Producer Sessions 017: Zeds Dead trace storied beginnings up to ‘We Are Deadbeats (Vol. 4)’

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Producer Sessions 017: Zeds Dead trace storied beginnings up to ‘We Are Deadbeats (Vol. 4)’ZedsDead Min

Soon after DC asked his Canadian compatriot Hooks to paint a graffiti mural in his garage circa 2004, the Zeds Dead duo began. They bonded over their mutual love for hip-hop and the fact they were both in nascent stages of producing music. They didn’t think too hard about wanting to work together, crafting ’90s-inspired hip-hop beats under the name Mass Productions. They soon released their first collaborative album, Fresh Beets, in the summer of 2007.

Although the album was compositionally clean and well-produced, the project fell on relatively deaf ears, a similar fate to the ocean of instrumental hip-hop projects released. The unflappable creatives took a turn towards electronic music, launching their Pulp Fiction-inspired Zeds Dead moniker on the beguiling and renegade-friendly MySpace soundscape. In 2009, under their new name, they released their debut song, “Journey of a Lifetime,” and played their first live set at The Social in Toronto on June 11.

In the low-ceilinged basement of 751, a bar in Toronto that became Wrongbar in 2010, Zeds Dead began playing their storied Bassmentality shows alongside the Killabits that brought guests such as Skrillex, Borgore, and NERO before dubstep really began to skyrocket in the North American live music scene. Their first official 40-plus-date North American tour started in December 2010. They were among the invariable first in a Wild West of a US musical frontier before dubstep had really even begun to devour the dance music zeitgeist in the states.

Producer Sessions 017: Zeds Dead trace storied beginnings up to ‘We Are Deadbeats (Vol. 4)’5237 10153868646154233 4549591371005897280 N
Bassmentality party at 751 Press Photo

This time period became a torrential turning point for the boys as the bass tandem now looks back on a decade of success.

During the first few years there were so many turning points as our lives transitioned from bedroom producers to having some notoriety and a career. Nothing really compares to that because the difference between being completely unknown to having fans at all is so much more substantial than most things to follow. Everything was a huge deal back then, coming from Toronto even getting to play a show in New York felt like a huge accomplishment.

Now, Zeds Dead has come off the heals of their fourth We Are Deadbeats collaboration album, a 14-track project with a standout cast of the labels’ confidantes, from rapper Omar LinX who jumped on the highly popular “Rude Boy” in 2011 and has been passing vocal assists to the duo since the beginning, to the mystery shrouded Deathpact on some faster tempo bass. Other new releases feature the Noisia-backed Holly on the “Astroid” assault and frequent collaborator DNMO on the GG Magree-assisted and increasingly popular “Save My Grave.” Loge21, Champagne Drip, and Slushii also joined the previously released tracks with Ganja White Night, Subtronics, Urbandawn, DROELOE, Jauz, Delta Heavy, and Dion Timmer rounding out the A&R’s heavy-hitting artillery and seemingly boundless landscape for upcoming Deadbeats shows.

“We wanted to do a project that showcased some of the artists on the label like we’ve been doing with the We Are Deadbeats series but also represent a lot of the styles you might hear at a Deadbeats show.”

Collaboration is in the ethos of the friends who have been making music together for nearly a decade and a half. The We Are Deadbeats compilation series and Deadbeats Radio mixes exist both for the community of creatives and fans bearing witness to the taste-making pallets of veterans in the hip-hop electronic crossover space. Zeds Dead passed along a curatorial baton of what projects to expect in the near future from not only them, but the Deadbeats machine, including the newly minted X&G MONSTA EP or Jaenga LINGUISTICS EP.

“Blunts & Blondes, Chee, Dion Timmer, Kid Froopy, Duke & Jones, Gentlemens Club, DNMO, SIPPY”

As with any electronic music entity, the live event is the centerpiece of the full-immersion entertainment experience and the Deadbeats shows are no exception, touring as a label with their infamous collaborative showcase. This is not including their seventh round at the prestigious Red Rocks Amphitheater, another notch to the duo’s laundry list of accomplishments.

“We’ve hit a good stride and are releasing a steady stream of music that we really love and the Deadbeats shows have been going great as well. I see it becoming more and more of a mini festival as it grows. Hopefully we can keep it growing and see how far we can take it.”

What equipped Zeds Dead with the ability to launch their own label is their nuanced, inimitable storm of a sound that stems from their concurrent loves of hip-hop and electronic music, which catapulted them as cosmically successfully touring DJs amassing an ardent and omnipresent community of fans. But what is their key to creativity and how do they typically collaborate?

“Experimentation is the best way to keep things interesting. Sometimes you might start with a melody on piano, sometimes a sound you’re messing with in a synth, vocals, drums. There’s no formula. Each song is different and can have more or less of one of us, but it can range from working on it together in the same room, to sending it back and forth or just sending notes.”

Just after releasing We Are Deadbeats Vol 4. the team already has their eyes set on another decisive benchmark: their second LP.

“Yes, we are working on finishing that but no idea when it will come out. It’s pretty close but these things always have a way of changing.”

Producer Sessions 016: A glimpse into the mind of EPROM’s ‘AIKON’ EP [Interview]

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Producer Sessions 016: A glimpse into the mind of EPROM’s ‘AIKON’ EP [Interview]TH 8347 Edit

EPROM newest five-track project, AIKON, was released through Zeds Dead‘s Deadbeats imprint. The talented producer and contributor to the Grammy-nominated Hi, This Is Flume (Mixtape) took time to answer some questions with technical leanings about his extended play. The Portland-based sound curator established himself as an innovator amongst fellow artists and fans alike, through wicked syncopation and tedious sound design that curate an environment of shock and awe.

In a press release about the EP, EPROM explained, “Each tune represents a unique point in my trajectory. For me, this release represents a step onto a bigger stage. I have always been reluctant to fully embrace the ethos of dance music, so I have previously kept my work underground, and to a certain degree, intentionally inaccessible. This EP is my take on pure rave music.”

Why did you call the EP AIKON?

I don’t wanna give too much away. If you look closely at the logotype you can certainly figure out where it came from. There are multiple facets of meaning in this made up word that interest me, secondary signifiers tangential to the source. I pronounce the word “icon,” so if you take that at face value combined with the aesthetic dimensions of the project, it may open the word up to further investigation. The word came about way before the EP. If you dig into the visual minutiae of my previous projects you may notice it crops up here and there.

Can you explain the album art?

As with the title, the art is an oblique commentary on fractured identity in our age. I prefer to leave it up to personal interpretation beyond that. You will notice that each of the singles has similar but slightly different art. Each uses the same technique and so they are all intended to function together as a larger work.

