All You Need is BASS

AYNiB’s Interview with Gladkill

AYNiB: Thank you very much for sitting down with us today here at What the Festival.

 GK: For sure, it’s my pleasure.

AYNiB: All of us here at All You Need is Bass are all big fans!

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]There’s bass influence, there’s hip hop influence, there is a lot of R&B soul and funk influence.[/quote]GK: Thank you man, thank you!

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of checking you out yet, how would you describe your sound?

GK: Genres are just such a fickle thing. I really just tell people I make music. It’s beyond that. I mean that there’s bass influence, there’s hip hop influence, there is a lot of R&B soul and funk influence. It’s just melodic driven electronic music. That’s really just the best way to describe it – like melody driven electronic bass music

Do you think the rise in popularity of digital format has helped make genre irrelevant?

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Sub-genres are just for the music nerds to have something to catalog it by.[/quote] GK: Its just the fact that since the technology has become so available that what you had to do in $10,000 studio sessions you can now do in your bedroom for shit, a couple hundred dollars – and its just over saturated the market so much that anybody can make music. So many people do, and genres are just an outdated concept when every week somebody is combining something different to create this Moomba-trapa-electro-ton. It’s all music at this point.  Sub-genres are just for the music nerds to have something to catalog it by.

AYNiB: Just a way for us to organize our MP3s

GK: Exactly.

So how did you get started in the ‘Biz’?

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]It started off from a hobby to an obsession and now to a profession.[/quote] GK: I’ve been in and around music since I was 11 years old, I’ve been singing, playing bass, and playing the guitar in bands. I attended a school for audio recording and production back in ‘07 in Florida. One of my friends at the time (who is actually the front of the house mixer for Discobiscuts now) got me in to electronic music. He was just kind of like, “I know what you like. Check some of this stuff out”. He showed me acts like Prefuse 73 and Telefon Tel Aviv. Really, after hearing Telefon I really just wanted to try my hand at it. Even though, I literally said I’m either going to be good at this and it’s going to be really fun and awesome, or I’m going to be terrible at it and it’ll just be a little hobby. It started off from a hobby to an obsession and now to a profession. I actually moved back to New York back in ’09 and met Marty Party through MySpace no less, and he showed me a whole live setup, got me on my first couple of west coast shows and after that it was just snowballing.

And, that was only 3 years ago?

GK: I’ve been making electronic music since like 07 and I’ve been playing out live since late 09.

You mentioned before that you were playing bass in a band – what kind of bands were you in?

GK: I’ve been in everything from punk bands (that’s where the name Gladkill actually came from). To reggae alternative rock bands, to metal bands, to the last thing I was doing while I was in collage. I was bassist for a funk, jazz improve quartette and that was like the most fun I had playing music for a really long time.

AYNiB: Pretty diverse musical selection there.

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Don’t let yourself be limited to anything in life.[/quote] GK: Yup, got myself in to a lot of stuff. I feel like that’s the best way to expand your horizons.

AYNiB: Stay well rounded.

GK: Ya, just don’t let yourself be limited to anything in life. Variety is the spice of life–be open to new things.

Photo by Phil Holland

You’ve had a pretty fast rise to fame. What would you attribute to your success?

GK: I really just think it’s always been the same thing. When people tell me that they’ve seen me come up, they’ve always said you have your own unique sound, and I just make what I like-which is melody driven music with a lot of dynamics. It’s not just like beat to drop. There is movement to the music. I think people for a lack of a better word just resonate with that. They like the diversity and not just the monotonous beats. The thing is, the top 40 DJs will fight over slots to play the same 10 dubstep tracks. They make my job way easier because I get up there and I play my own stuff and for better or for worse it doesn’t sound like anything else during that night. I think it’s just the fact that I approached it by not really caring how people were going to perceive me as or where they were going to generalize me in to. I was going to do my own thing and if people dig it cool, and if they don’t I’ll still do my own thing. I’ll just do it for me. Really, I started off doing super down tempo, like cinematic downtempo my sound has definitely changed since then. [quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]I approached it by not really caring how people were going to perceive me as or where they were going to generalize me in to. [/quote]

So, you’ve been down in Florida, New York, LA?

GK: Ya, I’ve been all over the place. I was born in Siberia actually and lived for the most part in New York. I moved to Florida for college, came back to New York after that and then gradually made the trek out west when I realized no one wanted to fly me out from New York when I was just a “wee lad”. <Laughter>

West Coast bass music gets a lot of love and you don’t really hear too much about the East coast bass scene. What is your perspective coming from New York about the two different scenes?

