Get To Know: LAXX [TMN Exclusive Interview]

LAXXTMN

Since being snapped up by dubstep heavyweights Never Say Die last year, DJ and producer LAXX has had a whirlwind few months. Upon releasing his iconic ‘Step One’, which saw heavy support from Flux Pavilion), he subsequently released three EPs, including the recent free download series ‘Step Free.’ With his unique approach to production and eye for a killer hook, his gig schedule is beginning to pick up, as his booking increase. We got speaking to LAXX to discover more about working with the Never Say Die team, future releases and where he sees this future heading.

TMN: Firstly, how did you come up with the name LAXX?

I’m not really sure how I came up with it, but it had a sound to it I instantly loved. Its kind of ironic too, because its slang for being lazy and I’m in the studio basically 7 days a week when I’m not travelling and playing shows.

TMN: Big ups on the hilarious teaser for ‘Step Free’ that you put out with SKisM, is he usually like that?  

Thank you. We were both laughing constantly while putting that together. The original version was like 5 minutes long, so we decided to use the “directors cut”, but it still cracks me up when I see it. SKisM isn’t really like that, it’s a shame, but I think his alter ego will come out at some point! Especially if I tell him I want to do any more free downloads. He’s a top guy in all seriousness, he works ridiculously hard and knows instantly if a track is going to ignite. I think the last thing I sent over his only words were “shut up” and “ridiculous” That’s meant in a good sense, by the way.

TMN: Why did you decide to give away the EP for free and will there be a ‘Step Three’ release any time soon?

‘Step Free’ was a project I had in mind for a while, I love giving something back to the people supporting my music, and this was the best way to do it. Every track on the EP was hand picked and some of them took nearly a year to finish, so this was a project I had planned out for a long time. I think I spent about two months deciding what tracks would go on there and making sure they were as perfect as I wanted them to be. There was a lot of blood sweat and tears that went into it. With regards to my next release, you’ll just have to wait and see… You’ll find out very soon.

TMN: For me the biggest track from the free series is ‘Untouchable’. Can you tell us the creative process for writing the track and how long it took to write this banger?

‘Untouchable’ was one of the tracks which took nearly a year to finish. I’d written part of the idea, and kept coming back to it, and then had a mad studio bender of about 3 weeks and worked on it nearly every day. I had an idea in my head and just started piecing it together, I think put down some drums, and then made a basic version of the lead and resampled it an insane amount of times. Its strange, when you get a vibe off a track, its kind of like you lose yourself and focus so intently on the track that nothing else matters, then you kind of take a step back and think fuck, what happened?

TMN: Who has been your biggest inspiration for your career and your most recently releases on Never Say Die?

I really like every artist on the label. Zomboy is smashing it, I like the direction he’s gone in, where he’s kind of tried out every genre and put his stamp on it. Eptic is a monster too, I get sent a lot of versions of tracks he’s working on, some deeper stuff recently and it keeps me inspired. MUST DIE! is insane also – the remix he did for me has been crushing it worldwide. So yeah, everyone on NSD is doing things I like.

TMN: Do you have any plans to play state side soon? And what are your top 3 tracks to play out live at the moment? 

I’m coming for you baby! America is one of my favourite places in the world, and you guys have always been some of the most dedicated fans. Long story short, I’m coming to take over! I’ve been playing out a lot of my new sounds and its been crazy seeing the reaction, but aside from that I love double dropping Flosstradamus – ‘Mosh Pit’, Yellow Claw – ‘Lick Dat’ and Gent and Jawns – ‘Turnup’ – (Kill The Noise Remix). Biggup!

Be sure to nab LAXX’s ‘Step Free’ here. 

LAXX
Untouchable
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Get To Know: Habstrakt & Megalodon [TMN Exclusive Interview]

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Habstrakt & Megalodon
The Storm

Seeing as they had a brand new, four-track dubstep extravaganza out this week via Never Say Die Records, we decided to get the lowdown on how Habstrakt and Megalodon created “The Storm”. The pair, who usually work as solo producers and DJs last worked together for a track on Megalodon’s “Boom” EP, and clearly something sounded right. This time around, it’s a collection of heavy impact, sample-filled pieces of 140 bpm madness. Check out what the duo had to say about their creative processes.

TMN: What have you both been up to as of recent? 

Habstrakt: Touring Australia and New Zealand at the moment, it’s absolutely amazing so far. I had to wake up in the middle of the night to witness the release going live and see the fans react to it! Before that, I spent the summer in studio working on loads of new tunes, and already wrapping up the next EP as we speak.

