–Margaret Main (photos by Matt Enbar/MenbarPhotos)
Seven Lions, one of the freshest most versatile and innovative faces on the scene gave Live for Live Music a few minutes of his time fresh off the stage at Camp Bisco this past Thursday in New York. Touching on his plans for the future, his opinions of festivals vs. clubs and offering advice for new artists, Jeff Montalvo was soft spoken yet clearly passionate about his music.
You just came off the stage, how was it?
It was good, like moderately getting into festivals I like headlining shows a lot better. Its different because you headline a show and 50% of people probably know your songs but you play a festival and its like 10%, so you miss that feeling of everybody singing along. All of a sudden you hear people out there and you’re like there’s one person over there so its not the same as a headlining show, but it’s definitely fun.
How many festivals have you done before?
I’ve been doing a lot.
You started out with music as part of a high school metal band, how do you incorporate your experience with live music into your production now?
Drumming is really where I get inspired musically so mainly that.
Since signing with Skrillex’s label in march how do you think its helped you grow as an artist?
It’s been awesome, it was like next level stuff. I guess the best analogy I can make is OWSLA is like the really pretty girl that you thought you’d never have the chance to talk to and then all of a sudden you’re like, oh damn, and it actually works out. It’s been really nice.
You released your albums Polarize and Days to Come over a year ago, is there a new album in the works?
Yeah, I’ve pretty much finished a new EP, we’re just getting the proper tracklist that we want to get. I’d say it’s probably going to be four or five songs; not sure yet, we might split off a few into singles but there’s a few singles too aside from that. Honestly at this point the label stuff has gotten so overwhelming that were kind of waiting for that. The musics pretty much done, even beyond the EP so there’s a lot of stuff.
Was there a specific inspiration for the EP?
It’s honestly so here and there. There’s a lot of inspiration that comes from playing shows and it makes me want to make more simple music because you play a show and you want very straightforward stuff. But then, on the other hand, I really want to go into more abstract things that people haven’t heard before. So it’s super here and there, there are some songs that will be very festival friendly and other songs that you would never play at a show, but you would hopefully want to hear them when you’re just jamming alone.
You’ve been described as breaking the rules and defying the genre boundaries due to your fusion of dubstep and trance. Do you think that this makes it easier or more difficult for people to understand your music and for you to generate a fan base?
I’d say easier. Once you establish yourself as an artist who breaks molds then it becomes easier. There are pioneers of a genre and then everybody just follows that path. But if you set up immediately to do your own thing then you have a whole lot more freedom.
You’ve done work as an audio and visual technician in the past for corporate events, how do you utilize this experience in the production of your shows today?
The only way I utilize that is by giving mad respect to the people who set up and take down shows because it’s a fucking hard job. People who set up and break down at festivals deserve much more love than they get.
You produce out of Santa Barbara, how do you like the scene there?
There is no scene there and that’s what’s really cool about it. It’s a positive for me because my friends don’t give a shit about electronic music so when I go back home it’s like real life, it’s not like going back to this scene that everybody’s so concerned about what’s going on. It’s so chill, I love it. My friends are happy for me, but they don’t really give a shit and that’s awesome.
I’m from Tallahassee Florida where you will be playing on the 18th, the Tallahassee EDM community is really looking forward to your visit, do you have anything special planned for us?
I have so much new stuff I want to play, but honestly every time I play a new song it gets up on YouTube and there’s shitty YouTube rips and even though its not like high quality I want my new songs to surprise people so it’s hard to play new stuff. I really want to play all the new stuff I have, but I don’t want the first version people here to be this bad quality version of my song. But I’ll definitely be playing at least three or four new songs.
You gained a lot of notoriety through winning the Above and Beyond remix competition, how effective do you think these types of competitions are in discovering new talent and do you think its something its important to focus on in order to discover new talent?
Well, for me, it’s obviously tremendously effective; it changed my whole career. And I think Madeon also gained some popularity through contests, so yeah, definitely a big deal. We sponsored our own competition and it was good. The people who won it have been doing very well. Beatport supports the community in a way that is really inspiring. But the thing is you have to really hone your skill. You can’t just spam your shit and that’s why those competitions are so good. It’s not like you just blast your music to Facebook and get how many votes you get; the winner is the one who actually produces the best songs. That’s a relative term but it’s actually really effective.
What advice have you been given by a fellow artist that has helped you and what advice can you offer to artists just starting out?
I didn’t talk to a lot of artists when I was doing my thing. For me though, what I would say to other people is just have patience. Really focus on what you do and don’t worry about trying to get a million views on Soundcloud or YouTube. Have high expectations. It’s all about actually working on your music and truly loving it. You might hate every song you make for the first like five years; seriously, truly it’s a long stretch but if you really love it you just have to do it, be happy and someday things will just evolve. It’s not about showing your music to everybody you can, it’s just about honing your craft.