This past Thursday, 9/18, I had the immense pleasure of seeing Mayhem and Pendulum (DJ Set) at Exchange LA in Los Angeles. I haven’t seen Pendulum since February 2011, on what would later be revealed to be their last live tour. Paul Harding (El Hornet) and Ben Mount now tour as the face of Pendulum, doing DJ sets around the world, and they still put on one hell of a show.
Before they went on however, Mayhem – Tennessee born, Atlanta raised – threw down an absolutely electrifying opening set with his own brand of what he calls internet trap and all other styles of bass music ranging from moombah to dubstep. Many will be surprised to learn that Mayhem has actually been DJing and producing since the mid-90s, and originally got his start in jungle and D’n’B. I talked with him at length before the show and got to learn a lot about how he approaches his productions and how having a son has influenced his career.
So you came up in D&B but have been doing trap for a few years. Just recently you’ve been doing some D&B again. Is it not out of your system? and do you feel like a genre chameleon at this point or do you self identify as a specific kind of producer?
No, I just make music, you know? I’ve always made all kinds of stuff. Drum & Bass was the break-through genre for me; it was where I got my footing, where I learned a lot of the ropes of the industry.
How long ago did you start making music?
I started producing in 1994, making jungle and drum & bass, and house and techno… I was kind of naïve to what genres were at that point, I was so young. But I had a neighbor who was jamming with industrial techno, and my sister was going out to raves and stuff and bringing back mixtapes and I was already listening to Nine Inch Nails and stuff that had some kind of crossover appeal to it. But I found drum & bass, and in 1996 went to my first show with DnB and was immediately like “Okay, this is the sound for me.” From there, I went to producing it and eventually starting DJing.
But to answer your first question, the drum & bass production has been consistent through the whole time. The amount I’m putting out is not the same, but it’s still as much as part of the production process as working on anything else, it’s just now I’m a bit more varied. There’s a lot of rap that I’m doing, a lot of internet trap stuff, there’s drum & bass and still making some dubstep as well. I even have an R&B project that I’m working on the side. But yeah, DnB is never out of my system, ever. I don’t really DJ it, kind of rare.
Now that EDM has gained this huge audience, the producers that are making it are getting younger and younger. Considering you are one of the only familyman’s in the game, how has having a son changed your outlook on your career? What unique challenges have you faced? And how has it inspired you?
I don’t think it separates me too much. I’m not the biggest party animal because of it. I think a bit more about what I’m doing on stage, so you won’t see me pour a bottle of vodka on anyone’s head. Other than that, having a family or child is so inspirational. Having that youthful energy around you is like, I’ve never had to stop being a kid. I have to discipline him every now and then, but aside from that, he keeps me super young. If anything, he keeps me more grounded and my actions less wild.
Has the magic connection that you have with Antiserum been derived from you filling in each others’ blanks or is it because you see eye to eye on the sound?
I would say more than anything, it’s more seeing eye to eye. But I would put it differently, just because… we have a musical relationship, where we’re almost twins, right? I can finish his sentence and he can finish mine, there’s that kind of connection. We linked up 2011 or 2012, I was in San Francisco playing shows out there. It’s one of my favorite cities, so whenever I’m out there I make sure to stay a while. I have a ton of friends who live out there. An artist by the name of Grenier, he lives in LA now, but I would stay with him every time I would go out there, lived right on Haight, super dope spot. And whenever I stayed with him, I would just go around the city and work with different artists in San Francisco. So I worked with UFO, I worked with Grenier a bunch, and eventually I worked with Antiserum. We hooked up when he was touring with Excision a couple years back and we exchanged numbers. I think we maybe talked five words that night. So when I was in SF, I went over and we started working and, at first, we weren’t really clicking that much. We started a tune and all we pretty much had was an intro. And he uses Logic, and I’m in Cubase, so it was pretty much like, we were even joking this week about how we’re kind of an odd couple. We kept working on that record, and it took us maybe three sessions to finally finish it, but when we finally went to finish it, we got together and made ‘Brick Squad Anthem.’
Do you have anything coming out soon that you’re looking forward to?
As far as stuff that I want to push that’s coming soon, I’ve got a single with Antiserum coming on Firepower. We’ve got two bootlegs coming out, one’s for Future, ‘Chosen One’ and the other is K Camp, ‘Cut Her Off’ so we’re going to be dropping those through the end of the year. We’ve also got a bunch of VIP mixes of some older records coming, a Brick Squad Anthem VIP, a Let’s Go VIP, and a Trippy VIP. We’ve been going back in and reappropriating them for now, and I’m excited about those ones.
I’ve got a mixtape coming out in October, but it’s my first fully-produced mixtape for an artist named Mac TurnUp. He’s from Atlanta, me and him have done a 6-track mixtape that I’m really excited about.