Megalodon: I’ve just got back from a tour in the States and now catching some of the festival season here in Europe. It’s always fun to enjoy Europe before it gets back to being cold and dreary! As for studio work, I’m constantly working on sound design and concepts, which for a picky person like me may take a good amount of time sometimes.

TMN: You joined forces back in 2013 with “40 Cows”. How did you originally hook up for that track?

H: Sinjin (Megalodon) was touring France and had a few days off, so I offered him to come over to my place so we could finally meet after years and years of talking on the internet. We made “40 Cows” in one session; it only took an afternoon to write it down, which was probably the fastest studio session I’ve ever had!

TMN: What has the writing process been like for “The Storm” EP, any funny studio stories? 

H: Well, “Yabba Dabs” was written on Sinjin’s sofa in The Netherlands, we didn’t have speakers and did most of it on laptop speakers or with crappy headphones – coming back home to mix it down was painful, aha! Once again, we wrote all the tracks within a few days, but then obviously mixing it down took us a bit longer! The recipe for the album was pretty simple:  funny samples, 8 bit melodies, aggressive drops and a good dose of that sofa laziness we all crave.

TMN: You both work with Never Say Die on the regular, what is it like to work with SKisM and the crew?

M: Well I gotta say, from the moment I started working with them I noticed a big difference in drive and overall work ethic from them – more than anything I had experienced before. Put aside the fact that SKisM and the crew run an immensely tight ship, they also have always been on point when it comes to delivering quality and ground breaking dubstep to a bigger audience. I know Habby feels the same when I say SKisM is a huge influence as a producer and a pioneer in the game… it’s an honour to be apart of the team!

H: The Never Say Die crew is a very strong team with loads of people involved full-time with running the label, it’s very encouraging to work with such a team. SKisM has always been a mentor to me, even getting me back on the road when I was drifting away. The man is driven by a strong vision of both his label and the bass music scene in general, and it’s a real pleasure to work with someone who’s entirely devoted into pushing his artists as far as possible. Plus he calls me every night to sing me lullabies so I can sleep and he owns a suit made of £ notes, what else can I say!

TMN: What do you both have planned for the future? Any chance of more tracks from the pair of you?

M: Basically the same thing I’ve been doing since the start really. Making music and performing it is my passion and I hope to continue doing so for as long as I can. As for working again with Habstrakt, I think it would be foolish not to. I guess we will see what happens next!

H: It looks like I’m gonna be on the road a lot over the next few months, gigs are piling up and upcoming tours looks really exciting! Lucky for me, I’ve learned how to work far away from my studio and I can keep up with the production while playing shows all over the world.  And yes, you will definitely hear more Habstrakt & Megalodon collabs in the future, we’ve got such a nice thing rolling, I don’t see any reason why we would stop!

Pick up a copy of “The Storm” EP here. 

 

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Young Rising Sons talk Zooey Deschanel, The Jersey Shore, and Fat Sandwiches [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

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Young Rising Sons
High

A few weeks back, we had the pleasure of catching Young Rising Sons‘ first show in the Mile High City. Playing the mid spot in support of Little Daylight, they captivated the entire crowd at Larimer Lounge with just five songs. After the show, we sat down with them to get a little more story behind how this fast-rising Jersey act came to be.

TMN: Hey guys, welcome to Denver. Is this your first time in the Mile High City?

Andy: It is. It’s been amazing. We’ve felt so welcomed here.

Dylan: Denver was the first place to play our song on the radio, and also you guys premiered our song on The Music Ninja, which was amazing.

TMN: Did you guys make the same stop that everyone does, hitting up a dispensary for some legal goods?

Dylan: We tried to! To be honest, none of us smoke weed regularly, but it’s legal here. We were like “fuck it.” We went to a spot down the street and it looked like a doctors office. There was a waiting room and you had to sign in.

Julian: It was too much. We were like, it’s a no go.

TMN: Alright, let’s talk about your guys’ roots. How did Young Rising Sons come to be, and where did you come up with the name?

Andy: We’ve been playing for a while now. It’s been about four and half years. These three guys have been playing forever. I was going to school in NY and playing acoustic in some bar in NYC. They happened to be there and came up to me and asked to jam sometime. It was instant chemistry. We became best friends and band mates, and it’s been the best thing ever since.

TMN: And where did the band name come from?

Andy: The name came from one of our songs, “Red and Gold” which is from our EP. The second verse has the words “Young,” “Rising,” and “sons”.