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Thanks to artists like Pretty Lights and Bassnectar and people who are going in to the mainstream and are brining in the big crowds are giving opportunity for the smaller shows to flourish as well.[/quote] GK: Well, its two different worlds out there. For example, people who are established on the West Coast come out east and they expect the same numbers, the same crowd, and the same pay. You just can’t do that because out east you’re kind of a nobody. They are really divided scenes. Up until a couple years ago it was just the house thing. That was the major predominant New York sound, but as of recent, thanks to artists like Pretty Lights and Bassnectar and other people who are going into the mainstream; they are brining in the big crowds and are giving opportunity for the smaller shows to flourish as well all over the country. Not just New York vs. California. All over the country it’s expanding a bit but they are definitely behind. Every single person that comments on social media thinks that half the shows going on in San Francisco are filled with people who are kinda jaded about it. People are kind of over it, “oh I don’t have to see this” but in New York and other states like that people are like “you are so lucky! We would kill to have a tenth of these shows out here!” So the demand is there and its growing, but its just different worlds – its different scenes.

The electronic music spectrum out on the East Coast is more so the livetronica. The live jam band still dominate that market and the electronic artists and producers are mostly the afterthought rather than the main act. That’s how I kinda got in to it or at least the way that I saw it at first. You see someone like Eliot Lipp playing Sound Tribe parties and at after parties and you can’t help think maybe there is some sort of market there. Then you get out here and you’re like Whoa! There is a market, and it’s a thriving community of music, its cool!

I think it’s a matter of months before this is going on nation wide, and worldwide. EDM is a movement, we have EDM artists winning Grammys. People are paying attention, especially big companies are going “whoa, they’re doing something  and we want a piece of it.” It is only a matter of time before it is a huge conglomerate machine all over the world. I’m grateful for it because it gives us a chance to share our music with so many different people.

Do you think the big conglomerate music machine can compete with the underground, do it yourself roots of the EDM community?

GK:I think it’s a lot of old men in suits trying to figure out how to scramble their fortunes together. The major labels are no longer major what so ever. They know there is money in it and of course the live tour thing is just such a booming market that they’re all trying to get in to it. I don’t see it as a bad thing. Moving in to the mainstream just gives us more of an opportunity to share our music with the world. Maybe in 10 or 15 years we can all sit around and say “what happened to bass music man?” but until then it’s just a beautiful thing to have people looking at it and be like “whoa what is this? We should be a part of it”. It’s just a really cool thing to see.

It’s offered a certain amount of legitimacy – artists who maybe wouldn’t have considered doing something with someone like Bassnectar?

GK: Ya, they are taking bigger risks because it seems more legitimate – take my mom for example, she is like “oh this kinda makes sense now” where as at first, she was like “What are you doing? You just went to college, why are you making computer music?”

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]I would rather just self-release everything… It is direct input and output to fans from artists and it just becomes such a more personal thing.[/quote]

<laughter>

With your first two albums how did you release them?

GK: Actually, everything that I’ve done up until the last album I did on Made in Glitch was self-released. So it was all Bandcamp. A lot of it I was giving out for free, a lot of it was a dollar max-all self-distribution-which has its pros and cons. It allows people to give directly to the artist, and contribute directly to the artist with support. Not just financially, but on a more personal level. But at the same time, you don’t have the community, the marketing resources and the reach that bigger labels have. So, everything was self released and now I’m trying to do a healthy mix of both. Self release some stuff, but also get some stuff out there on labels that people can find off of programs like iTunes and Spottify. There are so many people who say that they found me on some random playlist on iTunes and this and that. It’s important to have your hands in all of it. Though ideally I would rather just self-release everything, because that is how all the successful independent artists are doing it and it just makes more sense. It is direct input and output to fans from artists and it just becomes such a more personal thing.

When can we expect the next release from you?

GK: I have something coming out on Muti Music before the end of September. We don’t have an exact day on it but probably early to mid September. I’m super happy about that stuff. The very first Gladkill LP was called Alpha this is called Beta because it’s just the next step. Every single song is slightly different and every single song is my best foot forward and it should be out on Muti before the end of summer.

I’ve got a Seclusiasis EP coming. That is Starkey and Def79’s label out of Philly. I’ve got an EP with them before the end of the fall and then I’m hard at work on my side project called Satellite Respond, which I’m kind of keeping under wraps. I’ve got some stuff out there, but I’m not really advertising it much because it’s taking its own time and it’s doing its thing. It’s more of the cinematic glitch downtempo stuff I was telling you about. I’m really proud of that. Then a full-length album in January.

