Death To Genres Vol.3: Made In America

There’s quite a bit to say about these two Floridian youngsters. The past year has been quite a crazy one for GTA, culminating in a support role for international pop star Rihanna. As that tour made it’s stop in Denver, we had a chance to sit down with Matt and Julio. Check out what they had to say about Victoria’s Secret, EDM’s stigma in the media and mythical creatures.

TMN: Thanks for taking some time to sit down with us! Let’s kick it off by talking about why you’re here in Denver. You guys are the support for Rihanna, which is a pretty big deal. Talk to us about how the opportunity came to be.

Matt: Well, it kinda came through our management, Stevie over there, big ol’ guy. We had just gotten signed onto Three Six Zero Management, which manages like, Calvin Harris and Deadmau5 and stuff. We were already being managed by him, and he was absorbed into the company as well with us.

Three Six Zero had just merged with Rock Nation, who manages Shakira and Rihanna. Stevie had been showing all the other managers our music, and I guess Jay Brown, which is Rihanna’s manager, he just really liked it a lot. And after a while he was like, “Hey, I think you guys would be a good match for opening up for Rihanna.” And that just kinda happened.

It was literally ten days before that tour started, and we were just scrambling, like, “Holy shit, we’re getting on this massive tour. In ten days.” And that’s just how it came to be.

TMN: You guys also recently played HARD’s Day of the Dead, which looked like a rowdy-ass time. What was that experience like?

Julio: It was amazing, man. It was literally one of the funnest shows we played the whole year. We played at such a great time, too. We played right before Baauer and RL Grime. Yeah man, it was intense.

Matt: Very intense.

Julio: Everyone was just going crazy, and we love going off like that. It was probably one of the best shows we played this year. Definitely. Good times.

TMN: One thing we’ve always found entertaining about you guys is your slogan, “Death to Genres.” Can you elaborate on that a little bit for us?

Matt: It kinda came from, we were doing a typed interview on an airplane, just me and him. The last question was a fill in the blank, and it was “Death to ____.” And he was just like, “Oh, death to genres.”

With the way that we produce music, we try to do a little of everything and not worry about, like, “Oh, all we make is house, or trap or, moombahton, or hip hop, or whatever.” You know, both of us make all of it. So with him saying that, it (Death to Genres) just spoke to how we think music should be. That’s what we’ve been going by, and it’s kinda stuck. Then, we started doing this mixtape——mixed compilation series or whatever—and we thought that’d be a good idea to put that as the mixed series.

TMN: Being both from Miami, do you two feel like being in one of the hotbeds for EDM for so many years played a role in you guys’ interest in becoming producers?

Julio: Yeah, it did a bit. I think that just being from the city where Ultra happens and EDM is pretty much at the forefront, it definitely influenced us. But it’s not just that; it’s also a bunch of music we were raised around as well. We’re both Hispanic, and a lot of the Hispanic culture really rubs off in our music and adds, like, a tribal influence, I’d wanna say. Also, growing up we listened to rap and rock and all that kinda stuff, so we were inspired by all kinds of music, really, because that all flowed through Miami as well. That really has a huge influence on our music.

TMN: Let’s go further into that. How did you guys get into making music in the first place?

Matt: Well, for me, you know I was just always into music, and I always knew I wanted to do something in music. When I was just getting out of elementary school, going into middle school and high school, I taught myself how to play guitar.

And I was in band a lot. I was never, like, in any actual band outside of school; I just wanted to record myself and start making my own songs, just kinda by myself. With that came recording and producing, which I all taught myself online for many years.

Then just last year I finished this program at the school SAE—It’s a private school, the School of Audio Engineering. That just topped off everything I had taught myself and taught me how to do everything to a standard.

Julio: I played in band, and I was always interested in music, ever since I was little. I’d been in band since like seventh grade, and I played trumpet for like, I wanna say eight years, something like that. So I learned how to read and write music a bit.

