A few weeks ago I had the chance to hang out with and talk to Haywyre about touring, dropping out of college, moving to Vancouver, and what lies ahead. Catch him this summer at Summerset Music Festival, Electric Forest, and Camp Bisco. Read up on my previous Spotlight Artist: Haywyre article here!
Hey Martin! How are you?
I’m good, you?
I'm doing alright, it's nice to meet you! Where are you living right now?
Oh cool, I've been there once it was really nice.
Yeah? How long ago?
Uhm I think it was 3 summers ago. I went on a cruise with my parents to Alaska but the cruise boarded in Vancouver so I got to spend three days there and I really liked it.
Yeah it’s a pretty amazing city. My dad is visiting me from Austria right now and I’ve been showing him around a bit.
You finished the Two Fold tour earlier this year. Congratulations! How'd it go? Were there any setbacks?
It was great. Yeah, it was a really great experience…no complaints really. There were some initial technical difficulties though. I had been having some problems on the first two tours that I went on with my laptop, and then I got a new laptop and I was trouble shooting it and everything was working fine until I ran into some issues on the first two nights. Every time I would fly into a new city I got to the hotel and I would spend the entire afternoon, like six hours, trying to figure out what’s going on and eventually I got it figured out. besides that there weren’t any huge pressing issues.
What stood out to you on your first solo tour?
I think it was really different because the only comparison that I have to touring was being a support act for Gramatik and Mat Zo, so going on my first solo tour was just better basically in terms of production, and you know people out there are there to see you and that makes a pretty big difference, and meeting your fans personally is nice, and also playing smaller rooms which for me is better because usually that means that it’s more intimate and most people are there to see you play. You’re not on some DJ booth and people can see what everything that you’re doing and that’s a big plus for me.
Was the Two Fold tour your first time playing in New York city?
I was there on The Mat Zo tour, it was one of the last dates that I did. The night I played on the Two Fold tour with Gramatik at the Best Buy theater was quite a bit better than my first time in New York at Pacha. That was totally the wrong fit for my music. It was an interesting contrast cause when I played with Gramatik there wasn’t a single night club show but with Mat Zo the majority of shows we played were at clubs.
That's very respectable, I've been to Pacha and I've been to the Best Buy theater and I can see why you'd say that. The Best Buy theater is my favorite venue in the city. The sound is really clean the setup is nice for someone who performs live and the crowds are usually genuine fans. Pacha tends to be a place for people to drink and hook up and that attracts people who don't really care who's playing.
Yeah exactly. And that’s fine there’s a time and place for that, but my music doesn’t fit in too well there. It’s definitely interesting to see how music does in each of those departments.
I saw you on a few big festival lineups for this summer, I think Electric Forest, Shambhala, Counterpoint? What other festivals have you done?
I’ve done some really small festival runs. Actually that’s a lie, I’ve done like two or three festivals so far. The biggest was Lightning in a bottle in California which was like 14,000 people and they’re not really anything compared to what I have scheduled for this summer.
That's exciting! Do you plan to change anything in your setup to adjust to a large stage playing to thousands of people as opposed to a small room at a venue?
Yeah totally, there’s a lot of things to take into account for that but I think a lot of it is gonna have to come from experience.
I’ve learned that on tour I can try to prepare things ahead of time and it backfires so I expect it to be rocky at first, but I think with time I’ll adapt.
The one and a half week period I toured with Gramatik I had issues and I learned a lot in that small period of time.
How did you get onto the Monstercat label?
I’ve been familiar with them for a while, I’m not really sure how I first heard about them for the first time but I’ve known about them since I think like 2012 and eventually around 2014 I first released with them. I got in touch with this one artist signed with them named Fractal and I was messaging with him and we’d show each other our works in progress and stuff and I sent him a track I was finishing up and he said “Hey, if you want I’ll talk to the A&R guy at Monstercat” and of course I said yeah that’d be amazing and he did it! They liked the tune and soon they released it and from there we just kinda kept in touch. I’d send them new stuff I was working on and before I knew it I had an album and that’s pretty much how that all started.
I checked your twitter the other day and saw you mention hoping to get started on making Two Fold Pt.2 soon. Do you have any creative vision in mind or do you typically like to just sit down and see what happens?
I’ve definitely done a bit of conceptual drafting. I usually don’t try to go into a track with a somehow pre-conceived idea of what should happen cause I feel like a lot of the time that can ruin things. Aside from the musical aspect of it, I’ve been doing a little digging and reading Tao of Physics a lot lately, it’s a really interesting book, and it’s been inspiring me to look into the ways that I can represent the concept of duality in Two Fold further. I felt that one of the things that Two Fold Pt.1 could have done a bit better job of was musically representing the concept behind the album more cause it feels like the concept I had wasn’t reflected enough in the music itself, so that is something I aim to focus on with Two Fold Pt. 2. In terms of a release date I have nothing set up but I do have the next three or four months to work on it and see what I get done.
Have you thought about bringing any artist on to work with you on Two Fold Pt.2?
I don’t do many collaborations. There’s some artists that I identify pretty well with and there’s a lot of artists that I have started tracks with before or would like to work with, but I’ve noticed that
working in person is always the best way to end up with a product that everybody likes and that’s obviously not that easy to do in the electronic music world where pretty much most people you know work through the internet.
So you either have to buy flights or meet each other on tour and try to make some time and it’s really hindering so that is the reason why I don’t do many collaborations.
So name someone who feel like you share a creative dynamic with and would like to collab with in an ideal world with no time conflicts?
From a musical perspective I think Lido would be a very interesting person to work with, I saw him at SXSW for the first time and it was pretty inspiring. I got a chance to talk to him afterwards and we exchanged information but every artist has their own thing going on so collaboration isn’t always a priority, but he’s one of the first artists that pops into my mind.
