This week in our Spotlight we have rising Artist, Snøwmass. He has already put out a great number of tracks and shows no signs of slowing down. His remix of Smoke Filled Room comes out this Thursday and he says he’s got more Snøwmass has also charted on Hype Machine a few times. We got a chance to ask him some questions the other day. Give the interview a read to learn more about the man and be sure to keep an eye out for Snøwmass.
How did you first begin DJing/Producing?
I grew up playing rock, always in some Rage Against The Machine cover band, or something like that. I got into electronic music like most people when Deadmau5 starting sweeping the nation in 2010. My sophomore year of college, I think I listened to strobe at least once every single day, but I never explored music production or anything. At the end of my junior year, I hit up Jake Udell, Krewella’s manager. All of Krewella and Jake went to my high school, and I knew Jake from being friends with his sister and Yasmine a little bit from different classes. Actually, I used to cheat off her in calculus haha. Anyway, I said I was interested in getting in the business, so he said I could come work with them that summer. They were still up and coming, and mostly playing smaller shows in Chicago at the time. So I interned for them, which was cool, but Jake had me doing a lot of stuff for his personal music career. He wanted to be a rapper growing up, and he was still trying to hold onto that dream a little, which now I know he realizes was a mistake. My brother had also gotten ahold of Ableton Live for me, so I spent a lot of time that summer just watching youtube videos and teaching myself how to use the software. I went back to school in August; right after Krewella released their Play Hard EP and started their tour, which is when they blew up. I spent a lot of my senior year doing the same stuff, watching youtube videos. I bought Massive, which is/was my favorite VST. That combined with my friends calling me Snowmass because I used to lift a lot is how I got the name
That year I also started working with a friend of mine who produces out in LA now, and we were able to open for the opener of Alesso that April haha. Then I graduated and went abroad for a while. I didn’t really know what I was going to do, just that I was never going to have a 9-5 job. I got back in July and started interning for a music studio called Jira. After that was over, I realized that I wanted to pursue music more on an artist level rather than getting into something like promotions/events/management. The owner of Jira and I were about to sign papers with a company called GrooveBoston, so we could partner with them and start throwing big raves at colleges in the Midwest. My boss then said he actually didn’t have enough liquid cash to get the business moving, so we let it die, which probably ended up being really good for me because I would never have been able to produce and run that company at the same time.
I decided to go back to school for audio engineering and went with The Recoding Connection Audio Institute because it was a quick program, and I would essentially just be sitting next to an audio engineer and asking him questions. While I was doing that, I started interning at a postproduction studio called Particle. It was coincidentally the place where I had first seen Krewella play a show while I was working for them.
Then in April, I was with some friends when a car going 40mph hit me. I hadn’t wanted to go out, but they convinced me to go for one drink because it was my birthday, so I said ok. The driver was obviously on her phone or something because she was coming at us like someone had paid her to kill us. At the last second, she realized people were in front of her, so she swerved to the left, which was where I was standing. I’m actually glad she did because if she hadn’t she would have killed my friend and girlfriend at the time. So I tried to jump over the car and ended up throwing myself again the windshield. I thought for sure in the air that I was going to die or at least wake up paralyzed. My friends who were watching said I looked like a rag doll and did a full flip in the air before landing on the pavement. I immediately got up because I realized that cars now might be coming from the other direction too. As I walked to the side of the road I was looking at my hands and legs thinking something must be broken of popping out of me. My leg was bleeding, but that was about it. I tried telling people to not call an ambulance because i know how expensive they are, but 10 people were already on their phones. I also kind of still wanted to go into the bar haha. They took me the hospital and did a CT can and then an MRI. Everything came back negative, so I went home and struggled to move for a few days as the inflammation settled in
From that point, I decided to commit myself to producing music. My audio engineering program was about to end, and I quit interning at the post production studio. I started running Airbnb properties, which is what I still do now along with audio engineering. Since then, things have been awesome. I started putting finally putting out music that I considered to be at the quality of other electronic artists I listened to. I was friends with my now manager John Ruscigno, and he introduced me to Graham because they were starting their management company, so I jumped on after Graham was immediately able to get my What Am I Doing Here Remix on Hype Machine, which had been a long term goal of mine
Who is your biggest influence(s)?
In terms of where I get my sound, I’ve alway been into really heavy and dark stuff. Tom Morello, who I’m sure you know is the guitarist for Rage Against The Machine has always been a huge influence on me. I loved how his solos were so unique. He could take his cable out of the output jack and start touching it to his pickups just to get this super distorted nonsensical sound, but make it sound awesome. That’s why I naturally got into dubstep because I loved how guys like Skrillex were taking these nasty sounding growls and wobbles and making them into really badass music.
If I only made music for myself, I would probably just make the dirtiest dubstep you’ve ever heard, but everything I make is also for the public, so I try to make stuff that everyone can listen to
I have some songs out now that are pretty housey, and my new tracks coming out over the next couple months are pretty much all future trap/melodic dub at this point
All I care about is that there’s always some grime to my basses, and I’ll make pretty much any genre from there. I work a lot with my friend Matt, who goes by Sir Matty V. He’s a big-big house guy, so we’ve ended up making some pretty cool stuff with the combination of his house chords and my dark side
I plan on going even a little darker with things in the future and making some more stuff like my KSHMR Memories remix. I’m really into bass house right now because I think it’s the perfect combination of 128 house music and dubstep. 2. My biggest influences right now are guys like JOYRYDE, Fawks, JAUZ, Ephwurd, and that whole crew. I dont think I’m quite on their level yet in terms of making the nastiest house in the world, but I hope to be there soon
I don’t think anyone should solely be producing music if they’re not making a living off of it unless he/she’s in high school/college. You keep yourself busy and it ends up motivating you more to devote time to the things you love
What’s your favorite record of all time?
