was five where I had written that I was ‘going to be a rockstar and in the NFL’ so shout out to five-year-old me for predicting that I was born to have careers in football (the one where you actually use your feet though) and in music!
Transitioning from pro soccer to DJing is definitely out of the ordinary! Is there anything that you’ve taken from your days on the field that you can apply to your music career?
I feel like I’ve lived a few lives in this lifetime already at 25, so I am grateful that I have been able to experience so many different things so early on. The mentality between soccer and music is strikingly similar- without my soccer career, I don’t know if I would be as successful in my approach to music as I have been. Taking lessons and mindsets like pushing through your mental barriers to make the impossible happen, never giving up even when you feel your body will, and pushing through adversity are all things that have done wonders in preparing me for what my music career has and will entail. Making it at the highest level requires discipline in either art form. This may mean you are not going to that party you get invited to so you can sleep, you can’t hang out with people all the time because you need to invest it in working on your craft, or that you are going to miss holidays with family so you can grind with your passion. The main idea with all of those in soccer and in music is crucial- you have to be able to get it done, sacrifice when you need to while also not sacrificing parts of yourself essential to you. It isn’t a super sexy answer, but the time will never be right to go for something like your dreams- if you aren’t willing to find a way to succeed when it isn’t exactly the way you picture it in your head, how will you respond?
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
In terms of overall music tastes, I would say that I listened to almost everything growing up- everything from the Backstreet Boys and Ludacris to Motley Crue and Sum41. I remember in a single day I would bump music like Blink182 and Fall Out Boy and follow it up with Mac Miller and Freddie Gibbs and it would all hit- I guess you can say I was already curating the style I DJ like! I’ve always connected with the rock and roll, grunge, and pop-punk music that I grew up with harder than anything else. I remember watching the movie Dirt on Netflix and thinking to myself ‘That’s literally every vibe that makes sense to me!’ With all that being said, nothing has ever hit as hard as EDM- particularly dubstep and bass house. The earlier music I put out has clear undertones of Malaa, Joyryde, and Jauz while more recently artists like Saint Punk, Julian Jordan, and Seth Hills have been really influencing my house sound and been doing some amazing things. However, this year I have been returning to my roots and using everything from Evanescence and Motley Crue that I grew up on to Kayzo and Pixel Terror as inspiration.
You just underwent a complete rebrand. What is the thought process behind your new vision and what’s the end goal?
This has been in the making for two years, so I am glad the shift has finally started! I am a person who prides on being true to myself and pushing others to do the same- for better or worse, I have always grown up marching to my own beat and really have refused to be anything but me. The thinking behind the rebrand wasn’t as much of a rebrand as much as it was getting my music’s sound and my brand’s image to be as close to reflect who I am on the daily while also accurately portraying past events I have experienced. I think that a lot of people feel like they have to live this perfect life because of social media and it is almost like a competition as to who can have the best life ever. It would drive me crazy because when I would see this, I would reflect back and see that every moment of my life hasn’t been beautiful- there are plenty of negative moments to match the positive ones and both have their places in my life. I have seen so many artists crumble early on because of this pressure to be releasing the best tracks of their life while also playing the biggest gigs of their careers out of the gate- the reality is that you have to start somewhere and it is not all rainbows and amazing times with amazing people. So, since there are a lot of tough moments that test you and help you grow, ultimately I am just being as vulnerable as I can be about the good and the bad that actually goes on so that way the next generation of artists do not have to feel the same anxieties I have. The whole point is to be happy and fulfilled by pursuing your dreams- this is for me another step in the right direction to ultimately better myself and those around me.
You’ve been open about manifestation and actualization. How important is it to visualize your goals?
Manifesting and actualizing is something that was instilled into me by coaches, sports performance experts, and psychologists during my soccer career that has never left my way to go at my life and dreams. The human mind is really an incredible and terrifying thing- it has the ability to do anything and push us through anything we need it to while also being able to tear you apart. The biggest question you have to ask yourself is this; If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, why would anyone else? The biggest thing I tell myself and others who want to be successful has always been this ability to manifest and actualize things into a reality. Believing in something that isn’t there yet is a very hard thing for many to perceive, yet I have found if you believe in it that badly, constantly put it out there that it will happen and work hard to match that belief via tangible goals, you will always be building towards your vision and end up exactly where you need to be!
You portray yourself as a modern-day Rockstar. Do you feel like that old-school rockstar mindset is something that is missing in music nowadays?
Abso-f**king-lutely (pardon my french). I really don’t know when it happened in music that was on the radio, but within the last two years in EDM especially, a lot of music lost this feeling that was so synonymous with the tracks that artists like CRANKDAT, NGHTMRE, Tchami, and Jauz were putting out. I remember when Jauz dropped ‘Feel The Volume’ and how insane the feeling was of hearing it played out versus some of the music that has been being released today. I don’t want to say it is because so many people want to be artists and DJs- I think music being open to everyone and more accessible/affordable to people who couldn’t afford to make music is genuinely beautiful. I think it more so has to do with artists being afraid to do something different if it means less streams, less followers, and it doesn’t follow a trend like the current slap house/deep house remix of an old song trend that has been going on for almost the entirety of quarantine. For myself, the rockstar mentality to make and release what you want while not really focusing on making music everyone will like or being something everyone will like is something that is lost. Saint Punk actually put up a post on Instagram recently that said “Been doing it my way from the beginning and this year is no different.” That is my exact way of thinking, a rockstar mentality that is raw and real that is focused on being true to themselves and being uncompromising in that. When you think like that, the music you make as an extension of you will connect with who it’s supposed to, and I think that in itself is the most beautiful thing.
