His journey didn’t begin as an electronic producer; in fact, he grew from producing rock music, to song writing, to making music in his own right. His collaborations include huge hit artists such as DVBBS, Oliver Heldens, Borgeous, and more.
Impressed yet? Well, he’s more than just a phenomenal songwriter/producer combo. He’s cornered the market on being dance music’s “Rave Dad” and loves Rick and Morty and Game of Thrones just like everyone else in America (he also asked that this interview be marked as “containing spoilers”).
We had the chance to sit down and talk to him at Electric Zoo this year, right after he crushed a main stage set.
You’ve played huge festivals like TomorrowWorld, EDC, you’ve played E-Zoo before…
Yeah! Last year was my first time.
Do you have a favorite festival?
I love Coachella. I’ve never played it, but there’s some really good vibes at that one. I don’t know, E-Zoo is actually one of my favorites. Last year was amazing, they actually called me around two weeks after I played here and said, “Hey, you know, we’re actually booking for next year already, we’d love it if you could play the main stage.”
The fact that they show me that much love obviously makes me love them, and the crowd was amazing today, so it’s been great.
Did you play on a smaller stage last year?
Yeah, a smaller stage for sure. It was a big snake? Down by the water, the Riverside stage I think.
Craziest festival story?
Definitely going to Hungary. I went to Hungary this year, to a festival called Balaton Sound—I actually went by myself, without a tour manager, a videographer, or anything. I just kind of fended for myself in this crazy Hungarian festival and it was really fun.
That was a crazy experience, to just do it all by myself.
Why did you go alone?
To be completely honest, I’m not that big in Europe. It’s a newer market for me. It was purely a financial decision. I thought I’d save money on all the plane tickets because to fly everybody would cost me a fortune. I thought, you know, I can handle this. I can do it by myself.
I didn’t know anybody. I actually met up with this fan. There was this fan on Twitter that had been hitting me up. He told me “I have to see you, bro, you never come to Europe though.” So I told him I was going to Hungary, and he decided to fly to Hungary. I put him on the guest list and ended up meeting him and hung out with him all day. He made me a t-shirt with my face on it. I really dug that. He was awesome. He’s such a cool dude, actually a DJ himself. He showed me around, but he wasn’t even from there, so he was on an adventure by himself too. It was weird, at the end of the day, we were leaving. I said, “Bye!” and he’s like, “See ya!” So I asked him where he was going and he said ” I guess I’ll catch the train four miles that way.” He took off down the road and we parted ways.
You’ve had a pretty diverse career in the music world—from singer in The Envy, to singer featured on electronic tracks in Europe, to becoming a producer in your own right, and to cowriting “Closer,” the number one song in the world for a while. How’s the ride been?
Yeah, I mean, I think that the reason I was able to have a career in this is because I’m able to multi-task. I’m not going to say multi-talented because that’s egotistical [laughs], but there’s a lot of different things I can do. I started as a vocalist, as a producer for rock music, and would produce bands, so I had this history in songwriting and recording vocals. So early on I was recording a lot of songs and vocals.
DJs were wanting to use my songs, like Oliver Heldens with “Shades of Grey,” which Delaney Jane and I wrote together. That’s how I made it all the way to “Closer”—Drew was in the back of the tour bus and had the beat, and he asked if I wanted to help write the song. We wrote it in like 20 minutes.
Would you say the process has shaped who you are as an artist and how you make music?
I think I’m still learning as a producer, trying to get better and better. It definitely all starts with the song for me. Trying to write stories and write experiences that people can relate to and find where that fits in with dance music.
You were just on tour with Ashe and Delaney and you also recently went to Asia, including Indonesia. Can you tell us the best part of the tour?
The best part of the Asia tour was our week off in Bali. It’s the greatest place in the world.
Where were you?
Canguu. It’s the new hotspot right? I’ve been going to Bali for years. It was always big in Seminyak and Kuta which are a little overrun now. Everyone started telling me Canguu was the spot to hit now, but I had already hit the other places to death, so we checked out Canguu. We rented a villa there. It’s all super developed but in a dope way. We were doing yoga on the beach, it was incredible. I think we’re going back in November.
You go on tour with Delaney regularly. What would Delaney say is the strangest thing about you?
What she thinks the strangest thing about me is?! I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that.
You’re based out of Toronto. Give us a look inside your day-to-day life.
I wake up and go to the studio every single day. That’s probably what she thinks the strangest thing about me is—I literally don’t take any time off. When I have time off, I get jittery, like I should be doing something.
Favorite neighborhood spots?
Yes! There’s a cool bar called Locals Only that my manager actually owns. It’s on the newer end, but they have good food and play awesome music, so that’s my favorite spot to hang for sure.
Can you explain your title “Rave Dad”?
Rave Dad! So funny—my glasses I’m wearing are actually the reason. I was in L.A. and this company, Bonnie & Clyde [sic] [Editor’s note: the company is actually called Bonnie Clyde], gave me these glasses. Actually, they gave me a different pair, but Delaney was there and she told me to get these instead. I put them on and the next day I was doing a photoshoot for something, and everyone just started calling me Rave Dad because of the way I was dressed. It just took on its own life.
Now, I just think it’s funny. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little bit older than the up-and-coming DJs, and sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a younger DJ and I feel like I’m always giving life advice. It’s always me, “Well listen, I’ve had a couple record deals myself…” So yeah, I’ve decided to embrace the persona. I am the dad of the festival.
It’s not a bad persona.
Dad can party though!
Favorite TV Show right now?
Rick and Morty is my favorite show. I also just finished Ozark, which was so sick. I’m definitely a Game of Thrones fan.
Oh, so you saw the finale I’m sure?
I’m definitely very sad I have to wait any time until that comes back. It was too short! It was here and gone in two seconds. Eight weeks and it was gone. What a tease.
Who’s the girl boss you’re rooting for?
Oh, I mean, of course Khaleesi. My favorite character on the show, though, is that guy… shoot. I don’t know his name. I don’t know any of their names! Holy crap! I’m a huge fan and I don’t know anyone’s name. Help me; who is the guy that’s super funny and is with Jaime Lannister right now?
Yeah! I love that guy. I was saying the other day, he’s my favorite character. Jon Snow is cool and all, he’s gunna get the girl, and he’s gunna be the king, they foreshadowed that, for sure. Oh man, you need to warn people this interview has spoilers. Serious Game of Thrones spoilers.
What’s in store for the next year?
There’s a lot of music I’ve been sitting on. There’s a song I wrote with the Chainsmokers guys that was going to be a collab before “Closer,” but it sat there, and a couple weeks ago I opened up the record and realized I loved it and wanted to finish it because I loved the vocals. That’s going to be coming out.
I have a duet with Delaney Jane—that’s going to be coming out where I’m singing with her called “Throwback.” I have some remixes coming out, I just did a Cash Cash remix. I think I’m going to be doing a lot of remixes; I’ve been really enjoying that lately. I want to put out as much music as possible in 2018.
Is there anyone you can’t stop listening to right now?
Um, yeah. There’s a kid Icehunt. It’s a couple dudes, my friend Max and another guy, and they’ve done some remixes for me. I think they’re going to be amazing.
How do you discover new music?
SoundCloud, while it’s still around. It’s the place to be. I’m also always asking my buddies if they’ve heard anyone new on the come up. I love getting new music sent to me too. You got to dig through the pile.
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