Last month, local producer Wave Age had a track featured on Perfect Driver’s Swerve Vol. 2 compilation with one of the best song titles ever: “Nintendo 69″. Now, Perfect Driver has a forthcoming “Nintendo 69″ remix pack from 4 of their frequented artists.
First up is a wacky jackin’ remix from Landis LaPace, a producer out of Florida who has been popping up more and more with releases on Psycho Disco, Night Bass, and This Ain’t Bristol. Danish producer Alex Index also tried his hand at it, showing us a mixture of house and breaks with some fun, bouncy synths. Third we have the 219 Boys out of San Francisco with a heavy house remix featuring some traditional bass stabs, but cuts through that with a diving bass synth that is not so traditional. Finally, Grensta (also out of SF) rounds out the remix pack with a booming four-to-the-floor house track.
Make sure you grab all of these when they come out on December 4th!
G-house is a crowded market littered with blasé future house remixes marketed towards blasé top 40 dance parties. But there are a few in the game who aim to be better than that nonsense. Julius Jetson is one of those people. Julius Jetson’s G-house antics are on point.
His newest dancefloor heater, a collaboration with P.Keys titled “Richard,” is a bizarrely delectable tech house groove that dabbles in eccentricity much like the recent releases on Redlight’s Lobster Boy label or Tiga’s “Bugatti.” With a vocal hook that will have ravers shouting in unison with the edit’s four-on-the-floor rhythm, “Richard” is a bass heavy, fun, insane detour into Jetson and P.Keys’ twisted little playground of synths and booty pops.
You can stream “Richard” below and pick it up for free on SoundCloud.
I am standing backstage patiently waiting to interview DJ/production duo GTA before they hit the decks at Echostage during their current “Goons Take America” tour. One of the openers is playing an array of heavy-hitting, high BPM future house slammers to a crowd of excitable young 20-somethings; some are wearing clothes, others are wearing their personality, all of them are losing their minds as each track finds a new way to tell ravers to put their fucking hands up. At about 11:30, I get a text from their tour manager. One of the DJs is currently taking a shower and they should be ready in a few minutes. A few more people walk around backstage: roadies, friends, D.C.’s Sweater Beats, and the next act – a hip-hop group whose sound I’d later describe to a colleague as Future meets Rick Ross meets a trill goblin who lives under a bridge which ravers must cross in order to reach their Molly-fueled desires. Oddly fitting as I would discover their name was inspired by ketamine.
At about 11:40, I’m invited up to the green room to meet with Matthew Von Toth and Julio Mejia: the two minds behind GTA. The TV is showing one of the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ movies, there’s a bucket filled with DC Brau, an assortment of Kind granola bars, and enough Monster energy drinks to bring someone back from the dead. Their green room practically looks like a pre-game in someone’s dorm which, to be fair, isn’t far from the vibe the couple promotes at their shows; they’re known for throwing raucous parties. And this is just the start of their evening.
“At least you know I’m clean,” Matt jokes as he puts himself together. The young DJ decides to sport a crewneck sweatshirt, jeans, and a pair of boots which complements Julio’s varsity style hoodie, baseball cap, and sneakers. Style is clearly part of their image – their outfits designed to reflect the house party nature of their sets complete with gold chains and tight No Shave November beards. Later on in the evening, Matt would disappear right as they’re supposed to take the stage. “Where’d Matt go?”
He had to grab his oversized fedora.
After some idle chit-chat, the time was 11:45. They have a meet and greet in roughly half an hour. It was time to get the ball rolling.
zacheser: GTA – who are you?
Julio Mejia: I’m Julio from Miami. 24 years old.
Matthew Von Toth: I’m Matt. 25 years old. I own a car. I live in Los Angeles. And I have two bank accounts.
JM: Checking and savings account.
z: If you had to choose an emoji to describe yourselves, it would be –.
JM: The brown emoji.
MVT: I’m gonna go with the two hands up.
z: That’s a good one. Here’s a basic game: marry, fuck, and kill. Your choices are deep house, techno, and disco.
JM: Damn. That’s a good one. Definitely fuck disco. I mean literally fuck disco.
MVT: Like in a bad way?
JM: I wanna take disco to dinner. Get her drunk. And show her a good time. I wanna boogie all night if you catch my drift. I’d marry deep house. And I’d kill techno.