It’s common today to see a lot of remixes of the same songs which in turn becomes repetitive. You on the other hand go outside the box with the songs you choose to remix. What attracts you to remix something like Kickstart My Heart by Mötley Crüe?
I always say to myself that if I hear a remix of a song that I am thinking of remixing myself that I love already, why would I make another one? An example is the song SICKO MODE. We all know the Skrillex remix of it which is banging, but I thought I could do something different. I go searching for other remixes of the song and stumble upon the remix Guy Arthur did of SICKO MODEit’s probably one of the top five sickest tracks I have ever heard in my life, so creative, and it is a track I have played out regularly. At that point, there is no point to do a remix of something I have already found that I really, really connected with. Deciding on and remixing a track for me goes through a checklist: 1) I really like the original track and it resonated with me. 2) I can honor the original track’s identity and feeling while also bringing a new identity that elicits both the feeling you get when hearing that original and brings new feelings to hearing the remix. 3) There aren’t 1000 remixes of it already and there isn’t a remix I would play out already. Those that are now out that I have done, specifically my KCKSTRT MY HRT and BRING ME TO LIFE remixes, I feel check all of those boxes and are both songs that really hit with me growing up. I am super thrilled with how both turned out and honestly I am happy to give both those tracks a second life to remember the feelings that came with hearing those but in a brand new way. Old-school feeling with a new school take on it if you will!
On your Sherm In The Booth episode, you talk about not settling into producing a genre that comes easy to you. How important is it to push your boundaries creatively and work outside your comfort zone?
Since I grew up with so many different musical tastes and DJ so many different types of places in Chicago, while I do maintain my own identity and sense of self, one of the biggest things to me has been to not be open to different types of music, people, and places that I or others may not think that I match up with. In the club circuit, during my sets, I am dropping BadBunny, Drake, and Calvin Harris all in one set- all have connected with me in some way so finding ways to make it all fit together is the fun part! I am super energy, wild, and someone who loves to have fun, while at the same time I am also intense, deep, and can feel the weight of the world and those around me. I would like to think everyone has different layers to them, so music shouldn’t be any different. Most of my music for the most part gives you that intensity, wild, fast, and dark in different forms genre-wise. Sometimes I want to be on my sad-boy vibes and make something that is just emotional and vibey, while other tracks are straight aggression and wild. Both are parts of me, so I want to be able to bring both and have a space to convey every part of me!
I love your style. It is aggressive, in your face, and full of energy. You really developed a sound of your own. When did you feel like you finally found your lane?
I feel like you have just nailed it on the head better than anyone else!!! Honestly, the first track that really nailed what I was trying to do was when MURDEROUS dropped on SWUTCH. It was the first time I was able to bring all the elements together of what my sound’s foundation. I think like a person grows and evolves, an artist’s sound should do the same. I remember when I started, I definitely leaned into the plucky, early Malaa/Matroda basslines and jackin’ house percussion with a dark, yet fast pace to back it up. A lot of this year’s songs that set to drop this year feature repeating bass shots found in STMPD style future/bass house, maintaining the same intensity and aggressive darkness in the drops while also channeling more emotion into my breakdowns. I am super excited for it all to come out!
You just released a massive Evanescence remix of Bring Me to Life with your mentor Got Lucky. As a young artist how important is it to learn from someone like that and how does it feel to release a track together?
Alex has been a game-changer for me, mentoring and believing in me the same way I do while also giving feedback and new ideas that I normally wouldn’t normally think about. Learning from him, having him as a resource to lean on, looking up to him, and gaining a best friend in the process is the best possible outcome I could’ve ever imagined and I really am so grateful for him taking the time to be a huge part in developing as an artist. Having someone who you can relate to, connect with both as a person and an artist, is so important because there are times where being an artist can feel isolating, lonely, frustrating, and almost aimless when you aren’t seeing the immediate results of it. Having him there to push me to keep going, to keep growing, and to use as a sounding board makes it a lot easier to stick it out and to go for it all. You can imagine that being able to be working and collaborating with him is pretty rewarding for me- the fact that we could create something so amazing together with him is super humbling and only validates all the work we have both been putting in! He’s an idol of mine, his music is awesome, and it’s amazing that our friendship has translated to a moment like this.
The pandemic flipped everyone’s life upside down. How hard was it to cope with such an abrupt lifestyle change and how were you able to push yourself through?
