Exclusive Interview: Xonic

This week in the Artist Spotlight we have former NFL player reborn as producer/dj, Xonic. If you’ve ever partied in Chicago, chances are you’ve either heard of him or danced your ass off while he was performing. Xonic has had many career accomplishments including preforming at Spring Awakening Music Festival in 2013/2014, Electric Forest 2014, Wavefront 2013, and North Coast 2013. On top of all these festivals, he has supported internationally known artists such as Tommy Trash, Alesso, Chainsmokers and Nicky Romero among many others. We had the pleasure of talking to Xonic and asking him a few questions, read what he had to say.

What made you want to start DJing/producing?

I first became aware of my desire to start DJing and producing electronic music in 2010. I can remember the exact moment; I was at Soldier Field for a Deadmau5 concert. I was driving in my car with the window open and I was approaching the venue, and I started to hear the boom of the sub-bass get louder and louder as I approached. By the time I parked the car and walked into the venue, I was completely and totally hooked. I never experienced anything quite like the feeling of a lot of people all listening, vibing, and dancing to electronic music. I set a goal that day to someday DJ on a big stage at Soldier Field, which I’ve had the honor of doing twice so far thanks to React Presents and their Spring Awakening Music Festival.

Who is your biggest influence(s)?

Hard to pinpoint just one! I like good music across all genres. Production-wise, I would say that my biggest influences are Deadmau5, Mord Fustang, Madeon, Louis the Child, Mat Zo, Mike Vale, Zedd, Gregori Klosmam, Zhu, & Shiba San at the moment. As a DJ, I would say my biggest influences are Chicago stars like Zebo, Inphinity, Kalendr, PHNM, & Marc Stout. On a more international level I’m a big fan of Gregori Klosman’s DJ sets.

Whats you’re favorite record of all time?

That’s a tough one, because interest in music is so transient depending upon mood, situation, time of day, etc. There’s a number of factors that can affect what would be my favorite song to hear at any given moment. But if I had to pick one that comes to mind, one of the most amazing and timeless records to this day that I’ve ever heard is Deadmau5’s “The Reward is Cheese.”

What is your favorite party in Chicago?

Any party at the Mid is guaranteed to be a good time, whether it’s a VIP Friday night in the Century Room, or Saturday night on the main floor. The first Friday of every month I spin the whole night at Vertigo Sky Lounge in the Dana Hotel which is pretty amazing. Porn N Chicken at Evil Olive on Monday nights is highly deserving of its multi-year running award as Best Party in Chicago. Also any party thrown by United2Nite, House of Chi, BaM Creates, Pure Soul, or V.I.Peeps is sure to be a great time with high quality music and most importantly good people.

Who do you want to collaborate with?

Locally there’s a talented stable of up-and-coming producers that I’m looking forward to doing work within the next year or so, including Statut3, J. Worra, TreH, Kings of Class, Nikho, D2A, Le Rose (Augie De LaRosa), Orville Kline, Dani Deahl, Black & Yellow, Kalta / Freak Island, DangerWayne, Kalendr, Inphinity, Animale, Zander, and others I’m sure I’m forgetting at the moment. On a more global scale someday I would love to collaborate with BT, Mat Zo, Madeon, Mord Fustang, and Deadmau5. Might as well aim high.

What’s the most embarrassing thing thats happened to you at a show?

Would have to say that it was the time that I showed up to a club gig and there was an archaic DJ mixer I had never seen before. I couldn’t locate the switches that changed the phono setting to line (essential to my setup.) It turned out that they were tiny little switches on the back and the mixer’s wires rendered it immobile so there was no way I was going to get to those. I basically had to tell the GM that I couldn’t plug my equipment in to his sound system and he had to call the next DJ in an hour early. I had only worked with top of the line Pioneer mixers until that point. I learned an important lesson that day regarding being prepared for all situations at all times.

What do you like to do when you’re not working on music/DJing?

That doesn’t leave much time! DJing and music have become the vast majority of my life and I’m so grateful for that. In the small amount of time that I’m not working on music or DJing or a related activity, I like to hang out at home with my girlfriend and my dogs, or head out to clubs in Chicago to support whatever local acts or friends of mine that are playing that night.

What is your opinion on the current EDM scene?

Assuming your meaning the recent explosion of EDM into popular culture and mainstream favoritism, that’s a good question. I think for the most part it’s a great thing. As dance music becomes more popular in mainstream culture, the number of opportunities for DJs and producers to both make and play the music that they love will rise as a function of the overall numbers increasing significantly. It makes it a lot more viable to make this a full-time career the more people that like dance music! For some reason this seems to be a lot of animosity from from the underground music crowd towards the commercialism of EDM and other forms of music. I say just listen to the music with no preconception- if it’s good it’s good, if it’s not it’s not. If you like it you do, if you don’t, you don’t. I think that as time goes on in the next few years, and it’s already happening, we’re going to see a surge in popularity of the subgenres as the current youth contributing to the rise of EDM become more evolved in their dance music tastes.

What do you think will be the next big thing in EDM?

I think one thing that were already started now is movement towards music that has soul, music that’s groovy, music that has live instrumentation, and other elements of human or analog performance. When sampled, created, combined, and distorted with electronic sounds, truly unique (and never before heard) auditory creation will be the driving force for music in the near future.

Is there any upcoming releases/shows we should keep an eye out for?

I’m playing a special guest set at the Trap House at Door No. 3 on Tuesday, Thursday night I’m headlining Bar Fly in Minneapolis with Alex Kislov & Aleks Zander, & Friday night I’m in the Century (VIP) Room at the Mid with J. Worra and Jesse Seely.

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