What It’s Like: Hanging Out With Matt Lange

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When I heard Matt Lange was coming to San Francisco’s Audio, and better yet Adrenalin Room was bringing him here, I won’t lie. I got a little panic-y.

This is the guy who had released with Anjunabeats and Mau5trap, two of the coolest labels in dance music in my book, and been featured on numerous podcasts which I had jammed out way too hard to. A guy known for his insane production skills and unique sound. And I might get to be in the same room as him.

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What should I say? How should I act? Should I wear my special pants? What does that even mean? Indeed, all these questions and more were running through my head as the night rapidly approached. But when the time finally rolled around, and Adrenalin Room co-founders Ryan Russell and Swapneel Ukhalkar told me to meet them at Akiko sushi house on Geary st., the result was different than expected. I walked in, and there was just 3 guys at a table, sitting down to a nice meal. When I came over, Ryan said “Coleman, this is Matt.” We shook hands, and then continued with the dinner’s proceedings in a quite ordinary fashion.

As the night carried on, I soon came to realize that this iconic figure was, in fact, just a normal human being like everyone else, famous or otherwise. That being said, he is one fascinating guy. In the hours we spent together, topics of discussion included “scoring for film and video games”, “past and present collaborations”, and a very lengthy “love for good beer”. Let’s delve a bit, shall we?

Mr. Lange is no stranger to making music for outlets other than just the DJ booth or your home stereo. His production skills have been displayed in TV productions, advertisements, and most recently (and coolest), online video games. His most recent addition to this front was a music kit for Counter Strike (gamers, take note). As we discussed the process of scoring for the game, Matt expressed not only that he generally enjoyed the different challenge presented by making tracks for video games versus simply releasing music, but it was also one of his most lucrative sources of income at the moment (producers, take note).

Gabe Cory (Dolby), SNR, Matt Lange, Ryan (AR)

Another thing about Matt that tickled me quite a bit, as well as really brought him down to earth for me, was his deep appreciation and love for a good IPA. We spent nearly an hour in his hotel room discussing the subtle differences of Russian River’s infamous Pliny the Elder, and his little and much harder to locate brother, Pliny the Younger. After having a good, long laugh over what was essentially the underground railroad of micro-brewed beers, I had a feeling this guy was for real. And not just because he likes his ale with more then 5% ABV.

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I could sit with Matt, Ryan, and Neel and have a regular, enjoyable conversation. Nothing was forced; it was allowed to just flow. I know I’ve had this experience more than once where someone I hold in high regard becomes at my level, and there are times when it has been pretty brutally honest. But there are also times, such as this one, when they turn out better than I could have hoped. Matt Lange is simply a cool guy who makes music for a living. He’s recorded and released music with labels that I’m familiar with, and that music has made me swoon quite a few times. If you’re a fan like I am, than you should be just as excited about his full-length debut album, Ephemera, which is out now via Mau5trap records.

Take it from the guy who just saw his live show: it will behoove you to buy it immediately. And if he’s ever in your town, buying him a nice pale ale before his music makes love to your eardrums could never hurt either.

Adrenalin Room is a San Francisco Record Label. Click Here To Hear Our Music.

It’s OK to be Different: Seven Lions on making the music he wants

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      It is so easy to get lost in the shuffle, and even easier to get lost in the shuffle of trying not to get lost in the shuffle. Everyone wants to be different, but fit in all at once. You want your cake to be better than everyone else’s, but for everyone to smile and laugh while they watch you eat it. There’s a myth that a fine line exists, but let’s be real. You can’t have both.

      What’s truly rare is when someone comes to terms with that fact, and they settle for either eating their regular cake and making everyone happy, or baking a completely bodacious cake that others get confused and intimidated by. It’s not what they’re used to, and they can’t label it, so they chastise it and call it weird, maybe even throw it on the ground.

      I’d be highly surprised if this has actually happened with a cake, but you see what’s going on here. If you’ve made it this far as well as read the title, hopefully you’re starting to realize that Seven Lions is the baker who made the really awesome cake that people are sometimes afraid to eat.

