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There comes a time in every artist’s career where what fulfills them creatively begins to place them at odds with what their following desires. For Tanner Petulla, that time has come.
A mainstay in the dubstep scene, Petulla ascended the ranks into bass glory quicker than most under the moniker Getter. He found himself headlining festivals across the world thanks to his hectic sets and otherworldly graphics. His shows and online persona were so infectious, in fact, that a cult following resulted. Most aspiring artists would consider this path a “dream come true;” however, being catapulted into public notoriety where fans had expectations for who he should be and the music he should make was not the case for Petulla.
As someone who is self described as having “super-advanced, alien-like ADD,” the artist has never been a one-project guy. The goal was never just to launch Getter, become a famous DJ, and put all of his focus into becoming the face of dubstep. In addition to his work under his EDM alias, he is also known for his rapping under alias Terror Reid, and for his clothing line called Shred Collective. Getter has always been a part of his creative output, but as time goes on, an increasingly smaller part.
Petulla found that money, a following, and scoring headlining slots did not equate to personal happiness not long after finding his way into the spotlight. The excitable and enthusiastic persona Getter portrayed was a far cry from his personal truth, and it became harder and harder for him to play the part. Once able to tune out the criticism from fans and friends, he became increasingly bothered, even paranoid, by those around him both on and offline.
“It was like, ‘how about instead of me going out and wondering about everyone talking shit when they really aren’t, why don’t you figure out what is actually wrong?”
Many underestimate the difficulty of having everything one could ever want, but still being unable to find happiness. As Petulla tried to come to terms with who he was on a personal level, he began to realize that Getter, creatively, was no longer inspiring, or even interesting to him. The word “depression” turned from a condition laced with stigma into his reality, partially rooted in his increasing success with music he didn’t feel represented him anymore. This was juxtaposed with the desire to keep the fans who supported him through his journey happy. As time went on, he realized that he couldn’t feign interest in producing what others wanted anymore. It’s 2018, and his music is a reflection of Tanner Petulla’s creativity, not the fan-facing Getter’s.
“It’s just not my shit anymore if that makes sense. Like, I can’t make something like EDM and be completely stoked on it anymore.”
When Petulla discusses what he is currently inspired by creatively, dubstep is the practical antithesis:
“I enjoy sound designing and making shit go off live, but I can’t spend more than 2 hours doing that. With calmer type shit, I could spend a 14 hour flight to Australia making that the whole time. If it is more than just partying, that’s when my interest can be held for longer periods of time because I’m not a big partier.”
While he maintains that “Getter” as one of his artist aliases certainly isn’t going anywhere, what fans can come to expect from its output will be drastically different. This began with his release of “Colorblind,” which was a fusion of punk rock, hip hop, and trap music all in one. Though it retained the trap elements that his followers have become accustomed to from past live sets and releases, this was the first of Petulla’s new chapter as a producer. While he has always been open about his appreciation of those who supported him as a dubstep icon, he is no longer entertaining the idea of creating music just to please this fan base.
Creatively, Petulla has finally found his niche with what he finds inspiring and fulfilling on a profound level. He will be releasing a full album in the coming month, and he notes that it “finally sounds like him.” When asked what that means for him and his legacy in the dubstep scene, his response gives insight into what fans can expect from future releases.
“I wouldn’t say I’m quitting EDM. I’m just kind of graduating. Like you’d never hear my EDM stuff in a movie or a commercial, unless it was a party scene or a race car driving scene. I’m trying to make music that could be in space movies, or a scene where Brad Pitt is making out with Angelina in the fucking rain, you know? Just some pretty shit.”
Getter released a three track EP with Ghostmane in late February called Dahlia I. Those who are only interested in his heavy-hitting bass aren’t likely to resonate with the eclectic collection of rap tracks. While entirely different than Getter’s past releases, Petulla’s style is still apparent —although it is within an entirely different genre of music. This creative transition may alienate some, but will arguably open the door to wider acceptance moving forward.
Many music lovers are simply intrigued by evolving artistry if they appreciate an artist’s core style. Those who resonate with Petulla’s unique flair will certainly never be bored as he continues to experiment with his wide-ranging creative abilities.
You have a lot of projects — Terror Reid for rapping, Shred Collective where you design apparel, and then of course, there is Getter. Do certain moods evoke certain creative projects for you?
I’m weird, and I just want things to go a certain way, so instead of trying to go to someone else and get help and move forward with something, I want to do everything on my own. I’m kind of just planting seeds with things like Shred or Terror Reid, so that someday when it’s like ‘oh something crazy happened with Shred,’ then everything is going to blow up. Or say something crazy happens with Terror Reid, everything will blow up. I kind of just want to have a bunch of bombs planted so that once one of them goes off, the rest of them will go off.
Are you aligned with any one of these aliases more than the other?
