Oct 24

Flux Pavilion [Interview]

Safe In Sound Festival at Myth in Saint Paul was surely one of the biggest, if not THE BIGGEST, Dupstep events the Twin Cities has ever seen. Having been able to have Beat Contributors on site to interview the most influential names in the industry was quite the honor. It’s no secret that Flux Pavilion has been tearin’ up the game sine he started performing in 2008, and after talking with him, we know why. Flux is extremely talented, yet still very humble. He took the time to talk to us about the beginnings of Circus records, working on his new album, and a forthcoming live project he plans to some day take on the road.

“Flux Pavilion is the co-founder of Circus Records, along with Doctor P, DJ Swan-E, and Earl Falconer of UB40. In 2011 he produced the single “Bass Cannon,” which peaked at number 56 on the UK Singles Chart and was placed on the Radio 1 A-List. Along with Doctor P, Flux Pavilion presented the 2011 compilation album, Circus One, to which he contributed four tracks. He is arguably best known for his song “I Can’t Stop” from the Lines in Wax EP” (wikipedia).


TBM: Alright, so we’re here with Josh Steele, aka Flux Pavilion. Care to introduce yourself?

Flux: … I am Flux Pavilion. I am also Josh Steele. I am, indeed, both of those people.

TBM: So to begin, how about you tell us a little bit about how you started of your Flux Pavilion project?

Flux: Umm… I like that you put it like that, because in the past six months I have begun seeing it as a project, where as before it was always everything that I am. The inception of it was that I wanted to write some music and here’s the music I’m writing and here’s me, Flux Pavilion. It was kind of a title for everything that I was working on, and now I’m starting to realize there are many facets to all the things I like working on. So the actual concept of Flux Pavilion being a project that I’ve been working on has only really been around for about six months. Before that it was just an alter ego, I guess.

TBM: So what inspired you to write music in the first place and insert yourself into the global music scene?

Flux: I never really knew about any scenes. I grew up in a small town where all we had were pubs and hairdressers. We had about seven barbers and ten pubs, and that was all there was. All you could do was get your hair cut and watch football (soccer). So, me and my friends started picking up guitars and doing something as a hobby. I wasn’t really interested in anything else, but I love listening to music so I figured I should probably just write some of my own, I guess.

TBM: Being from such a quaint town, which likely had a very minimal music scene, was it hard for Flux Pavilion to get legs? How did you progress and get your music career off the ground?

Flux: Well the interesting thing is that it wasn’t even a small scene. There was no scene. It was literally just a bunch of us playing guitar and hanging out, and then I kind of met up with Doctor P when I was about 12 and we started playing in bands. He was always working on Drum and Bass and stuff like that, then he went away to University and did more with Drum and Bass and started playing shows. He got signed, and I was still back at home. I then went off to Uni[verstiy]. The second night I was walking past some Uni flat, and they were playing some really loud Drum and Bass, and I thought, “Wow, this really seems like a cool place to be.” So I walked in there, and as I walked in there, somebody put on Skream – “Watch the Ride.” Then I heard Dubstep, and I’d always made really wobbly Drum and Bass music, but even Doctor P didn’t play it in his sets because it was really bad. But as soon as I heard Dubstep, I was like, “Ah! This is all the stuff I’ve been working on anyway, and at the exact right tempo.” So I decided to start writing some of that, and I started learning more about the scene, and that was my kind of enlightening point where I started realizing that there is actually loads of big industry and scenes and promoters and all sorts of cliques everywhere. It was quite simple, really. I just wanted to write some tunes.

TBM: That’s interesting that your journey was aided like that by Doctor P. You mentioned you became friends around 12, but when did you begin to talk about starting Circus Records together?

Flux: Well he was signed to this label called Maximum Boost, and he used to be called Picto back when he did Drum and Bass. I had just started writing Dubstep and releasing a few things here and there and Doctor P wrote a tune called “Streets of Rage,” which was awesome. So he sent me the parts, and I did a Dubstep remix of it, and the Drum and Bass label that he was signed to decided they didn’t really want to release it because they were a Drum and Bass label and this was some other thing. But then they started inviting me around, and said, “You know you’re clearly very into this, and you’re good friends with Sean… how about we start up a new label with the three of us?” I was still trying to get signed to other labels, but all the tunes I couldn’t get picked up I was like, “Oh at least I can put it out on Circus.” And then I realized that all the tracks I really loved, nobody wanted to sign. It was the same way with Doctor P; we were writing really weird stuff that none of the other labels were pushing, so we were like cool we’ve got Circus, let’s push this. Then stuff started kicking off, and we realized that’s what Circus always should have been. It was a way to get away from other people telling you what’s good and what’s not and more of a platform for writing what was us. That’s why we didn’t originally think about signing acts, but then we started talking to artists like Cookie Monsta and Funtcase, and they were like, “Oh we really like writing this stuff but we don’t know if it’s going to work.” That’s what Circus is. It’s music that’s been made out of love, and who knows if it’s going to work? Like, who gives a shit if it’s going to work? As long as it works for you when you’re writing it at that point, we’re gonna put it together and release it and see what people think. But it all started just as a place for me to release that first remix.