      Jeff Montalvo, better known as Seven Lions, has put himself galaxies away from what any other current electronic music maker is branding themselves as, and he’s gotten there on the back of one big lesson that he learned early on as a producer and musician.

“I’m doing whatever I want, and I know it will make people upset.”

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      When I first saw Jeff play, he was opening for Above and Beyond at the Bill Graham Civic Center in San Francisco. My friends and I were in awe of how he flowed from genre to genre so seamlessly and so effectively, keeping the crowds full attention from start to finish. I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Jeff and talking to him about where he sits in the realm of electronic music, and how he deals with the constant criticism of not staying with one type of cake (genre… you get it).

 

“I think it’s been like that from the beginning. Mixing trance with dubstep was something that pissed off people, and I just got used to the fact that immediately, no matter what you do, you’re going to make people angry. I think it’s really weird because it’s just music, and I feel like people shouldn’t get so upset about what styles of music you’re making. If you don’t like it, move on. But people are really nasty, and I learned that very quickly, so I got used to it early on.”

      It comes as an utter shock to me that he is ridiculed for conquering such an enormous musical spectrum, having released with OWLSA, Ultra, Anjunabeats, and most recently Who’s Afraid of 138?!, among others. That’s essentially the biggest labels in every major genre of dance music right now, an accomplishment that I doubt anyone else in the game can boast, and this guys getting his parade rained on for not just sticking to one.


“I knew Serpent of Old would piss off a lot of people, but nobody ever sees their Facebook numbers actually go down. But I put that song up and Bloop Bloop Bloop (sound of Facebook numbers actually going down).”

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      Just to add to the list, because why not, Jeff is also a self admitted metal head, having been in several metal and punk bands in the past. This influence can be seen in part through his collaboration with AFI front man Davey Havok, December.

“A lot of the stuff I like metal wise is very melodic, just like the music that I make, so it kind of transfers. It’s also powerful and heavy, and I like making music that is both powerful and heavy as well as melodic, which I think is where metal meets electronic music.”

      Personally, I don’t like labels. I believe we should give art the freedom to be what it is, and not have to put it into categories and sub categories to feel comfortable about it. I realize that it makes talking about it or selling it easier, having the ability to reach a larger audience if you label a song as “trance” rather than simply “new song by artist”, but this also limits the creative capacity to what an artist can make, or what we think an artist should make. We always want new and better music but we are afraid of, and quite often reject, new or better sounds.

      I love that Jeff has the courage to do what he does best, and make music the way he wants to make music. He has gotten used to the fact that he doesn’t have to please everybody, and it has become glaringly obvious that he WON’T please everybody, but he still has the confidence in himself to release the music that he finds to be enjoyable.

      Seven Lions is the antithesis of a “sellout”, which is absolutely a blistering path to lead, and we as the audience make it that way. We criticize artists for exploring new musical paths because we have grown so fond of their old sounds. But we, as the audience, can change. Instead of saying, “wow, this doesn’t sound like your last song, you are a terrible artist”, we could keep an open mind and say “it’s not my favorite, but I respect you for trying something else. Maybe I’ll really connect with your next record”. Without this mindset of growing musically as an audience, we can’t allow the ones who make the records we like to grow musically as artists.

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      You probably won’t enjoy every song Seven Lions puts out, but I can guarantee you that if you like electronic music, or metal for that matter, you can find something in his bakery that satisfies your sweet tooth.

And if not, take his advice. “It’s just music, move on.” Find a new cake.

 

Be sure to catch Seven Lions in San Francisco this Halloween for Bill Graham Civic Center’s Boo!

The Godfather of Progressive House: EDX [Exclusive Adrenalinroom.com Interview]

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 For those of you who have been listening to house music within, oh I don’t know, the last 20 years or so, you probably recognize Italian talent Maurizio Colella’s surname, EDX. He’s been a staple of the scene for as long as it’s been around, being widely recognized as one of the fathers of progressive house. As his sound and productions have progressed (pun intended), the genre follows, and it’s not the other way around. He is consistently coming out with fresh new music, or fresh new takes on old music; his remixes are just as popular as his singles are, and for a good reason. So, sit back and let the man himself give you a little fresh perspective on his current state of being.