Honestly, it was one of the hardest things to ever go through. Seeing everything just be paused after grinding for my dreams and performing every day resulted in a huge emotional, mental, and psychological shift that demanded me to adjust quickly. There have been moments of darkness that no one anticipated having to cope with while true moments of beauty have also came about that have to be appreciated, even more than any of us ever have. Personally, I was right on the cusp of having some massive things- things that would have opened up some massive doors- that unfortunately had to be canceled. I’ve lost loved ones during this time that I wish were still here and financially and emotionally struggled heavily over quarantine, but I think knowing that I wasn’t the only one in this boat made me want to keep releasing, keep creating and not just let everything I worked for pause too. The impact of my own work ethic not stopping, instead evolving, to work within the current times I hope pushed people to do the same. My best friends, my family, my peers truly held it down for me, and together we were able to be there for each other and foster a community of artists and DJs that normally wouldn’t get to connect- being part of that was a key motivator to know that I had to keep going too!
You have an intense work ethic. You were playing 7 shows a week before covid, can fans expect more of the same once everything fully opens up?
Oh hellllll yeah! I loved playing every single night- I fully expect to be doing the same once the current times allow it. I am working on some things to ensure that I get to bounce around a bit more and play all over, so we will see what the future holds!
From the outside looking in the music industry is full of glitz and glam but the reality is it can be a cutthroat business. What advice would you give a new DJ just starting out?
The reality is that while it can be glamorous, rewarding and a giant party, it also is just as ruthless in the sense that you can be the next biggest thing one moment, and then you can be cast aside if you aren’t constantly working to improve at the top. It’s hard to give advice because everyone’s situation is different, but one thing that I think translates across all walks of life is this notion of holding yourself fully accountable for everything that happens and that everything that you do. You can only do that once you take the time to fully understand what you are and what you are not. It is really easy to point fingers at everyone else as to why something didn’t happen or why something went wrong for you. What starts to happen is you stop blaming everyone else for the bad, you focus in on what you can and what you can’t control, and your dreams are then fully in your hands to make it happen. You will be in control of your destiny, less angry at other people, and more in-tune with yourself. It improves your appreciation when others do a solid for you, lessens your resentment towards others, and gives you a perspective of exactly where you stand. You owe it to dreams and yourself, to be honest with the work you put in and where you are so, only furthering you in your pursuits to grow.
Lastly, when it’s all said and done what would you want your legacy to be?
I live by this: At the end of the day, I want to be a great person first, and a great artist second. Music is my platform to really connect, motivate, and inspire others towards acceptance and love of everyone, myself included. I express myself as hard, true, and vulnerable as I do so others feel like they can do the same. Even when performing, the show isn’t me- it is everyone who is there- light guys, dancers, security, and the crowd- we all make the show happen together. The only thing I am doing is acting as a conductor to curate the moments we all get to experience together. It doesn’t matter what your race is, your sexuality is, or what your upbringing is- you can do whatever you want in this world if you’re willing to grind for it and believe in it. There is a place for everyone here. I strive to be much more than just an artist at the end of the day. I want to make the world and those feel what I feel every time I am performing- love, freedom, and alive. I want them to remember why life is so worth getting through the lows we all face so we can feel these highs life has to offer. Music saved my life, and all I want to do is give that love, gratitude, and opportunity back to everyone around me. My music is the physical result of that. If I only inspire one person to not give up, to love instead of hate, to fight for their dreams whatever they may be, and to know that it’s okay to be whoever you are, then I have done my part. I want to look back and know that I made my mark using my platform to the best of my abilities, made those around me the best they could be, stayed open and honest no matter what it may have been, learned from my mistakes, and loved as hard as I could. When you bring that to every show, every time you perform, you’ll end up where you need to be. (:
Who would have thought that we’d be forced to go this long without music festivals? It’s now been well over a year since the last fest has gone down in the United States and if you are anything like us you’re getting antsy. I mean a whole year without raging with the crew, dancing like tripped-out hippies, and singing in a crowd like no one’s watching? It’s a miracle we even made it this long! But, luckily things are slowly but surely getting back to normal. Music venues are reopening. Artists are announcing tours. Festivals are revealing lineups and releasing tickets. A full-blown festival season is growing more and more likely every day. As long as it keeps getting better the end of 2021 will be a movie! In the meantime, we can’t help but reminisce about all of the things we miss the most about music festivals!
1. Seeing Your Favorite Artists
Although obvious, there’s nothing quite like that feeling of seeing your favorite artist with your best friends in a crowd full of people. What’s even better is seeing a bunch of your favorite artists on the same weekend or even the same day! One of the many reasons why festivals will always be superior to concerts!
2. Dressing Outlandishly
Of course, you can rock some face paint, a pashmina, a trippy mask, or a Halloween costume into the supermarket but odds are you’ll turn some heads. At a music festival, there is no judgment and you’ll even catch quite a few high fives!
3. Making New Friends
There aren’t too many places you can think of that are as happy as music festivals. You’ll find yourself connecting with people you’ve never met like they’ve been your best friend for years!
4. Campsite Drinking Games
Whether your game is beer pong, slap cup, or flip cup it goes down in the campgrounds! Mix in some good music, good friends, good booze and you got the perfect pre-game!
5. Trading With Strangers
From trading Kandi in the crowd to exchanging gifts at spots like Electric Forrest’s Trading Post, people tend to be more giving at music festivals. Odds are you’ll head home with a souvenir that’ll remind you of all the craziness that went down that weekend!
6. Laying in the Grass
One of the best feelings at a music festival is laying down in the grass to catch a chill show especially when you’re tired or a little too spun.