TBM: Well having an outlet like Circus Records, that began as a platform for you to publish the songs you love, what has your response or reaction been to the hyper-popularity of your biggest songs such as “Bass Cannon” or “Gold Dust”?

Flux: Just kind of been like, non-stop. It was pretty intense. “Bass Cannon,” “I Can’t Stop,” “Cracks,” and “Gold Dust” all in the same space of about three months, as well as “Got to Know.” Doctor P had just done “Sweet Shop,” so I guess in Circus I was always kind of the Dubstep guy. Sean was a friend, and the others had gotten involved because they knew business, and I was the Dubstep guy. Next thing I knew, the line-ups were going Doctor P, Cookie Monsta, Funtcase and then me… and I was like, “Shit. I’ve got to do something about this.” And then I wrote all of those tracks out of a drive. Then it all came out, and I’ve been riding it ever since. The crowds got bigger, and then I actually got more time to work on my music. It was the fundamental change where I’ve all of a sudden gotten a thumbs up from the world as if they were saying, “Yes, we quite like your music.” So I thought cool I’m going to do some more now. It’s what I always wanted to do, so the idea that I can do that is quite nice.

TBM: So Flux has clearly been doing well, but I believe I’ve caught wind of some alternate musical project that you’ve been working on?

Flux: Well it’s not necessarily a new project yet. I’ve been working on a new album, and I’ve got so many songs. Rather than writing certain kind of songs, I’ve just been sitting down with an idea and working with it. So I’ve got some 80’s kind of disco stuff, as well as some slow jam 808 groovy stuff with me singing on it, and some massive Dubstep tracks and Big House tunes. I’ve just kind of been realizing there’s a separation there for me as a creator. There’s a thing that makes Flux Pavilion what it is, and then there’s other stuff, these other ideas that I’ve been chasing that don’t tickle the boxes for me for what Flux Pavilion is, but I’m still equally happy with the writing. If I start imposing that upon Flux Pavilion, then Flux Pavilion at the core of what’s great about it gets frazzled and worn down. So that’s where the idea of a secondary project comes in. Once I’ve finished this Flux album, I’m going to try to buy some time to work on these other ideas and see where that takes me.

TBM: Do you have any alter ego or alias or any other branding elements that you’ve developed for your forthcoming musical tangent?

Flux: Not yet. At the moment I’m just focusing on finishing this Flux album. That’s what’s taking focus, is making sure this album is the strongest thing that Flux Pavilion has ever put on. I want to capture everything that has ever made Flux Pavilion great, and not necessarily in the way it sounds, but the way it feels. I want the record to feel good the way a Prodigy album does. It’s not any particular kind of style. I’m taking the same approach with this record, there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t feel like Flux Pavilion, so it’ll start feeling like something else at some point.

TBM: Is there anything more you can tell us about what you’ve been creating for this upcoming Flux record?

Flux: Well I was playing a bunch of stuff to the Destroid guys the other night, and I realized there’s way more four to the floor kind of rhythm stuff that I’ve ever written in my entire life.

TBM: By that do you mean that you’ve been writing tracks that capture a sort of house feel or are you taking that rough template and putting your own spin on it?

Flux: There are many varying tempos. Some stuff is at 140, some at 175… all the tempos pretty much. But for some reason, with the idea of really trying to capture that… you know when a track hits and you get goose bumps and you put your hands up because you want to and not because someone’s screaming at you to put your hands up. I’m just trying to capture that in the music itself so that I can just play any of those tunes and people can vibe off of it and feel it. That’s come across as much more of a four to the floor styled rhythm, which is something that I’ve never done in my life. I was kind of like, “Shit, where did this come from?”

TBM: Have you ever experimented with using live instrumentation elements in your shows?