I read that you're in school for a Music business degree, is that correct? When are you set to graduate?
I actually dropped out of college about nine months ago. I was a junior with three years done and I did an internship with Monstercat over the summer of 2013 and while I was there I got pretty close with all the employees and I talked to them before I left about the possibility of me dropping out and moving to Vancouver to work a little closer with them. At first I was completely opposed to the idea cause I only had one year left so I figured I might as well finish and get my degree, and then
in the end I decided that my degree wouldn’t necessarily change what I’m doing and I can always go back to get it at any time. It was more important to take some of the touring opportunities that I definitely wouldn’t be able to take while I’m in school. You can’t just kinda disappear for a month and come back and try to catch up on everything you missed.
So that was my reasoning behind dropping out. I do plan on going back. It’s a very bittersweet feeling being out of school because I liked learning about all sorts of different things all the time and being forced out of my comfort zone. You know, some days you gotta wake up at 6:30am and you think to yourself “I don’t wanna do this, but I’m gonna do this” and I don’t really have that anymore, now it’s just I wake up whenever I want and work whenever I want which isn’t necessarily the best way to approach it. but yeah, I plan to go back to school eventually. I don’t know if I’ll go back to finish the degree or to get a different degree. Who knows?
Where were you studying?
I was studying in Minneapolis at Augsburg college. It’s this tiny school with 2,000 or 3,000 undergraduate students.
Gotcha, I asked because I know my fair share of fellow undergraduate students who are aspiring musicians and don't know whether they should take a risk and drop out and potentially spend all their time cooped up in their parents basements hoping to get some attention on the internet and make it, or stay in school and get an education just in case it doesn't work out. I know that's a struggle a lot of people face so I was wondering why you made the decision to pursue a degree and how you hoped to use it as a tool to help market yourself and your career but you cleared it all up for me. And you're right, you can always go back and get it so you're good.
How did they feel when you told them you wanted to leave school and move to Vancouver to pursue music and be closer to Monstercat?
*Laughs* They were surprisingly okay with it. Which i wasn’t expecting, but then again I did take almost an entire month to plan out exactly what I was gonna say to them cause I was expecting a pretty big backlash from them like “You can’t drop out now! You can’t move to a new country!”. I basically had to make sure I had everything covered and explained everything to them and said you know, it’s just the time for me to go and try to make create a career out of this if I want to pursue it realistically and I don’t think there’s anything else I feel like I want to do and yeah!
Did you go into college as a music major or were you something else/undecided?
I was a music business major right off the bat. I figured my major was gonna be something music related and the first year was gonna be almost exactly the same regardless of what my major was, so I figured I’ll just try it out and whatever, if I change my mind I’ll change my mind.
Other than the piano do you play any other instruments?
I used to take guitar lessons for a couple of years and during that time I hadn’t really been playing the piano as much.
Eventually I got tired with playing the guitar because it essentially felt like I was learning how to walk again. I was like “Why am I doing this? I already know how to play the piano. I need to find the best way to express my ideas” and I already knew how to do that with the piano so I went back to that.
Also, when I was in high school I was in orchestra where I played violin for two years but it didn’t really stick with me, and I still own an electric and acoustic guitar that I mess around with occasionally but not very seriously.
I also took piano and guitar lessons when I was younger! And I played the xylophone in my middle school orchestra, I kinda figured it out from knowing how to play piano, but none of those instruments really stuck to me. In hindsight I appreciate it now that my parents forced me into it but at the time it felt like a chore and I never wanted to practice. I always wanted to learn how to produce though, I just never had the time.
Cool, the xylophone is an interesting one.
So I read that you started taking music more seriously after you moved from Austria to the United States when you were young, did you always know you wanted to pursue music as a career or was there some "Aha" moment when you were doing something and realized "Fuck this, I'd rather be making music"?
It was definitely gradual. There was no eureka moment or anything like that, cause what it came down to was two things. I already had a lot of experience with computers because I was gaming a lot for years before I got into producing, and me and my cousin we used to write metal tunes together on guitar and we were like “Hmm, we need a drummer” but we didn’t know anyone who played drums so we looked online to see if we could program drums and we found this thing called Hydrogen. And it’s just this computer program and you can just design your own drum loops and it is obviously really basic but that’s where it started for us.
Uh-huh, and then what?
After that we started going more in depth, adding more instruments in, and it kinda opened up a new world for me and I wasn’t taking it very seriously, just messing around. After a while I felt like what I was most interested in musically wasn’t really available to me ever, so I would do some digging online and look around and I started by finding newgrounds which is a website for animators to post stuff and get feedback. They also had a section for musicians to post music, which is mostly there for animators to use but as more and more people started using it, it became a version of Soundcloud before Soundcloud became what it is today. I’d post music there and get feedback and it was a lot of fun, but it was also a great way to meet people who I had no idea existed. It was an experience that I couldn’t get any other way.
What have you been up to since the tour ended?
I was in Vienna and London for two weeks last month. I was seeing family in Vienna and I visited my dad who is visiting me here now. I also stayed with a friend in London and I had never been there before and it was a pretty amazing city. As in what I do for fun, with the way that my brain works, everything that I do in Vancouver is music stuff and everything else I do is to take my mind off of making music so that I can get back to making music. Other than that, I’ve been getting into looking at some visuals arts and graphic design stuff because I started renting studio space so I’m thinking about equipping it with some stylish art and spice it up a bit.
Okay, that's all I got for you! Thanks for your time, I got to learn a lot about you that I didn't know!
Yeah no problem, it was fun!