Do you have a typical production process? If so, what is it?

I try very hard not to have a “typical” process, although I do use a studio template in Ableton Live. I try to reinvent my approach to making a tune for nearly every tune, and often, that necessitates exploring a new tool. New tools require new approaches. New approaches create new sounds. The moment of unfamiliarity, before one becomes virtuosic in any particular field, engenders creative approaches, learning, and play. That is the most valuable period of music making for my practice. When you don’t quite know how a particular tool works, you approach it creatively, and that is the essence of experimentation for me.

What was your main takeaway from collaborating with G Jones on “Daemon Veil?

Greg is a brilliant songwriter beyond being a producer, and he fleshed out the arrangement beautifully, handling a lot of the melodies on that song. I think our studio sessions are highly symbiotic and we trade a lot of techniques back and forth.

Your arrangements are unique, is there a special way you approach arranging the different parts of your songs?

I like to take agreed-upon forms like trap/house/bass with fairly rigid structures and attempt to approach them differently. I think in general my arrangements aren’t that out there, I usually stick to four bar structures and standard 4/4 time signatures, maybe with an occasional polymetric loop underneath or alternating between a standard dance tempo and half time.

What was a go-to synth for the EP and why?

I used a lot of samples on this EP. They’re faster to work with and I wanted to evoke a specific period of rave music, so those samples – e.g. old school rave stabs, 303s etc. – have a very concrete meaning to me. I also used eurorack modular synthesis to generate a lot of the kick drums and bass samples, and further processed material using Granulator II and other granular resynthesis algorithms.

What was a go-to MIDI controller and why?

I like the Arturia Keystep, it’s small and fit on my desk behind my computer keyboard and has a cool sequencer and it’s enough for me to bang out quick ideas. I’m not much of a keys player though so I do a lot of melodic sequencing on the piano roll in Ableton.

Any special VST that really took the production home?

Every track has some Valhalla Vintage Verb on it, as well as FabFilter Saturn and Monolake’s Granulator II Max4Live patch.

Do you have any pet peeves between you and your DAW? 

Sure, plenty. They are small problems though, mostly having to do with how Live handles regions containing un-warped audio clips, which I use all the time. Some other things I wish Live had would be better multi-track automation handling, and per note automation (polyphonic aftertouch). But there are always ways around every problem. I love working in Live for the most part.

Which song took the longest work and why?

“Daemon Veil.” You can imagine how long it took us to program all the drums and percussive elements in that song. There are many tracks, several different drum kits, and a lot of sound design elements. We spent a lot of time playing with the balance between discernible rhythms and chaos.

What was the most difficult sound to conquer on the project?

The vocals on “Hope” are probably the element that took the most finessing. Because of licensing issues we ended up having to re-record the vocals from an old house tune with a new vocalist. I am pretty inexperienced with using raw vocals, so I had to learn a few things about vocal processing. I took the new recordings and tried to match the sound of the original 1995 acapella as closely as possible, using tape emulation, delay, reverb, eq, distortion, noise layers, etc. I feel like I actually got really close in the end. It was difficult, but a fun exercise.

Do you have any unique studio habits?

I tend to spend a lot of time on pure sound design, that is, not with any specific song-related goal in mind. I’ll sit down if I’m not feeling like making a song and knock out ten or twenty different kick drums or snares.

What was your most memorable in-studio moment while producing the album?

Working on “Hope” last summer with the window open, looping part of it to get some bass groove right, and my girlfriend asked me if I was making a house tune because the loop was of a 4/4 section in a much longer and more choppy tune. I just thought that was funny.

What is next for EPROM?

Working on the next release, can’t say too much about it yet because it’s still a nebulous thing in my mind.

Photo credit: Tyler Hill

Producer Sessions 015: WE ARE FURY glisten on first light with ‘DAWN’ EP [Interview]

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Producer Sessions 015: WE ARE FURY glisten on first light with ‘DAWN’ EP [Interview]Credit Matthew Butcher Min

Canadian duo WE ARE FURY has released their DAWN EP, the premier installment of their forthcoming album and predecessor to their DUSK project coming in December. The projects are being released on Seeking Blue, home to Illenium, Said The Sky, Seven Lions, Dabin, and more. DAWN is a two-track EP that includes “Broken” featuring Luma and “Don’t Know Why” featuring Danyka Nadeau.

“Our whole world is built on contrast, we have opposite personalities, and our strengths are in different parts of the creative process,” the duo said in a press release. “From sound design to writing and performing. We wanted to showcase this as part of a bigger project and also give our fans the ability to connect with us as individuals.”

They also took time to answer questions for DA about their latest body of work.


What does each song mean for you?

“Broken” is a bit of a sad song. It tells the story of someone going out on a limb in a relationship, cautiously hoping the response doesn’t leave them disappointed: “Please, don’t leave me broken.” It’s about taking a leap of faith and opening up to the people around us. On the track, we took the “please don’t leave me broken” lyric and alternated between “please don’t leave me” to provide a cautious versus desperate contrast.

The second track is the aftermath of a bad relationship. You can question yourself a lot and feel more insecure. The song is a bit more pessimistic and sad.

What’s the purpose of this EP?

This project is meant to show one side of us, DAWN, and our next EP is called DUSK, showing a different side. The self-reflecting, vulnerable, melodic side is DAWN, while DUSK will be a lot more on the heavy, dark side. DUSK, comes out next, and our full album coming out on Seeking Blue in 2020 will be an embodiment of both.

How do you guys collaborate as a duo?

Joachim is a lot more involved in the heavier sound design, whereas my [Stuart] strengths are more on the melodic and arrangement side. Joachim will make the sounds, and I’ll help put them together. We live pretty far apart, so we’re bouncing projects online quite often, and when we get together, we write in the studio.

We don’t have a specific process. Every track has starts with their own inspiration weather it’s topline, a melody, a sound, or a beat. It’s nice being a duo whose comfortable with communicating openly about what we like and dislike. That open communication is vital to our workflow.

How did you guys start working together?

We met at university. We met each other at an internet club of producers. Nobody was actually a producer at university; most were DJs. I needed someone I could bounce ideas off of, and we found each other, started collaborating, and began developing our relationship.

What was the most difficult part about the EP?

The arrangement and feel to “Broken” was challenging. We started with the verses, and spent a lot of time trying to find the feel of the entire track.

The percussion was also difficult, but it was more of a macro thing. There are a lot of producers making melodic future bass, and we really wanted to bring an edge and add bigger bass element to the melodic side.

What DAW do you use?