There was a good three or four month chunk when I made like eight Terror Reid songs, and then there was like a good three or four month chunk when I wanted Shred Collective to be a big super dope hype brand. So basically it’s like super-advanced alien like ADD that I have. Which basically works because then I have a ton of shit going on, and I don’t have to worry about not being busy.
You’ve been open about your depression. Is depression something you have always dealt with? Do you think being a public facing figure actually impacted this more?
I feel like if you’re a young person nowadays, you’re definitely affected by it, and you’re probably confused by it. Like a lot of people, including myself, you don’t want to put yourself in the same category with mental illness because then you feel weird, and it makes everything worse because you are confused, and don’t want to believe that it’s that. At least for me, it was easier for me to be like, ‘okay it’s a possibility,’ and being self-conscious about it was worse for me. Then it was like, ‘how about instead of me going out and wondering about everyone talking shit when they really aren’t, why don’t you figure out what is actually wrong?’
I’m a little more open about it now because it makes it easier to deal with shit with me, and this isn’t a real statistic, but probably 80% of people my age nowadays go through similar shit. Obviously if my face is in different places on the internet with music and videos, I feel like I’m affected a little bit more by it because people don’t see the full me- they only see the good parts because no one wants to follow someone who is fucking depressing all of the time. I feel like the music shit gives me an outlet to deal with it because it’s like ‘Hey, I’m not okay — but check this out.’
Now are you actually writing all of your own lyrics and stuff? Is that a creative outlet for you?
Oh yeah, obviously. “Colorblind” started out as just like a trap song before I put it out, and then I had the metal part of it for a different song. But then I was going next to crazy, and I was freaking out. I wanted to know what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t feel better. I have everything I want, and I was still sad as shit, blah blah blah. I told my mom about it, and she was like, ‘well have you tried writing? Whenever I feel like that, I try to write.’ Then I was like yeah, but diaries are lame, so I wrote those lyrics.
I’m not even kidding — when I left the studio, I felt so much better. Within 30 minutes or an hour. I mean it wasn’t gone, but my album that is going to come out this year is pretty much how my brain has felt the past couple of years. I have been writing it for the past couple of years, but I haven’t been writing it as a coping mechanism until recently. So now it’s like, I can go through and be like, ‘well this song is like this…probably because I felt like this when I wrote it,’ and things like that. It’s interesting. It’s really complicated but it’s interesting.
Can you give us more details on that album? I know you’ve mentioned that “Colorblind” is the only heavy song on the album, but it would be great to have more details on that.
There is no release date yet. My birthday is in April, and I was aiming to have it released around then because Friday the 13th is my birthday this year. I feel like it would be kind of cool to have like a calm debut album on everyone’s bad luck day.
This album is like my fucking baby. “Colorblind” wasn’t even supposed to go on it until after I added the metal part and vocals. It was supposed to be a single, but then it was like, okay it’s doing what all of the other ones do. I feel like if people listen to “Colorblind” and fuck with it more than a cool rave song, then they will fuck with the album. You will hear what I am feeling. It’s important. It’s an important album.
So no more dubstep from you?
No. I released an album three years ago called Planet Neutral, which is my name Tanner Petulla mixed up, and it makes Planet Neutral. That was my first take, and I was never going to release it. Then my friend died, and he was the biggest fan of that shit, so ever since he died and I put that out there, I’ve been making shit like that [dubstep].
Now I don’t even like making rave music, or for lack of a better word I guess, EDM. It’s not that I don’t enjoy making it. I enjoy sound designing and making shit go off live, but I can’t spend more than 2 hours doing that. With calmer type shit, I could spend a 14 hour flight to Australia making that the whole time. If it is more than just partying, that’s when my interest can be held for longer periods of time because I’m not a big partier.
Do you see yourself completely quitting EDM? What does this evolution in musical styles look like for you? I know you’ve mentioned you’re done with EDM in the past, but here we are.
I remember exactly when I said all of that shit. It was around Shaky Beats in Atlanta, and it was the pinnacle of me feeling like shit. I was sad, but I didn’t know why. So it was more just like, me being confused, and fucked up shit going on in my head. So I was like, you know what, I don’t enjoy doing this, so I’m not going to do this. That ended up with everyone including myself being like ‘I’m quitting.’ But you know, I’m always going to make shit like that, even if I don’t put it out.
It’s just not my shit anymore if that makes sense. Like, I can’t make something like EDM and be completely stoked on it anymore. I would compare my shit to other people’s, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’ll make a song and be like, ‘oh this sounds like Zomboy. Zomboy is way better than me — oh shit. I’m not going to release this.’ Whereas, the other music — it sounds like me, and I am not copying anyone.
I wouldn’t say I’m quitting EDM. I’m just kind of graduating. Like you’d never hear my EDM stuff in a movie or a commercial, unless it was a party scene or a race car driving scene. I’m trying to make music that could be in space movies, or a scene where Brad Pitt is making out with Angelina in the fucking rain, you know? Just some pretty shit.