7. Getting Lost
Getting lost in the real world is terrifying but getting lost and exploring on your own at a festival is a raver’s right to passage.
8. Surprise Sets
Yeah, the lineup is everything but when you stumble upon a legendary set that wasn’t supposed to happen things get wonky in a good way. No pun intended!
9. Discovering New Artists
One of the best parts about seeing so many artists at a music festival is watching someone you’ve never heard of absolutely crushing it on stage! Sometimes the best performances are the ones you least expect!
10. Dancing All Night
Everyone knows that once the sun goes down the energy goes up. Things tend to fall a little more on the wild side at night and it’s the perfect time to get your freak on and dance like your life depended on it!
John Williams, who goes by the name JWILLI is a rising DJ and producer coming out of Chicago who can’t be boxed into one specific genre. Finding inspiration from a multitude of avenues the 26-year-old producer takes pride in the versatility of his sound and it shows. From massive remixes to original songs JWILLI creates everything from emotional melodic bass to hard-hitting dubstep and is quickly becoming one of EDM’S most promising new artists.
The Daily Frequency had the chance to sit down with JWILLI and discuss his official remix with Abel Grey, his inspirations, and more!
Check out the full interview below!
When did you decide music was something you wanted to pursue? Was this a lane you always envisioned yourself going through?
I think I’ve known most of my life that I would do something with music. I’ve been writing songs since I was a little kid when I wanted to be a rock star, I wanted to be the next Fall Out Boy or ADTR. I started learning guitar early on and picked up trumpet with the school band around the same time. And once I started that classical training I was dead set on becoming a music teacher or professor. That’s actually what I was studying when I first started college, music education. Up until that point, I was learning more and more traditional instruments, I never at all thought that I would be pursuing electronic music. But once I was exposed to it, it became obvious to me that I wanted to chase it. I started to DJ at bars and private events throughout college, and once I learned more about production and developed my skills a bit, I decided I was going to really dedicate myself and my life to music.
What’s your creative process when in the studio? Do you have any routines to get you in that creative state or do you just go with the flow and find inspiration as it comes?
It varies a lot, and for a long time, I would just kinda wait for that inspiration to strike, to get into the creative flow. That could be frequent or scarce, and the inspiration could be totally random and abstract, or very defined. But that’s changed, and still changes a lot from project to project. I don’t think being totally at the whim of that creativity showing up is the most efficient thing for an artist that wants to be consistent.
For me, I’ve learned that that creative spark isn’t something I can force but it is something I can facilitate and encourage. Lately, when I want to start something new, I’ve found a working process. I like to start in the morning before I’ve gotten on my phone or listened to anything or spoken to anyone. I’ll open up Ableton, grab water or tea and an edible, and sit down for a couple hours and just go bananas in the DAW. Usually, I start by just jamming on guitar or piano, or digging for some crazy sample, and build on that. More often than not I’ll come out with a working sketch, or sometimes an entire tune. I think for me it works because my ears and mind are totally fresh, and I haven’t really been influenced by anything I’ve heard or done yet that day. It’s just me and that raw creativity in my own little world.
Chicago is widely known as the birthplace of house music. Do you believe your home city has had an impact on your musical taste and direction?
Absolutely, at first, it was a subtle influence but now it’s very pronounced. I grew up in the cornfields a couple of hours south of Chicago, so house wasn’t something I heard much of growing up. But when I first got to college, a lot of students were from the city/the burbs and brought house music with them. I think it’s one of the reasons I started with house when I first taught myself to DJ, it was salient and accessible. And later when I took a college class on Ableton, we were taught the history of electronic production, and even though house wasn’t the genre I really wanted to create at the time, its history and influence on electronic music as a whole was inspiring and undeniable. Fast forward, I’ve now been living in Chicago for almost 3 years and the vast majority of my peers are primarily house producers and DJs. A lot of them have become good friends of mine, some are even mentors to me which I’m extremely grateful for. Those relationships have opened me up to a whole new world of house music – the 4 am sets at Happy’s are vastly different than what makes it to the radio, and knowing the personalities that create house music has given me a better understanding of the genre. I think that’s where the culture comes in too. It’s influenced me to the point where I’ve actually been writing a lot of house music the past couple of months.
Which artists would you say are your biggest inspiration for your sound?
This question always gets me haha. There are seriously so many artists big and small I look to for inspiration. I’d say my top 3 have stayed pretty consistent: Seven Lions, Illenium, and NGHTMRE. I found all of them very early into my discovery of electronic music, but along the way, I’ve been heavily influenced by tons of others. Nurko, Modern Machines, MitiS, Dezza, MK, Au5, Blanke. I also find tons of inspiration from non-EDM artists and try to incorporate some of those elements into my sound.
What genres aside from electronic music do you gravitate towards the most?
I know it’s a bit cliche, but honestly, there isn’t much music I don’t like haha, my Spotify library is a hot mess. I’ve been a lifelong fan of rock, especially punk-pop, metal, and post-hardcore. The vocal melodies, guitar riffs, drums, lyrics, the emotion infused into the music, it’s just so engaging. To name one band, Dance Gavin Dance has this incredible versatility to their sound that I just find deeply inspirational. And I think it’s interesting how a lot of those characteristics translate into electronic music, both literally with the music (try telling me a metal breakdown doesn’t sound similar to dubstep) and culturally (I see lots of people who loved metal in the 2000’s/2010’s coming over to bass music). I also love modern rap, especially melodic sad boi rap with its adoption of 2000’s emo/punk-pop elements. I’d really like to see that specific genre hybrid with electronic music more.
