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.
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!
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.
Will Geary, who goes by the name Hi Will is a bass and dubstep producer from Port Jervis, New York, who recently moved out to Colorado. He’s been hard at work releasing an 11 track ep titled Inverted, along with three singles in 2020. 2021 has the potential to be a break out year for the Colorado producer who just released a brand new banger called Stankface featuring Filth Collins.
The Daily Frequency caught up with Hi Will to discuss how he started making music, DJ’ing, and a whole lot more!
Check out the full interview below!
You made the big jump from New York to Colorado. What has that experience been like?
Moving to Colorado has been a dream of mine since before I could remember. I started skiing when I was four and snowboarding when I was 14 and never experienced a pow day until I moved here. It was a super easy transition for me. A ton of my friends from college also moved here around when I did so I was never really got lonely, and I had a job, and everything lined up before I got here.
How did you get into making music? Has it been something that’s always been apart of your life, or is it something you got into as you got older?
It took me a few starts. My great-grandpa was a pretty famous drummer back in the day, so I really wanted to play drums in school but was assigned trumpet, so I never really took it too seriously and quit band in middle school. I was into punk rock, so I picked up a guitar but again didn’t really make it too far. I grew out of punk music and started listening to hip hop in 9th grade. My first attempt at college didn’t go well, so when I withdrew after a couple weeks, I wanted to start making beats in garage band but was quickly discouraged. This was in 2008, so there weren’t as many resources as there are now to teach yourself. Fast forward to Sumer 2012, I was really into house and dubstep and went to my first music festival, Camp Bisco XI. This was the summer that EDM trap was first starting to emerge. When Skrillex dropped Wild for the night (going in) edit, it was the first time I heard EDM trap music, and it all kind of clicked for me that it was something I wanted to make myself. I blew my entire refund check on a MacBook when I went back to school that fall, got a bootleg version of Ableton, and dove in.
What challenges did you face as a new producer?
I had a bumpy start. I was kind of stubborn and could’ve saved a lot of time if I had a better process back then. A lot of frustrating hours spent in Ableton learning by trial and error. My one friend that was also producing at the time was also anti samples, anti preset, etc., and pushed me towards trying to make everything myself. Then my releases weren’t getting any attention, so I stopped putting music out, and would just fall in and out of Ableton for a couple of years.
When did you decide that music was something you really wanted to pursue?
I was done with school, living in western NY, and facing a mountain of student loans. I was pursuing being a financial advisor, and the message there was you need to focus 100% on building your business if you want to be successful. I really wasn’t happy and would work all day and come home and produce all night. I don’t know who I was trying to prove wrong, but it was actually pretty motivating for making music, but I was lying to everyone. Lying to prospective clients, trying to act like I was someone I wasn’t so they would trust me to manage their money. Lying to my manager that I was 100% committed to being a financial advisor and lying to myself that I was putting enough effort into producing. I did that for a few years and was finally on my feet enough to fulfill a lifelong dream of moving to Colorado.
Would you say the move to Colorado helped you creatively?
Colorado is a lot more chill than western NY professionally. You can be yourself a lot more at an office job, and its not uncommon to have a career without giving up your interests. When I first moved, I wasn’t sure if I’d have to take a drug test for my new job or not, so the first time I smoked weed in a couple of months, I got awkwardly stoned and came home and wrote probably my darkest song, Terminated. I still had no real idea what I wanted out of producing, but I had years of projects starting to stack up.
Have the restrictions with covid allowed you to focus on your craft?
I can thank the pandemic for giving me a lot of free time alone to get my shit together. I put together a tracklist for Inverted and then wiped my computer’s hard drive. I’ve learned a lot and have been really focusing on my mixing and mastering skills to get an industry-standard sounding product and get my workflow a lot faster where I’m not spending months or years on songs. I’m about to graduate from the AMP program with KMG in Denver, which has helped a lot.
What’s your creative process? Walk us through an average day at the studio.
I still don’t have a one-off creative process to start. It’s usually trying to learn something new, or making a drum loop, or chord progression, or wanting to sample something or make a “type beat”. Once I get excited about the direction of a project, I try to not put it down until I sketch something out that I can finish, or at least bounce a snippet from and listen to and decide if its something I want to put more time in on or start something new. A good practice if you get stuck or aren’t feeling very creative is to try to learn something new. Usually, if I try to make a new sound or something, I get inspired for a song by the time I’m done with the tutorial.
You released a lot of music in 2020, including an 11 track ep and three singles. How do you find inspiration day in and day out?
