The Chainsmokers
#SELFIE (Elephante Remix)

I got to sit down with our wonderful resident artist Elephante and pick his brain a bit about his musical background, all these crazy remixes he produces, and how his music dream only really became a reality a little over a year ago.

TMN: This month we have the pleasure of having Elephante as our resident artist. Tim, thank you so much for joining the ninja family this month!

E: Thank you for having me! It’s an honor 🙂

TMN: Let’s start at the beginning when you were just a young kid from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Tell us when you began taking music lessons and how that progressed from your early age all the way through college?

E: Well I started taking piano lessons when I was 8, but according to my mom, I was super into Fantasia when I was a baby, and would sit 3 feet in front of the TV and watch it on repeat, so I guess Mickey Mouse and that broom thing were sorta my first teachers. Took some guitar lessons in high school, but was mostly self-taught, pretty much through learning all of “Room for Squares” by John Mayer. Seriously that album is amazing. Anyway, I dabbled with hip-hop and messed around with Fruity Loops, but got mostly into writing my own stuff and singing. Loved like Jimi Hendrix and [Eric] Clapton, so it was like blues influenced pop stuff.

TMN: Was there a time you wanted to quit playing music? You know kids, they go through phases and also get busier the older they get, some activities have to give usually. Was music ever part of that or was that an activity you wouldn’t let go of?

E: There was a little bit in high school, but it was more from wanting to be one of the “cool kids” and not from falling out of love with music. Luckily I never committed fully to being a Mean Girl, and didn’t have to give it up. Plus, I figured John Mayer was getting tons of girls, so playing music was probably okay.

TMN: You said that in high school you performed blues influenced acoustic pop songs. Talk to us about where you would perform and how it was being a music kid in high school. Were you involved in your school music programs or were you more a solo music kid who did his own thing?

E: I never really did the school programs like band or orchestra, partly because I was more interested in making my own music and partly because I was terrified of other people thinking I sucked. I did play a few coffeehouse and bar shows, and got the courage to beg my friends to come see, which I am eternally grateful for, because honestly I probably wasn’t that good.

TMN: And you graduated from Harvard a few years back, did you go there for anything musically related? If not, what did you study at school?

E: I did, which I find harder and harder to believe as time goes on. Like, I really went to class and took tests and stuff? I’d get OWNED if I had to do that now. I did do as much music stuff as possible, minored in Music, ran the campus studio, was in a band, interned at a recording studio in Boston, etc.

TMN: Now as you transitioned out of school and into the big old world, when was it that you decided to produce music full-time?

E: It was March of 2013. Crazy that it was only a year ago, feels like a lifetime. I was working at a pretty good corporate gig, making pretty good money, but I hated it. Nothing against the company, it was probably as good as it gets when it comes to day jobs, but I could feel myself going crazy, working on music instead of sleeping, etc., so at a certain point I was like f*ck it, if I’m gonna do this I’m gonna commit.

TMN: Talk to us about your first EP release that was last year titled “Pretty Lights”. What went into this first EP and what did you want to be the outcome from its release? Did it live up to what you hoped?

E: It had four original songs, one vocal track and 3 instrumentals. The single “Pretty Lights” has an awesome vocal from my buddy Rohan Kymal, and we shot a music video for it, and the rest of the EP is here. I guess I wanted it to be my “Scary Monsters” and have it change the world, so I suppose it didn’t live up to what I hoped. But I was naive, and it was a really good experience learning what it took to release an EP and shoot a music video, and helped develop my sound. I’m proud of a lot of it, not so much other parts, but I’m definitely glad it’s something that I forced myself to do.

TMN: I just have to say, you are kind of the remix king. I don’t know if there are a lot of songs I have not heard a great Elephante remix of which is not a bad thing at all! Talk to us about how you choose which songs you want to remix and what you believe makes a good remix.