Steve: But they’re flipped around in different ways. If you listen close though, in the second verse of “Red and Gold,” you’ll hear it different order.

Julian: If you want a fun fact about that, Dylan actually thought of those while he was at Disneyland.

Dylan: Yep. Walking into the Magic Kingdom in Orlando.
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Solidisco talks Disco, festivals vs pool parties, and their love for S’mores [TMN Exclusive Interview]

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Chromeo
Jealous (Solidisco Remix)

With Disco making it’s way back to the forefront of dance music, we here at TMN have become fascinated with the global groovement that is currently in action. Who better to talk to about this epidemic than Disco’s own Matt McGurn and Don Skotnicki from Solidisco? Well we had a chance to talk with these guys last week about how these two joined forces and helped revive the era of Disco in today’s modern dance music culture. Through all of their endeavors, Solidisco is giving our ears a much needed break from those all too familiar festival bangers and instead are pumping some life back into our souls. See what these guys have to say about their sound, dance music, and who would most likely be Paris Hilton’s dog.

TMN: So, before we jump into how Solidisco developed into what it is today, let’s go back a bit and learn more about you guys. I’m sure you hear this question all the time, but it’s always great to ask, especially for new people tuning in, but how did you guys get involved with music? How did you two come together to form Solidisco?

SD: Music has always been a big part of our lives and we like all kinds of music, so it was only natural for us to become DJs. We both grew up DJing in Buffalo, NY. There wasn’t a lot of people doing what we do there, so it was natural for us to start working together.

TMN: Who have been some key influential artists that inspired you to make music; this goes for all genres, too. How would you say that those artists have helped mold your sound and guide you in the direction of where you are right now?

SD: Armand Van Helden and Dimitri From Paris got us into house music, so they kinda both pushed us towards our love for disco. We were always both big hip-hop guys and 90s/00s hip-hop was heavily sample based, so that got us into the art of sampling too. Just Blaze is definitely an influence with how hard he went with the horn section samples. We definitely have tried to apply that to house music in several of our songs.

Kanye West
Bound 2 (Solidisco Remix)

TMN: It appears that Disco/Funk/Nu-Disco/etc. have been steadily inching towards the limelight of dance music – How would you define the role that Disco has played in the current groovement and what do you guys think might be some reasons as to why people are finally introducing these type of genres in their sets?

SD: We think it’s an over saturation thing. The Nu Disco/Funk groove is getting popular just because it actually has groove. Same with Deep House. I wouldn’t say Deep House is ‘funky’ but just the fact that it has a groove makes it popular right now. Since EDM exploded in America, it’s just been “4-on-the-floor” banger after banger. There’s really no groove to those songs for the most part. It’s just about being so hard that it makes people go crazy. I think now it’s going back to actually listening to dance music to actually dance, not to start mosh pits at festivals. So because of that, I think DJs are checking out other sub-genres of EDM to try and find some new material to play in their sets because they are getting sick of the typical house bangers.

TMN: We got to catch your sensational main stage set at Hard Day of the Dead last year and you sold us from start to finish. With that almost being a year ago, how would you say that definitive moment helped bring in audiences from all over? (Personally, that was one of my favorite sets of the weekend – some girl put gum in my hair because I was grooving too hard – totally worth it.

SD: (Hahaha) Sorry about your hair, but we’re glad you enjoyed our set! Yeah that was big for us, and we posted the set on our Soundcloud so everyone could check it out. We always say that we make disco tracks made for big rooms, and you can’t get much bigger than the main stage at a HARD event. It just felt good to finally play our music where it was meant to be played and getting the reaction we were looking for. It was very inspiring to go back to the studio after that and make new music.

The S.O.S Band
Take Your Time (Do It Right) (Solidisco Remix)

TMN: What are your favorite type of gigs to play and how do you prepare for them? This includes festivals, pool parties, etc.

SD: Each has it’s advantages and disadvantages. We like pool parties because we get to play some stuff we wouldn’t necessarily play otherwise and the vibe is cool, I mean, who doesn’t like being around a pool in beautiful locations? Overall it’s pretty chill and we like really energetic sets. Festivals are awesome, too, just because of the sheer amount of people. You get a crazy rush you don’t get anywhere else, but there are so many people there and so many potential new fans that we tend to be very careful about our song selections. We usually take less chances as DJs at festivals, so we would say club shows are our favorite because it’s enough people where the energy level is always high, but there’s not as much pressure as a festival so we feel more comfortable getting creative during our sets and always have the most fun when we get to do that.