I’m just trying to get a lot out now. I’ve been writing a lot, it’s not for any other reason than I’ve been absolutely inspired to create and I’ve been really liking the stuff that is coming out. So expect a lot more releases.

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]I’ve been writing a lot, it’s not for any other reason than I’ve been absolutely  inspired to create.[/quote]That’s awesome – so I take it you’re doing a lot of writing on tour?

GK: I don’t, I actually cherish the moments I have at home. I found that sometimes being on the road for two or three weeks at a time, you just bottle that up. Every once and a while I’ll try to write out things here and there. But when I get home it will just be this creative flow. I’ll just take two days and dumb out, turn off my brain and get in to the studio. After I’ll come out of it in a trance and listen back to the stuff I just created – its fun for sure.

On all these releases coming up, are you collaborating with people?

GK: I’ve played with some collaborations, but all the releases coming up are pretty much my own production other than one song I’ve got on the Muti release. I’ve got the lovely and talented Mimi Page doing vocals. I love dropping that track too, because lots of people are like, “what’s that a remix of” and I’m like “its not buddy, that’s Mimi Page being an amazing vocalist and its an original collaboration”. Oh and also, Evan Sugarpill (also of Headtron) and I are working on an EP set. We’ll release it when its finished, but we’re working on an EP to self-release on our own label that is in the works. Gradual things, but it will be announced really soon. Collaborations are mostly one offs for me. A single track here or there. All the albums I like to keep as my own little creation.

Headtron Stage at Earthdance

You mentioned Headtron, that is a pretty exciting collective you guys have going on. You guys just added Hayoka to your ranks?

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]We aren’t recruiting  people like some business corporate thing, we all really kick it, and have BBQs and we’re a really tight knit family of friends.[/quote] GK: Ya, we just got Andrei Hayoka who is now performing under Andreilien. He did a name change, but is still creating awesome music. But we just picked up Andrei, and we’ve got a really strong team. Before it was like a booking agency thing, but now it’s more like a collective, overall promoting artist growth. It’s like a really strong family. Every time people ask me if it’s like a company – it’s like a family. We aren’t recruiting people like some business corporate thing, we all really kick it, and have BBQs and we’re a really tight knit family of friends. It’s become a really beautiful thing just to be on the same playing fields as these people. People say that we have the Headtron sound, but the only way that I can see us being grouped together is that we’re all more interested in the more melodic side of things, not just banging party music. I think we all push our own boundaries more so than that. It’s awesome to be in such a talented group of people and we’re all doing things independently that are completely different from one another but at the same time coming up as one collective. It’s really a magical thing.

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”][What The Festival] has probably been my favorite festival this year![/quote] AYNiB: That’s wicked, its great to work with people like that and have fun doing it. It looked like you were having pretty good time up there last night.

GK: It was a great time! What the Festival is a magical event. This is incredible, from the production to everything. I really had a blast up there. This has probably been my favorite festival this year actually!

What festivals have you hit up this year?

GK: A lot, this is probably number 14 or 15 this summer. Like literally every single one except for Lightning in a Bottle and Raindance because I was hurting from Symbiosis so much. But so far, this takes the cake out of just everything. The one joke I make at every single festival, is that there isn’t enough couches and lounges here, but here they got that down. From the hookah lounges, to the little wading pool to the benches and couches everywhere, its just comfortable – its great.

AYNiB: Ya because that pool is standing room only right now.

GK: Ya, that’s like messy sloppy wet dance floor

AYNiB: I’m happy I’m not the guy who has to clean that out on Monday morning.

GK: Apparently they’ve got some sort of filtration system going on – I sure hope so man, because that’s going to become hippy stew <laughter>

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”] Work towards your own goals not somebody else’s for a green piece of paper[/quote] So what’s the best part of your job?

GK: Waking up every single morning and being completely grateful for the fact that I can make a living off of my passion. One thing that Marty Party would say to me is “say no to slavery” which for him was like don’t spend all your time working for somebody else’s goals. That’s what he meant by it. Just wake up every morning and work for you. I’m not saying, “be a selfish person” and not focus on the community, but work towards your own goals, not somebody else’s for a green piece of paper. So I am grateful and blessed every morning to wake up and be doing this. Whatever I’m doing in ten or fifteen years-I just know that today I’m doing what I want. I don’t want to be anybody except for me, and that’s a good feeling to be comfortable in your own skin and just be happy. It’s really the most important thing in life, period.