1. Adrenalin Room, Ruby Skye, and San Francisco are excited to have you back; what’s one thing you look forward to when you play a show in The Bay Area that you can’t find anywhere else?

I’m freaking in love with the bay area. I’ve always received so much love and the crowd is very dedicated, especially in SF. I am really looking forward to coming back and it’s been exactly one year since my last Ruby Skye play.

2. You have been lumped in with artists such as Deadmau5 and Eric Prydz as forerunners of progressive house. What’s it like being in the ranks with names such as those?

This was from many years back, during the early days of the Progressive House renaissance in 2008. It was a great journey. My music was able to evolve a lot – even the EDM generation came in a few years ago, and that mixed up a little of all genres for a few months. Now, I really feel that I’m able to make my music like I always have, just with a fresher and much more sexy EDX twist. There are so many great talents around these days, and it’s always great to be playing shows alongside excellent musicians and DJs.

3. With the phrase “No Xcuses,” you have put out an album, a podcast, and numerous witty puns, just to name a few items. How important do you feel it is for an artist to have their own original brand or feature that makes them stand out aside from their music?

No Xcuses is a simple statement that really stands for my way of doing things. Especially these days where there are all these great talents and DJs popping up from every single part of this world. It’s becoming much more important for each of us to have our own brand that sticks out and somehow shares a lifestyle connected to an artist and the music. Today, I’m really proud to be able to share music once a week in our 40 countries on my weekly NoXcuses show, it always keeps me on the cutting-edge with fresh new music.

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4. Being active for nearly 2 decades, how do you stay motivated to keep making amazing original and forward-thinking sounds? Any tricks you’ve learned along the way that you’d care to share on staying innovative in a musical world that is constantly changing?

Just be yourself and do what you feel the most. I always was one of those guys that wanted to share a feel-good vibe with music and while DJing, creating a nightlife journey for that someone who is looking forward to it all week. Being able to travel the world is another thing. Meeting all of these great fans and seeing different cultures really inspires me a lot. Let’s keep our fingers crossed so this vibe in me stays there forever. 🙂

5. Your recent track with Spada “Catchfire” incorporates beautiful vocals; how does working with a vocal track differ from a purely instrumental one?

I love to work around a vocal and composition from someone by adding my own twist, a new chord progression to make it complete. I’m kind of returning to my early days as a remixer. When I remixed Kaskade’s “Angel On My Shoulder” or Dubfire’s “Roadkill,” it was always important for me to add not only my own twist but also something that makes the track have some sort of a magic feeling. I love to work on instrumentals as well. This can sometimes be much more diverse, but I love to work with vocals. Check out my remix for Deadmau5’s “Arguru” or Nora En Pure’s “Uruguay.”


As a man of principles, experience, and most of all originality, EDX is in for the long haul. My favorite answer here was his statement about No Xcuses, for a couple reasons. 1) I love podcasts. They give you a chance to get to know an artist via listening to their handpicked songs while also broadening your horizons by bringing you great tracks to rock out to. 2) his view on the industry is very simple: you just keep making new, original music no matter what. Find creativity, find artistic inspiration, and make something beautiful. Because if you don’t, these days someone else will. And trust us: EDX will.

Learn more about EDX: http://edx.ch

Check out our interview with Ilan Bluestone: http://adrenalinroom.com/ilan-bluestone-interview/

Learn More About The Adrenalin Room Co-Founders: http://adrenalinroom.com/interview-with-swapneel-and-ryan-the-founders-of-adrenalin-room/

 

Matt Lange Aftermovie

One of our most memorable parties of 2014 was with our good friend Matt Lange, known for his material on Anjunadeep and mau5trap. Here’s a recap of the awesome night at Audio San Francisco. 

