First things first! Who’s your favorite villain and why?!
Most definitely Mojo Jojo from Powerpuff Girls. His eyes was always red af, which indicates that he smokes that dank.
Before being Mad Villains you were like all of us, an innocent kid. What was it like growing up in in Los Angeles? How do you contrast the best and the worst of it?
Well, i was born in LA, but i grew up in a pretty fucked up city called San Bernardino. As a kid, all i really cared about was hanging out, skateboarding with friends, etc. Life was pretty sweet at this time as i didn’t really pay attention to much of the negative aspects of where i lived. SB is known to have very high crime rates and one of the worst economies as a city in America, and my eyes really opened to this when i hit my mid-teens. However, the best part i found about SB was that all of the sort of ‘cool’ people in my age group were heavily into art and music culture and It rubbed off on me.
Do you have a favorite childhood cartoon or comic book hero?
Favourite childhood cartoon was Charlie Brown/Snoopy (Peanuts). Don’t know why, but it just had this vibe about it that i really liked, and made me happy every time it was on tv, especially when they did the holiday special on
Was music always your go to? Or did something else win your interest before you turned to the music world?
Before music, I actually was heavily into graphic design and street art. I used to make these weird designs in photoshop and go wheat paste them all over the city with some of my mates who were also into the same shit. We tried to do all kinds of different creative graphic design shit to get our names out there, but after a while i just felt like i was never gonna be good enough to truly get anything substantial out of it, because i didn’t have that true natural artistic ability. I still continued with graphic designing after i started making music though, but not as heavily.
What sort of musical influences were most profound to you in LA? Any standout tracks / artists you’ll never forget?
My music influence was on a whole different vibe to what is now when i was living in LA. A lot of people who are involved with what I do now wouldn’t think that I used to be an Afrojack fanboy lol. Nah but I was seriously into alot of Dutch House and Electro back in the day (2009-2011). Most notable artists i used to listen to and play in my sets at house parties were Mightyfools, A1 Bassline, AC Slater, Will Bailey (way before the Low Steppa hype), LA Riots, MSTRKRFT, Justice, DJ Barletta, Kill The Noise, Jack Beats, Cold Blank, Designer Drugs… the list goes on for days, but those are some key artists that i remember listening to day in and day out. These weren’t all LA based artists, but alot of that type of music was circulating around the scene out there at the time.
Do you have any siblings?
I’ve got one older brother (27) and one younger sister (8). Neither of them are really musical atm though. My brother used to play a few instruments when he was in middle school, but he fell out of it by the time he left high school.
Europe is often credited more for dance music than the USA, but in truth, much of the core of dance music started in the states.. Did you witness much of this original change growing up?
Yeah I think its pretty mad that that dance music (house, techno, etc.) is somewhat more popular in Europe and the UK but not the country it originated in. When i was living in Cali I didn’t really know too much about proper House, cause i didn’t have enough exposure to it like I have living in the UK. I knew what House was obviously because my mom would always bump it in the car, but it was just the typical commercial 90’s house tracks that everyone knows. Looking back now, a lot of tracks that i really liked back then were more or less house tracks, i just didn’t realise at the time.
Was there a moment when you realized you had a special draw to music? An ‘A-ha, I want to make some dope ass shit’ moment?
When i was 14, i started to get really curious/interested in how all the artist i mentioned earlier were making these sick tracks, then one day i went to my best friend’s house and he was like ‘yooo i just made this Dr. Dre beat’, and i was like wtf nah. Then he showed me the cheesiest little hip hop beat he made in FL Studio, and i was like so amazed by it at the time haha. He gave me a copy of FL, and the rest is history.
You have moved around the states a fair bit and made the move to Leeds in the UK, how do you contrast the two? What are the scenes like? Are there any similarities or major differences? Any advantages?
I mainly lived in San Bernardino my whole life tbh, i lived in Brooklyn, NY for like 3 months when i was 14 but had to move back to Cali cause i couldn’t adapt to the rough NY lifestyle at that age. I’d say the scenes between there and the UK are far different to each other. Theres some similarities, but overall the UK is years ahead when it comes to music and nightlife. Like i remember coming here and finding it so weird that people go out clubbing at like 11-12 at night and dont come home til like 4-5 in the morning, and even later in some cases. California has a stupid early curfew (like 2 am), so most people are out the house by like 7-8 pm. Obviously, the music/club scene in California was a lot more ‘EDM’ oriented at the time compared to the diverse music scenes the UK has to offer, which i still find true to an extent today. One thing i miss most about California though was the house party scene. They actually go HAM with house parties, like i remember always being booked to play these house parties with proper lineup’s, fliers made, promo teams, hired sound systems, roaming photographers, etc. That scene is where i really had the chance to start making a name for myself out there. House parties in the UK that i’ve been to are weak compared to back home, although since coming to Leeds for university, i have been to some pretty mad parties up here.