Like I said before, Inverted is basically all my more amateur sounding stuff that I liked enough to put out, and is basically 7 years of work. The three singles I put out this year were basically sketched out, pulling an all-nighter when the inspiration struck.
Your sound seems to be heavily influenced by hip-hop. Who are your favorite rappers at the moment?
Favorite rappers seem to come and go, but Futures has been a favorite for a while, I listened to a lot of da baby and Lil baby last year.
Who are your influences in electronic music?
My biggest influences would have to be early RL Grime, Flosstradamus and Skrillex, pretty lights, and basshead era Bassnectar. Dillon Francis is also a huge influence of mine. I like how he was able to blow up without being confined to a genre, which is the producer id like to be, with some high-energy bangers for playing shows and less aggressive songs that are more universally enjoyable.
Aside from hip-hop and electronic music, what other genres do you resonate with and draw inspiration from?
I listen to a ton of different music. As far as inspiration goes, id have to say I usually get inspired by indie tracks. Video Game by Sufjan Stevens is a good example. I should drop a remix to that, actually, haha.
You spend a lot of your free time outside. Do you believe taking time out of the studio to hike or snowboard benefits your creative process?
It’s always good to take a break, but if anything, it’s detrimental to producing. Snowboarding is probably my #1 distraction, and I feel bad about using my limited free time, not in the studio.
You play vinyl when you DJ. Do you believe that’s becoming a lost art?
I came across an offer I couldn’t refuse when I bought my vinyl set up. It still runs through Serato. It’s just timecoded vinyls. I really like the vinyl set up because, with the spinning records, you actually feel the music moving underneath your fingers. Plus, if you can spin and beat match on technics, you can pretty much use anything. Personally, I’m not a big fan of turntablism. A few tricks in a DJ set can take it up a notch, but other than that, it’s just not a sound I think is desirable. As far as straight vinyl djing, it seems like more of a novelty. Someone can do a lot more with a controller these days, and being limited to the tracks you have on actual records seems like it just limits the DJ for no good reason.
Do you listen to any music on vinyl?
I got my girlfriend an Odesza vinyl for Christmas, and it sounded amazing. I think id like to start an actual vinyl collection and buy some of my favorites. Two that come to mind would be Anderson Paaks Malibu and Post Malones Stoney.
What’s the last show you saw, and who are you most excited to see when live music comes back?
The last show I saw was NGHTMRE at the Amplitude drive-in. It was pretty sick! I don’t really have any tickets for anything coming up, but I just pray we get red rocks back this summer.
You just released your new single featuring Filth Collins; what should fans expect from you as the year goes on?
I have a ton of projects I’m working on. Stankface is my first track with original vocals, and Filth and I work pretty well together, so we’ll be releasing a lot more high energy tracks this year. I have some more melodic tunes coming out with my homie Astro Piano that we just have to wrap up and some hip hop joints. I pretty much have a hip hop instrumental tape I want to drop as well. I have a remix dropping for Subbspaced next month and a few other remixes I might put out on Soundcloud. Most of my fans know me from Inverted, so anyone whose been following me will notice that I stepped my game up and will just keep getting better. So this year, I’m holding myself to a higher standard, a lot of collabs, and just bigger and better records. I hope to play out in Denver a good amount this year, too, if we can get past covid. I’ll be putting out a mix with all originals at some point this year.
James Flanders, known musically as James, is an upcoming music producer coming out of Philadelphia. After recently quitting his job to pursue his passion, James is dialed in and ready to establish a name for himself in the future bass and electronic music scene. Riding the wave of his massive single titled ‘One More Night’ and his remix of Zedd’s ‘Clarity’, James has his sights set high as he rolls into 2021.
We sat down with James to discuss his inspirations, career goals, and more.
Check out the full interview below!
How did you get into making music?
I’ve loved music for a long, long time. I always had an interest in making it myself in high school and college but never dove in and learned. It seemed overwhelming, and I never thought it was something I could do. In my last year of college, I finally began messing around with Ableton. As college was winding down, I realized I needed to take finding a job and starting a career seriously. Since music was something I was always passionate about, I figured it was time to explore that avenue.
What drew you to electronic music?
A few things. The big sell is the passion and energy that come with the music. There’s something about EDM music that really makes me feel. It’s a beautiful thing. Apart from that, though, I love the community. When I started going to these concerts, I was blown away by how friendly everyone was.
What’s your creative process? Do you have a specific routine, or does it vary depending on the day?