Flux: Well I actually do have a live band. We played one show in the UK. We’re ready to tour now. It’s me playing guitar and singing, a woman doing vocals, a guy playing all the lead lines on a keytar. We’ve also got another guy playing a bass guitar that also picks up midi notes so he can play all the bass samples as well as a live drummer. So it’s basically re-creating the music with the intent to elaborate on top of it. But I stopped it, not a full stop, but I’ve put a comma on the project because I haven’t put out a really big, fresh lot of music. If I was taking it on the road now, it would be all the same stuff, and I want to take the show on the road where it’s all new music in a way people have never heard it before.

TBM: Well thanks so much for meeting with us! I look forward to hearing what Flux Pavilion has in store for the world.


TBM Contributor, Dan Crittenden, with Flux Pavilion. “Let’s do a thug one.”


Article by Dan Crittenden

YouTube Vid / Music compliments of Flux Pavilion

Photos by Mike Orgeman


Oct 24

The Polish Ambassador @ The Cabooze 10/22/14

Party With a Purpose

It’s been awhile since I’ve been to The Cabooze, so when I heard that the Polish Ambassador’s ‘Pushing Through the Pavement: A Permaculture Action Tour’ was gracing the South Minneapolis venue, I was pleased to say the least. There’s just something about the place… I like it there. Anyways, I made my way towards Cedar Riverside, drove around for a bit, and eventually found a place to park. I don’t always go on solo missions, but there I was walking towards the venue’s iconic marquee by my lonesome. Upon entry I was quickly greeted by an onslaught of familiar faces. Apparently I wasn’t going to be at this one alone after all.

20141022_234531I’ll admit I didn’t know much about the supporting acts Mr. Lif, Ayla Nereo, or Wildlight before last night, but I was open and curious. After head nods and hellos I found a nice little spot towards the wall opposite of the stage where I could take in some of Ayla Nereo’s set. She had a beautiful voice and a captivating stage presence. Accompanying Ayla was Liminus. At first I figured he was her DJ, but then later realized he was live controlling the visuals that were being projected onto what is best described as an amphitheater like backdrop.  Also present was David Sugalski, perhaps better known as The Polish Ambassador, but for this portion of the night, Ayla had the spotlight. After a few songs I stepped outside to kick it with the homies Train and Jared (they are their own show in itself).

After taking in the scene on The Cabooze’s patio, I made my way back inside. The crowd had thickened a bit and now both Ayla and Mr. Lif, the night’s MC and talented freestylist, were performing together. I don’t remember if it was during this time or once Sugalski joined the crew to make Wildlight, but a vocal looping performance by Ayla and Mr. Lif had me quite impressed. I remember thinking, “Damn. Ayla’s kind of like a sexy Heat Box.” A little later (at this point I was for sure witnessing Wildlight) Mr. Lif segued into one of the group’s final songs by talking about the importance of living simply. The song itself, especially coupled with Lif’s intro, felt a little preachy, but that’s ok – the message struck. As I listened, I reflected upon my happiness and couldn’t help but to ponder my own materialistic tendencies.

20141023_002740Around 10:50PM Polish Ambassador, clad in his iconic yellow jumpsuit and yellow tinted visor, took the stage. Although Sugalski had been involved a good chunk of the night, the crowd was now going wild. It was time for the main event. Just as promised, the set started out bass heavy and gradually increased in the Funk as it went on. It’s pretty rare that those in attendance at The Cabooze aren’t dancing – this night was no exception. I dug what was being dished out and spent the entirety of the set rockin’ some of my own dance moves, but I don’t know Polish’s material well enough to relay any particular songs. The exception coming towards the end with the mind altering glitchy remix of Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Tress.”

Coupled with Polish’s funky beats were some truly radical live visuals thanks to Liminus. The two artists work extremely well together – from their physical cues signifying visual cuts to their free and groovy dance moves. They’re definitely having one hell of a time when on stage. Joining the fun for a very fast and bass heavy jungly track was the beautiful Jasmin (a member of the Permaculture team). She displayed an excellent choreographed dance routine along with a massive smile, and only intensified the crowd’s excitement.

