Stylust Discusses His New ‘Activated’ EP & Working With Bassnectar - iEDM Exclusive
Stylust has been breaking barriers in electronic music for well over a decade with his genre defying beats that are deeply rooted in Hip Hop culture. You probably know him as a staple on the festival circuit, where he regularly plays top festivals or for his collaborations with other brilliant artists such as Truth and ill.Gates. The California based producer is an expert at crafting wildly energetic music sets which all hold his signature ‘sleeveless’ style. His addictive flow and unapologetic attitude has garnered him a worldwide community of diverse fans and made him one of the core forces that have shaped the sound and direction of modern electronic music.
Along with a thriving music career of his own, Stylust has furthered his impact in the music industry with his iconic label Sleeveless Records. The label has been on an unstoppable rise since its inception in 2015 and does an excellent job at showcasing other groundbreaking artists with contemporary sound. The label has had so much success that it was even able to co found its very own music event, Bamboo Bass Festival in Costa Rica!
Stylust recently released his brand new ‘Activated’ EP this past December, which is comprised of 5 of his most heavy hitting tracks. We had the opportunity to chat with this iconic producer at Bassnectar’s official New Year’s Eve pre party in Louisville. The sold out event hosted by Kentucky EDM Family and Production Simple was packed wall to wall with bassheads from across the country eager to see him in action. We discussed Stylust’s hip hop influence, how collaborations impacted the evolution of his sound, and all that he has in store for 2020.
How are you doing tonight? You are playing for Bassnectar’s official New Year’s Eve preparty which is no surprise considering your strong history of collaborations. Has your work with Bassnectar influenced your sound or the path you’ve taken in your own music?
Stylust: Definitely! Actually, I was a big Hip Hop cat before I linked with Bassnectar so his sound was really the first one I got into with electronic stuff and dubstep. It's always very similar to mine with the hip-hop vocals and the warmer bass, not always super edgy. Kinda just more so feel good, timeless music.
iEDM: Exactly! I feel like whenever you listen to music from artists like you or Bassnectar, the sound still fits whether it was from 10 years ago or 10 years from now.
Stylust: Totally! That’s always something I strive for, I want my music to last more than a few months.
Based on watching your recent progress, this has been an immense year for you in terms of growth as an artist along with nonstop performances. Do you have any favorite moments or career highlights from 2019 you’d like to reflect on?
Stylust: It was a pretty awesome year! It started with us throwing our own festival called Bamboo Bass in Costa Rica - Sleeveless Records runs half of that so that’s always a blessing and a great way to start off the year. Shambhala of course is always one of my favorites every year, along with the last show I played for Bassnectar which was his Freakstyle Halloween show and that was pretty epic! Those would have to be my top 3 picks from this year.
Let's talk about your latest EP ‘Activated’. The commanding sound design layered with hypnotic undertones throughout the tracks make for some of your most compelling music to date. Can you dive into the inspiration behind the tracks and what you are trying to convey?
Stylust: It’s kind of a collection of my favorite tunes I’ve been working on over the last few years. I think I just really put my head down and worked really hard on this album and grew a lot during the album with my own sound. Originally, it was supposed to be a few more tunes but I decided to refine it to the only ones that I thought were 10 out of 10’s. I just wanted to put my best foot forward with no filler.
iEDM: Yeah, I felt like I heard a lot of the core influences of your sound come out in full force with this EP.
Stylust: I agree with that. It's kind of the culmination of a lot of years work I’ve turned into this EP.
Along with releasing incredible music of your own, you’ve also been showcasing some serious heat from rising artists through your Sleeveless Records label. How has it been growing your label and what direction can we expect to see it go towards in the future?
Stylust: It's definitely been a process over the years, but I think it's kind of finding its own lane right now where we've got some great artists for 2020 and will be releasing more than ever in this upcoming year. I’m really excited for this new year - it’s going to be a big one for Sleeveless Records!
You also recently blessed us all with the ultimate Christmas present - the release of your Shambhala set from this year! That festival seems to mean a lot to you and definitely seems like home in terms of your sound and history there. Your sets are always so unique for festivals such as Shambhala - so how is your creative process different when it comes to curating special festival sets like this compared to standard tour stops?
Stylust: Shambhala is definitely very important to me. It's like the backyard festival for me growing up in Canada - I grew up in Vancouver. That was the first massive rave that I ever went to and it really got me into electronic music so it definitely holds a dear place in my heart. As far as making my set for that, I play a similar set every year. It's usually around 8 to 9 every on Friday or Saturday so it kind of happens as the sun is going down. I can kind of play whatever I want to in that set, you know what I mean? Whether it's light Hip Hop, feel good stuff, or whether its heavy bass. Because of the time of day I feel that I have the ultimate freedom there and the crowd is always so receptive, so those are always my funnest sets to play and the ones I work on the most.
iEDM: You can definitely feel that energy at Shambhala when you play there. The Village stage became jam packed out of nowhere once you started playing! People definitely look forward to Stylust at Shambhala - you’ve established a very strong presence there.
Stylust: Yeah, that’s always a blessing when that happens. This was actually my seventh year playing there!
What can fans expect from you in 2020 in terms of touring and future music plans?
Stylust: I'm definitely sitting on some new tunes that I'm stoked to get out this year! We are also going to be touring the ‘Activated’ EP during February, March, and April this year so that's what's coming next and then we kick right into festival season. It always happens before you know it!
Your flow is truly unrivaled and I admire how you are always breaking boundaries and drawing inspiration from a wide range of genres. When sampling tracks and remixing, is there anything in particular you look for that gives it that signature Stylust flair in your eyes?
Stylust: I don't do a ton of sampling anymore but I definitely look for that Hip Hop sound whenever I do. Those are my roots and is what gets me really excited so it’s the great hip hop vocal hooks and the slappin beats that I look for. I think that Hip Hop remixes is the best way to answer that question.
Your music engages with so many forms of electronic music, from deep dubstep to trap and everything in between. Is there any particular sector of electronic music you have yet to experiment with or any sub genre you would like to continue to have influence your sound?
Stylust: I don't really put boundaries on my music when it comes to genres, I just kind of wake up and make what I feel that day so I can't say that I have a specific genre that I'm aiming for but I am excited for whatever comes next!
If you could bring back any artist from before your time to collaborate with - who would you choose and why?
Stylust: Damn, that's really tough! I would absolutely love to make a beat for Tupac. Coming from the West Coast, he was my idol, So I would choose Tupac just so I could hear him spit some knowledge over my beats. I would have no idea what he would do though!
So as fans we’ve watched you evolve so much over the course of your career so I wanted to get your perspective as an artist looking at your fan base. How would you say your fan base has evolved over time? For instance, I know you’ve done multiple festivals over the years so how do you feel the crowd has changed during that span?
Stylust: One of my favorite things is converting hip-hop people into electronic music. My favorite messages that I receive are when people tell me, “Hey, I was a hip hop guy then my buddy dragged me to your show and now I actually kind of like electronic music!” Even if they say they kinda like it, you know that’s a win for me! The growth I really see is being able to show the music to new fans and for them to be open minded in those situations. More people are into the Hip Hop blends with electronic music which was kind of a faux pas when I was coming up. I did it more than ever then and I got some backlash from local scenes back then. They had this view where it was ‘sacred’ and you shouldn’t blend hip hop lyrics with deep dubstep and things like that. That was just a small scene where I was growing up, but it's just been nice to see Hip Hop be more involved with the culture as well as the crossovers that are going on these days.
We appreciate you for taking the time to talk with us Stylust! We are looking forward to watch you continue to change the game in electronic music!
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