When I’m starting a song, I always begin with the chord progression. The progression sets the mood for the entire song, so it’s a great place to start. From there, it’s kind of random. I build off the progression in no particular order, letting whatever ideas I’m hearing flow naturally. This way, I don’t confine myself to thinking, “I need to do the beat next” or “Now I have to do the melody.” I feel like that would be limiting and damper ideas coming naturally.
You recently took some time off from producing to sharpen your DJ skills. What was the most challenging part of that process?
Honestly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I was lucky to have a few friends who knew how to DJ already that walked me through it. That and some YouTube videos. If you want to learn how to DJ, you can learn in a week if you put in an hour a day. The hardest part was having opportunities actually to put the skill to use! Nothing like learning how to DJ for a crowd during a quarantine when there can’t be crowds.
Your first-ever show was a live stream, which is becoming a great tool for new and established DJs alike. Do you believe live streams will be a new normal even when live music comes back?
I don’t think so. While they have been a great substitute for live music during quarantine, it really is just that – a substitute. You will never be able to match the real thing through a tv screen. Something I could see happening is putting live in-person concerts (when they come back) up to stream for people who can’t make the concert. I think that would be pretty cool.
You announced you quit your job to pursue music full time, which I applaud. Do you believe having that do-or-die attitude will push you further than having a plan b to fall back on?
Thank you! I think it will. I think quitting the job made it real for me. While it was always in the back of my mind I wanted to make this music thing happen, I never really believed it WOULD happen while working. My job was my plan A and my career, so it’s where a lot of my energy went (even though I hated it). To anyone reading this who hates their job – IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY. It might take some hard work to make your passions your career, but it is undoubtedly worth it.
I love your clarity remix, and your live set was very euphoric and nostalgic. Who would you say are your biggest inspirations for your sound?
Thank you! That’s what I go for. I try to take inspiration from anyone I’m listening to, but I do take more from a few artists specifically. Illenium, Nurko, and Porter Robinson are a few to note. Like I said earlier, I like EDM music because it really makes me feel. These artists, in particular, drive that home for me. I want to give that amazing feeling I get from those artists to the people listening to my music.
Would you say there are any other genres aside from EDM that have an impact on your creative process?
For sure! I grew up listening to rap and alternative. I always listened to a decent amount of classic rock as well (thanks, dad!!). I’m lucky to have parents who LOVE music and love a wide range of it too. I have no doubt that the exposure to so much good music over the years has impacted how I produce.
Who are your favorite artists at the moment?
Nurko, Illenium, Elderbrook, and Rüfüs Du Sol.
What was the best concert or festival you’ve been to and why?
This is a tough one! I’ve been to so many amazing shows and festivals, which I feel very lucky for. If we’re talking specific concert, I’d say Flume at Firefly 2017. Flume’s music is so damn cool and different. Seeing that live was like no concert I’d been to before. So unique. Festival wise I’d say Ultra 2019. The lineup was an absolute beauty, and the setting was just magical in general. I also went with an amazing group of people.
If you could work with any artist from any genre, who would it be?
I’m sounding like a broken record here but probably Illenium. He’s one of my bigger influences and also unbelievably talented. I could learn so much from him.
If you could accomplish one goal in your musical career, what would it be?
When my adventure into making music is all said and done, whenever that may be, I just hope that it brought some positivity, love, and connection into this world. That’s what music is all about. If my music is able to do that, I’d be the happiest guy in the world.
As coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, the music festival industry is stuck in limbo as uncertainty takes a firm grip on the fate of live music.
Uncertainty was pushed even further this morning as Glastonbury, the world’s biggest music festival, held in England, announced its cancelation for 2021 and has decided to set its sights on the 2022 festival season. If a festival this large has already been canceled, the odds of a festival season happening this summer are slim.
Yet, strangely enough, this afternoon, The Rothbury Village Council approved dates in June 2021 for Electric forest as well as two alternate weekends in August. This by no means guarantees that the festival will happen but offers a slight sense of optimism towards the possibility of Electric Forrest making a comeback in 2021.
Regardless of today’s events, the fate of live music and festivals are still very much in limbo for the upcoming season, but music fans can remain hopeful.
Continue to tune in to The Daily Frequency for music festival updates.