MVT: You heard it first. Julio killed techno.
z: How about you?
MVT: I’d probably do the same thing, but I’d marry disco, I’d fuck deep house, and probably kill techno.
z: Alright. So, anyone who’s read interviews with you guys before or knows you pretty well knows you met and started collaborating together via social media. Do you think we’re getting too digital in music?
JM: As far as getting too digital, I think it’s just expanding everyone’s reach. Years ago you couldn’t reach thousands of people with SoundCloud or anything like that and we’re fortunate that we live in a time where we can do that. Otherwise, a lot of these artists wouldn’t exist. I think it helps the scene a lot being able to showcase your music that easily with so many people. And you’ve seen it – anybody can go on SoundCloud whenever they want and post and no one’s really telling anyone what to do and there’s no guidelines really.
MVT: You can make an impact just from posting on one place. You can get a lot of feedback. I think it’s really cool. I’m sure it was super, super difficult before then. We don’t even know what it was like before then because we grew up in it. So I can only imagine what it was like, but it’s so much more more accessible. I think it’s great.
z: You used to work for Ultra. How did being on the other side of the curtain informed your guys’ choices as musicians?
MVT: I never worked for Ultra. I went to Ultra. But Julio worked as a hospitality agent.
JM: At that time, I didn’t really know about electronic music at all. All I really gained from working there was a new perspective on electronic music. I saw Diplo and Crookers and a bunch of guys at that time who were poppin’ in 2010 and were killing it. And it opened my eyes to a whole different side of music. I was fortunate enough to just keep in touch with all of those people and get my foot in the door a little bit. Most of all, I gained inspiration more than anything.
z: In 2013, you did an interview with Noisey and you said, “We try to make the kind of stuff we’d imagine would go off in a club.” It’s been a couple of years since then. Music has evolved crazily especially with how most people have received house music and how commercial its gotten. Do you think your mentality has changed at all considering how approachable and commercial electronic music has gotten?
MVT: It’s opened things up a bit. It used to be a bit narrower and you’d have to figure out different stuff that would have to work. But now since it’s gotten so popular, you can try different stuff and mash different stuff together and it can work pretty well on the dancefloor. I do think that in general more artists and more people should experiment more and be more open to different sounds, different tempos, different everything.
z: So you think, as far as electronic music goes, more people should do what Skrillex and Diplo did with Jack Ü concerning coming together and doing what each person does the best, but finding new ways to approach what they do?
MVT: That’s a huge thing with electronic music. Collaborating with other people. It makes you expand everything. Your sound. Your ideas in general.
JM: Expanding your fan base, too, I think really helps. For example, we did a track with Martin Solveig [“Intoxicated“] which made most of our fans go, “What?” At the time, everybody was listening to our trap songs, but “Intoxicated” was a completely different vibe compared to anything we’d done previously. It’s kind of what we wanna do. It doesn’t really matter what kind of music people know you for; we like to make everything. People from all demographics can appreciate music for what is and not care about who’s making it.
z: You guys released an EP titled Death to Genres and your sound has been linked to everything from moombahton to Melbourne bounce to future house. Would it be naïve to suggest that you deny categorization as DJs and producers?
MVT: Yeah. The only categorization we’d go for is just high energy. Especially when you’re going out to have a good time. Depending on what we want for the night, we like to have a lot of high energy and music can have that no matter what tempo you’re playing which is what we try to make our fans and the world understand. There’s so many sounds in the world. Why not be open to them? Other than that, when we make songs, categorization is still important because whether you’re looking for music or you need to play a certain track, you need to know what it’s called.
z: So which one is more important: the act of creating or the creation itself?
JM: The act of creating. I feel like that’s how the actual intention is expressed. A lot of people derive different things off the final product, but if I were to sit here and be like, “This is what I was thinking when I made ‘Intoxicated,’” it could change everyone’s view on how to view the track. If we were to tell you that it came along from a punk rock song or something like that, which we were listening to and inspired by, people would be like, “What kind of element did you take from that?” And they would take more appreciation to that aspect of the song. If I were inspired by this punk rock melody to write this song, they’d be like, “Wow. That’s dope. I get that.” Because you hear the catchiness, you hear the cadence relates to that specific kind of music. I feel like that’s what people think is cool or at least I do. I feel it adds a personal touch to your music; it differentiates people from each other.