We use FL Studio. We’ll probably do Ableton when we do more live stuff, but out workflow is so good with FL. That’s where we’re comfortable.

Any specific VSTs do you use?

We use a lot of Serum four our bass sounds and chords.

Stuart: A reverb that I swear by is Valhalla Room. We put it on vocals, synths, percussions.

Joachim: I’ve been using this plugin by Infected Mushroom called Manipulator. It’s a real time audio buffer. You run audio through it and can process it in real time. That’s how I do a lot of my vocal chops and other sound design.

How does your culture impact your music?

Joachim: I grew up in six different countries. A lot of my sounds are influenced by North America with Latin roots, so I grew up with that sentiment around music and cultural osmosis. That influenced my taste and style, but I still knew I had to go to North America to turn this into a career because that’s where one makes a career in the entertainment industry.

Stuart: I have a big Asian family of 30-plus close relatives. This helped me because I grew up with a strong support system that gave me the confidence to pursue music as a career.

Photo credit: Matthew Butcher

Producer Sessions 013: The Bloody Beetroots release a ‘Heavy’ extended play of new sounds [INTERVIEW]

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Producer Sessions 013: The Bloody Beetroots release a ‘Heavy’ extended play of new sounds [INTERVIEW]Enlight329

Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo, better known as the brainchild behind The Bloody Beetroots, has released his new Heavy EP. The Italian musician teased his new extended play with two collaborations: one with G-House hero, Dr. Fresch, called “Fkn Face,” that throws down as hard as the name implies and the other with Ephwurd, “Wildchild,” featuring heavy electro bass mayhem with guitar fills.

The Heavy EP is the first project since The Bloody Beetroot’s The Great Electronic Swindle in 2017, which merged rock elements with electronic music for a more electronic take on heavy metal.

Rifo took some to answer some questions about producing the EP.


What made you take the EP in this direction?

I felt the need to steer the project into a more electronic space. I love experimenting with new genres and finding a sound that belongs to me. That really resonates.

Did you have any inspirations for the album?

Just the music. It always drives me. I really explored with the new contemporary electronic texture and mixed it with the original TBB sound. I had a lot of fun.

What made you chose your collaborators?

Innovation and originality. The guys are on the EP are great!

Do you have a typical production process? If so, what is it?

I hate being in the studio for more than two hours a day. I’m a musician first and producer second, so all my ideas come by talking to people and living a life full of passions and hobbies. I start with a story, then I randomly mess around with synths and samplers on Ableton until I get a solid draft. That’s the foundation and I move from there.

What song took you the longest to make and why?

I don’t like to overthink it. I prefer to get straight to the point and feel it. The Heavy EP was quick to do. It’s simple, effective, and I wanted something to serve and support my DJ set. My collaborations with Dr. Fresch & Ephwurd were quick as well. They’re amazing producers with a lot of empathy for real music.

What was the most difficult melody to conquer and why?

I believe I spent more time with my graphic designers choosing the right artwork instead of overthinking on the perfect melody. I don’t know how to explain that, but music is very natural for me. It’s in my blood and it comes out so easily that i can’t even find the right words to express how I feel about it. It’s me, I guess.

What was your most memorable in-studio moment while producing the EP?

Definitely in the studio with Dr. Fresch. He didn’t have a functional keyboard to play. I was so bummed out, but he managed to make it work like a pro. Immediately following, I wrote that “Fkn Face” bassline with a smile on my face. Thank you, Tony.

Do you have any unique studio habits?

I like jamming before I start anything serious, and sometimes, I forget to open a session because I get lost in the jamming.

What hobbies do you have outside of music?

I have a second job as a photographer (thecultofrifo.com)—I’m also a certified CrossFit trainer Level 1. I like riding cars and motorbikes. Sometimes, I like to go to BBQs with friends.

What was it like creating the music you make in your in the small town of Bassano del Grappa?

I moved to LA three years ago, Venice Beach precisely as it feels like a small town. Bassano Del Grappa is where I spend my free time to recover from all this crazy business. It’s sane, it’s small, it’s cozy, and I love it.

What is your next endeavor as The Bloody Beetroots?

I’m excited to see where this new electronic journey will take me.

Photo credit: Chris Stack

Producer Sessions 012: Conrad Clifton urges listeners to ‘GET YOUR WHOLE LIFE’ and gets his in the process [Interview]

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Producer Sessions 012: Conrad Clifton urges listeners to ‘GET YOUR WHOLE LIFE’ and gets his in the process [Interview]4 Conrad Clifton Digital 0042 1 Photo By Sam Shannon Min

Producer Sessions is a series from Dancing Astronaut meant to shine a brighter light on the producer community. Each volume will guide producers toward professionals in their field.P

Conrad Clifton is a Brooklyn-based electronic artist who recently released his GET YOUR WHOLE LIFE album. The project features a variety of sounds strung together that makes it difficult to pinpoint a genre. He expertly fuses elements of house, hip-hop, indie, ambient, afro beat, trap, funk, soul, disco into singular works that play seamlessly into the album’s whole. Clifton’s painstaking search for intriguing new sonic combinations and sampling makes him a sound pioneer of sorts, on a mission to find the perfect harmonies to add his vast collection. From the sound of his new 10-track album, he’s succeeding.

He’s shared the stage with notable artists like San Holo, Sweater Beats, Chrome Sparks, Pomo, Jay Prince, StayLoose and GANZ. Dancing Astronaut had a chance to Interview the multi-facetted artist below about his new long player and music production.

Do you have a typical production process? If so, what is it? (what instruments/tracks do you start with – do you use a skeleton or blank slate).

Yeah man, I always start with a blank slate. With this album specifically, I knew I wanted it to be uptempo and super vibey, but that was my only direction (and that’s still pretty broad). The process is basically three things – experimentation, going where the music takes me, and then perfecting the overall technical sound quality.

While experimenting, anything goes. I’m searching through virtual instruments, sound packs I’ve downloaded, samples I’ve recorded from vinyl, my field recordings, movie sound effects, whatever. I really like finding sounds that aren’t meant to be musical, and using them in a musical way. Like in the song “OH!”, there’s a rhythmic layer that kinda sounds like Salt-N-Pepa’sPush It,” but that’s actually a short clip of an old blues musician tapping his guitar and snapping.

Once I find a sound or element that feels texturally interesting – and has a groove – I just let it direct me. If you’re tuned into that creative energy, it’ll tell you what to do next, but you really gotta listen. And with more than just your ears! The process is really meditative and spiritual for me.

What are the messages you’re trying to portray in this project?

