A softly sung hook crooned by a guy that sounds like the Weeknd or Adam Levine? A big pulsating rhythm section that erupts the crowd in stunning glory? A quick build and drop that makes Deadmau5 step away from the laptop? Elephante has all the spokes of a veteran DJ artist in 2016, and his songs swoon and swim with utter glory.
What makes Elephante both spectacular is his ADD-inspired pulse on modern music. In “I Want You,” the artists gets to the big drop within 45 seconds. There is hardly a dramatic build. Everything is exploding almost right out the gate. Why wait for the action when you can just skip ahead in the video? It is the ADD culture that has no time for tension and escalation. This may all make me sound like a grumpy old man, and I can accept that. I can also accept that part of Elephante’s charm and attraction is unabashed willingness to take it there- make it big and keep them up in the air. Admittedly, I heard the radio edit of “I Want You.” It’s likely a shorter and more refined example of what could be an epic 10-minute building jam on its digital EP release.
Elephante is touring smart in 2016. Spanning most major stops in the United States (excluding Portland- they may still be stuck at the Modest Mouse and Brand New show). He is keeping the dates big, but exclusive, only making it to the top 10 or so cities in the US. It will be the University of Central Florida’s absurdly large stadium in Orlando and Boston’s Venu Theatre that will provide a fantastic backdrop for his inspired take on modern pop- all synthesized and filtered through songs that are purposefully short. His new single, “Black Ivory,” sounds like an army marching over Skrillex. It’s big and beautiful, and it ends just as most artists are warming up.
The Levity Ball expands our previous coverage by sitting down with the man himself to learn more:
When did you start – and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I’ve been making music my whole life – my mom used to sit me in front of the TV and throw on Fantasia when I was a baby to get me to shut up, so that’s probably got something to do with it. I listened to a lot of indie rock, hip hop growing up – I loved John Mayer and Eminem, and then later bands like Mike Snow and Passion Pit, and then guys like Skrillex and Avicii got me into dance music.
It’s a reference to “elephant in the room”, the “elephant” being that all my life I wanted to be a musician but I was stuck in a day job i hated, so it was about coming out and becoming the elephante.
You went to Harvard? Please talk about that experience and what led to now?
They made the mistake of letting me in haha. It was a big growing up experience for me, first time away from home and all that. I met a lot of great people and a lot of awful people, but such is life I suppose, and it was a lot more fun than you’d maybe expect. Most importantly I learned a lot about what I did and didn’t want out of my life, and that a degree doesn’t really change who you are as a person.
You met your manager, Tom at Harvard. How’d that all come about?
He had the dope spot in college – my roommates and I would go over to his place and um… have “deep breathing sessions” and play video games. They had set up a massive projector so people would always go there and we’d have FIFA tournaments, and he’s always be blasting BPM or some new mix.
What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic career?
Hearing my music on the radio was a really exciting moment. Also having people come up to me and say that my music helped them through hard times always means a lot.
What are your main challenges as a DJ?
I try to bring a lot of energy every time I play, which isn’t always easy after traveling all the time. Also I try to treat each crowd as its own unique thing, and try to read them and try to connect with each one and not just play the same thing every night.
At what point did you decide to start producing your own music?
I had been producing long before I ever started DJing – I’ve been writing and producing music ever since I got my heart broken back in 6th grade.
How do you usually start preparing for a set?
I do some jumping jacks and kangaroo jumps, just to limber up. I’ll light some candles and do some deep meditation (I’ve never done this), have a couple drinks and then get out there and hope for the best.
Your coolest place where you worked?
I’m a big fan of Montreal – I had never been there before but the city is beautiful, the food is amazing and the crowds there always bring it whenever I play.
Describe the way you feeling when you play music?
There’s nothing like it – you spend all this time cooped up in the studio by yourself, and then = seeing people react to this music that you poured your heart and soul into – it’s really an amazing moment
How has your life changed with all the travel and your rapidly increasing fan base?
Honestly the basics haven’t changed. Whenever I’m not on tour and in LA I’m in the studio working in music, and then when I’m traveling I try to put everything I have into the shows. One big change is that I really appreciate just staying in on a weekend now haha – you couldn’t drag me to a club on my days off
How do your friends and family feel about your rise?
They’ve been incredibly supportive, and have been from day one, and I think that’s one of the things thats contributed to my success. All my friends who are trying to do something creative – we stick together and give each other support, because we all know what a struggle it is at some times, whether its music or writing or acting or whatever. You never forget about the people that were there when you were scratching and clawing for everything.
Who is someone that you would really like to work with?
Frank Ocean – I think he’s absolutely brilliant, and I also selfishly just want him to make a new album already.
What is your current dream venue or event to be at or a part of?
Playing festivals is fun, but what I REALLY want is to be the first person to play on Mars. Can you imagine throwing the first rave on another planet? That’s be some real rock star shit.