So, on tour what’s the best thing in your rider?

GK: Um, I picked this up from Jasper (NastyNasty) its really important to ask for a clean pair of socks.

That’s, so funny! That’s actually the same thing that Opiou has in his rider too.

GK: Really? A lot of people are picking up on it. There is nothing like getting a fresh pair of socks. But, its more like when they bust out the new pair of socks that you know that they paid attention to everything we sent and are here to make this comfortable for me. That says a whole lot about promoter and production company. But also somebody getting you a really whimsical awesome pair of socks every time you get to a new place is just cool. New socks are a comfortable thing. I like that. My rider is a pretty standard other than that. Some drinks, some waters, some kombuchas. I like going to southern and Midwestern states sometimes and they’ll be like “what the hell is a kombucha? We got you everything else, but we have no idea.” And I’m like “don’t worry about it you got me covered.” [quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]somebody getting you a really whimsical awesome pair of socks every time you get to a new place is just cool[/quote]

Have you tried the kombucha mimosas here?

GK: No! Not yet, the one with the lime mead ?

AYNiB: Ya, they are like 20% kombucha, and they are really delicious!

GK: I’ve got to try that. That’s my type of drink right there. That’s the next stop after this actually.

So, what’s next after What the Festival?

GK: Big things actually, really big things. I was really excited to announce that I’ll be going on tour with Bassnectar. Hitting up almost all of his fall tour dates. I’m really excited about that. This is really my first tour, I’ve never really been on a tour before. Its sort of like that Dos Equis guy, “I don’t normally tour, but when I do, it’s with Bassnectar” <Laughter> So, it’s awesome – I’m really looking forward to that. I’m going to be on tour from September 27th to November 17th and hitting up nearly every single market. It’s going to be a really fun time with guests like Ghostland Observatory, Gramatik, Griz on some dates, Zedds Dead on some dates I’m pretty sure. Other artists that I’d be beaten up for, for announcing. So its fun, and its going to be a lot of really great times. It’s going to be the biggest thing in my career to date literally. So I’m beyond excited for it!

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]I’ve been listening to his stuff since I was like seven and it’s cool to just take that opportunity he’s given me and share my own art with it[/quote] AYNiB: Those are going to be huge crowds. We’ve already gotten our tickets for the Vancouver show.

GK: Some of those shows were sold out the day of announcing and I just can’t wait for an opportunity to share my music with that many people. I mean they get down with the stuff. Lorin is a more conscious guy about it. He’s been making the music he loves forever. I’ve been listening to his stuff since I was like seven, and it’s cool to just take that opportunity he’s given me and share my own art with it. It’s like going back a couple of years and being nervous about opening slots again. It’s going to be a really fun time. I’m really glad he gave me the opportunity to do that. I sent him my mixtape and he really just vibed with it right away and hit me up. It was great, and I really feel blessed about that and its going to be a huge, huge move! And I’ve never been to Canada.

AYNiB: Oh its lots of fun – we love it!

GK: I’m super excited to get out there, it’s going to be great.

Finally, do you have any advice for up and coming artists?

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Put your own imprint on it and do it your own way because that’s the only thing nobody else can do.[/quote] GK: Ya, there is this article I read online that basically said that if you try to recreate or follow anybody else’s path you are pretty much doomed for failure. That the only way to make it in such an over saturated market with such a huge amount of people trying to do the same thing is be different. There are easily a thousand people better than me at everything I do, and probably more willing to do it than I am but nobody does it like me. So what ever you do, and what ever you strive for-not even just music, but everything that you do. Put your own imprint on it and do it your own way. That’s the only thing nobody else can do. I mean you can try to keep up with the fads, you can drop a whole trap music album tomorrow and people will love that for a month until the next thing comes up. Just do you. What ever you do, do it your own style because no one else can do that. That is the biggest piece of advice I got, and it stuck. Sometimes it will seem counter productive and counter intuitive to do things that you don’t see as, as popular, and that people aren’t digging, but that’s because they’re just waiting for you to do it. It’s just that easy.

AYNiB: Well, thank you so much for sitting down with All You Need is Bass and we will see you in October!

For More Info on Gladkill:

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Record Labels: Made In Glitch, Simplify Recordings, 1320 Records, Headtron

Listen to and purchase albums & Ep’s at gladkill.bandcamp.com/

About author

Alex

Alex is the Editor in Chief and one the founders at All You Need is Bass, and is one of the primary contributors. He is a man of many different hats and musical tastes - plus he looks just smashing in a vest!

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