Due to the ‘Minneapolis Permaculture Action Day’ that was scheduled for the next morning, Polish Ambassador’s set was meant to end at 12:15AM in order to encourage concert goers to get some sleep before participating. A novel idea indeed, and one that a full time, regular office hours working employee such as myself, readily welcomed midweek. When the witching hour eventually arrived Sugalski did indeed bring his set to an end. He very humbly thanked the crowd, a crowd that was by no means ready for the show to be over, and a crowd that was perhaps the loudest I’ve ever witnessed at The Cabooze (indoors). It didn’t take long for The Polish Ambassador to return after persistent chants of, “One more song!” As he put it, “Of course I’m back. You knew I was coming back. That was really just a formality. There isn’t really anywhere for me to go back there anyways.” Wildlight was then welcomed back for the encore, an encore for which the crowd went silly. Upon completion, Minneapolis was still not ready to let Polish go. Hootin’ and hollerin’ persisted until Mr. Lif told us that for the first time this tour, they were performing a “second bonus round.” The second encore consisted of some nice beats laid down by Polish, but also freestyles from both Mr. Lif and Ayla. When the show came to an end we were graciously thanked for being such an awesome audience – sentiments that were genuine, heart felt, and well received. Mr. Lif shed light to the family vibe that he had sensed throughout the night. A vibe no doubt present many nights at The Cabooze, but one that, this night, was embellished by the obvious presence of the Polish Ambassador Fanatics within the Infrasound / TC Dubstep community.


Article by Alex Stahlmann

Photos by Alex Stahlmann


If you’re a fan of The Polish Ambassador, like collecting concert posters, want to contribute to the Nomadic Green House Project, enjoy supporting local artists, or, all of the above, grab one of Megan Hamilton’s 11×17” Polish Ambassador Prints. They’re pretty rad.

Polish Poster

Support the cause, support local art, buy yours HERE!


Oct 22

Phutureprimitive @ The Loft 10/15/14

Dancing out your Demons: A Journey from the Primitive to the Phuture

Phutureprimitive stopped in Minneapolis for their 5th show on the ‘Searching for Beauty’ tour this past Wed, October 15th. Phutureprimitive is currently on a 30+ stop tour that started in the midwest working their way to the west coast and adding dates throughout the tour. Rain, the man behind Phuturepimitive, is taking ‘Searching for Beauty’ to the next level with a brand new 3D projection mapping stage and ritual dancer, Caeli La.  He also has Kaminanda opening  on the majority of the tour’s dates.

20141016_000546In Phutureprimitive’s first national tour in 2013, he played an interactive game with his audience called “Dance Out Your Demons.” It’s a game where each attendee writes a fear, demon, wish or desire on a piece of tape and adheres it to the bottom of their shoe. As concertgoers dance throughout the night, one is encouraged to dance out their demons. The game was so well liked, so he decided to continue it during the current tour.

I arrived to The Loft about 10:45pm, just before Kaminanda began his set. As I entered the venue I was greeted with a variety of vendors, a Reiki massage table, live painters, and a merch booth with a pretty extensive selection of hats and shirts with Phutureprimitive’s insignia.  I grabbed a drink from the bar and began to browse the merch and live art booths.  As I was wandering around the venue I came upon the table with the red tape and markers and I began to think of what demon, wish, or desire I would dance out for the remainder of the show.

20141016_003824Kaminada’s set appeared to be mostly pre-recorded  with minimal live manipulations.  He played a large number of remixes, consisting of songs old and new. Although he didn’t do much for stage presence, the mix was incredibly well put together, and had myself, as well as other attendees, dancing and getting our feet warmed up for the main event: Phutureprimitive.

The stage that Phutureprimitive has designed for this tour fit The Loft by mere inches. With Rain DJing from inside the projection background, the visuals surrounded him. His musical styles can range from light slow moving melodies to bass heavy sounds of the future. Many times his music has an industrial feel while still engaging feelings of harmony and beauty.  Rain self-describes his music as dripping wet love drops of nasty mind melting sonic bliss. His focus is to explore a dark and dense palette, to invoke a profound sense of tranquility and beauty, and engage the listener in hypnotic movement, often escalating into a full-on kinetic experience.

20141016_020319About a half hour into Phutureprimitive’s set, we got our first glimpse at the beautiful and graceful ritual dancer, Caeli La.  She took to the front of the stage, and everyone’s attention drew to her. Her movements were slow and calculated. During her dance routine, the 3D projected visuals were minimal, and she was the center of attention. Caeli La provided ritual movements and dancing for two songs before disappearing behind the stage, and allowing Rain to present some of his heaviest tracks. He continued to engage the audience in a journey using his music as the vehicle. The music never stopped, and the people never stopped dancing. Towards the end of his set, Ceali La came back onto the stage wearing a pair of wings and a crown. She danced on stage for the remainder of the set, which ended at about 2:15am.

I really enjoyed the atmosphere and vibes Phutureprimitive brings on this tour. I personally appreciate live artists, and crowd interaction. I always seem to have a better time when the artists find a way to connect to the crowd through interactive games, music, live artists, and live dancers. I had a great time at his show, and look forward to the next time he comes through Minneapolis! I will definitely be in attendance!