MVT: I’d agree.
z: The way that house music is viewed now, especially with music coming from the UK, it seems people have adapted their taste a little more. You said in an interview with Virgin that Miami had a “very pop culture based sound” which I would agree is really true. But has the sound shifted due to the flood of music coming in from Europe?
JM: I would say so. The thing is, we don’t really spend that much time there anymore to know. But I think, for sure, they’re playing Disclosure all the time on the radio. It’s more of a national thing, too. I feel like everyone in the U.S. has adapted to the deep house and UK garage sound. That’s just the state of music in America, I feel.
MVT: Yeah. But I still think it’s mostly because dance music in general has become the pop mainstream.
JM: That’s kind of the most accessible thing. I think Disclosure, for example, is the perfect blend of R&B and dance which is great because I feel like people get attracted to that idea and I feel like that’s what U.S. radio is. It’s a blend of those things and more.
z: So five years ago, did you think house music would get as big as it is now?
MVT: I thought so just because of the fact that it was such a new sound that hadn’t reached that level yet. I knew some form of it would get popular. If you think about it, what is dance music now compared to what it was five years ago? There really isn’t anything now where people are going, “This is the next big thing.” Five years ago, it was at that level where it was about to explode.
JM: I think for me, my biggest realization it was starting to become part of pop culture was the Crookers remix of Kid Cudi. The “Day ‘N Nite” remix. I remember because I listen to Kid Cudi, I listened to the original, and the remix was the one that was getting played all the time on the radio. Then I was like, “Okay. Now things are changing.”
z: For you guys personally, when was the game changing moment?
MVT: We were doing one gig a month and then suddenly out of nowhere, we were told we were going on tour for three months with Rihanna. Around the world. We were like, “Holy shit. 60 shows. This is crazy right now.” That was around the time we felt things were getting crazy. They’ve gotten crazier and crazier.
z: On the road ahead, are there any dream collaborations you’re thinking about?
JM: Us and Pharrell. Us and Daft Punk. Us and Swizz Beats.
MVT: I’d like to do something with Ludacris.
JM: Us and Chief Keef.
MVT: A lot of people. I like Sam Smith’s voice a lot. He’s really cool. Julio likes Lana Del Rey.
JM. Yeah. Lana Del Rey.
z: Or as some people call her, ‘Lana Del Bae.’
JM: Yeah. Super fine.
MVT: There’s a bunch of people. Really, anybody who’s open to making something cool.
z: A full-length studio album at some point?
MVT: We’ve been working on one for a while now. Still in the process. We haven’t quite thought of a date to come out. We want to make sure we’re comfortable with everything. We want to get it right and take our time. We’re still going to be putting out EPs between now and then, so there’s still music coming out right now, but the full-length we want to get right.
z: Last question. Life or death situation. French fries or tater tots?
JM: Tater tots.
JM: Tater tots all day for me. I love tater tots.
MVT: French fries. There’s more times I’ve had better french fries than really good tater tots.
JM: I feel like every time I’ve had tater tots, it’s always been way better than french fries.
z: Those are strong words.
MVT: Those are strong words. Fighting words.
You can currently catch GTA on their “Goons Take America” tour, which ends at the Hollywood Palladium on November 28, and you can download their most recent EP, Death to Genres, on iTunes.
It’s 1:30 PM on a Tuesday. I’ve been asked to interview Slow Magic prior to his headlining gig at the 9:30 Club later on in the week with Giraffage. I’m given a number to call and a time to call it. Slow Magic is a shroud: a mysterious figure whom not much is known about other than his music which is described as something made by an “imaginary friend.” He treasures anonymity for the sake of artistry much like SBTRKT or Daft Punk, but not for kitsch; he treasures anonymity so the focus is less on him and more on the music.
I feel unprepared. I have listened to Triangle, his first album release on Bandcamp, a thousand times since its initial release, but what questions do you ask a shadow? The phone rings. A voice answers.
After brief introductions, we begin discussing his current tour. As it turns out, I’ve caught him on a day off. “My deal, at the moment, is some coffee which is keeping me alive right now,” he says after I ask him what he’s up to. “Just kind of chillin.’” He’s earned the right to chill: between releasing two full length projects, including last year’s How to Run Away, the young producer has also been on an extensive tour schedule in addition to constantly working on new material. During this rare opportunity to talk with him, I started asking the hard hitting questions.
zacheser: If you had to describe Slow Magic as a pasta dish, what would it be?