Industry Interview with Ariya Behjat [Professional Photographer]

San Francisco local Ariya Behjat is fast becoming one of the most respected photographers in the dance music world. His unique angles and distinct post-processing techniques has landed him some of the industries most coveted gigs, such as shooting for Above & Beyond, Armin van Buuren, Tiësto, Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, and countless others around the world. We met Ariya when he came to photograph our Adrenalin Room label party with Trifonic back in January of this year here in San Francisco and we were blown away with his work. We wanted to talk with him about how he got to where he is now, advice for amateur photographers looking to make their next step, and what it was like taking photos of Arty on the main stage of Ultra Music Festival recently.

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Rhodes: O.K. Ariya, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. My first question for you is how did you get your start in photography, how old were you, and how did you get to the level you’re at now?

Ariya Behjat: When I was fourteen, this photographer who shot for a lot of people and the fashion industry and corporate world– his name is Lasheen Yusuf– he asked me to be a model for him for something, and I said “yeah I’d be more than happy to.” After a couple of shoots he said he was more than happy to have me as an assistant because, you know, I was kind of an artistic guy. I did a lot of drawings and a lot of calligraphy. He said “you might be interested in photography, and you know, I’ll give you a few bucks here and there to be my assistant” and I was like “of course.” I started as an assistant and later on I became his second shooter, so I had a good understanding of composition and what you would want to change in a picture, how to make somebody look good, how to build an atmosphere through photography, and lastly how to compliment a subject to the atmosphere and vice versa. After awhile I helped somebody host a party in the W Hotel called “Elevate”. we had this every Friday and I used to put a budget for a photographer to hire because I took that seriously. After hiring a couple photographers I realized, you know, these [photos] were not that interesting and something I can do, so I got my hands on a camera. It was a white Pentax KX, nothing fancy, and one lens. After shooting a few gigs I realized that not just the artists, but a lot of people used my pictures for their own personal stuff, and I just made better connections with artists. I got a call from EDX. He wanted a photographer for Nocturnal in LA, and I go there with him and end up taking pictures of him at Nocturnal and some club after that. Through that concert I got to meet Morgan Page and Fedde le Grand personally to the point where Fedde le Grand started hiring me and Morgan Page uses my photos whenever he sees me.

Rhodes: That’s really cool man, so how did you end up going to Miami to shoot Ultra Music Festival in march? Did you reach out to Arty? Did he call you? Are you trying to make it to other festivals this summer? What’s going on?

Ariya Behjat: So from that point on, wherever I applied as a photographer it was much easier for me to get hired. As I mentioned before, I get a call from Arty and they wanted me to shoot for him in Miami, and while so, I also heard form Above & Beyond. I try my best to get to every festival possible, like this summer I’m booked to shoot Tomorrowland in Belgium, London for Creamfields, I’m trying to go for Dubai Creamfields, and these are all international And that was actually my dream, and I’m very happy. So yeah thats where i stand right now.

Rhodes: Well good for you man, living the dream. OK, so help me out. I am not a trained photographer and I’m curious- what goes through your head when you’re behind the lens at a huge show? What exactly are you looking for? What are you trying to capture? Can you give us some enlightenment on that?
Ariya Behjat: So whenever I get on stage, the first thing I try to do is not be seen by the audience, especially for something like Above & Beyond. They’re very sensitive as to how strong their visual are and they don’t really want anyone to block it, especially photographers. If you want to get the best shot you need the combination of where you’re close enough that in your frame you have the artist and the audience, but you don’t want any structure of the stage to be there. Especially if you’re on the side or behind the stage you see a lot of the naked structure like a lot of the bolts, a lot fo the ugly things– some of which are cool, but you don’t see the LEDs. They’re all in front of you facing the audience. You really want people who aren’t able to get on stage or people who didn’t make it to the gig to be able to feel that experience of you being on stage. And what I like to do to be different is ask “how can I take pictures of everything except the obvious features?” and I think that is what makes my pictures more interesting to most people.

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Rhodes: And what about technologically? is there any special gear you’re using when you travel? Can you tell us about your equipment?