Article by Ross Louwagie

Pictures by Ross Louwagie


Oct 22

Downlink [Interview]

“DOWNLINK – A name firmly cemented in the hearts and minds of the bass music community. He is respected the world over as a producer of the highest quality dance floor bangers. He has had numerous #1 hits on Beatport and has released music with major labels like Rottun, OWSLA and Mau5trap. He has helped mix an album for the legendary nu-metal band Korn. He has toured the planet far and wide, leaving a wake of awe-struck audiences in his path. To see him live is to witness one of the tightest technical DJ’s in the game. His 3 deck live mixing and infectious stage energy light up venues turning crowds on their heads time after time. Expect lightning fast mixing on a journey through a wide variety of bass music. All tempos are fair game as long as its underground vibes and dirty bass” (uplinkaudio.com).

In between interviews and sets Dan Crittendon sat down with Sean Casavant, better known as Downlink, at Safe In Sound Festival to talk about Sean’s Nu-Metal influence, broken CDs, the Destroid project, and the future of dance music.


TBM: Thanks for meeting with us! To begin, do you think you could tell us a little bit about the very inception of Downlink as a musical project?

Downlink: Well I started DJing and producing music around 2001. I got into Drum and Bass first off, and that was my first love, and is still, in a way, my deepest, truest love in bass music. I did that for a few years, but then I started getting a little bored, or I guess just wanted to try something new. Dubstep in North America around 2006 or 2007 was just starting to become a thing, so I decided to apply all my skills to that with the Drum n’ Bass mentality and the skill set that I had developed. After that I decided to start up this project that is Downlink, and the rest is history.

TBM: What name did you DJ under when you were doing Dnb?

DL: I had a couple different names. Thorn was one. Mowgli was another name I had when I was doing Jungle type stuff. Never really was successful with that, just local shows. It wasn’t until I’d had about a year of school when I’d realized that I put a lot of money into it, so I started Downlink and started taking it seriously.

TBM: What motivated you the most to move past DJing into the realm of production?

DL: I’ve always been into music from as far back as I can remember. I was listening to my parents’ records, and got into grunge when I was about eight. I remember I dealt with my parents who would come into my room and break my CDs because they weren’t happy with the musical choices I was making. You know, they’d come in and I would be listening to “Rape Me” on high volume and they’d be like “NOPE! My kid’s not listening to that!” and they’d break it. I would have to go re-buy it. So I’ve always been into music, and when I got into DJing, it was always in my mind that I wanted to create the music that I was DJing, so it kind of evolved naturally.

TBM: What made you realize that Downlink was finally the thing for you and what shaped your direction?

DL: I kind of came up at a time when Dubstep was fairly new to North America, and then sound that we were pioneering was kind of like robotic, spacey sound. Guys like Excision, Datsik, myself… there were other guys like Vaski, 12th Planet, Liquid Stranger all around the same time kind of doing that same sound. I just wrote a couple tunes that were very well received such as “Gamma Ray,” “Ignition,” “Factory…” some of the tunes that I made a name with, and started getting a lot of bookings. I was like wow there’s real money to be made here, more than I could make with some basic day job, so I just went in head first with it and decided to make it my life.

TBM: So I read somewhere that you mixed an album with Korn? How did that come about since you’re in such different musical spheres?

DL: Well first of all, it started with a love of Nu-Metal and Korn overall growing up and in high school. I’m 30 years old now, but when I was a 12, 13, 14 year old pot smoking, skateboarding teenager, I was really into that heavy Nu-Metal sound and when the time came up, we started talking about doing the Destroid project. Well initially when we started doing Destroid, we were working with Sonny Moore’s manager, Tim Smith, and he actually linked us up with Jonathan Davis because he had connections through his Rock scene days. When Jonathan Davis called us up on the phone and was like “Yo, I really dig what you’re doing.” We did a couple tracks with him and one day he just called me specifically because I had broken down to him how much I loved his music, and he had paid special attention to my music after I had opened up to him. He ended up calling me and told me he thought my engineering skills were what they needed for the album. I basically jumped at the chance and moved down to Bakersfield, CA for a month and a half to just live with them and work on the record. It kind of just organically happened just through a friendship with Jon. Even to this day I’m still great friends with him.

TBM: Do you think working with them on that album has influenced your style?

DL: I don’t think from that album specifically, but I’d say growing up listening to Korn, definitely. Even in my music now if you listen to it, it’s very riff-heavy and rhythm oriented rather than being overly melodic. There’s a heavy sound design element, so the sounds are very crunchy and heavy. I think growing up listening to Korn’s early stuff affected me more than working on that album did. I guess working on the record kind of influenced the Destroid stuff more.

