[TMN Resident Artist Interview] Le Castle Vania on Atlanta, his label, and the possibility of wearing a cape on stage

On a sunny afternoon last week we got to sit down with our resident artist Le Castle Vania and talk to him about all things music and much more.

TMN: First off, Dylan, thank you so much for being our Resident Artist this month!

LCV: Thank you guys for having me.

TMN: Now let’s rewind to the beginning, I’m talking about before there was even a Le Castle to be heard of, back to when you were just a little guy. Did you come from a household where music was present? Were you involved in any musical activities such as piano lessons or being in a choir when you were young?

LCV: No, I actually didn’t really start getting involved in music until I was about 16. Really there were no musicians in my house, I mean we enjoyed music but I just kind of started liking music more and more and tinkering with it when I was 16. The first instrument I got was drums, so played those for a while but then started messing with electronic music and started messing with midi-gear before I had a computer. Over time, learning to DJ, I enjoyed electronic music more and more, and experimenting with how to create it that is how I grew into my music. It was all very natural and self-taught, years of doing it and meeting other people and trading production secrets with one another, that’s really where it all comes from. Surrounding yourself with talented people and learning from one another.

TMN: I think a lot of kids really grasp the idea of music and liking bands when they reach middle school and high school, can you remember who you were listening to back then and why you liked those particular people and/or groups?

LCV: Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails, it was an interesting time to because that is when bands who were big at that time were starting to experiment with electronic elements. Like Smashing Pumpkins had that one whole album where they used drum machines. I was also into stuff like the Prodigy and The Crystal Method. Electronic music was pretty new in the United States, everyone called it ‘techno’ (laughs). Any way I became interested and inspired by the freshness of those sounds.

TMN: Now talk to us about when you exactly got into remixing and messing with your own electronic music. The story goes that your friends Snowden asked you to remix one of their songs back in 2006 but were you already starting before that? Talk to us about some of your early experiments.

LCV: You know that is actually a pretty personal story, obviously doing that remix changed my entire life. I had been messing with music for a long time and the only person who had supported my music was my mother who ended up passing away from breast cancer when I was 21. At the time I was working a normal job and it became pretty heavy for me, I was really stressed out about life and my job. My parents divorced when I was very young so my mother was really the only person I had backing me up if something went wrong in my life. When you are that age and the only person you can rely on in that way ends up passing away, your job becomes pretty serious. If something goes south and you can’t make ends meet you are literally screwed. Any way I had been doing that job for about three years and at some point i think the heaviness of that whole situation started to take a toll on me so I decided to take a little vacation out to LA to visit some friends. While i was there we went out to some clubs and this was when the whole Indie remix thing was just starting to bubble you know djs were playing stuff like early MSTRKRFT remixes b4 they even had an album out and the early Ed Banger records be Justice was even a big thing, stuff like that and I got really inspired by what I heard! Now I had been working on music and DJ-ing around clubs in Atlanta for several years at this point I thought to myself I could do that, and even better than the DJs I was hearing (laughs) like literally, I went back to Atlanta and was so done with my job. I took a red-eye back to Atlanta, ended up falling asleep before I had to get into work, you know one of those moments you wake up and realize you have to be somewhere and you already know you’re late b4 you even look at the clock?

TMN: Yes, that ‘Oh shit’ moment?

LCV: Exactly, after coming back from vacation that’s not how you want to come back to work and “the real world”. I tried to sneak past my manager’s office and of course I got busted and he called me into his office. I ended up just quitting, I had reached that point, and he wasn’t even going to let me go but I had saved up a little money by that point so I decided I wanted to go and really be a DJ. It really was a complete leap of faith. And it was about a week later that Snowden contacted me about doing that remix. At the time, I hadn’t released any music yet but they gave me the song to give me a shot. I don’t think they expected me to do much with it but they ended up really liking the remix I did. From there a ended up sending it to a bunch of DJ’s I met in LA, I also hit up other DJ’s online who were doing similar things. This was way before the EDM explosion; it was more the Indie remix era. Music blogs were just starting to be a really huge thing then so I sent it to a lot of them and it just ended up spreading on it’s on and becoming huge. That’s pretty much where it all started for me I got all these offers to DJ and remix and it just kind of bubbled into what it has become now. It was crazy and totally a leap of faith.

TMN: I know you have moved to LA now but you are an Atlanta native. Can you talk to us about the music scene down there? Atlanta is obviously known a lot for hip-hop and rap but there are many other genres that appear. Tell us about how it was for you starting there and how it is today.

