Electric Forest describes Lindsay’s music as “Jazz fusion and a Super Nintendo.” The 21-year-old out of DC has been developing a cult-like following with his eclectic releases, spanning from cashmere cat-esque bedroom cuddle beats like “GT40” to straight grime on “Ashtray.” When he announced he was taking a break from releasing tracksearlier this year so he could focus on studying people flipped out. Luckily he’s back with more music and a tour schedule. This is one of my favorite interviews I’ve had the pleasure to conduct. The kid’s going places.
Yeah, let’s do this. Record it. Sweet.
Soooo I saw your set. Are you a fan of Cashmere Cat much?
Oh yeah. We have a… I’m not gonna say too much about it, its an R&B vocalist I’ve been a big fan of since I was 15, 14, a long-ass time.
Not R. Kelly, but its an awesome guy and me and Cashmere Cat produced the beat for him and its a smash. Its an awesome song. I’m really excited about it.
People have been describing his music as cute, which may or may not be fair.
Yea cute, future bass.
Literally everything is future bass.
I know, its like ‘uh there’s bass in it and its future,’ whatever that means.
Subgenres are hard. You invented 'Neon Music.'
The reason I said that is because I didn’t know what my music was. The closest thing I could think of was Instrumental Hip-Hop, which its not. So I said Neon because when I get super blazed at night and listen to that kind of music all I see in my head is Rainbow Road from Mario Kart.
I want to open up a venue that’s basically Rainbow Road. The ground is plexiglass and the walls are all the stars. It would give people mad seizures.
You’d need a part where people fall off and die.
Oh that would be too next level. People aren’t ready for that shit.
Relevant tangent - I was just in the SE Islands of Thailand for this thing called the Full Moon Festival and as I was walking down the beach with a friend on lots of psychedelics we were dodging the drunken, passed out bananas and shells in the sand the neon stages lit up like the Rainbow Road track and as I pointed out this out to my blonde friend wearing pink I realized she was Peach.
Can you describe Neon Music with a string of adjectives?
Playful. Jovial. I would even say exuberant, flamboyant. Upbeat, its usually pretty fast-paced. Optimistic, hopeful. Anything by guys like Wave Racer, Bowen [side-note I talked with Wave Racer right after this, check out that interview here]. This guy Maxo I like a lot. It doesn’t take itself to seriously. It’s not super emotional, its fun and spontaneous. I would say the big emphasis is harmony. I love harmony, man.
You were taking Cashmere Cat songs, throwing in a drumroll, build-up, and then dropping into heavier hip-hop inspired beats. Dancier versions of the mellow tracks.
Yea, yea. I love bangers. I love Mr. Carmack and what he’s doing. Those are to me the best bangers, because they’re so weird and his sound design is crazy. It always goes off well in a crowd. I love it, they love it, Jesus loves it. Everybody loves that shit.
What was your favorite video game as a kid?
Well The Wind Fish EP is an allusion to Link’s Awakening for Gameboy color. It’s got that kind of Inception ending: ‘Is it a dream, who knows?’ That’s my favorite game of all time, that’s the first game I really got into, I played it all the damn time. I got really involved in the story and cared about the characters in it. It was pretty emotional (laughs).
You use Re-Noise as your DAW. Can you talk about why you use it?
I got into shift-tune music which is music that emulates 8-bit video games from the ‘80s, early ’90’s for Gameboy color. When they wrote that music it was all live instruments. It was sequenced but they didn’t have DAW’s as we know them. What they had were these things called trackers and the early ones you could only have five tracks max. So you’d put in some chords, a base-line, a melody, and 2-channels for drums. Really basic waveforms – saw and sine waves, and I started getting into trackers and Re-Noise is a tracker. It’s like musical coding, that’s the best way I can describe it. It’s like you’re typing in letters and numbers and music comes out of it. Anybody that listens to this you should google it. I highly recommend it.
That’s awesome. I got to see Koji Kondo with a full orchestra in New York, sounds like your kind of shit.
That’s wasup. I went to video games live when I was in middle school – same idea. Lots of music from Age of Empires and Civilization. The world music stuff, the orchestral music stuff.
I caught your set at Electric Forest too. How do you approach playing a song in the forest in Michigan versus the mud at Hudson?
Right. I try not to look at the crowd too much, which you’re not supposed to do. You’re supposed to look at the crowd and see the reaction. But for me its more about I want to share the music that I think is good, and that I like. That’s what I think people are coming to see. I’d rather show them new stuff they haven’t heard. I’ll not even look at the crowd and smile and dance and play stuff I like. It’s gone over well so far, people will come up to me and say ‘Awesome set,’ I’ve never heard otherwise. That’s a good sign.
You recently took some time off to study music in school -
Actually more self-study. I was buying books and downloading PDFs. Basically I realized I can make music and study music at the same time. When I study music I discover new techniques for composition and new chord voicings, and when you discover these you start hearing shit. I’m not gonna ignore that I have an idea in my head. So I’ll put it down.