Ariya Behjat: It’s funny. People ask me if I’m a Canon or Nikon head. I’m actually neither. I actually use a Pentax K5. If you asked me to take pictures in a bigger festival, then I’ll rent out something stronger– something that is at least 20 megapixels. But I’m not crazy about Canon head or Nikon head. I’m not crazy about saying this is the newest thing, because it does not make you a better photographer, it makes you a better camera owner. It comes down to the photographer and how you can communicate the visual experience that you’re in now and show it to people that were not there. Or how can you exaggerate it to the sense that the people who were there would not believe they were there. “Oh my god I was just there last night, it’s unbelievable, and I didn’t realize it until I saw it today,” you know? So that’s really the impression you want to leave.

Rhodes: Yeah, speaking of impressions, I personally thing your photographs convey a lot of emotion in them. Even the standard shots you see a lot of other photographers getting. And I think a lot of that has to go with the specific style of editing and coloring that you do in the post-processing So, what do you do when you get home? What kind of software do you use?

Ariya Behjat: So I come from a background of fashion. I know how to use tools like Photoshop, Lightroom or Illustrator, and I go spend hours per picture if I have to- in fact I’m working on a set of pictures for Alesso and one problem that I have right now, for example, is if confetti shoots out in a huge hall, because of the wind the confetti is only on one side. So what I do is make it look like the confetti is coming from both sides.

Rhodes: That’s really cool, actually. What’s another example of a typical request you’ll get from a DJ?
Ariya Behjat: Others DJs ask for their logos to be on the screen even though it was not. That’s something I can do. But again, all this is really to amplify and to make the experience closer to you as a viewer who is not there.

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Rhodes: Fair enough! Now, one thing thing I can’t help but ask is what is the story on those small figures you give to all the DJs? For those who aren’t aware, Ariya gives away these tiny little clay doll things that are made to look like the various big name DJs he’s photographing. I believe Above & Beyond used them as their Facebook cover photo for months recently. So what’s the deal on these things?

Ariya Behjat: So I have a friend. Her name is Elena Miller. And what she does is make these miniature sculptures of huge, huge DJs and I pretty much deliver it to them, and they go crazy when they see them. This thing is about like a half inch tall and it’s amazing how well she gets the details. It’s like these bubble heads that look like a characterized version of the artist. So artists like Nervo, Steve Aoki, Tiësto, Above & Beyond, and many others have these and they love it. A lot of them put it on the dashboard of their car at home, one gives it to their daughter when they’re on tour… so they really like like it and take it as a personal thing.

Rhodes: That is so cool. How about you? Do you do anything special?

Ariya Behjat: Uhm, yeah. As for me, I have my white glasses which I have a lot of artists wear when I take pictures of them. Armin van Buuren used that picture for one of his A State of Trance boards on his Tumblr and his website I think, and that was very funny to see. But yeah, at the same a lot of artists are not willing to wear it because they’re specified to some brand. For example, Tiësto is specified to Guess, so he can not wear my Ray-Ban glasses.

Rhodes: Interesting, I never thought about that. Okay, so one final question for ya before we go. If you had one piece of advice for an upcoming photographer, what would it be?

Ariya Behjat: I wish it was just one thing, but the number one biggest factor is don’t shoot for free. Don’t shoot for free. Get the minimum amount. Charge $10 an hour at least, and that is from the time you step out of home. You know, a lot of people don’t understand and think “I’m going to shoot for free to build my portfolio,” but at the same time you’re not just degrading the industry of photography as a whole, but you’re putting yourself down. So don’t shoot for free. For San Francisco I’d say start at $100. These people can afford to pay it- I used to be an event organizer, I know this. No matter how bad the event is, if they want to promote it, don’t get the words “oh it’s publicity for you.” That’s my biggest thing.

Rhodes: Well there you go! Words from a master of his craft and the business that goes along with it. You can hear the full interview on Adrenalin Room Radio #042, and if you’re going to a festival this summer, keep a lookout for a photographer with long dark curly hair wearing white Ray-Ban glasses and be sure to give him a big smile for us. Thanks for your time, Ariya.

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