When I was in college I was just kinda bored of playing trumpet. Then I met Matt, and it (producing) just seemed pretty cool, and I was like, “Oh, I wanna learn how to do it.” So basically we’d meet up and he’d teach me a bunch of stuff, and that’s how I got into producing.

TMN: Back to the present, you guys have collaborated with some of the biggest names in the scene and played the biggest festivals. Is there one moment in your career in particular that has made you step back and say, “Holy shit, I can’t believe that just happened”?

Matt: Man, just pretty much, I think yeah, for both of us, just everything that’s happened this year—the beginning of this year or the end of last year.

We were just still kinda sitting at home and we’d be playing a few shows here or there—like a couple times a month, but not too much—and then I guess our music just got around to a lot of people who’d dig it or turn it up and stuff like that, and all these DJs and people would be playing it. Every time we would see that, it would just be like, Holy shit, this guy’s playing our track at this crazy festival, and I see somebody’s recording it! That’s like, Holy shit.

Then all these other artists, because of that, I guess, start talking to us and asking us for tracks or collaborating or whatever. And that moment’s like, Holy shit, these guys are talking to us.

Then, we did our first two weeks in Europe and the UK, and they were really small shows, but just to be able to go outside the United States, which both of us had never done, we were just like, Holy shit! We’re actually being able to go. [Laughs]

And then, literally ten days after that, while we were still in the UK, Stevie’s like, “Oh yeah, you’re going on a world tour with Rihanna.”

You’re just like, Holy shit, what the fuck is going on?! And then we come back, and we play all these other big festivals here in the States …

We’ve just had such an unbelievable response within not even a year’s time yet. Everything has just been Holy shit! Like, What the fuck is even going on right now?! [Laughs]

Julio: It’s just been aggressively louder throughout the year too, like, “HOLYYY SHITTT!” [Laughs] It’s so crazy.

Matt: Yeah, it’s really, really crazy. We’re so grateful. It’s been a fucking journey.

TMN: Speaking of some of those collaborations, there are obviously some huge names on you guys’ list: Kaskade, Diplo, Major Lazer, A-Trak, Dimitri Vegas—the list goes on and on. Who did you guys have the most fun working with?

Julio: We had fun with everyone, really. I mean, some of them we actually just worked with over email. That’s kinda, like, the classical way to actually work on music with people. Studio-wise, we always work with Wes, I mean Diplo, and he’s a really fun dude. He’s a cool guy.

Matt: A-Trak was cool to work with as well. Dimitri Vegas we worked with online, just though email ‘cause they’re doing their thing. I personally like working in the studio with them more because you get more of like a feel, it gets more of a direction, rather than just email where it’s like, you know, you just do your part and then we’ll do our part. It’s still fun either way. But I mean, yeah, Wes is definitely really fun and a random guy to work with. He’s very spontaneous.

TMN: I bet. This is a little more off the wall. If you could pick any artist, past or present, dead or alive, to collaborate with, whom would you choose?

Julio: I’d wanna collaborate with The Neptunes, but like the 2000-era when they were really good—like, super-really good, top of the charts on everything.

TMN: As you kind of mentioned before, you guys have been overseas, played at a lot of different festivals, different clubs. Is there one show in particular that stands out above the rest?

Matt: There’s quite a few. I mean, Day of the Dead was amazing. Made in America was also unreal.

Julio: Yeah, Made in America was in Philadelphia.

Matt: Made in America was probably the biggest bang because we were away for like two-and-a-half months and overseas and hadn’t really been back in the States. That was like our big show back.

Julio: Yeah, that was, like, the first time we actually came back and saw the progress that we’d been making, as far as growing our fan base and everything. That was crazy. That was overwhelming. Jay-Z even came out.

Matt: Yeah, Jay-Z was like, on the side stage, just like, golf-clapping us. [Laughs] Yeah, Made in America was dope.

TMN: What’s still on your bucket list?

Matt: South America.

Julio: South America would be dope.

Matt: I dunno, then, I really wanna go to Japan.

Julio: Japan would be nice, too.

Matt: Like, Tokyo, that kinda thing. I heard it’s kinda weird over there, but seems to be dope.