Do you have any inspirations outside of the realm of music?
I find inspiration in as many non-music things in my life as possible. I think it helps bring a more original flavor to my sound than my musical influences because it eliminates the worry of unconsciously copying another style. Being in nature is a big one, it helps me feel grounded and opens up my perspective. Another big one would be my life experiences, relationships and friendships. Just love in general I suppose is one of my biggest inspirations. There’s just such a wealth of emotion to dig into and translate there. Doing that in an honest way, I think, opens up one of the core reasons a lot of people listen to music; to experience and process strong emotions, to feel understood and validated in whatever is going on in their own lives that the music helps them relate too, positive or negative. And sometimes it’s not that deep, like you just want to party or chill out which is great too, but sometimes it’s deep too. Some of my other inspirations are really all over the place – anime, the MCU, living in downtown Chicago, certain video games (read: Bloodborne), space, the human experience. My music peers here in Chicago are also a massive inspiration. I’m always finding new things to inspire me as well. Sometimes it’s as minor as a weird sound that a bottle makes or a random sample I hear in a show or something.
You release a lot of remixes, is there any song, in particular, that was your favorite to work on?
Probably Drunk Me. I had taken about a year where I didn’t produce much of anything; between graduating college, moving to a new city, starting a big boy job, DJing clubs in Chicago and some other life events it just kind of fell to the side. When I started working on it, my life was in a very weird place and I was lacking direction as a person in the aftermath of a toxic relationship and leaving a toxic job. I was spending a lot of time doing things on my own, doing some soul searching, and trying to rebuild myself and my life. R3HAB’s remix came up when I was taking a train back to my hometown and reminded me of the original that I’d heard years earlier and forgotten about. I put on the OG and it just hit home in some really strong ways; the lyrics felt all too similar to what I was experiencing in my personal life, the original was country music which had a nostalgia factor from growing up with it, and Mitchell Tenpenny’s voice and the melody just struck me as beautiful. I started on the remix as soon as the song ended, and did most of the work either on train rides to and from the city, or while back at home where my sister would help me work out the kinks in the tune. It was a very personal process rediscovering my passion for writing music, making this hybrid of the music I’d grown up with vs the music I currently loved, while I was simultaneously trying to figure myself out between the kid I’d grown up as and the person I was becoming. It helped me redevelop my love of and confidence in creating music and artistic expression. I felt like I was unloading a lot of my own emotion into the song just through the process of making it. I was terrified to release it because it was so personal, but when I finally did I got one of the best responses I’ve ever had to my work, and it’s still my most streamed song today.
Going through your catalog it is obvious you have the ability to switch up your style yet still stay genuine to your sound. Is versatility something you really try to focus on?
First of all, thank you, that is a massive compliment to me haha. It’s absolutely something I aim for. A major goal of mine is to be authentic as an artist, and to me, that means chasing all the creative ideas that just pop up in my head. And with such a variety of inspirations, that often means chasing ideas all over the place and in weird directions. It’s satisfying to me as a creative, it encourages that little creative voice in my head to be louder/more confident, and it makes the work feel honest. However, it does often pose a challenge to keep so many different styles and genres cohesive to what I want my artist brand to be. But some of my favorite artists manage to do it really well – Seven Lions and Nitti Gritti immediately come to mind as artists that have managed to fuse tons of genres into their defined sounds and brands. I want to develop a recognizable signature sound, but also want to just kinda make whatever, like a punk-pop EP or a bunch of dubstep plates or something, who knows. It can be difficult figuring out where to draw the line but the endless variety is also my favorite thing about art and creativity.
You have quite a few shows under your belt, especially for a new producer. How did it feel to play with huge artists such as Two Friends and R3hab?
Those were some incredible experiences that taught me a lot very quickly. The R3HAB show was first, and was my first real show outside of a bar/club or private event. At that point, I had been a DJ for a few years and was confident in my ability to perform, but I was still a new producer without much of my own music to share beyond edits. That show helped give me some context about what it was like being on the other side of the stage, and showed me the difference between the DJing world and the producer/DJ world.
The show with Two Friends was probably my favorite show I’ve played to date. It was a year after the R3HAB show in the same venue so it was the perfect benchmark to look back and see how much I had grown; I’m happy to say I grew a lot in that time with my sound, brand, and skill set. The show itself was amazing too – we were within 10 tickets of selling out, had massive production that apparently the crew brought off of Zedd’s recent tour, raised a ton of money for charity, and Two Friends threw down a killer set. I had been a fan of theirs throughout college and had already seen them on tour once, so it was insanely cool getting to open for them. Hanging with them before and after the show was a blast, it was 50% goofing around and drinking tequila and 50% of them dishing out veteran wisdom and answering all of our (the opening artists’) questions about their career and just the professional music world in general. They’re busy guys and absolutely did not have to do that but it meant a lot that they took the time to just hang out and help us learn.