TMN: We can see how festivals might pose a higher risk for putting people off as far as song choice goes. But, speaking of preparation, do you guys have any “pre-show” rituals of some sort? Anything weird is totally acceptable.

SD: Unfortunately we don’t do anything too weird. Mandatory bathroom stops and Red Bull consumption is about it.

Icona Pop
Just Another Night (Solidisco Remix)

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Party Favor talks music, quokkas, and that one time a fan humped a subwoofer box [TMN Exclusive Interview]

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When it comes to booty music, we tend to find the kind of artists that make us want to go from a modest person out in public to a shameless person twerking dat ass like we were blessed by Miley Cyrus herself. A few weeks ago, we had a few moments to chat with one such artist that makes us do all of the above. Los Angeles based producer, Party Favor, encompasses everything that our young dance music culture embraces – literally. Not only does he have show-goers humping the shit out of subwoofers during sets (continue reading), but he continues to craft and develop his music/brand in which they collectively help draw in listeners from all over. With so much hype tied around trap and bass music, Party Favor shares with us his 6 year long journey of how he went from the typical mash-up DJ to a bedroom producer, all the way to performing with the big dogs at EDC this year. This touching interview will leave you inspired, excited, but most importantly, it will make you utilize your Google search bar more than ever before. Enjoy ninjas!

Bro Safari & UFO!
Drama (Party Favor Remix)

TMN: So, you’re having quite the year this year! You recently landed one of the biggest gigs of your life back in June for EDC Las Vegas – we got a chance to catch that set and it was pretty absurd. What was it like reaching that milestone?

PF: I think that question goes without saying. As someone who has loved this style of music for such a long time, not only was it so humbling and exciting for me but I got to play alongside people I have looked up to for so many years. It was completely surreal. EDC has grown each and every year, and so has dance music and this stage that 7UP set up was better than I could have even imagined. EDC was also a great way to show people who never believed in me before that I’m here to stay. It was way better than I even hoped and still can’t believe how well the crowd responded. Now I have another Insomniac show to look forward to in September: Beyond Wonderland Bay Area!

Check out the official Party Favor EDC After Movie & Download Party Favor’s EDC set here

TMN: Let’s rewind things a little bit – first tell us a little bit about yourself and how you made Party Favor into a career?

PF: So I have always had this infatuation with music but never really found a way to connect these sounds and thoughts into a music that fit my style. I tried the guitar, the piano and eventually gave up thinking I was musically talented enough. It wasn’t until I was in college (studying film) that I started to dabble in some film scoring and different audio programs/courses and it kind of re-sparked my interest. Mashups were actually what got me into House music in general. 6 years ago house music was so different and on a much smaller scale. I was listening to heavy electro house out of Europe mashed with top 40 tracks from the US and I started to hear the beat behind it and realized I loved how that music made me feel and how much it connected on the most basic level. I started playing it out to people in my social circles and became the guy who “had the cool mashups” (laughs). Eventually it snowballed into DJ’ing and then slowly but surely I attempted producing stuff that wasn’t garbage. I hustled myself at clubs/promoters and then eventually got an agent. Now here I am six years later – still trying not to make music that sounds like garbage (laughs).

TMN: (Laughs) Thank goodness you decided to pick things up where you left off. On that note, at what point did you know that things were starting to take off for you as a producer/DJ?

PF: There have been a few WOW moments that i’ve looked to as milestones; moments that really made me feel like things were taking off. On the music side, it was kind of the one-two punch of my official remix of Bro Safari & UFO!’s ”Drama” (which got a lot of industry support) and then my official remix of Showtek’s massive hit, “Booyah”. The response it first received really made me feel like things were moving  in the right direction. In fact, it still does. The energy of “Booyah” is hard to match and I think it was the first time that people got to hear me on such a massive scale. Some of the biggest DJ’s in the world immediately began playing it out and it was at that moment that I knew that something had finally clicked. I still play out the VIP now and it goes off even harder.
Showtek
Booyah (Party Favor Remix)

TMN: “Booyah” is definitely one of our favorite remixes of yours. Hands down.

TMN: Moving forward, it’s pretty obvious that you have a growing fan base, a hardworking team behind you, and a credible track record that has been catching the attention of some of the big dogs in the league such as Diplo. In fact, you just released a Diplo & Friends BBC Radio 1 Mix you did for his show this past August – that’s definitely something every artist wants to cross off their bucket list. How did you react when he reached out to you about doing a mix?

