With his dark, menacing tracks, the masked, all-analog DJ/producer 13 has found quite a niche in the increasingly popular subgenre of mid-tempo bass.
After catching plenty of attention with his stellar collabs with Rezz – 2017’s “Drugs!” and 2018’s “The Crazy Ones” – 13 was plenty busy in 2019. His pair of well-received EPs – “Revelation” on Mau5trap and “Old World Order” on Mad Decent – set him up to hit America’s club and festival circuit hard. So this past November, we caught up with the anonymous Canadian talent after his high-octane set at EDC Orlando.
DJ Times: When were you introduced to electronic dance music?
13: I’ve been around electronic music my entire life. I realized I was fascinated with the production/DJing side of things when I was 10-years old on a trip visiting my family in Croatia. My neighbor there is a DJ/producer and he had the whole set-up, a basement studio with vinyl turntables. I must have been the most annoying kid. I was always over there asking what this and that did, trying to learn how to DJ and understand how it all worked. From that point on, my curiosity and love for electronic music continued to grow. It wasn’t until later on that I decided to dedicate myself to it.
DJ Times: Why did you choose such a sinister-sounding musical path when it came to your productions?
13: I’ve explored all types of genres from drum-n-bass to trance to hip hop – the music I’m currently releasing just resonates with me. I’ve realized that the more I produce other genres, the more I let those genres influence my sound, which allows me to develop and even create completely new genres. I have always drawn a lot of my inspiration from old-school/underground hip hop, bass, cinema and video games. I wouldn’t necessarily classify my sound as “sinister,” though. If you listen to it, there’s melodic elements in most songs, namely my remix for Kraysh’s “Talk to Me.”
DJ Times: Why do you think menacing mid-tempo sounds have been so popular over the past few years?
13: It’s fresh. Mid-tempo has a new feel and flow that hasn’t been fully explored yet, and that’s why I think it’s been so popular.
DJ Times: When it comes to production, where do you find inspiration?
13: I draw inspiration from a lot of different places. When I sit down to write a track, more often than not I don’t have a song in my head I try to get out. I’ll get started with sounds that I find cool, whether it be a synth, a crow cawing, the squeak of a sneaker or a friend eating down the stairs. There’s no wrong way to do it – it’s an art. My fans also motivate and inspire me, knowing that every time my music is added to a playlist, they’re including me in the soundtrack to their life. I’ve gotten many heartfelt messages describing how my music has helped people get through tough times, and that drives me to create more.
DJ Times: What’s in your studio?
13: I’m currently produce on the ADAM Audio A77X studio monitors. The audio interface I use is the Universal Audio Apollo Twin. My go-to outboard synth is the Moog Sub 37. I find learning one synth very well is better than having a million different synths. I’m definitely going to expand soon. I’ve been very interested in the new Moog Matriarch. Eventually, I want to properly get into modular, too.
DJ Times: Why are analog synths so appealing to you?
13: I absolutely love outboard gear. There’s something about being able to physically touch and create that inspires me. It keeps it interesting. You never know what could happen and happy mistakes are always a treat – not to mention, analog synths really breathe life into songs. They capture a feeling I find tough to get through digital synths.
DJ Times: How has it been juggling producing and a lengthy tour schedule?
13: It’s great! I’ve been nothing short of blessed. My passion has brought me to new places and allowed me to experience many things, and meet great people along the way. It is tough settling after traveling, though. Sometimes after coming back home, you just want to sleep for days.
DJ Times: What advice do you have for up-and-coming DJ/producers?
13: Keep working hard. Focus on improving every aspect of your production and don’t try to copy others. Draw inspiration from inside of you and elaborate on it. Most importantly, stay true to yourself. That’ll separate you from 95-percent of the herd.
DJ Times: You recently dropped one epic remix of Zeds Dead and Delta Heavy’s “Lift You Up.” What else can fans expect from as we enter 2020 and beyond?
13: You can expect a lot of new music in 2020. I’ve been working on a lot of songs expanding on my current sound. I’m looking forward to revealing other sides of my production that I haven’t yet. I’m looking forward to playing at new venues and festivals and revisiting ones from the past.
DJ Times: Some of the hottest names in electronic music are Canadian like yourself – why do you think that is?
13: It’s the combination of long winters and maple syrup that drive us insane enough to pursue this career path.
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