GET YOUR WHOLE LIFE’ is a phrase made popular by women of color and the LGBTQ community. My lady says it all the time and it’s hilarious. She also happens to be on the album cover, and was a huge inspiration for the project.

There’s a few reasons I used this title though. It should grab your attention if you’re about that life (aka #fortheculture). But no matter who you are, it should at least pique your interest. I also wanted the title to be inspiration or encouragement to be self-motivated. We all need a little reminder every now and then! But, this is the first album where I literally did everything myself. Production, recording, writing, singing, mixing, mastering, cover art graffiti, photography, design, promotion … everything. It just means “there is no excuse,” get ya life.

I wasn’t NOT going to make this album, ya know?

The other reason for this creative direction is the lack of inclusion within electronic music as a whole. It’s not that people other than white males are NOT making good electronic music, it’s that it’s not being supported. For the longest time, I would avoid sending out any music pitches with my photo attached, because people judge what they see before they ever listen to the music. In my personal experience, it made a difference in the amount of coverage I received, unfortunately.

So my hat is off to you Chris, and Dancing Astronaut for the unbiased journalism. In 2019, it’s easy to forget that house music and trap were both created by African Americans. Of course, the music itself is the most important thing! And that’s my point. In a world full of cultural diversity, I believe we can do better as a genre to include more unique influences, from people of different backgrounds.

Do you have a go-to MIDI controller?

Definitely Ableton Push 2. I use it to produce, and perform live. The other one I use most is Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol. I love hardware controllers that are built specifically for the software, and match everything that’s happening on screen.

Any special VST that really took the productions home?

I actually focused more on textural sounds and manipulating samples, for this album. But my go-to for layering elements, and adding ear candy was reFX Nexus. I have plenty of expansion packs, so there’s tons of stuff to choose from.

Which song took the longest work and why?

Either “HUNTER GATHER-HER” or “Neva Seen (A Broken Heart)” both for the same reasons. Blending the natural/organic sounds with more compressed/electronic sounds was difficult to get right in the mix. It’s very technical, but I had to swap out certain sounds to get everything to fit just right in the frequency spectrum. And you don’t know if you have the right combination until going through the mastering phase.

So I think I ended up with like 17 to 20 versions of the mix and the master with those songs.

Who helped you on the album?

I only had one feature, from an incredible singer/songwriter named Linda Diaz. I love her voice and can’t wait to do more with her. “Everything / I’ll Be Your” is actually our first collab.

Other than Linda, I didn’t have any help. I love the creative freedom, so that’s the trade off to having to do everything yourself.

How would you define your sound?

Genre-fluid. Maybe genreless?

I love so many styles of music, and I’ve never wanted to limit myself to just one. That just seems like such a waste. So I subconsciously borrow the elements that I love from different styles, bring them together, and let them inform where I should go creatively. The main influences are hip-hop and electronic music, so they usually make up the foundation, and then I’m free to just go anywhere with it.

What DAW do you use and why?

It’s been Ableton for the last 5 years, but before that it was Pro Tools. With Ableton you can be way more creatively free. You can record a bunch of different ideas, in the form of ‘clips’, and then audition the clips together in different combinations to hear what goes together the best. Usually, you’ll have more than one combination that works well, and with more than one combo you already have enough to start making different sections for your song, like a verse, chorus, drop, etc.

And the fact that you can perform live with it, sets it apart from any other DAW I’ve ever used.

What was the most difficult sound to conquer on the project?

It was something that should’ve been the most simple, but instead, created the most headache haha.

The claps on “Neva Seen (A Broken Heart)”. Yo, I tried so many combinations and could never get it right. It didn’t matter how many layers of claps I stacked on each other, they were either all in the center (no stereo), or all on the sides (no middle). And they didn’t sound like “real” claps. I wanted it to feel like there were people in a small room with you, on both sides clapping in unison.

I finally figured it out though. I ended up recording myself clapping, and then it was about hard panning different claps left & right. Then I added a subtle snare drum under them, to add more body.

What was the most difficult melody to conquer and why?

I’ve been a vocalist on music in the past, but “Silent City (Everything Is Connected)” would be the first time anyone would hear me sing on an official release, so I had to get it right.

The singing was easy, but the difficulty was in the mix. I wanted to have a modern vocal mix, that would be strong, clear, and lightweight so it floats over the music. I plugged in some mix references from Quavo, Drake, and Wiz Kid and tried to match those characteristics. It took a decent amount of effort, but I think I did alright. This song specifically, is one of the most interesting and dynamic mixes I’ve ever done. Really happy with the way it turned out.

Do you have any unique studio habits?

I have a small Pomeranian dog that likes to be in the studio while I work. I’m usually sitting on the edge of my seat, so sometimes I’ll put him in the chair with me, behind me. He’ll just chill there while I do my thing.

What was your most memorable in-studio moment while producing the album?

Probably the first time I played “Magic Chapstick” for my lady haha. She was in shock for a while, and couldn’t believe it was me! It was a pretty dope moment. A few minutes into it, she realized that the song was totally inspired by her, always asking me for my Chapstick. She was like, “ooOOoo strugggggle” hahaha!

Do you have a music background aside from production?

Before I decided to focus solely on production, I was also a songwriter – rapping and singing hooks. I actually started rapping and producing at the same time, and for years I was doing both. But at some point, I realised I could have more creative freedom with production. The voice is just one instrument in an ensemble, however important it may be. But to be the ensemble is just a whole different experience.

Is there any hardware or software that you’re yearning to buy next?

I’m actually looking forward to getting Ableton 10. I’m using an earlier version right now, but they seem to have some pretty cool upgrades for their instruments and the Push controller interface. Also the earlier versions aren’t compatible with the latest OS X Mojave update, which I wanna try out.

When did you start producing music?

1999. But I wasn’t any good until 2004/2005.

What is your favorite in-studio snack?

I don’t really eat in the studio because my hands are always busy. But when I take a break, I like healthy vegan snacks, like dried mango, roasted seaweed snacks, or a banana.

What is next for Conrad Clifton?

I just did a secret album showcase with ROARK & Visual Concept Group, at Legendary Republic in Brooklyn. It was a crazy immersive audio-visual experience with huge LED screens, and projection mapping on the surrounding walls. I performed live versions of the new songs from ‘GET YOUR WHOLE LIFE’, and it was such a success that we’re discussing ways to bring the show to more audiences, so I think a tour could manifest from this.

I’m also hoping to build a solid team with a manager and booking agent.

Production-wise, I’m planning to land more sync placements in TV & film releases. I’m open to using my music wherever opportunities are available. Let’s get it!