TBM: It sounds like Grunge and Nu-Metal had quite an impact on you as a kid. What were some of the first albums that you ever owned that fueled your passion?

DL: There were a few, the first very memorable albums were Offspring – Smash, which was a huge album for me, Green Day – Dookie was a huge album for me, Weezer’s Blue Album, Deftones’ Adrenaline, Deftones’ Around the Fur, Tool. Even now those albums mean a lot to me as a person. Smashing Pumpkins, their early stuff. Alice in Chains. A lot of deep, moody shit with like fucking brooding qualities to it.

TBM: So what gave birth to the Destroid project? Unless I’m mistaken that’s you, Excision and KJ Sawka. Do you all go way back?

DL: I lived in Prince George, BC and moved to Colona to be closer to Excision and Datsik since they both lived there. My girlfriend at the time and I moved into Excision’s house; we just rented out the top floor area. Me and Jeff built a strong working relationship around music, and Troy was a good homie. So it actually started out with me, Jeff and Troy wanting to do Destroid as a group, and the group and the fundamentals progressed with the sound, and Troy’s personal career started going in a different direction, so there’s a lot of factors that I won’t get into, but it ended up changing to the point where we realized it might be more valuable to have a live drummer on stage with us, so we took on KJ. Jeff had booked him for a few shows in Colona, and we all knew each other so we were like this guy’s cool. We were huge fans of his work with Pendulum and also his solo stuff, so we thought he was a perfect fit and so we took him on and Troy wound up doing his own thing. We’re all still really good friends though.

TBM: Trends in dance music tend to be very fast-evolving, do you ever feel an impetus to modify your music to stay ahead of the curve?

DL: I think it’s less trying to stay ahead of the curve, but more hearing what other people are doing, and trying to fuck around with that style. It’s not like an intentional urge to make something current, I’ll just make whatever is exciting to me at the time. I do find a little bit with the fans that they can be a little impatient, and sometimes they only want you to put out what you’re known for and what you first started making. You’ve got to keep your fans happy and occasionally put out extreme fucking filth bass music. At the same time, I don’t have a problem making music that I want to make because I want to make it.

TBM: What sort of musical direction do you want to experiment moving forward?

DL: My personal sound will likely always be spacey, robotic shit, at least with the Downlink project. That being said, I’d love to go down an experimental Tipper type of path and just do weird, glitchy mid-tempo kind of  shit. There’s a lot of music in my head that I can’t do just because I don’t have time to do it. I’m just too busy doing Destroid and Downlink, so I can’t take the time to do any other kind of unique, original types of shit. But once I’m done with this DJing life, and I can stop touring so heavily after maybe like 10 years, then I can focus on doing super introverted, weird music that I actually feel resonates with me.

TBM: Any thoughts on what the future of dance music will look like?

DL: I think that dance music in general is just too focused on making crowds go up and down and throw their hands in the air, when for me, that’s so not fulfilling as a human being. As an artist, you feel like you’re doing what everyone else is doing. Lately I’ve been thinking back to my roots with Prog Rock and Grunge, and what if dance music/EDM could embody the vibe of Grunge music in terms of the raw, dirty sound of it, and also the attitude of it with the arrangement and everything. Where not everything has to be super clean, you just need that raw attitude and raw feeling that you put into the music. In order to really break through, you’re going to have to take a different journey. That’s where I see it going, is a fusion of Rock and Grunge with bass and dance music fundamentals. I can envision a future with bands that are playing bass music with instruments like Destroid, but they’re just slaughtering it like a band would back in the day, like Slayer or something, but the sounds coming out are just raw, synthesized sounds. So the sounds will be filthy, and the mixdowns are trashy and there are vocals and a live drummer. It comes with this mental vibe that is a future sound of music and I really see things going that way. Watch, in 10-20 years I guarantee those are my feelings, anyway.

TBM: Very interesting! Thanks again for meeting with us, Sean. I look forward to seeing what the future holds in store for Downlink and Destroid.




Article by Dan Crittenden

YouTube vid / music compliments fo Downlink

Photo from Kill the Light Photography


Oct 21

Terravita [Interview]


“Dominating the bass music scene for nearly a decade, Terravita has run the gamut when it comes to crowd-smashing, mind-melting electronic music. From the days of Drum & Bass to the era of contemporary Dubstep, Trap and everything in-between, Terravita know no limits when it comes to crafting the most staggering, bone-jarring bangers around. From their industry-leading sound-design to the razor-honed precision of their drums, Terravita are undeniable experts at their craft, and will inevitably remain so for many years to come” (EDM.com).

