It seems that more and more EDM producers today are bridging the gap between genres to create their own unique take on dance music.Especially in a time when any kid can pick up a computer and software seems to be the only way to stand out from the bunch. The 25 year-old Santa Barbara resident, Jeff Montalvo is no exception. Though he once produced trance tracks under his real name which he claims “weren't very good,” Montalvo is better known by his DJ moniker Seven Lions which he has been going by for the last couple of years. He makes his way to Sutra tonight as part of a special IndepenDANCE week long celebration in OC spearheaded by Insomniac and their Identity Management partners.
Inspired by the sounds of early Tiësto and Above & Beyond, this heavy metal aficionado–who's favorite band is Opeth–ditched his drum sticks and band after he was given the software to produce music by a friend. “Producing is at home and very personal while deejaying is the exact opposite,” says Jeff. “You start producing and then deejaying is kind of the next step to start playing your songs out.” He first got his big break after winning a remix contest with trance legends Above & Beyond's “You Got To Go.” The rework sat on the Beatport dubstep chart number two spot for six weeks, second to Skrillex's remix of “Levels.” Number two however, was good enough for the Grammy winning artist and soon Skrillex picked up Montalvo as one of the newest artist on his own OSWLA imprint.
With the release of his EP Days to Come the normally reserved Seven Lions has been busy traveling around the festival circuit and hitting clubs all over the US with stops at SXSW, Ultra Music Festival and Electric Daisy Carnival in New York. In the wake of his new found success, Montalvo has been most excited about finally meeting the people he's worked with and talked to over the internet like Above & Beyond's Anjunabeat label family and getting to share a beer and conversation specifically in Miami for Winter Music Conference. His favorite memory so far “The party at Mansion was amazing, but I only remember half of that,” says the not usually party guy. “It was so much fun and that club is amazing.”
Surprisingly, playing the top EDM festivals and topping Beatport charts was not in Jeff's M.O when he started producing music. "I never really had any goals as a DJ until I went to Burning Man and saw Armin Van Buuren at the Opulent Temple in 2009,” says Montalvo. "I was like 'woah I really want to do that' because it was such amazing experience.” Seven Lions, who says festivals like Ultra are not really his scene, has since taken the stage at the Opulent Temple and Root Society at the Burning Man playa – two of the most prolific camps which have had everyone from Carl Cox to Paul Oakenfold grace it's stages.
This mystical,far-off destination seems fitting for him since his DJ moniker was taken from the fantasy book Latro In The Mis about a Roman Solider who suffers from memory loss, but can now see Gods and Goddesses. "I like stuff that takes me out of my day to day life like fantasy novels and music that's beyond what's trendy or in the moment.” Jeff says. "I like entertainment that takes me out of where I'm at and puts me in a different world.” Burning Man is the prime place to achieve such nostalgia, but his sets at other festivals and clubs are no exception. You can really feel his sets tell a story as they blend dubstep, electro, progressive house and trance into a fusion and journey that is true to unique style.
"I'm looking forward to writing a bunch of new music and having a great summer at home barbecuing, smoking cigars and going to the Beach,” says Montalvo. His latest EP is almost done, but he's already started on new music before it's release. Expect lots of new tracks tonight at Sutra and a set that mixes all your favorite bass heavy genres with the melodic progressive sounds of today. ” I like to do a little bit of everything and I've made so many styles of songs that I think I'm going to stick to that,” he adds.