The pandemic has disrupted our day-to-day life and hit especially hard in the music industry. As an artist how did you cope with everything going on and remain positive during the lockdown?
It was definitely tough, it was really challenging to stay positive at times, but I did my best to take it as an opportunity. Just a couple months before the pandemic, I had taken some time off of DJing the clubs in Chicago to improve my craft, and also decided I was going to invest in myself as an artist and had started building out a respectable bedroom studio. I remember being worried about how much I would even use it, with summertime Chi just around the corner. But with the pandemic DJing went out the window, so I doubled down on producing, built out a custom production PC, and just completely dove in. I also lost my day job with the pandemic shortly after that, so I finally had all the free time in the world to get better at music.
It was cathartic creating my own music consistently for the first time in years, and honestly, it helped keep me sane. I got more involved in online communities with other producers, and I’ve gotta say it was a game-changer for me. A big one for me is feedback streams; some of my favorite producers have made themselves so accessible with Twitch, Patreon, etc and it is priceless being able to get constructive feedback from some of the best in the game. Every song you’ve heard from me in the past 6 months has gone through at least a handful of those streams, and I firmly believe it helped me step my game up. Because of all these online communities, I’ve met some really incredible artists and made some great friends, and I’m really excited to see how it’ll all translate in person when the industry can open back up again.
As a fan, there are so many aspects of live music that I miss. From the artist’s perspective, what do you miss most about live shows?
I definitely miss hanging out around the venue pre- and post-set, getting to see the other artists play, and meeting people in the crowd. Not to mention the energy in a venue. Every show I’ve played, or even just gone to, I’ve walked away making new friends and fans. Just everyone being so happy and carefree and excited, it’s contagious. Also I just really miss feeling a sub rattle my rib cage and lasers hitting me in the face haha.
What are your favorite festivals you’ve been to as a fan and what was the last one you’ve been to?
Lollapalooza holds a special place in my heart since it’s here in Chicago. It was my first festival (if you don’t count Warped Tour) and it’s where I really fell in love with the live aspect of electronic music over a couple summers. I remember being on the rail for NGHTMRE in 2017 and it was just a mindblowing set, and it heavily influenced the sound of my DJ sets for a while afterwards. My all-time favorite though, and the last fest I went to, is EDCLV 2019. It really cemented the fact that I want to pursue electronic music, it was like pouring gasoline on the fire. I saw some of the craziest sets including my dream lineup in one day (shoutout Skrillex surprise set), and seeing the community come to life at that scale and meeting people from all over the world was an insanely cool and even humbling experience. I bought my ticket for 2020 as soon as I got home and am still holding on to it for whenever festivals resume. To any festival lover or just anyone toying with the idea of going, go.
What can fans expect from you as the year goes on?
Lots of new music, including plenty of collaborations. At the time of this interview, I have just released an official remix for Able Grey. It’s called “Out Of My Mind” and I decided to go back to my future bass roots for it, I’m really excited with how it turned out. I’ll also be incorporating some new genres into my sound, so some house music and more dnb is definitely coming. More melodic bass too. For the time being, you can expect some occasional chill progressive house live streams on Twitch, and a few bigger streams, but fingers crossed there will be show announcements soon as things open up. There are some other more tentative plans as well that I won’t say too much about yet, but I’ll say it looks like there may be an EP and a collective launch with some friends in the near future as well. Maybe even some new JWILLI merch too.
Lastly, if there was one thing you could accomplish in your music career what would it be?
A more specific goal I want to accomplish is playing the festival circuit, with EDCLV and Lollapalooza at the top of my bucket list. But really, I just want to create a large catalog of quality, beautiful music that people can relate to and express themselves with. I have this whole musical universe in my head, and I want to get that out and onto people’s speakers.I want that music to be the kind that helps people feel deeply, whatever that feeling is for them, and I want to share it with as many people as possible. It’s a pretty abstract goal but I think it’s an important one to keep me in the right headspace while I’m creating.
Before there was Waves or Kids See Ghosts, before there was Man on the Moon III or The Scotts, before the accolades, Coachella, or the HBO shows, there was a kid named Cudi. A rapper from Cleveland Ohio, who to many, was more than just a rapper. He was the voice of a generation who not only changed the direction of hip-hop but became the signal of hope for stoners, loners, and outcasts alike. There is a reason why there is a generation of kids who claim “Kid Cudi saved my life.” Kid Cudi gave a voice to the voiceless. He wasn’t flaunting his money, boasting, or bragging. He wasn’t driving fancy cars or dressing outlandishly. He was in jeans and a flannel preaching “I am you and you are me.” He expressed his emotions, admitted his shortcomings, and became an open book, exposing his insecurities and in doing so related to millions of kids just like him. He became the stoner rapper who didn’t smoke weed for the clout or his image but because he used marijuana to cope with the world. He was real, authentic, and original. You may say you know Kid Cudi. You know Day N’ Night or Pursuit of Happiness, you know Man on the Moon II, and even Indicud. You may even know his mixtape A Kid Named Cudi, or his rock albums WZRD and Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven but there is a collection of songs only the real Cudi fans know about. From unreleased singles to obscure features, Kid Cudi did some of his best work behind the scenes and out of the spotlight. Here are the best Kid Cudi songs that never made it to the mainstream.