Slow Magic: Well, lately I’ve been trying to stay away from pasta for the most part because if I eat it before a show, I get full. Weighed down. So, I’d say zucchini pasta. Veggies with chicken on there.
z: That’s a good combination.
SM: Try to stay healthy.
z: Your sound has shifted a lot between your earlier work, like “Corvette Cassette” which has more of a Washed Out kind of vibe, and your new work which has more of a future bass attitude. What sparked this evolution?
SM: I’ve tried to stay true to the original sound, but I think also I’m just kind of excited about different things. Different music here and there. Especially like my track with Giraffage [“So Cute”]. We just wanted to make the most fun – and loud – song we could. I think it has a lot to do with getting to play more in front of people. And the energy there might influence me to play more upbeat music.
z: You are touring with artists like Giraffage and Odesza, and they have a very specific kind of crowd, so is playing in front of that crowd and seeing what vibes with them influencing the way you think about your new music as you’re making it?
SM: I wouldn’t say that so much, but more so since I’ve started and I’ve gotten to play more around the world, I think maybe it’s the interaction with the crowd instead of just being in the bedroom is making the music a little more upbeat. I think it might all come back to the same place in the end. We’ll see.
z: Artists like yourself, your current tour mate Giraffage, Jamie XX, Kaytranada, etc. All of you guys seem to be breaking into the mainstream consciousness, at the very least on the level of sites like Pitchfork, and all of you guys seem to have this common thread of deconstructing the tropes of electronic music to try and re-tool it and think of it in new, fresh ways. Do you think this might be a glimpse into the future of dance music?
SM: First of all, that’s a very flattering question. Thank you. I like all of those producers. But yeah, I think that is my hopes because there’s a lot of stuff that’s really trendy or really exciting, but I always try my best not to just make a carbon copy of anything. Like you’re saying, I try to deconstruct it and rebuild it in my own kind of weird, messed up way. I think all those guys that you mentioned are pushing that kind of pop music and electronic music in a real interesting area. Especially Jamie XX. He kind of broke out with that kind of stuff. It’s cool to see. It’s pop music, you know?
z: One of the things that pops up in interviews with you is “your imaginary friend.” Describe to me the process of working with him. Is he a nice guy? Does he sleep too late on the weekends? What is he like?
SM: When I started, I liked the idea of the music I was hearing through the speakers, that I was making, that it was from somewhere else. I liked the idea that we all have this imaginary friend that is making music with no time or place or identity. That was kind of the concept for starting up the project the way I did. I think Slow Magic has taken on a character of its own. I think he, or it, is a nice dude. Pretty positive. Kind of crazy. Unexpected. Chaotic sometimes.
z: And this idea of being disjointed from the music, letting the music be its own character, I’m assuming that’s where the mask you wear comes into play?
SM: Yeah. It all kind of simply started when I first made a few songs. I wanted them to be separate from an identity. I think the first few photos were pictures with my face cut out. The mask kind of came into play when I was about to play my first show and I just asked one of my friends, a really cool artist named Jonas, if he could make me a mask. And it all kind of went from there. It’s all evolved and continued.
z: There’s this thread in music, in popular music specifically, that ties into this with artists like David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust or Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo as Daft Punk. Do you think this theatricality in music is a lost art?
SM: I think that even a producer with a t-shirt on and a laptop is still theatrical. If you really boil it down, it’s still a performance on stage. To me, I just wanted to do something more exciting for myself and, in that same sense, throwing a weird and energetic show is more exciting for everyone else.
z: Do you think that gives you more freedom? Do you become less aware of you as “The Person”?
SM: Yeah. It definitely gives me more freedom and it goes beyond just not having to show my face. It helps me break out and be weirder. I think there’s a lot of types of music, like punk or hardcore, different kind of electronic bands I grew up seeing that kind of made me want the kind of show where the crowd is involved and they’re all together. That’s what excites me.
z: In your shows, you have a lot of live instrumentation which, in today’s day and age of electronic music, is kind of uncommon because it’s so easy to show up with a flash drive, plug it in, and play to a crowd. So back to the idea of lost art: do you think live instrumentation is a lost art on people?