E: That’s very kind of you to say, though I think Drew and Alex from The Chainsmokers probably have a bone to pick with you. Honestly, I’m not really sure what goes into it, there’s no checklist or master plan, it’s mostly whatever my ADD brain happens to come up with and be excited by. The one thing I do look for is hearing a song I love, but feeling like there’s something missing, or another level that I wish the song would get to. I think “Dark Horse” is a good example: the original has that awesome buildup that drops back into the trappy Juicy J verse. I like it a lot as is, but I hear that and the progressive house guy in me is like GRRR I NEED MOAR, and so my remix is built around where I wish that build up would go.

To me, good remixes are about taking a song people are familiar with, and figuring out how you give them something that surprises them and turns it into something new. I feel like it still has to be related somehow to the original, I’m not as big of a fan when it’s just something totally random. It’s the best when the remix has the same soul, different clothes, so to speak.

TMN: Tell us what song has been your favorite to remix and why.

E: Wow that’s hard. Like asking which child is your favorite… #SELFIE was a lot of fun, mostly because the lyrics made me laugh about 1000 times when I was working on it. “Team” was definitely the least fun to make, wanted to bash my head in I was so frustrated, but I look back fondly because of how well it turned out.

TMN: And now talk to us about what is up next for you, what do you have planned this summer in regards to your music, any shows you are looking forward to playing?

E: My big plans are to sit inside all summer and make about 100 songs. Just kidding, but only sort of – definitely hoping to get on the road a bit, but I’m forcing myself to finish some of these tunes I’ve been working on before I commit to touring.

TMN: Finally, what can we look forward to for the rest of 2014? I bet some amazing remixes, but anything else in store you wouldn’t mind telling us about?

E: Yes remixes, a bunch of awesome collabs in the works, and definitely some original material. Been working with some super talented vocalists, and hoo boy let me tell you there is some hot fire flames going on inside this computer.

TMN: Let’s make a shift over to some fun and loveable questions. Tell us your absolute favorite cereal ever. Can be from when you were a child or one that you eat now.

E: Cinnamon Toast Crunch all day erry day

TMN: What does a typical day look like for Elephante? Take us from the moment you open your eyes to the time you close them…

E: 11am: Wake up
11:01am: Throw my phone across the room to turn off the alarm
11:10am: Walk to starbucks, drink first coffee
11:30 am: Sit in my studio, work on music
4pm: Maybe eat, maybe not, probably just have another coffee and keep working
7pm: Finally eat because I am dizzy and can’t see anymore
10pm: Take a break, watch Pitch Perfect, get inspired by Anna Kendrick’s mashup skillz
11pm: Make some trap music, because sometimes I just need some me time
12am: Back to House music, coffee
3am: Try to fall asleep, but mostly lie awake in bed because I drank too much coffee
6am: Actually fall asleep

TMN: Where has been the grimiest place you have ever played? You know, smells like a sewer, has sticky floors from alcoholic beverages, all that wonderfulness.

E: Tommy Doyle’s in Cambridge, may it rest in peace

TMN: Latest song you have had on repeat?

E: “Sweet Escape” by Alesso (I was kinda drunk when I heard it on the Ultra livestream, and thought it was Taylor Swift singing and completely freaked out, and now I’m pretty sad that it’s not)

TMN: If you were preparing to have your “last meal” ever (because the earth was shifting to all liquid foods or something), what would that meal be?

E: Milkshake

TMN: Dogs or cats…

E: My phone screensaver is a picture of my old dog wearing a lobster hat, so definitely dogs.

TMN: If you could hang out with one artist/celebrity/person of interest for a whole day, who would it be and why?

E: John Mayer. Because John Mayer

TMN: And finally the question we ask all our artists, if your music were an animal, what animal would it be and why?

E: A puppy. No an elephant duh, because it’s big and emotional and can be pretty chill but when it gets going it’s super dangerous.

TMN: Elephante, thank you so much for being with us for the whole month of April. We can’t wait to hear more amazing music from you!

Related items::