If by record you mean single track, then I know it’s cliché, but definitely Strobe by Deadmau5. That song was single handedly the reason why I became interested in producing electronic music. I still listen to it all the time and always the 10-minute extended version.
What was your favorite party of all time that you have played?
I don’t have one yet. I’ve played a decent amount, but my goal has always been to go more of the KSHMR route and become well known for my music first and then do shows second. For that reason, I haven’t looked for any specific gigs to play because I’d rather have a good following and fans there to see me specifically than spin random sets. I hope to be at that point within the next few months.
Who do you want to collaborate with in the future?
That’s hard to say. I could list off a bunch of my favorite producers, but right now I’m totally content working with the guys who I met early on and have made/are currently making tracks with – those two guys being Sir Matty V and MNYKR. I guess if I had to pick a couple guys in the game who I’m aquainted with it’d be No Sleep and Illenium. JOYRYDE is the guy I currently look to the most for inspiration, but I’ve never had the pleasure of talking to him.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you at a show?
At one of my first sets in Chicago last year I showed up with my usb like I do for all my sets, but the club had older CDJs that only took CDs or a serato box to use a laptop, so I was in a panic and ended up having to use on of the other DJ’s serato box. I know DJs say to always have CDs with you just in case, but I think all clubs now should have CDJs with a usb option. Pioneer seems to agree as they got rid of the CD player in their new XDJ-1000 model.
What do you like to do when you’re not working on music/DJing?
I’ve always been active. I played a couple sports in high school and I got the nickname Snøwmass in college because I worked out a good amount in college (Snow being my last name and mass as in weight). I don’t always eat well, but staying in shape is important to me.
What is your opinion on the current EDM scene?
I would need a few pages to really let you know my thoughts on that. It’s amazing how much it has grown worldwide, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life now besides being involved in the electronic music scene. With that being said, I understand why it gets a bad rap. You see more and more people every year at festivals who seem like they’re there mostly for the experience and drugs than the music. Artists are also somewhat to blame for that as you get guys like VINAI who are making mind numbing big house tracks that stay on the same note 90% of the song. I don’t know how you enjoy that stuff unless you’re on a ton of drugs. I hope that electronic music will continue to gain artists such as Kygo, Vicetone, and KSHMR who are making very high quality and catchy melodic songs that gears fans towards them directly rather than EDM overall. Even with dubbier guys like Bassnectar, JAUZ and Ephwurd, they’re producing insanely good bass tracks that make people more respectful of the music. There will always be drugs and drinking at concerts, just like there has been for the last 50 years. You get problems when you have crowds like Perry’s at Lollapalooza where 80% of the people don’t even know who’s coming on stage next, and all they’re worried about is their next beer and when they’re going to take their molly. Whereas, you go to somewhere like Electric Forest and even though there are plenty of drugs around, most of the people there love the music and want to remember the shows. For this genre to survive, it needs to continue to always be more about the music and artists than the experience.
What do you think will be the next big thing in EDM?
There’s no question that bass house is on the rise. I know a lot of my friends always disliked dubstep because most of it was too heavy. Bass house takes that energy and grime from dubstep and puts it over 128 house beats, and you can see people that are into anything from house to dubstep loving it. On the other side of the spectrum, tropical house is running rampant all over the place. Either way, it’s clear that the most popular music will for the most part be staying in the 122-130 bpm range.
What do you think about all these “frauds” in the EDM scene using ghost producers, buying likes and purchasing their own tracks on Beatport?
I’ve actually never heard of guys buying their own tracks on Beatport, but that’s nuts haha. Buying likes never makes sense. At the end of the day, respect from your fans and fellow artists is the only thing that matters to make it. It’s like any ongoing lie. It might work for a little while, but then eventually you slip, and everything comes crashing down. I see guys occasionally who make pretty good stuff, but it’s obvious that their stats are totally fake and I immediately lose all respect for them. You would literally have to buy likes, comments, and followers consistently in every aspect of your music to maybe play it off, which seems completely insane. Having a good team is much more important. I would be nowhere today if it weren’t for my managers tirelessly sending out my songs to blogs and other artists for support. This is definitely not a “get rich quick” system. In regards to guys who are already popular using ghost producers, it’s hard to say. If an artist was simply handed a finished track to put his/her name on, then that’s kind of fucked up. But then you have to think about examples such as Justin Bieber’s latest album. Was every song on there gold? Yes. Did Justin do anything besides step into the studio and record lyrics he didn’t write? No, and yet his name is still, for the most part, the only one used. Famous artists will always have help in different steps of song making. Even The Beatles eventually had ghostwriters. I just hope that top artists always put their all into music that they are going to call their own, even if they are getting help on the side.
Is there any upcoming releases/shows we should keep an eye out for?
I have more music on my computer right now than I know what to do with. My Smoke Filled Room remix that I did with my good friend MNYKR comes out on Thursday. I’m also currently working on a huge house track with my main dude Sir Matty V. Other than that, I’ll have my personal tracks/remixes consistently being released every 2 weeks or so until people are sick of seeing my name on the front lines of Hype Machine haha