Photo Credit: Sam Shannon

Elohim opens up about mental health on ‘Braindead’ EP [Interview]

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Elohim opens up about mental health on ‘Braindead’ EP [Interview]2019 BW 1 Tiziano Lugli E1557506429148

Los Angeles-based Elohim has released her new Braindead EP in celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month. The extended play delves into Elohim’s mental health obstacles, a centerpiece of her artistry dating back from “Xanax” in 2016 through “Hallucinating” in 2017 to “Panic Attacks” featuring Yoshi Flower in 2018. Braindead takes listeners on a roller coaster of emotions, through energetic panic, distraction, sedation, meditation, and brain fog. She ends the project with her version of Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta” featuring AWOLNATION, a song about society driving its members mad.

For the month of May, all proceeds from streams on the Braindead EP will go to a selection of charities focusing on providing outreach and support for those suffering from mental health issues. Elohim has also released a series of breathwork videos for each song on the EP as a form of guided meditation. She will also release a docu-series about the EP to be released in the coming month on her YouTube channel.

Elohim is Skrillex‘s muse these days, co-producing with the storied producer on her recent two singles, “Buckets” and “Connect” on the OWSLA imprint’s limited output. The rising producer also hit high marks on “Sleepy Eyes” with Whethan and “Love Is Alive” with Louis The Child. She will also hit the road on tour with Blackbear this month. Find tour dates here.


Can you tell us about your mental health obstacles and when you began realizing you had them?

I had my first memorable life-altering panic attack when I was 7 years old. It seemed to start there, and then everything changed. The following year, I couldn’t go to school without having a panic attack. I would be at the market, and if I was alone in the next aisle over from my mom, I would go into sheer and utter panic, which instantly made me think, “I’m going to throw up.” When I was a child, it was hard to control the physical nature of it, and I would often dry heave or throw up.

My parents never put me in therapy or identified it as anxiety or panic, so I was lost until I became old enough to understand. I was OK throughout high school and a couple years after, but as soon as I created Elohim and started performing, it kind of all came back to me full-force. I felt 7 again. I am not sure what exactly triggered it again and brought it all back, but I went through some incredibly difficult times.

What steps have you taken to alleviate your symptoms?

I began therapy, and that is helping tremendously. The idea was to work with my therapist (she specializes in trauma) through my issues without the use of medication. After consistently working with Susan for a year and a half, she suggested I see a psychiatrist and try full time medication, while continuing to see her. That is when my life clicked into gear and totally changed for the better.

I also started taking vitamins, developed healthier eating habits, and I try to stay consistent with physical activity.

What industry or life battles are you currently facing with respect to your mental health obstacles?

Everything has a way of being a trigger at times, but for me, it is important to recognize that and be smart about it. I have to tell myself it is OK to take the “me time” that I need.

What is something you’ve learned about mental health that you wish you knew earlier in your diagnosis?

I learned that it is OK to take monitored medication. I was so scared of any medication for years. I have become more self aware of what I am going through and have realized that hundreds of thousands of people also feel these feelings, which makes me feel a lot less isolated. Having that sense of community is remarkable.

What steps are you taking to raise awareness and build your community around a positive discussion about mental health?

The first steps I am taking are to start real and honest conversations. Every aspect of it: no frills, no sugar coating. We are ALL HUMAN! I don’t know where it comes from or why we are programmed to keep things a secret and inside. I want to tell my story so other people are brave enough to tell theirs. I want people to know that it is not something to be ashamed of, and it is OK to ask for help.

Why did you chose to cover Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta?”

I was driving one day, and I think KROQ in Los Angeles was doing a flash-back hour and they played it. I had the chorus in my head all day after hearing it, so I got home, sat down at the piano, and started learning it. I looked up the lyrics, and as I was singing it, in that moment, I was kind of floored with how relevant the lyrics were to my life right now. I had no idea they were speaking about mental health! It was serendipity at its finest.

How has your courage been lately?

I am feeling really good! I feel strong and ready to conquer all. I am consistently working with my therapist and being proactive about taking care of myself. It is important to take what you learn in therapy and incorporate it into your everyday life. Keep yourself on a schedule. Everything takes practice and work. I know that at any moment of any day, I could sink back down but I keep pushing forward and collecting tools to make that experience less traumatic for me.

Photo credit: Tiziano Lugli

Producer Sessions: 011 Adventure Club talks music production, mental health, new music and more on their Death or Glory Tour

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Producer Sessions: 011 Adventure Club talks music production, mental health, new music and more on their Death or Glory TourAC FEB2070

Producer Sessions is a series from Dancing Astronaut meant to shine a brighter light on the producer community. Each volume will guide producers toward professionals in their field.

Adventure Club is currently on their headlining Death or Glory Tour, bringing along a grip of heavy hitters such as Bear Grillz, Gammer, Riot Ten, ARMNHMR, Dirt Monkey, TYNAN, Wooli, William Black, Yakz, and more.

The Montreal duo consisting of Christian Srigley and Leighton James recently released a collaboration with Crankdat featuring Krewella, “Next Life.” Their last work with the Yousaf sisters was on their hit, “Rise and Fall,” back in 2012. Since then, both parties involved have grown quite a bit as musicians, and this evolution can clearly be heard on “Next Life.” We spoke with Srigley at Echostage in Washington DC about music production, among other facets of his work as a professional DJ and producer.

What made you finally collaborate with Krewella on your new song with Crankdat?

We toyed with ideas a couple times. With music, every song you write isn’t going to get released. You have to get a project that everyone jells with and we had five creative minds on this, and this is the one that stuck.

What is your production process like?

I’m the button pusher, Leighton is the idea man. We don’t use hard synths. I twist the nobs with my mouse.

What VSTs do you use?

A lot of times when I’m writing a new track, I’ll try to learn a new VST as I’m going through the track. You box yourself in a bit by continuing to use the same synth. Once I start feeling boxed in with a synth, I’ll move onto a new one.

You mentioned you liked our Flight Facilities – “Crave You” remix––that was Native Instrument’s Massive––and a similar patch was used for our Britney Spears “Till The World Ends” remix. That growl came from back when I was doing 20 hour bass builds because I was having so much fun with it. If I’m looking for a growl or specific synth sound for a song, I’ll go back to massive or whatever I’m looking for.

How do you normally start a song?

Typically, Leighton will find a melody on the guitar or piano. I’ll also cut some generic piano synthesizer and draw in chords. Here we’re listening for a cord line that really follows the vocals. Chords with the vocals really sets the tone. It’s the foundation and feel, then we add the details. Percussion comes in last for us.