Julio: I still wanna play Ultra.

Matt: Yeah, I wanna play Ultra, EDC, Coachella…

Julio: Coachella

Matt: We haven’t played it yet, but I guess, hopefully this year will be all the bills. And get back more into the States and play all the biggest shows possible.

TMN: This question is also a little bit off the wall—and I’m sure you’ve been asked it a lot—but I’ve gotta ask. Are you guys huge Grand Theft Auto fans?

Both: Yes.

Matt: Yeah, we are.

TMN: Is that where the name came from, or is the name something completely different?

Matt: No, it didn’t actually. It actually, you know, we were making our first track, and we were just like, “Oh man,” you know, just messing around, “We need a name for our group.” And we thought, Grand Theft Audio.

In reality, we really didn’t even know about the—well, not that we didn’t know about the game, but we didn’t like think about the game before that.

Then, after a while, Luke suggested that we should maybe shorten it or something, so we just did GTA. And it’s easy to say, you can like, chant it. You know, it’s cool.

People ask us all the time (what GTA stands for), so now we just say, you know, make up your own meaning kinda thing. But we stuck with, for now, Good Times Ahead. It’s kinda like, good vibes.

TMN: So you guys have been traveling around quite a bit, playing in front of a lot of people regularly. Do you have any weird superstitions or rituals that you go through before you get on stage?

Julio: Yeah, it’s kinda new actually, but we do, like, 30 push-ups, take a shot of tequila right after, and then go on stage. And then we get off and do another 30 push-ups, take another shot.

Matt: It’s to keep us grounded. [Laughs] We call ‘em push-shots.

TMN: On to a more serious subject matter—and you guys kind of hit your stride in the last year, so it’s pretty relevant. In the mainstream media it seems like EDM is often portrayed in a negative manner, from the use of molly to twerking teachers getting fired. What do you wish mainstream America could know about the industry that’s not getting told by the media?

Julio: It’s everywhere, really. That’s what I think. I feel people are just biased because you have festivals, huge festivals with thousands of kids doing the same thing—maybe taking drugs, I’m not sure. But in reality, it (drug use) happens everywhere. It’s not just EDM; it’s all kind of music. Even then, I don’t really believe that music influences people to do drugs. I just feel like that’s just kinda what the culture is nowadays. It’s what kids do to have fun.

Matt: Like you’ve been saying, there’s a lot of media attention towards it, and I saw this one from, I think it was either ABC or NBC, where they went to Tomorrow World, and it was actually a good portrayal of it. It shows this girl who came with her mom who has cancer, and they just wanna have fun and have a good time. Not everyone’s on drugs. Yeah, you know, it’s there, but that’s like with anything. There’s people in the streets doing whatever the hell they do to themselves, and it has nothing to do with music. It’s just the drugs and their own thing.

I wish they would not portray it (EDM) in such a negative way because it’s not really how it is. And especially if you go to some of those events—which, obviously, I’m sure you know, and we know—it brings everyone together, really. There’s never any fights or anything, and everyone’s just there for the music, to have a good time. I think that’s what really they should portray more, instead of, “Oh man, out of 250,000 people that attended, like three people died.” With those statistics, how many people died of alcohol, you know? Get outta here. They’re doing it just to say it. Just to make news.

TMN: Speaking of that kind of stigma that some people have EDM associated with, do you think it’s in line with previous associations in music history, like how people think the ‘60s was all about psychedelic drugs and free love? Do you think EDM will always have that asterisk like the ‘60s do? And is that unfair, or is it just kind of the way of the world?

Julio: At least I think, it’s just the way of the world. People are always gonna try to attribute drug use to something. They don’t wanna blame themselves or blame, you know, just the fact that the drug’s around.

Matt: Yeah, I think it just comes with any kind of music. With rock and hair metal and stuff like that, there was the whole cocaine stigma to that. With rap there’s weed, or now I guess it’s molly as well. It’s just what people do. With music comes trying to have a good time because that’s what music should be wanting to do. I wouldn’t wanna listen to music and have a bad time! That just kinda goes with it. I don’t think it (drug use) has to do with any genre or anything; it’s just people and their choices.