LCV: First off, Atlanta will probably always be known for hip-hop it’s basically the hip-hop capital of the world but there are also some great Indie-Rock with a lot of cool bands coming out of there. More and more electronic acts are starting to surface from Atlanta as well. Atlanta is a pretty big music town and across all genres, hip-hop kind of overshadows that but a lot of hip-hop that comes out of Atlanta is interesting in how it fuses everything from that city together. I don’t know if you have been there but it is a really interesting place, I have traveled and played music on every continent on the planet, except Antarctica, so I’ve been a lot of places and I kind of didn’t realize how unique Atlanta was with the mix of people there. It is an interesting intersection of like suburban white culture mixing with black culture, I don’t know totally how to explain it but the music scene is getting more and more interesting. Now that electronic music is getting so popular, it is cool to seeing that blend mix in with Atlanta music. There are a lot more electronic acts coming out of Atlanta then when I first started.

TMN: You just helped start that scene, no big deal.

LCV: Yeah, no big deal, I kind of popped off the whole thing (laughs jokingly).

TMN: You released your debut EP ‘Prophication’ on Deadmau5’ very own mau5trap imprint. The fact that you released your debut EP with that man says so much about you without saying anything really. And of course congratulations are in order here, you recently released your sophomore EP ‘Feels Like Fire’ just in June on your own label Always Never. I must say, it is quite the EP too, big fan of ‘Come Together’ and ‘Part of Me’, really the whole thing is amazing ☺ What was different with this EP than your first? How do you think your music has changed since the first release?

LCV: Well thank you. I think sound wise I was pushing for two different things, I think they were both telling their own stories in different ways. First off, step back, I definitely have to take a second and show some gratitude to Joel. He’s a friend and has been super fucking cool to me, I think he’s sometimes misunderstood in the media, or at least social media, I’m not going to get into all of that, I don’t want to get into that part (laughs). But since the first time I met him Joel has been nothing but supportive and cool towards me, just a super nice guy. I think he sometimes gets a bad rep because he speaks up about his opinion so I just want to show some gratitude and say this is a guy who has built his own thing and does not need to go out of his way for someone like me who was putting out my first EP. He did that because he chose to, I didn’t even hit him up, a mutual friend played it for him. I basically woke up from a text from Deadmau5 saying ‘Dude, I love your EP, let’s talk about putting it out’.

TMN: I mean, that is probably the best text you have ever received in your life, I’m assuming I don’t know. Not everyday you wake up to one of those.

LCV: (Laughs) It is definitely up there, can’t think of a better one off the top of my head that’s for sure. Yeah it was pretty awesome. I am also building my own label ‘Always Never’ which is what I released my second EP on but I am still doing stuff with Joel and I hope to release more music on Mau5trap in the future, he’s my homie and I look forward to doing more stuff with him when ever possible. Also I don’t know if you know but I am going on tour with FeedMe who was also signed to Mau5trap, we are doing stuff together, little circle of homies..

TMN: You went from being this underground Atlanta DJ to a world-renowned electronic artist. But you are so much more than just an artist, I mean, your resume is just hell of impressive! You are a producer, a massive producer I might add, you are an engineer, an avid songwriter and if all of that wasn’t enough, you have your own label. You are one busy musician! Talk to us about the decision to start your own label, your inspiration for doing it, and where you hope to take it in the next few years?

LCV: Yeah, absolutely. So one, I wanted a place to released my own music that I could control when it came out and stuff like that. And two, a place to release homies’ music to help them gain exposure. I feel very, very fortunate to do what I do and honestly I never dreamed I would have this life and be able to make music and make a living and I feel really lucky and blessed to have that. Part of the intention is to share that with other creative people. So when I first started it, I released my music and a few homies’ music and now, I have found two acts I really enjoy that are my focus, though I am open and looking for other acts. I’m not trying to just pump music into the market, I feel there are a lot of electronic labels, actually most, that just in my opinion pump music out there because electronic music is hot right now, put out a release every week because someone will buy it, which is kind of the model for a lot of those labels without a lot of quality control. For me, Always Never is the complete opposite of that, I only want to release music that I am feeling. When you listen to my new EP ‘Feels Like Fire’ you can probably pick up on how, songwriting has moved to the forefront of my interests rather than just production, I feel i have really come a long way with production. I feel I have, I don’t want to sound cocky, but I have mastered that trade, I can make things sound however I want them to sound. I feel confident that I have come a long way in that trade. So I have become more and more passionate about song writing and the art around creating songs, not just a beat for the clubs. That is kind of a trait I look for in acts I look to sign to my label, song writing talent, not just cool drops and what not, there are a lot of labels that already do that. If you listen to acts on my label like Crywolf or SLDGHMR, they are making songs, with vocals and musical progression that works like a full song. Not to say it is better work, there is no better or worse in music to me, I think it is all subjective to the listener. But that is a trait I am interested in finding when I look for acts for my label.