Percussion is something I have to force myself to be more creative in. Drums are just less natural for me and more mathematical.

When doing a remix. We’re building the melodies around the vocals then add the drums last. I’ll try and reinvent the vocals as well.

Any plugins that you use in your signature melodic style?

Our most classic sound is our piano sound. I have a secret piano recipe that I use. Layers of it. I won’t give the secret sauce here tho.

What is your DAW?

Cakewalk. It’s pretty rare within the EDM industry. We use this plugin that’s native to Cakewalk, it’s called the Z3TA. They have really cool effects that we’ll put on vocals. Enigma by Waves is another with good features that we use for vocal treatment. Those are some old school plugins.

I’ve tried swapping over to Abelton. I was recording blues guitar when I was 11 years old in Cakewalk at my home studio, and whenever I tried crossing over to another DAW that might be more EDM friendly, it was like learning a new language. Cakewalk is my comfort zone.

It’s all about workflow. The faster I can get from point A to point B, the better.

What on the production side do you still struggle with?

I have trouble getting that super fat saw wave synth that really builds a whole room in all the right places and still leaves room for everything else. Even the spread as far as the chords go and how many synths are you going to layer into that. I don’t like using the same patch over and over, so I’m building up from scratch every time, and it’s always an uphill battle.

Can you talk about your collaboration process, on “Next Life?”

That was a stem swap, where we email stems back and forth without going to the studio. For some collaborations, we’ll go in the studio. For example, we with in the studio with Terravita when we made our collaboration, “Save Me” featuring Adara off our Red // Blue album.

Do you have any unique studio habits?

Guru energy drinks dials me in. I’m also a space bar squirrel. I’ll hammer the space bar, which is play and stop, and hit the same sound over and over again until Leighton has to run out of the room because he’s getting hit with the same sound over and over again. I’ll just be lost in thought hammering the space bar. Poor Leighton.

Do you have another vision for your live show?

Leighton and I have toyed with the idea of bringing live instrumentation to our sets. I grew up on blues guitar, so I would love to solo off all the songs in my set, but I don’t think that would necessarily hit. We have to find the right way to do it.

Singing is another aspect we’ve toyed with. One song that I’ve recently sang on is this song in the works about mental health. I’ve battled through depression and anxiety throughout parts of my career. It’s a song completely from the heart and vulnerable; I’ve never really spoken about it until now. I’ve found great guidance and growth, so I’d like to promote that side a bit and release this track about me opening up and advocating for mental health.

What’s it like being signed to a big label versus releasing independently?

The pros outweigh the cons. Just having those lines to release music from. Some of the cons are you can’t just finish a song and put it out. Sitting on projects I want to get out is a little tough.

Do you and Leighton make any weird ass music that you can’t release under the Adventure Club brand?

Absolutely, we’re constantly battling that. I think we’re on the luckier side because we have a nice spread where we can hit multiple genres. I know artists that are way more pigeonholed to a genre. Getter had a lot of trouble with that. From the industry standpoint, his album was phenomenal, but it just was expected with his fans and there was pushback there.

Have you ever wanted to create another pseudonym?

I’m a big gamer. It’s like World of Warcraft. We’ve been grinding for 10 years, we have all the top level gear, and every single step is so hard and involved now. I’d be fun to role a new character from the beginning.

What makes Canada such a powerhouse in electronic music production?

If you look 10 years ago, a lot of dubstep was coming out of Kelowna. It was a breeding pool for dubstep. Deadmau5 has been an influence for so many producer and you have to come back to Montreal to talk about A-Trak.

What is next for you guys?

“Next Life” with Crankdat featuring Krewella is the start of a big backlog of music. We’ve been sitting to long on some good stuff. Out next song is with Yuna who you might remember from our single “Gold” and a remix we did of her single “Lullabys.”

Do you do any extracurricular activities?

Magic the Gathering. In Seattle, we got to play with the people who worked at Magic alongside fans.

Producer Sessions 010: ZEKE BEATS shares the inter-workings of his ‘Bad Robot’ EP [Interview]

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Producer Sessions 010: ZEKE BEATS shares the inter-workings of his ‘Bad Robot’ EP [Interview]Zeke Beats Press Shot Horizontal

Producer Sessions is a series from Dancing Astronaut meant to shine a brighter light on the producer community. Each volume will guide producers toward professionals in their field.

ZEKE BEATS released his Bad Robot EP off Zeds Dead‘s Deadbeats imprint, an experimental bass three-tracker that thrusts dance music’s more mischievous side to electronic music into listeners’ faces. With the horrifying, but fun lead single “Bad Robot” to the drilling bass sounds of “Fire Tonight,” and through the dizzying basslines in “The Mammoth,” this taste of music provides a peak into whats coming next from the up-and-coming low end conductor.

Prior to the EP, ZEKE BEATS contributed to the Peekaboo & G-Rex remixes with one of his own that contained an assortment of bass spinning sounds that certainly prove dynamic in the Australian producers unique sampling choices.

Below, ZEKE BEATS answers producer-focused questions about the EP.

Why did you call the EP, Bad Robot?

The single itself really sounded devious, mischievous and super robotic, so naturally I thought “Bad Robot!” Once that was established the whole artwork and branding of the EP really took shape.

Do you have a typical production process? If so, what is it?

I generally try to make a heap of overwhelming bass sounds. When I find something I really resonate with I generally become super motivated to keep going. Most of the time I use a blank skeleton and building upon that!

What was your collaboration process like with Avance?

It was fantastic. I was touring Australia and we met up in Sydney at the Poster Child studio and made the main parts of the song that one day! After that we sent back and forth a few times online to finish it off. It was a really fun track to make.

What was your go-to synth for the EP?

I didn’t really have a go to synth. I like to use a different array of synth, vsts, and hardware synths. Those being serum, operator, massive, and a little phatty.

What was you go-to MIDI controller?

I don’t use any midi controllers for production, just the inbuilt keyboard in Ableton.

Any special VST that really took the production home?

Fab filter proQ and Ableton’s glue compressor

Which song took the longest work and why?

“Fire Tonight” took the longest, mainly because I wanted to go more in depth on the second drop. I had already had a completed version of it but then went back to the track and totally transformed that section.

How would you define your sound?

Visceral bass which pushes the envelope of electronic music.

What DAW do you use and why?

Ableton because of it’s efficiency and super fast work flow.

What was the most difficult sound to conquer on the project?

Just generally trying to get the cleanest mix downs possible really, there was no one single hurdle.

Do you have any unique studio habits?

Hmm not really unique but I do like my coffee

What is your favorite in-studio snack?

