DJ-Producer Duo Nadastrom On Their Punk-Rap Beginnings, The Evolution Of Dance Music, Touring With Skrillex and Working With Scion A/V
Nadastrom: Dave Nada and Matt Nordstrom
While Redbull and Converse have worked tirelessly over the last couple years to support new independent music, Scion has proved committed to supporting ultra-niche artists from subgenres like grindcore, dubstep and moombahton by taking on a label-like role, providing their artists with record releases, videos and tour support.
"The media featured on ScionAV.com truly embodies the spirit of an independent lifestyle," says Jeri Yoshizu, Scion sales promotion manager. "ScionAV.com is providing bold, unique and daring entertainment content through music, video, streaming radio and more to targeted audiences across an adaptable digital platform."
We spoke to one of our favorite Scion-backed groups, D.C.-born, L.A.-based DJ-producer duo Nadastrom, who will perform at the Yost Theater tonight.
O.C. Weekly (Lainna Fader): What's your earliest musical memory?
Matt Nordstrom: I remember walking across the street to my neighbor's house with Thriller under my arm. I was like, "Yo, you gotta hear this album!" Except I probably didn't say "Yo" because I was really young. Another early one is I remember being in school and I traded actual mixtapes with this girl who was a couple grades above me and she introduced me to the Beat Street soundtrack. I think I was in kindergarten at the time. I remember everyone actually picking on her at one point--she was kind of a nerd--and everyone was hounding on her. But she introduced me to Beat Street and I will forever be grateful.
Dave Nada: My older brother Brian--he's about four years older than me--he was the one that was always into music and I remember him blaring hip-hop and rap music really loud when I was super super young. Like old, pre-Run DMC, old Grand Master Flash, stuff like that. And he'd blare it so hard and got it stuck in my head. That, and basement parties with my mom and my aunt and uncle would throw. They'd play a lot of Latin music--cumbia and old folk stuff--and they'd pull out the guitar and get wasted. As I got older, in grade school, I had an allowance, and the first tape I actually bought was NWA. No, it was Eazy-E. Eazy-E's Eazy-Duz-It--my first musical purchase with my own money. It was all downhill from there!
When was the first time you ever snuck into a club underage to see a DJ spin?
Matt Nordstrom: You know what? I never did. I was kind of a square like that. But I remember when I turned 18 going to Tracks in D.C. That was my first taste of the nightlife as a kid.
Dave Nada: Oh man, I can't really recall. Probably my fault because my brain is a mess by now. I can't remember the first DJ night or rave I ever went to but I started going to punk rock shows when I was thirteen or fourteen with my older cousin Jason, who was a skater punk dude that was into all kinds of music. He was basically my path to get into anywhere at the time. I remember some of the early raves I went to were these huge rave parties at Nation. That's where I got my first taste of drum & bass, house breaks songs all under one roof with a thousand kids rolling their faces off. That was my first exposure to DJ culture and underground electronic music.
Matt Nordstrom: Actually, the reason why I ended up at Tracks that night was because of my buddy Will, and he had a fake I.D., but he couldn't get in!
You guys used to have your own DJ night--why did that get shut down? What happened?
Dave Nada: Good question! We don't know. We did this party at this spot--which we won't say the name of--and a friend of ours was bartending there and she got offered a Wednesday night party and she asked me if I wanted to do it. I thought it'd be so much fun to do it with Matt because at the time, we were just starting to become friends and we shared a lot of the same taste in music. We were like, 'Yeah, let's do this weird, left-field party," and we did it every Wednesday and it started to grow and snowballed into something cool. But for some reason, the club owner ended up pulling the plug. I guess maybe they weren't making as much money as they hoped to. But who knows. Either way, it led to us making records, so we can't be too mad.
How did the end of your party lead into Nadastrom?
Matt Nordstrom: We were gonna look for a new spot but we couldn't think of any that had a decent sound system that could handle the kind of music we wanted to play--or would be cool enough that would let us play what we wanted to play. Both of us were sort of stuck a little musically, so we started trading stuff back and worth, showing each other what we'd been working on. Next thing you know, we finished our first EP, and sent the tracks to Dave Switch who had heard one of them and was interested in them. He called us up and asked us if he could put out an EP of our stuff and of course we said yes. We're such huge fans of his. It was kind of like, "Well, looks like this is going well--better than our night was!" So it just went on from there.
How long do you think it took you in your journey of making music to get to that point where you had your own recognizable vibe, that people just hear a song and know it's you?