Dat New New
Released around the same time as Day N’ Night, Dat New New never saw the light of day when it came to mainstream play. You won’t find this jam on Spotify or Apple Music but nonetheless it remains a classic.
I Be High
Sampling Bob Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay, Kid Cudi raps about the polarity of life as he creates a true stoners anthem.
Freestyling over a Justin Timberlake sample, Kid Cudi delivers the legendary line “I smoke to get high because the world is so low.”
Angles and Demons
For eternity Kid Cudi stans will wonder why this never made it on the Man on the Moon.
Wasting My Minutes
Cudi teams up with 88 Keys and showcases his comedic and storytelling abilities.
Cudi shows off his flow and lyricism over a sample of Pink Floyd’s Cruel World.
She Came Along
This groovy western track was released 11 years ago on Sharam’s Get Wild Lp. Although you can find She Came Along on all streaming platforms it remains one of Cudi’s most obscure tracks in his discography.
Cudi channels his inner free spirit as he raps about good vibes, good weed, shrooms, and just loving life.
One of Cudi’s most surprising performances, Symphonies is euphoric, nostalgic, and remains a straight up vibe 11 years later.
R3k’s mashup of Symphonies and Florence the Machine’s Cosmic Love will leave with chills throughout your body.
Do It Alone
One of Cudi’s most emotional tracks, Do It Alone is yet another stoner anthem.
Cudi provides guidance and inspiration to his army of lonely stoners as his harmonies and melodies will leave you in emotional bliss.
Never Come Down
Cudi spits hard on this gloomy track and proves that his talent as an emcce should never be in question.
Sampling Vampire Weekend’s Ottoman, Kid Cudi spits a lighthearted fun freestyle as we get a behind the scene look at his life while on tour.
Cudi spits his whole life story over Dr. Dre’s Imagine. The only downside is that it isn’t longer.
Dose of Dopeness
Although never officially released Dose Of Dopeness is one of Cudi’s best performances. A perfect mix of lyricism, rapping, and melodies. 11 years later and Dose of Dopeness is still next level.
With great pain comes great art. In times of struggle, creativity seems to blossom, especially when it comes to music. In the 60s and 70s, as the world was ridden with racial injustice, political assassinations, police brutality, and an unjust war, rock and roll flourished as bands used the harsh realities imposed on their generation to fuel creativity and push musical boundaries. In the 80s and 90s, as police brutality, poverty, drugs, and violence continued to rage against society, hip-hop and punk became the new rock and roll as bands and artists used these new genres and creative outlets to combat the establishment. In 2020 the coronavirus swept through the globe causing lockdowns and disrupting life as we know it. Mix that with more police brutality, racism, protests, riots, and a divided America can only mean one thing. 2021 will be filled with great music.
What better way to pull ourselves out of these historically absurd times than with the power of music? Our generation craves, peace, love, and unity as we long for change and our own path. When the world looks back on our time they will see a generation that chose love over hate. A generation that pushed for an insurgence in consciousness through the power of music and festivals.
Despite what mainstream media may imply the music of this generation is without a doubt electronic and to say the best has yet to come would be an understatement. We are currently in the midst of a musical revolution. No festivals, tours, or shows means DJs are stuck home honing their craft and sitting on a bunch of unreleased music. Without the pressures and time restraints that come with being a touring DJ, artists have had the opportunity to commit all of their energy to producing and songwriting. Mix in the frustrations and tribulations caused by the lockdown and the state of our world, artists can muster up the inspiration to really push their creative limits.
Now, as the vaccine continues to circulate and festivals and shows seems more likely to happen , artists are beginning to release new music and announce upcoming albums. Here are the top 10 electronic records either rumored or announced we are looking forward to the most!
Kaskade – Reset- Release Date : 3/5/21
Although, only four songs, Kaskade goes back to his roots as his newest EP most resembles his Automatic and Atmosphere projects rather than his previous Redux releases. There is a common message through each track. With all that happened in 2020, Kaskade suggests we need a reset to get back to love and optimism.
Charles the First – Solus- Release Date : 3/5/21
If there is one artist truly pushing the boundaries of what electronic music can be, it would be Charles the First as he ingeniously meshes lo fi down tempo hip-hop with dance and dubstep inspired sounds creating a musical journey like no other.
Porter Robinson- Nurture- Release Date: 4/23/21
Arguably the most anticipated album of the year, Porter is set to release his first LP since his critically acclaimed Worlds album in 2014. Based off the four singles released in the past few months, Nurture has the potential to spark another creative revolution in dance music and will surely be talked about for years to come.
San Holo- BB u ok? – Release date- 5/21/21
San Holo is set to release his most diverse and personal record of his career thus far. Featuring artists such as Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, American Football, Mija and more, BB u ok? will be right up there with the best electronic albums in 2021.
Mersiv- Pretty Dark Loud – Release Date- TBA
After releasing his single Talkin Bout in January, Mersiv announced his debut album is in the works via Instagram in early February. Mersiv has been quickly rising to stardom in the past few years and is set to take the bass scene by storm once this highly anticipated album finally drops.
