“I ALMOST FEEL LIKE I CAN’T GO TO SLEEP AT NIGHT UNTIL I’VE DONE SOMETHING SUPER AWESOME THAT DAY, WHETHER IT’S MUSIC OR ART-RELATED.”
It’s easy to forget that Whethan’s accomplished all of this – three headline tours, global touring, and over 300M Spotify streams in his catalogue – at an historically young age. At only 20 years old, Whethan’s music has come a long way from its beginnings creating dubstep and alternative rock flips.
Just because his skill and style has evolved doesn’t mean those roots have been lost, however. On the contrary, Whethan recently made the most of an opportunity to bring back some of his earliest influences in his latest collaboration, “Every Step That I Take,” with Tom Morello and Portugal. The Man.
With his singles like “Be Like You”, “High”, and “Savage”, there’s always been a darker, heavy side of Whethan’s repertoire that he hasn’t been afraid to showcase to supplement his characteristically bouncy, future-bass tunes.
In his eyes, Whethan suspects that those esoteric stylistic tendencies making up what his “signature” have roots in what he grew up on in his childhood home. “I think weʼre all a giant compilation of our interests and our inspirations. So I think all the music I listened to as a kid, through my parents – a lot of alternative and hip-hop music – I think that probably was what influenced my subconscious into liking the styles of music I like, or the sounds that I like. I love deep, gritty bass and sub, and I think that’s mixed nicely with this pop-ish vocals with a little bit of future-production that it is now.”
There’s no doubt when hearing “Every Step…” those same characteristics shine throughout the new track, and it’s easy to imagine that the rest of his repertoire will show up in the upcoming EP as well.
listen to Whethan’s Biggest hits and read the rest of our interview below the playlist break:
This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
EB: When youʼre finally mastering the tracks to a project like your upcoming EP, and youʼre putting it all together, does that take a lot longer than coming up with the initial ideas for the songs?
ES: “Iʼm usually really quick at getting the initial idea there…When I’m thinking of a song, I feel like a lot of times I can envision in my head where I want to start it off and where itʼs going. But then itʼs that final 10% that takes a little bit longer.
The really tedious stuff is all the little drums fills, or effects that you add to transition you into the next part of a song. Thatʼs the stuff that takes a little more time because itʼs a lot of trial and error. You kind of have force every part to form into the next part perfectly, or at least to how you hear it.”
EB: Is it ever difficult to shelve a song or project that you thought was really great because you’ve then later come up with something that you think is even better?
ES: “I think it is tough. Iʼm constantly changing and outdoing my own songs. Iʼm starting to see the actual causes of that now, because I’ve had three or four years of producing music non-stop, and thereʼs some songs that Iʼve made a year or two ago, or three years ago, that I have a connection to – but Iʼve definitely outdone them by now. I just keep making music until I outdo it all, and then the stuff that feels really good, I put out.
It is kind of hard to throw the old ones away, but Iʼll never ever throw them away. I think they can and will find new light, to come back and be fresh in their own way.”
EB: Originally you never set out to be a live performer or dj, but now you’ve had three headline tours before the age of 20. as your craft as a DJ and a live performer grown as quickly as your music and production ability?
ES: “I’ve always leaned a little bit more to the production side, so my brainʼs always going to focus on making music rather than playing it out. But, I do play so many shows now that it would be stupid if I didnʼt want to make these shows really good and fun for me and everyone else.”
“Iʼm getting better and better every tour, just trying to put on the coolest show I can, and getting more and more resources as time goes on to be able to put together crazy visual arrangements, stage setup, and really show people this world that Iʼve wanted to bring to them through my music.”
EB: You spend a ton of time in the studio and on the road – youʼre constantly working. How do you keep yourself energized through long sessions?
ES: “It depends, because Iʼm always in different locations and spots. In the early days it was all just in the car, in planes or in the bedroom, on my computer making music. I think itʼs really just the addiction I have to making music, where I just want, Iʼm just looking for that thing that’s going to make me happy. I almost feel like I canʼt go to sleep at night until Iʼve done something super awesome that day, whether itʼs music or art-related.”
EB: Let me list off a few things and tell you where I’m going with it right after: You brought Mason Ramsey out on stage at Coachella after a DM on Twitter // You met Louis the Child originally through SoundCloud DMʼs // You met your manager through FB Messenger.
you seem to be the perfect example of how the music industry nowadays uses the power of social media to make things happen. Has it also changed the way that artists and musicians reach out to collaborate on songs?
ES: “I think yeah, 100 percent. Almost all of my collaborations, except for a few, were sent as DMs wanting to work on music with somebody, and sending ideas back and forth, or just literally sending someone a song and being like “Do you want to do this?” Which is so cool!
It is true, itʼs a new age in the industry, and it is kind of run through everything on social media. You can get anyone on your team or anyone through anything on the internet. Itʼs easy in terms of finding a way to get a hold of somebody, but I do think that can also make it harder, because thereʼs so many outlets to get a hold of somebody that itʼs easy to get lost in the mix.”
EB: What’s the most crazy or unexpected collaboration story of yours?
ES: “Definitely the first time I was in L.A. I got hit up by this engineer that I knew who was working at the studio that Skrillex was working out of. Literally, he hit me up, said “Sonnyʼs here, come through letʼs just listen to some stuff” and I just jumped, crazy, like alright I need to get to the studio RIGHT now, and I just wanted a ride over there. I was like 16, and just walked in the room. I met him (Skrillex) the night before at the party – he knew my name from one song that he had put in his playlist a little while before.
It was one of the most life-changing moments, because it was my first time in L.A., I had barely even put any music out at all, and I just got in the room with my favorite producer ever – the reason why I started doing this in the first place. So, it was just this whole thing that just blew my mind. I guess things that things just line up in crazy ways.”