TMN: I agree with you, I think sometimes there needs to be more people putting out music with a bit more depth in it I guess is a nice way to put it?

LCV: I agree, I also look for a character in the sound. Obviously you work for a music blog and hear stuff that comes out that is lacking character, you could play twenty tracks in a row and they could all sound like the same artist. I definitely want acts I sign to have their own sound and their own idea of what they are doing and you know, a focus on songwriting.

TMN: Can you tell us about any upcoming things from you we can look forward to?

LCV: I just scored my first movie, it’s a movie called ‘John Wick’ starring Keanu Reeves due out in October. It is an action, shoot them up kind of movie and I did a big chunk of the music in that movie. I did the film score with two friends, Tyler Bates and Joel Richards, between the three of us we wrote all of the original music for the whole movie. I am excited to hear my music over the speakers in a movie theater. I don’t have a released date yet but it will be out everywhere, it is a pretty big film. I also am wrapping up a side project I am working on, I have this new EP I have been working on with a friend of mine Blake Miller from the band Moving Units, called ‘Trade Secrets’. So people who have followed my career know that Blake and I had a side project a few years back called ‘Lies and Disguise’ but this is a totally new sound just the same members. It is very Indie/Disco type of style. I also am working on writing the next Le Castle Vania EP. I have been working on all kinds of shit, I try to keep busy.

TMN: As much as we love learning all about your history and why you are such a badass music man, we have to throw in some fun questions of course.

TMN: Tell us the best thing to eat in Atlanta.

LCV: Fox Brothers BBQ

TMN: (Laughs) That was not even missing a beat. When I get to Atlanta I am going there and telling them you sent me.

TMN: Let’s say you had to wear a costume every time you performed, what costume would it be?

LCV: Oh man, you sprung that on me…I literally have never thought about wearing a costume. I already wear a standard DJ costume, all black, leather jacket…

TMN: Would you possibly add a cape or something along those lines?

LCV: (Laughs) I mean, why pass up an opportunity to wear a cape? I should have been wearing one the whole time. Maybe we can bring that in as a new trend, have it be something socially acceptable.

TMN: Someone should probably get on that and make you a really cool cape. I mean, think about it, this could be a good thing.

LCV: I see merchandise opportunities.

TMN: What is one hidden talent you have?

LCV: I actually enjoy cooking a lot. I don’t do it enough because I really don’t have the time but when I do, I really love to cook.

TMN: I’m sure all your lady fans will be happy to hear that.

TMN: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

LCV: Definitely more of a night owl because of all the traveling, I have bad jet leg. I also go really late into the studio because there are fewer distractions. A very unintentional thing, I am working in the studio and see the sun come up and I’m like, dang it not again.

TMN: Let’s say you had a music video on repeat for a full 24-hours, what music video would be played all day long?

LCV: This is not the greatest music video but I would want it to be something chill I could vibe out to so probably Stone Roses ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, not the best video by any stretch of imagination but wouldn’t drive you too crazy.

TMN: You might have said this earlier but if you could play anywhere in the world, where would you play?

LCV: I would play in Antarctica because that’s the only continent I have not played on. But some of my favorite places, I love to play in Australia I have a really fun time there and South Africa was one of the most amazing places I have been. Then also Bali, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

TMN: Music crush? Man or woman, we don’t judge.

LCV: Um, I don’t know, I don’t really do crushes.

TMN: Are you a more fall deeply in love with someone kind of person?

LCV: (Laughs) No I don’t have time for that shit. I used to be that guy but maybe it is because I’m getting older, I’m super driven by work I’m just not thinking about that. I’m sure there is someone who I really like their music and wouldn’t mind hanging out with, let that simmer, maybe it will come to me.

TMN: (Dylan…still waiting on this bad boy ☺)

TMN: And finally Dylan, if your music were an animal, what kind of animal would it be and why? And yes it can be a mythical animal

LCV: My music is a bulletproof tiger because it sounds awesome and that is the name of my mix-tape series.

TMN: Nice! You know what I picture right now? You riding this bulletproof tiger with a giant cape blowing in the wind behind you.

LCV: Dude, it’s funny that you mention that because my friend, an artist from Atlanta, he’s an animator, he drew cartoons of FeedMe and me on tour and one of them I am riding a white tiger.

TMN: Well now I know I am a psychic too, thanks for showing me that today.

LCV: I am going to integrate some live tigers into my set, have them on stage with me.

TMN: Dylan, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to chat with us. Best of luck the rest of the year we can’t wait to hear what you come up with next!