SM: Maybe. The drumming in my sets is the probably the main live aspect and I think it’s a really primitive and simple way of playing music. One of the most obvious ways to see something on stage, and know what’s going on, is the drum. But I think that just kind of happened by accident, as well. My first few shows, I just had a MIDI controller and I was about to play my second or third show and my computer’s sound card just stopped working. I just borrowed a tom from the opening band and I gave my iPod with my songs to the sound guy and I just played through that. It was the first time I had drums on the set, and it was fun for me, so that’s what started the drumming. It was kind an accident, but I think it’s such a simple and primitive visual element.
z: Do you think that’s why artists like yourself or Disclosure or Autograf with their mallets are picking up speed with people? Because it taps into something primal?
SM: You did mention it’s kind of rare, but I think it’s becoming more normal to see electronic and organic, acoustic instruments together on stage which is exciting to me. Tycho’s a good example of someone who I’ve looked up to for a real long time doing that and he’s progressed in that, too. But I’ve seen people with just a laptop and no controller that play a really, really cool set. I do think that it connect people to the music, though.
z: As far as influences go, you just named Tycho. We talked about Jamie XX. Anyone specific that triggered you into making music?
SM: I think in the early years of my life, I remember listening to the Beach Boys on a cassette tape that my parents game me. And my dad was in a rock band. That may have helped me to start messing around with instruments that we had lying around and I kind of admire that. But I would say as far as electronic music, I could say so much. Tycho. Gold Panda was someone who challenged my views on electronic music when I first heard him. Aphex Twin. There’s so many. I think my favorite bands are like Sigur Ros and Sufjan Stevens. Just kind of beautiful music.
z: Are you the next Brian Wilson?
SM: I would never say that because that’s very high praise, but you can say whatever you want.
z: We’re both from the Internet age. Do you feel like the internet has made the act of discovering music more accessible not just to people who are actively searching, but also to people who are just clicking through website after website after website?
SM: The internet is pretty much the most important part in the creation of Slow Magic. I think if it weren’t for blogs or people sharing when I first started this, I wouldn’t be here at all. Some of it’s changed, but it’s still really exciting to discover new stuff on SoundCloud or YouTube. Accessibility and ease of making music is only in the end going to create true talent that stands out. Even though there will be more to sift through, we’re discovering 14 year olds who can make the best beats I’ve ever heard.
z: Do you think it will ever somehow ruin our abilities as musicians to be creative?
SM: It’s what we make of it as humans. It’s easy to see the negatives of over-saturation and sites that change based on money, but even if that were to happen, there’d be a better alternative quickly and we’d all be there.
z: If you could choose people right off the top of your head, who’d you want to work with in the studio?
SM: That’s awesome. Ever since their record came out, I’ve wanted to do a song with the singer of Rhye, Milosh. So he would be there for vocals. And then let’s say Brian Wilson because he’s still here. That’d be cool.
z: When was the “holy crap” moment for you? When you realized you made it as a musician.
SM: The first thing that comes to mind is the first time I went to Iceland. It was to play an after party for Iceland Airwaves, but I’d always wanted to go to Iceland. It was a dream to just visit. I remember playing my show and I got to meet the band múm who’s one of my all-time favorite bands and influences. I ended up playing their drum for the show and I just really remember that being a cool moment. It’s not so much about monetary success or anything beyond just being able to see the world because of music. There’s a lot of moments like that for me. It’s always good to remember this isn’t normal: I get to make music and it’s my job.
Looking to go the more complicated route than following the handbook for basic pop idols, Melanie Martinez has shown a level of self-awareness displayed by artists like Lady Gaga and Madonna in their prime. And even though the original holds up as ecstatic pop goodness, the Solstis remix of her single “Soap” from Cry Baby, may very well win her some new fans.
Solstis, the Chicago based winners of this year’s Electric Forest Discovery Project, have flipped “Soap” into a future bass-y, chilled out series of waves that sooth and caress feels as they bump and groove with each percussive kick. Atmospheric, melodic, and enchanting, the duo’s focus on ambience is the prime factor which makes the overall piece work as well as it does. The remix is inviting, it moves, but above all else it asks us as the listener to mentally drift off somewhere nice and warm.
The Solstis remix of “Soap” is now available as a free download.