[INTERVIEW] Fells Discusses Performing At The World's Best Nightclub + More
Justin Kang, better known as Fells, is a future bass DJ who is quickly making a name for himself in the electronic scene. Uniquely blending melodic dance music with elements of alternative rock and pop-punk, the Washington, DC producer has created a sound entirely his own. From nostalgic remixes of tracks like Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” to original releases like “Tell Me It's Okay,” each song that Fells releases is full of powerful feelings and emotions that take you on a journey. Not only have his productions built an impressive following, but they have caught the attention of dance music heavyweights as he’s offered support to the likes of Illenium, Whethan, MiTis, and Crystal Skies. Ahead of his exclusive iEDM Radio guest mix, iEDM caught up with Fells to discuss his musical background, inspirations, and more.
Read iEDM’s exclusive interview with Fells below.
iEDM: Tell me about your musical and instrumental background. What influenced you to make the jump into producing electronic music?
Fells: I grew up taking lessons in classical music until I was 12 years old but didn’t really enjoy it, so I quit. But I kept playing piano, covering and learning music from artists that I actually enjoyed. Back then, my favorite artists were (and still are) All American Rejects, Linkin Park, OneRepublic, The Fray, the list goes on. And before I knew it, I self-taught myself guitar at 13 years old and became obsessed with playing pop-punk songs in my bedroom. I’m extremely grateful my parents forced me into piano lessons to build that musical foundation.
In college, my close friend Jacob introduced me to music production as I started listening to lots of dance music, and I never looked back. He really opened my eyes and connected with me about my struggle of just jamming on instruments alone. It felt so empowering first being able to now create an entire song by myself and just from my own computer.
iEDM: You have a unique style of blending alternative rock, pop-punk, and dance. Who would you say are your biggest inspirations for your sound?
Fells: My biggest inspirations vary widely in the dance and rock genres. In the dance world, I’d say artists such as Illenium, Said The Sky, NOTD, Midnight Kids, and Madeon are my favorites right now and constantly inspire me with how fresh, emotional, and polished their music is. In the rock/pop world, which is what I usually listen to on a daily basis, I’m so impressed by artists like The Band CAMINO, The Maine, All Time Low, and how their sound keeps evolving but is still true to their roots. I do my best to blend my favorite parts of each artist I love and create a new refreshing sound that best resembles who I am.
iEDM: Tracks like “5 AM,” “Tell Me It’s Okay,” and “Searching For Nothing” really hit you in the feels, and you can tell you put a lot of emotion into your productions. Is this something you focus on while in the studio?
Fells: I always write my songs with some sort of melodic element, whether it's piano chords or guitar riffs, and I think that leads into a more emotional sound. Personally, I put a very strong emphasis on the chord progressions and melodies I write because they’re the backbone of any melodic song and capture emotions so well. The vocalists for those songs are also absolutely incredible, and I can’t thank them enough for nailing the vision of each one.
iEDM: Explain your creative process. Do you have a specific ritual when you hit the studio, or does it vary each day?
Fells: It really depends. My creative process definitely varies each day. I only start working on music when I feel creatively energized and motivated, otherwise, I feel stuck, and that only leads to burnout and frustration. When the timing is right, and I’m amped to start working on music, I’ll think about what songs I have in progress and try to inch them closer to completion, and when I hit a burst of creativity, I’ll start a new idea. Starting new ideas includes me just riffing on the guitar or the piano and building off that instrumental foundation.
iEDM: You have a ton of incredible remixes in your discography, including Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” and Post Malone’s “Circles.” What do you look for in a song to be worthy of a Fells remix?
Fells: Thank you. I really appreciate it. Bootleg remixes are so fun to make because there’s no pressure, and I try to make it really energetic to play out live in shows. I definitely aim to choose more rock/alternative focused songs that are fan favorites and sing-alongs to get the crowd into it. It’s always fun to put a rock-oriented dance twist on songs that you wouldn’t expect it from.
iEDM: You kicked off 2022 offering support for Illenium at Echostage. What was it like sharing the stage with such a big name in the dance community at such an iconic venue?
Fells: Supporting Illenium at Echostage was literally a dream come true. It was full-circle moment for me. Echostage was the concert venue where I went to my first EDM concert, Porter Robinson and Madeon's Shelter Tour in 2016. Illenium was one of the first artists I listened to when I started getting into dance music. The Illenium fanbase was extremely supportive, and I felt their energy for my entire set.
iEDM: Aside from Illenium, you’ve offered support to the likes of MiTis, Whethan, and Crystal Skies. Is there any performance that stands out the most?
Fells: The night I opened and closed for Whethan was one of my favorite nights of 2021. It’s so funny how it started. I actually had tickets to go to Whethan as a fan but then got asked the week of the show if I could support. Obviously, I said yes and had all of my friends come and have fun with me the entire night. It was so much fun being surrounded by my close friends and loved ones and to play out my own music to an amazing sold-out crowd.
iEDM: Take us behind the scenes. How do you prepare for a set, and do you have a pre-show routine to help you get in the zone?
Fells: Each set, I try to play something new, whether it’s my own music or unreleased songs. And I always try to throw in the set as much of my own music and alternative rock / pop-punk songs as I can. The day of the show, I like to keep it chill because there’s always a long night ahead of me, haha. I always get dinner/drinks beforehand with my girlfriend and friends and hang out until I need to head to the venue. I’m a relatively shy person, so a Red Bull and a drink or two always helps the nerves.!
iEDM: What can you tell us about your exclusive iEDM Radio guest mix?
Fells: I have so much exciting music in this set from artists that I love and a few unreleased tunes that I can’t give away any information just yet.
iEDM: You recently took a short hiatus from social media to focus on music. How important is it to check out from time to time and focus on your craft?
Fells: Living life outside of the studio is essential, and I don’t think enough people value it enough. There’s always this notion that grinding on your craft 24/7 will maximize your output, but I believe there’s diminishing returns after just a few hours each day. Hanging out with family and friends, going on trips, enjoying a nice chill Sunday, etc., can do wonders on your creative process and mental health!
iEDM: What can fans expect for the rest of 2022?
Fells: More music and more shows! I’m excited to share with the world what I’ve been working on and hope to see everyone soon :)
Photos Courtesy of Club Glow
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