Illenium- Album title and release date TBA
Along with releasing his massive single Nightlight featuring vocals by Annika Wells, Illenium has teased an album coming sometime in the near future. Known for his heavy hitting, melodic dubstep and his emotional song content, Illenium will have you headbanging into your feels.
Flume- Album title and release date TBA
After releasing a remix of Eiffel 65’s Blue, the legendary Australian producer Flume announced he’s working a new album on George Breakfast’s Bangers & Bants radio show. “I’ve just kind of been sending demos out and trying to get as much music together before the lockdown finishes and hopefully come out of it with something to show for myself,” Flume said in the interview. “And we’ll see what happens, but yeah, I’m hoping to have a record done before the end of the year.”
Lsdream- Album title and release date TBA
After just celebrating the 3-year anniversary of the Lsdream project, trap lord turned spiritual bass shaman Sami Damient has announced his second single High Vibrations will be released as a follow up to the Follow the Vibe single released at the end of 2020. One can only speculate Lsdream has more music on the way.
Ganja White Night- Album title and release date TBA
Although no singles have been released, Ganja White Night recently took to Instagram to announce the postponement of Wobble Rocks, their 3 day concert series at Red Rocks, Colorado for not only safety concerns but to allow them the chance to release new music as they hinted at an upcoming album.
Alison Wonderland – Album title and release date TBA
Even without touring, Alison Wonderland has been hard at work throughout 2020, releasing singles like Bad Things and Anything featuring Valentino Kahn as well as teasing her 3rd Studio album set to release in the spring of 2021. With her producing skills combined with her ability to sing and play musical instruments, the EDM scene will be in for quite a treat once her album drops.
There is something extraordinary about the power of the music festival community that reaches well beyond just music. From going to festivals and shows for ten years now, I’ve not only discovered new music year after year but have had remarkable experiences that shaped how I view the world. I’ve made lifelong friends and have been exposed to new ideas that allowed me to open my mind in ways I’ve never thought possible. Our community runs on a wavelength that tends to be overlooked by the rest of the world. Surrounded by war, hate, judgment, and conformity, festivals and shows act as a haven for the free spirit. A place where like-minded individuals come together, spreading love, peace, and individuality. A place that encourages conscious thinking and spirituality as much as it promotes music.
One of the best things I’ve taken away from the festival community is the practice of meditation. During a walk through the campgrounds of Okeechobee Music Festival, I stumbled upon Lsdream’s cosmic soundbath set, and it completely changed my life. I never thought about how powerful the act of just breathing and being actually is. That the act of doing nothing and allowing your thoughts to come and go has a profound effect on how you view the world. I left the soundbath set feeling not only refreshed but as if I had gone through some sort of transformation, and I wanted more. Meditation was something I never considered, and if it weren’t for music festivals, I would never have given it a chance.
Meditation teaches you to live in the moment. We spend most of our days either stuck in the past or worrying about the future. We rarely ever take the time just to be, and meditation allows you to do just that. After all, we love music festivals so much because they, too, embrace living in the moment. For those three or four days, nothing else matters. Not the past nor the future. Not your career, your classes, or the bills you have to pay. What matters is dancing with your friends, basking in love, and enjoying the now. Ironically, Okeechobee’s theme is “Be here now.” I left the festival eager to learn more about meditation and ready to incorporate it into my own life.
Meditation not only helps you live in the now, but it actually changes the wiring of the brain. Studies have shown that meditation enlarges the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for managing emotions, focusing your attention, decision making, and adjusting to complex behaviors. Meditation can help with depression, anxiety, and overall well being. There are also different kinds of meditation. There is mindfulness where the point is not to allow your thoughts to control your emotions. Just let your thoughts come and go. Then there is focused meditation, where you focus on a goal you want to achieve and tap into the frequency of the universe.
As I began to read and research meditation, I came across various practices that helped me make meditation a daily routine. From guided meditations to meditation music to mediation apps, here are some of my favorites that will help you find inner peace whether you’re a beginner or a meditation guru!
10 Minute Chakra Balance Guided Meditation
Great for beginners! Balance your chakra’s and promote positive energy with this 10 minute meditation.
10 Minute Manifestation Meditation
This powerful meditation will help you achieve your biggest goals through the law of attraction.
Spirit Guide Meditation Playlist
This playlist of guided meditations is designed to connect you with your spirit guide!
LIGHTCODE Guided Meditation Playlist
With this playlist Lsdream and his wife Sarah Hudson, guide you through numerous meditations with music provided by Lsdream’s ambient moniker LIGHTCODE!
Music for Meditation
Tipper’s Ambient CoSM Set
Tipper provides an ambient set perfect for meditation at the Alex Grey’s Chapel of Sacred Mirrors!
Charles the First Out of the Dark Mix
Charles the First performs a groovy downtempo set that’s perfect to vibe out and relax your mind.
LIGHTCODE & Lsdream Higher Conscious Set
Lsdream mixes a trippy downtempo set with excerpts of guidance from teachers like Alan Watts and Ram Das! Also check out Lsdream’s LIGHTCODE album!
Synctuition is a meditation app that is designed to sync you in to your intuition using gamma wave frequencies, binary beats, and 3d sounds!
Less intense than Synctuition but Calm offers great guided mediations, podcasts, and even sleep stories!