After their heavy hitting Safe In Sound set at Myth in Saint Paul, Terravita sat down with Dan Crittenden to talk about their history, their music, plans for life after Terravita, and their newest EP, Fuel To the Fire.


TBM: Hey guys thanks for meeting with me, can you introduce yourselves?

Jon: I’m Jon from Terravita

Chris: I’m Chris from Terravita

TBM: So where are you guys from?

Jon: We’re originally from New England. Chris and Matt are from Rhode Island, I’m from Western Massachusetts and we all lived in Boston for like ten years. We just recently moved out to LA in the past two years, and we live there now.

TBM: Can you tell me a little bit about how you all got together to form Terravita?

Chris: So Matt and I worked together for a while, and we were working with another emcee who decided to show up drunk one day to tell us we didn’t know what we were doing producing music, so we no longer worked with him. So then Jon showed up to a couple shows and then we sat in with him and the chemistry was right so we kept him and then kept the name Terravita. That was like a decade ago.

TBM: I heard earlier that you also produced house music under a different name; was that what you began with or did you begin as Terravita?

Jon: Nope Terravita came first, and then we started Hot Pink Delorean after our release schedules got backed up for like three years.  We had nothing else to do, and we were signed exclusive so we couldn’t put out any other music as Terravita so we started putting out music as Hot Pink Delorean and it was pretty fun.

TBM: Do you still intend to keep the two projects running simultaneously?

Jon/Chris: We haven’t really done anything new with that in about two and a half years. Terravita just kind of took over and we didn’t really have time for both. We’ve been dabbling a bit lately, but who knows what’s going to happen with that. We’ll see.

TBM: When you were signed to Firepower Records, did that at all shape your musical direction?

Chris: It didn’t change our musical direction.

Jon: We were with Troy when he came up with the idea. I think it was EDC Orlando actually, and we were all in a hotel room at like three in the morning, you know, after-partying, and he threw out the idea. He was like, “Hey guys I really want to start a label and I really want to do it right. Everything for the artists, the way it’s supposed to be. Would you be willing to release with me?” Of course we said yeah, so that’s how that relationship got started off.

TBM: So you were basically there from the very inception?

Jon: Yeah definitely.

Chris: I think we were like their third release or something.

Jon: Troy has never really told us what we have to do musically. Sometimes he’ll offer us some constructive criticisms but he’s never once told us to change something.

Chris: It’s always been like, “If I were to do this song I would do it like this, but it’s your song so do what you want.”

TBM: So with that level of musical freedom, where do you see yourself going with your music moving forward?

Jon: We’re always working with collaborations with other people, trying to get some different perspectives with music and combine them with our own. Lately though we’ve been trying to go back a little more to our original sound, with more bass-heavy mid-range stuff. Kinda to take it back to that 2010 kind of sound.

Chris: We’re into more of a hip-hop swagger, kind of like focusing on the groove of the beat, rather than seeing how crazy the noises could be.

TBM: So Jon, I noticed you were doing the emceeing on stage today, is that your primary role?

Jon: That is indeed my role.

TBM: Given that, what is your work flow like in the studio?

Chris: Matt is typically our studio mastermind. So either him or one of the other members will come up with an idea and go from there and it cycles through all our input and winds up with Matt mixing and mastering. We’re unique in that we’ve got three different people in the group so we each bring our own preferences and influences. I think that’s why we can have such a diverse sound.

TBM: At what moment did you recognize that it was time to put everything else on the backburner and dive full force into Terravita?

Jon: It was shortly after “In the Club” and “Lockdown” came out. We didn’t know anything that was going to happen, you know what I mean? We had just recently gotten out of our deal with Technique and we had a new lease on bass music, and that’s when dubstep was starting to become popular. We didn’t really jump on the dubstep bandwagon because we kinda felt like we would be selling ourselves short, and that’s when we started making drumstep, which at the time didn’t even have a name. For us it was just halftime drum and bass.

Chris: Fast dubstep.

Jon: We wanted that dubstep vibe, but still keep it at 175 bpm because we were always drum and bass guys. Those tunes really didn’t even take us that long to write, but all of a sudden Skrillex is playing them main stage at EDC. Next thing you know, shit just started rolling forward. We got really lucky, we’ve had a lot of good people who were trying to help us out and support us.