PF: Oh its phenomenal. I think as someone who is very hard on my own work, to hear from someone like Diplo that what i’m doing is cool is the ultimate reassurance.  BBC is a huge checklist item for every electronic artist, or any talent now for that matter, and i’m honored to have gotten a spot on his show to play out some of my newest tracks. That’s what it’s all about. I think getting a chance to showcase your sound and style to a completely new fan base is absolutely incredible and there are not many media platforms for our scene that have the kind of reach BBC does.

Download Party Favor’s exclusive Diplo & Friends BBC Radio 1 Mix 

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[TMN Exclusive Interview] Slow Magic’s Lessons in Running Away

How To Run Away

Slow Magic
Waited 4 U

Masked producer, Slow Magic, has emerged in the last couple years as one of the brightest talents in the flourishing, evolving genre of experimental electronic music. Remaining anonymous and keeping lyrics minimal, the young artist focuses on the sonics, masterfully proving the expressive power of an instrumental. Slow Magic’s forthcoming album, How to Run Away, which drops September 9th, has all the qualities of a breakout project with a powerful, cohesive narrative that teleports the listener to a free-spirited world through a prism of genuine emotions.

Although he generally prefers to let the music do the talking, we were lucky enough to have an inspirational chat with Slow Magic about his masked character, the emotion behind his music and his live shows (see upcoming tour dates here) among other topics. Enjoy the interview below and check out “Waited 4 U,” one of our favorites from the new album, above. How to Run Away is available on iTunes and Bandcamp now! 

TMN: Because of social media it has almost become a necessity for artists to put themselves out there and things can definitely start becoming not about the music, which makes your anonymity pretty interesting. It definitely makes sense to focus things on just the art, but what is your position on that phenomenon more broadly? 

SM: I definitely agree with that. I think there’s a lot of people who either feel forced into becoming super personal or they just want to get their face out there kind of. It can kind of turn me off to the music a little bit. Obviously, getting to know someone through their music is also really important and cool, but a lot of time that focus can take away from the art itself.

TMN: Of course there’s the element of anonymity, but the masked character definitely becomes a narrative in its own right. How do you think that fits into the music? 

SM: It started without a mask with the first few songs that I made and once I had the opportunity to play shows I had my friend develop a mask. From there, it has really grown into a character, I guess.

The character does kind of take it from anonymous to an identity, but it’s separate from me or really anything. And I like the fact that it’s itself, and it’s also me. I hope that adds to the project in that it is kind of a character and something that people can relate to even though it’s just an imaginary friend.
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[TMN Exclusive Interview] Trails and Ways Talk Influences, Covers and the Bay Area at Outside Lands 2014

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Trails and Ways
Mtn Tune

Oakland-based band, Trails and Ways, first surfaced back in 2012 with a string of impressive covers that reinvented some of the year’s strongest pop songs in unexpected and refreshing ways. Unsurprisingly, their subsequent debut EP, Trilingual, proved that their unique style is displayed in an even more powerful way through their original music. The 5-song project, true to its title, features lyrics in English, Spanish and Portuguese–a reflection of the group’s travels in Spain and Brazil. Aside from the evident international influence, Trails and Ways have an incredible take on dreamy California pop, teaming addicting lush acoustic and electronic melodies with the diverse vocals of all 4 band members.

We had a chance to catch up with Keith Brower Brown (guitar, synths) and Ian Quirk (drums) at this year’s Outside Lands to discuss their travels, musical influences and fantastic covers among other topics. Considering the quality of their library thus far, we could not be more excited for what Trails and Ways have in store in the next year.

TMN: First of all, we’re here at Outside Lands. Did you come here when you were at UC Berkeley?

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Ian Quirk of Trails and Ways

Ian: I’m from the East Bay. Hayward, which is a little south of where we live now in Oakland. I went to Outside Lands twice growing up. One of the most memorable experiences was at Radiohead. The sound went out, like the main speakers went out during their set, but they totally just kept playing. Everybody was dead silent—it was crazy at a festival that big—just trying to hear basically the stage monitors and a few little speakers. I’ve never seen that before at a festival where there’s dead silence. And then the sound came back on and after the most quiet I’d ever heard, it was the loudest thing I’ve ever heard immediately afterward.

TMN: Did the whole band live together in college?

Keith: Three of us lived in a building called Lothlorien, not the the Land of the Elves although I’d love to live there. This was a co-op at Berkeley—one of the student bought houses. Hannah, the lead guitarist, lived very briefly there for a summer, but we all went to school at Berkeley. Graduated a few years ago. Continue reading

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