Coffee and avocado toast lol

What is next for ZEKE BEATS?

I’ve got a few amazing collaborations in the works and generally a ton of new music ready to be released. I’d just started my Bad Robot tour 2-3 weeks ago which has been so unreal. Another couple weeks to go. But that’s about it. Lots more music, original & collaborations, and a lot more shows!

Photo Credit: Turk Photos

Jean-Michel Jarre embodies his mythical ‘Watchers,’ discusses the human relationship with AI and new album, ‘Equinoxe Infinity’ [Interview]

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Jean-Michel Jarre embodies his mythical ‘Watchers,’ discusses the human relationship with AI and new album, ‘Equinoxe Infinity’ [Interview]Jean Michel Jarre Synth

Jean-Michel Jarre has released Equinoxe Infinity, 40 years after his fourth studio album, Equinoxe. Both albums are about “The Watchers,” creatures that look towards the future, speculating on what they might find. As an influence to Daft Punk, Gesaffelstein, and many more, Jarre is known as a pioneer in the electronic, ambient, and new-age genres. Amid the release of his lauded Equinoxe Infinity LP, the French luminary sat down with Dancing Astronaut to talk about the about the album, his technological ventures, and Jarre’s hypotheses about the future of music and life as we know it.

Jarre has just arrived in New York — we settle in discussing the city and the ongoing press junket for the newly released record. The Grammy nominated composer describes the city’s hectic nature, though he seems at home with New York’s hustle and bustle.

What are you doing in New York?

I’m here promoting my new album, Equinoxe Infinity. I’m also involved in a virtual reality performance for the album on Saturday Dec 8 at [10:00 p.m. with Sutu from Australia who was involved in the special effects of the last Steven Spielberg movie, Ready Player One.

December 12, I have a Q+A in the VR world. Going back to Europe to prepare for that.

Tell us more about the virtual reality performance. How does VR play into the album?

I’m very involved and interested by the possibilities of VR. It’s like Dancing Astronaut was drawn up as a concept for VR because that’s exactly who we are in the VR space. We’re inviting all these DJs to go into the virtual world and do their own remixes of the album. I wanted to explore all different technologies from virtual 3D, to VR, to 3D environments, and being spied on by artificial intelligence, one of the themes of the album.

Do you think a VR world is an easy next step for the entertainment arena?

Have you seen Ready Player One? The most brilliant part was when Stephen Spielberg re-enacted Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining where the main character’s virtual avatar goes into the scene of the Shinning with the twins, and opening the wrong door, and all the blood rushes by him. This is where AI and VR are quite exciting for the future.

The reason why I did the album as a soundtrack of two possible futures with two different covers: one, expressing more peaceful, green, positive mood and the other one is more dystopian because I believe we all have that choice. That’s why the album finished as a question mark, for us to decide.

What made you come out with the sequel to Equinoxe now? 

I’m not linked with the idea of it being a sequel of the first one. Both albums are about these creatures called “The Watchers.” I’ve always been intrigued by the artwork of Michel Granger, who designed the cover of Equinoxe. I’m intrigued by these creatures. What happened to them today, and what will happen to them in the future? The Watchers are whistleblowers both regarding environment and new technology. Technology is also watching us, in order to send us products that we don’t actually need, going deep into our product lives. I wanted to express a future where man and machine are closer and closer in our day-to-day life and how to cope with this. I imagine the soundtrack hitting two distinct futures represented on the album. This is why you have sunny, dynamic-pop moments and darker moments within the same piece of music.

The human voice and vocoder enters into the fifth movement and lasts through the seventh. Was this intentional? What was the idea behind “If The Winds Could Speak?”

We will be able to survive in 21st century only if we can evolve in good intelligence and good faith both within environment and new technology. These two factors are much more interdependent than we think. On “If The Winds Could Speak” my idea was to start with the human voice and processing them with granular synthesis, which is one of the most advanced synthesis we have. I wanted to create sounds that had elements of man and machine, begging the question of their differences.

I love the comment Dancing Astronaut did on “Robots Don’t Cry” because I could have called this track “Robots Don’t Cry, So Far” because I’m quite convinced that in the near future, artificial intelligence will be able to create original content, movies, music, stories, and this is not something we should worry about. Maybe we will re-position ourselves, as the creative person, to use these new parameters in different ways. So this idea of using the granularly synthesized human voice and creating it into something quite human is exactly the idea behind “If The Wind Could Speak,” “Infinity,” and “Machines Are Learning.” These songs are using human vocals, transforming it into granular synthesis, and then using the harmonic content of the sounds while still having that human touch.

You present an optimistic and pessimistic view on the album. Do you think human creativity is no more than just mechanics, or will human creativity be difficult to translate to AI?

Humans are just using 10% of our brains. AI can help us use the 90% left, which could open doors to creativity that we’ve never seen. This doesn’t necessarily have to be frightening. It can also be positive and very interesting. Maybe our brain, in the future, the education system will be different and act like a hard drive to simply access information. Maybe it gets stored in the cloud, using this information to react and making informed decisions. I don’t think AI will stop creation or creators at all, I think it will position us in a totally different context.

It sounds like we’re working in harmony with AI. This is an optimistic view of the future.

We should be optimistic by subversion. It’s very easy to be dark. We could go together in the studio, and in two hours, we could do a dark song. It’s much more difficult not to be dark. To try and be bright, and funny, and positive without being cheesy.

If you look around, the news channels get their views by exploring and exploiting the dark side of the world, where the positive side is not sexy for a lot of us and it’s quite challenging. That is one of the ideas for the project, to try and mix the dark and light side. It’s quite exciting in music when you can have happier positive moments hiding melancholy or the reverse.

Is there a movement on the album that describes your attitude towards technology and the future?

I would say that I think positively as a reaction to the darkness around. I’m not necessarily optimistic about the future, I’m just saying ‘I don’t know.’ It’s not necessarily going to be a Terminator dystopian type of world, but I think it’s interesting from an artistic project to explore that theme. “Robots Don’t Cry,” in one sense, is interesting because I used the Nanotron, one of the first electronic virtual studio technology instruments. I need to make the statement about technology that robots don’t cry so far.

The “If The Winds Could Speak” vocals have you question the sound’s humanity, and through the wind means going throughout time into the future. “Equinox Infinity” the final track, is an illustration about the idea of the journey towards the future with a lot of human sounds, nature sounds, machine sound, but it ends as a mystery. I took quite some time to create this track, which is mostly harmonious with elements that are not necessarily harmonious, and that can be quite disturbing and noisy at the same time.

You’ve been pioneer of new sounds your entire career. What do you think is sonic creation’s next frontier?