TMN: On the flip side, there are a lot of people doing some really amazing things in the EDM community. Blau has his charity building schools in South America; Avicii did his house for hunger tour where he donated all the proceeds to feed hungry kids. Do you guys have anything that you’ve been a part of that you’d like to shine a spotlight on, or have anything charitable on the horizon?

Matt: When we were in Boston, we played with Aoki, and it was the first show that they opened after the Boston bombing. It was madhouse-crazy packed. We donated all the proceeds from that night, even Aoki and everybody donated all the proceeds from that night to the victims of the Boston bombing, which is really cool.

I mean, we haven’t really had the opportunity yet, but we’d love to get into it. We’re all about that stuff.

TMN: Sure, you guys are probably still just trying to wrap your heads around the past year. [Laughs]

Matt: Yeah, everything just comes so quickly! It’s like, one step at a time. That’s definitely something we’d like to incorporate into what we do, just give back to people.

TMN: Awesome. Ok, off the serious stuff, at the end of every interview we ask some random questions to get to know you guys a little bit better as people, outside of music and the scene. If you guys were a WWE wrestling duo, what would your name be?

Julio: [Cheers]

Matt: Wow. That’s up his alley.

Julio: Our own name? Damn.

Matt: That’s something to think about. We should be more prepared.

Julio: Say a word that you think applies to us. Something like, “mean”.

Matt: Mean?

Julio. Yeah. Like, what’s a mean thing…

TMN: Which, by the way, ”mean” is like, the furthest thing from what I would describe you guys as.

Matt: Yeah I know but like, if you’re gonna be a wrestler, it’s gotta be intense. It’s gotta be good…

Julio: I dunno…

TMN: Alright, we’ll go on to the next question, and you guys can keep it in the back of your mind. Name three things that are always in your fridge, no matter what.

Matt: Green tea, and hummus, and sriracha. And pita chips.

Julio: I have orange juice, milk…grapes. I have grapes all the time.

Matt: And beer.

TMN: You’d be surprised how many times I hear grapes. ‘Lotta grape-lovers in the music industry.

Matt: Grapes are good, man! Especially when you freeze them and they’re like little popsicles.

TMN: What was your very first job?

Matt: I worked construction in the Florida Keys, and I was building one of my family friend’s houses. He was a contractor, so I was helping him out. I’d put up walls and shit and place tiles down. It was fun. Hard work, hard labor.

TMN: I saw you laugh… [Looking at Julio]

Julio: My first job was at Victoria’s Secret.

Matt: Sickk!

Julio: I worked at Victoria’s Secret. I was a cashier. And I had a lot of interesting conversations with some ladies. [Laughs] Yeah, that was an interesting job.

TMN: When you’re not traveling around the world or making music, what do you guys do with your spare time?

Matt: A lot of nothing. Play video games, hang out at home…

Julio: I hang out with my friends a lot. Play video games a lot, too. Yeah.

Matt: Do stuff with the girlfriend. Just hang out.

TMN: What game are you guys on right now?

Julio: I’m on GTA 5.

Matt: I don’t know what I’m on right now…?

Julio: GTA 4

Matt: Oh yeah. And Devil May Cry.

TMN: Alright, this is the last one. If you guys’ music were an animal, what would it be?

Matt: A lion.

Julio: A pegasus.

Matt: A flying pegasus-lion. With a unicorn horn.

Julio: That’s a griffin! Wait no, that’s not a griffin. A griffin is a—

Matt: It’s a bird. Like, a bird head with a lion body.

Julio: What do you like better? Griffins are cool, man.

Matt: How about a lion head, with a horse body, and wings, and then a horn?


And it also breathes fire. And poops ice cream. So imagine that.

TMN: Can we try to somehow circle that back into your WWE name?

Matt: Pfffh… Flying Ice Cream-Pooping Unicorns. Unicorn Lions.

Related items::