The Universe has a peculiar way of speaking to you, especially when your judgments are closed and your heart and mind are open. When you are tuned into the right frequency, it becomes obvious that there is another force guiding us through this existence. You just have to trust that energy, and once you do, you recognize that the answers are often right in front of you and have been this whole time. Everything that happens in life has a purpose. It may not be what you want, expect, or understand, but as time goes on, you will realize that it was exactly what you needed. It was the beginning of October, and my friends and I finally copped tickets to a drive-in rave. Not just any show but the Wakaan Halloween takeover in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Liquid Stranger, Champagne Drip, and Mize were set to throw down on top of Montage Mountain. We couldn’t think of a better first show back since the pandemic and were hyped as fuck, to say the least. Not just for the fact that we were going to see Liquid Stranger, or that we were finally going to see live music, but that we could ultimately rage together. We haven’t danced and headbanged through the night since Okeechobee, and we were all itching for an evening of good vibes, good music, and debauchery. As Halloween approached, Liquid Stranger announced that each night of the three-day takeover would be unique. Night one would be dedicated to throwback jams, night two would be a tripped set, and night three would be full of bangers. Each night was sold out, and we were going to night two. As much as I love downtempo tripped out music, I was skeptical of the tripped-out theme. It was my first show in 8 months, and I wanted to party. I had all this pent up energy from quarantine that I needed to release. How can I do that during a slow trippy show? But the Universe doesn’t always give you what you want but what you need. Aside from my reserves, we were ready to be back in our element. We missed the crowd, the atmosphere, and of course, the people. Before we knew it, it was Friday morning, and we were finally on our 2 hour Journey to Montage Mountain Resorts to check in our hotel before the show. The only problem was it was not only freezing but raining. Not the greatest weather for an outdoor show, but the gray clouds wouldn’t stop our shine. After sitting in line for almost two hours, with flashbacks to Bonnaroo 2019, we finally made it in just in time for Mize to hit the stage. Strangely enough, the sky opened up, and all the clouds disappeared. A full moon lit up the heavens above with Mars in the background. It was still cold, but it was perfect. As the night went on, Mize changed to DMVU, which switched to Champagne Drip, and then finally Liquid Stranger. The entire time I could not take my eyes off the moon. All I kept thinking that this is what humans have been doing for thousands of years. Dancing under the full moon, losing ourselves in the moment.
As Liquid Stranger finished his set, he spoke about his decision to perform a tripped set under the full moon. That he never gets a chance to play the music that he played that night. That every song he played from Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin to Forever Young by Rod Stewart had an impact on his life and his career. He spoke on how the world was going through a transition and that we need to treat each other with love. It is then I realized that the Universe was speaking to me through Liquid Stranger. The world is going through a transition, but so am I. I realized that the tripped set was exactly what I needed. Instead of giving me a night full of bangers for my first show back, I got music that opens your mind and soothes the soul. I’ve been going to shows for ten years now, and I’ve partied as hard as anyone. I kept having this thought that part of my life is over. Not that I’ll stop going to shows or festivals, but my intentions will change. That I will be motivated by spirituality instead of just getting fucked up. It was as if the Universe was pushing me in a new direction.
Since then, I’ve been meditating, reading, and positively focusing on my goals, and things are suddenly falling into place. I’m starting to get opportunities I’ve never had before, I feel better mentally and physically, and I have a newfound excitement for the future. I felt this story was important to share as we head into 2020’s winter solstice coming early next week. On December 21, for the first time in 800 years, Saturn and Jupiter will align, creating what’s called the great conjunction allowing the Christmas star to be visible. This extraordinary event is said to be a sign of powerful change and spiritual transformation as we transition to a new age. The fact that this will happen in 2020 is pretty remarkable considering what’s going on in the world. 2020 isn’t the year we asked for, but it is the year we needed. A year that acted as a wake-up call to say that this way of existence, full of hate, neglect for the earth, carelessness for our health, and need for material pleasures, is not sustainable. Our way of life has been taken from us. We have been forced to stay inside with no restaurants, no bars, no concerts, festivals, weddings, or parties. We can’t go to work, kids can’t go to school, and some of us have lost loved ones. But through all the tragedy, there is a silver lining. 2020 has forced us to find happiness from within and think in different ways. It taught us not to take life for granted because you never know when life will abruptly change. People are finally beginning to wake up. Everyone has grown in someway through quarantine. Whether it’s finding a new hobby, a new passion, or realizing you can survive on much less than you thought. We’ve seen worldwide protests in the name of peace and equality. Governments are being exposed, the powers are shifting, and the world is learning that love trumps all. As Bob Dylan famously put it, “The times are a changin!” 2020 was not the year we wanted, but the year we needed. We struggled and survived together. New beginnings are ahead of us. It’s time to stop saying fuck 2020 and start being grateful that it happened. 2020 will be known as the year we woke up, and 2021 will not only be our year but a promising start to our greater purpose.