Matt Nordstrom: Both Dave and I have been making music for ... how many years?
Dave Nada: I wanna say ... 2007?
Matt Nordstrom: Together, yeah, but individually we'd been involved in writing music for ten or fifteen years.
Dave Nada: I started playing in punk bands and touring and putting out records whe I was nineteen. So up until the mid-2000s I was doing that, until I started DJing, and getting serious about it. I started making records and doing production around the same time so we kind of met half way with Nadastrom.
You've done so many high profile remixes. What was it like doing remixes for artists like Waka Flocka Flame? What remix were you most proud of to have done?
Dave Nada: That was actually through the label. It's weird--sometimes managers and A&R guys, you'll catch their attention, sometimes. I was approached about doing a remix for Waka Flocka's "No Hands" and they wanted a crazy, wild club remix. Something really rowdy to go along with the vibe of the original. They sent me the parts and I tried to do my best.
Matt Nordstrom: I'm pretty partial to two or three. Our remix of Designer Drugs and our remix of Melee, a track called "Bombay," and our Alex Clare remix.
Dave Nada: My personal favorite is actually our remix of the Death Set's "Can You See Straight." Everything that Matt just mentioned is a favorite, but I think the one I'll never get sick of is the Death Set one.
You've been touring with Skrillex--when did you meet him? How's it been working with him?
Dave Nada: "We're taking a little three week break while Sonny [Skrillex] goes to Europe and then we're restarting the MotherShip tour in December. We were on the road for two months. We had met him about a year ago when we both moved out here to L.A. from D.C. through mutual friends like the 12th Planet guys. We just kept catching each other and he became a huge fan of the Moombahton sound so we kept in touch. We ended up doing a tour together out in Australia with DeadMau5 and Chuckie and Skrillex. He's one of the nicest, most genuine dudes we've ever met and when he asked us to be part of the MotherShip tour last summer, we said, "HELL YEAH!"
You've said that Moombahton helped you realize there aren't any rules in making music--what did you mean?
Dave Nada: It reminded us that there are no real limits. As producers, we try not to limit ourselves to a certain sound. Moombahton is so flexible--it brings in so many different cultures and sounds--so when we make music, we never try to sound like any one thing. We just try to pull from everything that inspires us, and that's what Moombahton has reminded us.
How--and why--has Scion been so supportive of your music?
Matt Nordstrom: They've always been so incredible open to new and different things. They approached us about doing this EP a few months ago and we just spit some ideas at them and they were like, "Great, everything sounds amazing, do it." We did some really different things with it, broadened the scope of what Moombahton really is, and they were so supportive of it.
Dave Nada: They're been super open to what we want to do and how we wanted to drive the concept of the EP. We've worked with them in the past and it's always been such a good relationship. They love the Moombahton sound and they were able to give us this platform so that we were able to give out the music for free. We were able to do videos too. It's been a great, great working relationship.
Why do you think they're so drawn to the type of music that you make?
Dave Nada: We've known a couple of the guys--we've actually toured with one of them--for a long time. They're DJs and producers themselves. As they're working with Scion audio-visual, even they're given a new platform to curate and pull some of their favorite artists as well. They're friends who make good music. They did a great job of pushing dubstep when it was starting to get pretty big here a couple years ago in L.A. Because they're artists themselves, they're just gravitating to interesting, refreshing new music.
What do you think the most important evolution in dance music has been?
Dave Nada: Our buddy who does the Moombahton Massive parties with us is sitting here with us right now, and he just pointed at his laptop. Computers--that's really it--technology has driven dance music and blurred the lines between all of these genres. Not just in dance music, but in electronic music in general. Kids are growing up with Internet access and iPods so there's no boundaries so to speak anymore. A lot of artists are growing up that way. I mean, look at Skrillex, for example. He's known for dubstep but he used to be in a hardcore band and now he makes all kinds of bass-driven music and it sounds like everything. Kids are feeding off of that and learning off of that. Genres are just fading away; the lines are just getting blurrier and blurrier, and technology is responsible for that.
Matt Nordstrom: Yeah, absolutely! The simplicity of the way you can do music these days is pretty phenomenal. There's a lot of arguments about technology dulling things down--or giving you too many options--and that argument can go on for eons but it's really help push music in new directions and helped kids make so much new music. It's just made music so interesting.
Nadastrom play tonight at the Yost Theater, Santa Ana at 9:30 pm. 18+. $10-20.
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