Chris: Also, there was a point where the two acts (Terravita and Hot Pink Delorean) were equally popular, and the reason we chose Terravita was because that’s what we did first, and our passion is bass music. Hot Pink Delorean  happened kind of as a fluke because of this contractual thing that happened, but afterwards it was just the logical choice to go back to Terravita and we’ve been doing that ever since.

TBM: So what were you guys doing before you found success in the music scene?

Jon: I was a bartender in Boston. I worked at a bunch of places, but I worked the door, worked the bar, waited tables… pretty much any job that you can do in a bar or restaurant.  Fine dining! The pleasures of having Jon Spero serving food.

Chris: I pretty much have always done music. There were times when the economy got tough and doing music was pretty hard. There were about two years where I sold cars, but other than that I’ve basically done music since 1998.

TBM: Chris, what were some of your earliest musical involvements?

Chris: Mostly throwing raves.

TBM: So you were the one orchestrating things and making it all happen?

Chris: I would be the promoter.

Jon: We all kind of started throwing and promoting shows. I was also emceeing solo for a while, at which point I was not very good at my job. But I thought I was.

TBM: So how did the raves go?

Jon: His raves went great; his went really well.

TBM: Did you encounter frequent problems with the police?

Chris: Oh they hated us. It wasn’t commercial at all at the time, there were little to no corporate sponsorships. It was hard when you told them you were doing electronic music and they were just like, “NO.”

TBM: Even today with the overwhelming rise in popularity with electronic music you’re still met with hesitation.

Chris: Less so, though.

Jon: The thing is that there’s just a stigma to it. Music has always been associated with drug use. That’s never going to change. I read an article the other day that 50 people got arrested a Toby Keith concert. Some people were raped, there were violent arrests as well as drug arrests, but nobody is talking about that, but one person passes out at an electronic show and everybody is talking about drugs and molly.  I think they need to stop calling them “overdoses”. Nobody is overdosing on molly, they’re just overheating and passing out. Secondarily, that’s just the way it is. Music and drugs, they go together. I don’t like it as much as the next guy, but at a certain point you have to come to grips with the fact that it’s just never going to change. Whether it’s Woodstock, Rock n’ Roll, Reggae, any of it, it’s all going to be associated in some way with drug use because it’s mind altering and it helps creativity, but at the end of the day, I’m not your parent. Do your thing, just be smart about it.

TBM: You guys are no newcomers to the scene, do you have any crazy tour stories that you’d care to share?

Chris: Not anymore. Mainly now we just work on our music and focus on our tours. We’re actually pretty fucking boring now. If you caught us 18 months ago, maybe not so much.

TBM: So after the novelty or shock of the whole experience has worn off you think you’re calmed down a bit?

Chris: Eventually you get into your early thirties and decide that there are things more important than partying.

Jon: You just get burned out, man. I mean, how many years can you go partying and partying and running around doing crazy shit? We’re all practically married now and are kind of toning down our lives a bit. You eventually realize that life is a real thing and you need to save your money and move forward. You don’t have a 401k or insurance or anything, so if you’ve got a family in mind you really have to be careful what you do. Once people stop booking us for shows is the minute our income stops, and what then?

TBM: Do you feel that you’ve all taken that into account and developed contingency plans for when the journey comes to an end?

Jon: Yeah I think everyone’s got a bit of a backup plan. Chris works with SG throwing festivals and stuff.

Chris: The Safe in Sound brand is from Maureen, our manager’s company, SGE. Her and I are kind of the ones running the show, and obviously there are many more people working on it beyond us.

Jon: I just started a company, a vaporizer company, so that’s something I’m planning on using in the background.

Chris: To be honest with you, we’ll probably be doing this until we’re 40. We’ll stop playing when people stop coming to see us, I guess.

Jon: That or when my whole entire body just gives up.

TBM: Well to wrap this all up, why don’t you give us a plug and tell us a little about your new EP?

Jon: It’s called Fuel to the Fire coming out October 14th, it’s a four-tracker coming out on Firepower.

Chris: You can tell it goes back to our old sound, with a little more hip-hop influence. By hip-hop, I don’t mean trap, I mean we’ve got some hip-hop vocals and that hip-hop beat with the dubstep sound.

Jon: That’s were I come in, and that’s where Master P comes in. We actually really like this sample from “Make Them Say Uhh,” we played it tonight and we hope people enjoy it as much as we do.

TBM: Sounds great! I loved that track. Thanks for meeting with me, guys! I hope the rest of your tour goes smoothly.




Buy Fuel To the Fire – EP now on iTunes.

Buy Fuel To the Fire – EP now on beatport.


Article by Dan Crittenden

Photo and Music Compliments of Terravita


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