My next wish and project would be to establish a collaboration with AI. I wanted to create the “Equinoxe Infinity” track with AI, but it was not ready yet. The collaboration should be ready within the next few months, for my next project. The kind of AI collaboration I experimented with was an algorithm able to imitate a Michael Jackson track or Beatles track, which is not what I was expecting, or to fill the AI with a melody and it returns with variations of that melody, which ends up being quite straight and fairly boring.

Mathematicians love Bach because he had a very mathematical approach to music, so it’s the best for artificial intelligent recreation and variation. Today, in 2018, there are far more concepts that musicians have to add, like a groove to the rhythm. The right software is not there yet, but it’s coming soon. I’d like for us to challenge ourselves to help improve AI and not be scared of it for those reasons.

On the VR side, I very excited by developing alternative possibilities for creators.

Space has been a prominent motif in your work for half a century. Are there space themes in the album that relate to the connection between human and technology?

I’m a big fan of the Dancing Astronaut name. I was jealous because it’s a fantastic title for an album or a movie. At the beginning of my career, NASA asked me to integrate the 25th anniversary of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center into my Houston show celebrating Texas’s 150th anniversary on April 5, 1986. I worked with many Houston-based astronauts, including Ronald McNair, who was suppose to have played the saxophone on “Rendez-Vous VI,” recorded from space into the concert.

McNair unfortunately passed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, but I was urged to proceed in memory of the shuttle’s crew. It was a turning point of exploration as the world all of a sudden stopped exploring space.

Next year we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon, and it will be broadcasted on the German French channel, ARTE, to be the guideline of a quite trendy shows called “Winter Moon” that will link everything from people to the moon, and associations with the moon.

It’s very interesting talking about dancing astronauts. Because dancing astronauts is very relevant to what pop culture is about. Astronauts and the explosion of pop culture started at the same time. In the 1960s and 70s we were obsessed by space in music, in passion, in architecture. We were all kind of dancing astronauts, and it seems like that identity was lost a bit, but I think it’s coming back with movies such as Gravity, Interstellar, and all these Mars colonizing talks, so the future belongs to Dancing Astronaut.

Well, shucks. That’s quite the compliment. Thank you, Mr. Jarre. 

With all this new technology making creation easier, it sounds like we have room for more exploration.

So true! Exploring space is not only exploring outer space, but it’s also exploring the virtual space. VR is exactly that. We are like astronauts exploring a virtual world. By the end of the day, putting your foot on another planet is not the same as going into the virtual world. Say hello to all the dancing astronauts.

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.

 

3LAU talks about the first music festival powered by blockchain, Our Music Festival [Interview]

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3LAU talks about the first music festival powered by blockchain, Our Music Festival [Interview]Our Music Festival 3lau

The first ever blockchain music festival is coming up. On October 20, Our Music Festival hosted by 3LAU will take place at San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza, featuring Zedd as a headlining act. Click here to purchase tickets and witness the emerging technology in action among performances by Big Sean, Zedd, the host himself, Matt & Kim, and Charlotte Lawrence.

DA spoke with Justin Blau about what festival-goers can expect at the festival from a technology perspective. The label boss also discussed future aspirations of implementing blockchain to events in the future in order to solve some of the industry’s current inefficiencies. The OMF app will be the first festival application that runs on an open-source blockchain.


How did you start developing the first blockchain music festival?

Being in the music business for 8-9 years, we’ve all experience a lot of the inefficiencies in this relatively inefficient business. As I opened my eyes to the technology that blockchain could start, I really thought this could help propel festivals in the future.

What got you started in blockchain?

I started learning about blockchain while staying with the Winklevoss twins in LA around 2012. They were busy building their exchange, and learned about bitcoin there. Last year, when the market was going crazy, I took a big nosedive into learning about the technology.

How will Our Music Festival be different than a regular music festival?

You’re going to be able to earn rewards at the festival on the app for performing certain activities. With those rewards, festival-goers can buy merch. This is the only implementation of the blockchain technology in year one. In the future, we want to expand the technology so fans can choose the lineup and get fractional ownership.

3LAU talks about the first music festival powered by blockchain, Our Music Festival [Interview]3LAU E1539623193684

How does the app work?

In the first year, everyone will get OMF tokens for free. Call it a rebate for the ticket purchase. Festival-goers download the app, claim their QR code which activates the wallet, and OMF tokens are earned by performing certain activities at the festival. They can exchange these tokens at the merch table.

What data-points are you looking at in year one?

Festival-goers who purchase tickets will get three tokens immediately, and we hope they go to the merch tent and are amazed at how quickly and seamless the process is. We’re giving people free tokens from QR codes printed on confetti and other activities.

What inefficiencies in the music industry are you looking to solve?

There are three main things we want to solve. The first is liquidity. Typically, fans wait until the last minute to purchase festival tickets. This is a huge problem because it disables event curators from making festivals the best they could because they don ‘t have the money, so they cut costs.

Consumers wait until the last minute to buy tickets because there’s not a very easy way to sell them back. They think they might go down in price, but tickets typically go up in price. Fans in general don’t have enough liquidity for tickets, so we want to get them more involved in order to earn rebates.

The second aspect we want to solve are marketing inefficiencies. Friends tell their friends about festivals, but they don’t get anything in return from a referral.  They simply get their friend’s company. This creates value, and we want to give that value back to the referrer and market the event in a word of mouth way that’s never really happened before.

The last problem is this giant data problem. Artists and fans are generating all this data, and they don’t own any of it. In our open-source platform, artists and fans will be able to access all the data from users who opt in. This means artists can better target and have a more direct interaction with their fans.

What is the ideal way you see this working?

The blockchain side of things will help give those who participate more say. Blockchain verifies individual involvement. A hypothetical: Let’s say you want to go to EDC, while you’re not ready to buy a full ticket yet, you’ll spend $10 now to influence who plays and get a $20 credit on their ticket later because you gave the festival curators valuable data. Blockchain also verifies involvement to keep bots and spam out.

In order to engage people, we need to make blockchain simple and understandable. After they understand it, we hope they’ll want to buy more of it.

You’re quite the trendsetter. In addition to OMF, you also started the first not-for-profit label, BLOOM. What made you go down this path?

I’ve done a lot of non-profit work even before I was an artist.  I think it’s important to give back to the community, especially since I get to make a living doing what I love. I’m making OMF to give back to the fans. Pencils of Promise is the organization my label, BLUME donates 100 percent of its profits to. It’s a super transparent organization. I know exactly where the money goes. We’ve built seven schools in Guatemala with them.