Something that comes to mind is the dominance of your kick drums in your tracks, they come through beautifully in each song and they arguably add to your signature, what production tools would you most recommend as essential for all producers?
With regards to the kick drum, i think its essential to have some sort of saturation on it. I use saturation on almost every kick i use, because it really helps to just ‘pump’ the kick up and bring it out in the mix. I usually use Ableton’s own saturator but theres other sick plugins out there that do a really good job, such as from Waves or UAD. If you can get your hands on some hardware, even better.
What’s the earliest production tool you recall using?
Obviously i started off using FL Studio/Ableton’s own built in stuff but i think after i learned a bit about mixing down, the first proper processor i bought was Cytomic’s ‘The Glue’ compressor, which is a mimic to the famous SSL buss compressor. Is still one of my favourite vst compressors to use.
Do you have any other genres that you are tempted to produce?
Yes, i get bored making House and Garage sometimes as it’s mostly what i’ve been making for the last 4-5 years. So i’m thinking to start a side project making really chilled out stuff, on a Soulection
kind of vibe. Just to help keep the creativity flowing, and help me gather new ideas for my music making process.
If one of your tracks was to be added to a movie, what movie would it be, and which track would it be? (if its not on soundcloud maybe give beatport link or something)
Ahh tricky one, I’d say i can imagine my remix of Mezzo’s ‘Jazz Club’
being used on a film, but can’t really think which one lol.
The world is getting smaller each day, are there any countries or cities you really wish to visit?
Oh of course. Amsterdam, Hawaii, Japan and Liverpool.
Now that you’re living in the UK, have you been converted to ‘soccer’ football? If you gotta pick, whats your team?
TBH, even after moving to the UK I still am not really into football (soccer) that much. I find it interesting how English people are obsessed with it though. Like as soon as you’re born out here, it is shoved down your throat and even if you don’t necessarily grow up to like football you will still know enough about it. I’ve tried to get myself into it, but I just can’t.
What’s the best skateboarding trick you’ve landed? Any nasty skating bails?
I remember landing this Hardflip off an 8-set at some school near my house, was pretty crazy. I’ve had plenty of nasty bails, none in particular that i can remember though.
Do you have a favorite skater? I know we were all trying to mess around with Rodneys dark slide!
Favourite skater used to be Andrew Reynolds back in the day. Now I dont really have a specific favorite skater, but im really into the whole Deathwish team
Whats your favorite style of skating? Street or ramp?
Who would you say has been your biggest supporter in your musical journey?
Well if we’re talking about support from a high profile artist, it’s hard to pin it down to just one. I’ve had support from legendary OG’s such as Todd Terry and Todd Edwards, and i’ve had support from more current legendaries such as Shadow Child and Huxley. There’s many others as well, but it’s hard to define who’s the ‘biggest’ really.
Speaking of support, BBC radio and Kiss FM have been down with you among lots of other high profile stations and dj’s with your fan-base growing nicely.. What’s been the best thing about your journey?
Yes, once i started getting radio support I knew shit was getting real haha. One highlight of my career so far though, was being booked to go play my first overseas gig in Izmir, Turkey. The whole experience was just mad.
Is there any gig that you’ve played at that truly stands out to you? Any favorite dj moment?
Apart from the Turkey gig, I’d say my most memorable DJ moment was playing at Canal Mills (Leeds) in March with the Regression Sessions crew. It was my first proper headline gig playing to a really large crowd and the vibes were like no other event i’ve played before. Video here.
Back to music production, whats your favorite tool in your villains toolbox?
As for processors, definitely Izotope Alloy 2, particularly the Transient Shaper on it. It’s really helping me get drums sounding crispy and sharp. As for plugin instruments, the Arturia Mini V (Mini Moog) is my go to instrument for a lot of shit now.
When you’re not making music, what do you most like doing to unwind?
Just hanging out with my pals and smoking dank kush really lol. I also skateboard, i’d say it’s my second hobby to music. I’ve skated for most of my life, and I find it’s a really good outlet for me to escape from the shitty aspects of the real world.
We know Mad Villains is in full motion. Coming to you in stereo, where should we look for you first online?
We’re loving what you’re doing and hope to see you make it to New Zealand shores! Thanks for chatting with us!