Can you mention a few tips that have been really helpful for young producers?
First and foremost, make sure you want to do this because you love music and not because you wanna get laid and look cool. Because those things will happen, that’s true, but only the people who truly love what they do will progress and evolve. If you just do it to be cool you’ll just be following trends.
You wont be able to catch up and be good until that trend’s over.
Yea you won’t have the confidence to create something new that’s cool and you’ll just be chasing trends. You gotta pick up an instrument. I recommend guitar or piano because you can play chords and harmonize stuff. That’s really important because anyone can chop up a sample and download a cracked copy of Ableton Live and make a J Dilla-like beat. Respect to J, he changed the game, but with today’s technology he would be going next level right now.
He was chopping up vinyl like it was in a DAW -
Making it unrecognizable. His drumming was godlike, even today. Timeless.
Music books you can recommend?
This guy Mark Levine wrote this Jazz theory book I highly recommend, it’ll teach you a lot about which scales you can use over chords. You don’t even need to stay in key, you can borrow keys.
Like throwing notes on a C-major scale over an A minor chord progression.
Right. Also Arnold Schoenberg’s “Theory of Harmony,” its kind of dense, kind of slow, but he’s got some really cool ideas and I like the theoretical stuff he throws out there. Any book that captures your interest. Get PDFs. You have to constantly educate yourself otherwise you’ll never progress, you’ll never evolve.
Have you had any trouble with working with people who are in Ableton and having to export the individual unordered stems instead of a whole project?
Right. I see what you mean. I just take the .wavs and sample in Re-Noise and layer stuff over.
You gotta re-layer them piece by piece.
Yea, I’ve never met anyone else who uses Re-Noise, I know of people who use this but they’re artists I look up to. I wish I knew more people who use it because I would like to share project files as opposed to stems so I could mess with the EQ. If they kept an effect on a .wav then its cemented.
It sounds like a very analytical understanding of music; are you approaching music from a mathematical perspective?
Yes and No. Music theory and really beautiful chords sound beautiful for a reason. The sub-divisions of the harmonies. That’s the reason a tri-tone or a half-step sounds really dissonant, if you play them at the same time those two frequencies sync at just the right place. Or wrong place.
They vibrate inharmoniously instead of lining up in even increments.
Right. That’s where the math lines up. I try not to consciously think this is half of this etc. When I EQ stuff and mix I am thinking about that because 400hz is a certain note and if you double that to 800hz its the same note up an octave. And upwards.
The string is split, the wavelength halves…
That stuffs really useful for mixing, knowing that stuff. And then having good ears obviously.
What’s some common production advice you disagree with?
I would say nothing because everybody has their own way of doing stuff. So if you have your own rachet way of doing something that works –
Like some weird program -
Right like using some weird-ass program (laughs).
What’s the opposite, what’s some unusual advice you like?
It’s not too weird but I would say mix as you go. A lot of people say don’t worry about the mixdown until the end, but honestly it makes your life a lot easier if you mix in the sounds as you go. Especially the sound selection, I rarely use EQ, I just find the right drum sample. I hunt all day.
Very J Dilla.
Yea, any drum sample has this space it fits in the frequency pocket. So if you have a big hole at 200hz and you find a snare drum that’s mostly resonate at 200 it will be the missing piece of the puzzle and everything feels fuller. It’s all about filling holes and making sure nothing stacks up on top of eachother.
Regarding sampling - you threw in a “Latch” remix. I’m assuming you didn’t have the stems on that, you could still hear a bit of the original percussion.
Actually that’s not me, that’s a good friend from the DC area named Chris McClenney whose a Jazz Piano major at U Maryland. He did that remix, I don’t think it’s been taken off Soundcloud yet which it tight. I love playing that, it has really Kaytranada-like drums.
I’m so into "Whatever" right now.
Of course. He’s the man. Fuck yea.
With sampling unless you have an intro part that's only drums its hard to find a clean section where its naked and there’s not a bunch of shit on top of it. Do you have any tips on isolating other than EQs?
All I’ll say is that when you hear a good sample you know it. There are things I want to sample but it’s too busy – I just won’t. I still sample all the time I just don’t release those beats. It’s more of an exercise than anything else. A reimagining of what they started.
What music did you grow up to?
Video game music, lots of hair-metal from the ’80’s, lots of Randy Rhoads, Van Halen, White Snake. I used to be a big guitarist and shred in my room all day. But I never got in a band so I got bored of playing by myself so I picked up classical guitar and started making beats. I can do everything on my own now. I’m kind of a control freak but than again everyone is, everyone wants control.
What's something you've done recently for the first time?
PCP. No, just kidding.
There's our headline.
Yea, but no. I played a festival for the very first time, that was cool. MysteryLand. That was my inauguration!
This was fun. See you around man.
Thanks, you asked a lot of great questions!
Check out this kid’s Soundcloud, the sky is the limit.
See you on the dancefloor,