Before The Music Starts Interview Series – Nate Lowpass
Nate Lowpass is a name that many in Utah are familiar with. With hard work and perseverance, he has illustrated his single-mindedness in making a name for himself in this community. We discuss his upcoming EP, tricks to become better at producing music, and of course – everything Techno. Learn more about Nate Lowpass and his story of how he’s reached a respected level of success in the industry.
All photos by @ballenmedia
How did you get the name of your project?
“Lowpass” is a term used to chopping the high frequencies off any sound and letting the lows kind of rumble. When I first learned to DJ I didn’t like using the faders, I liked using the high and lowpass filters. I was constantly moving the filters and someone started calling me lowpass. This was about thirteen years ago
Did you start to DJ before you produced?
Yeah a long time before. I actually learned how to scratch before I learned how to DJ. I was scratching and learning how to juggle records before I learned how to mix. Drum and Bass was the first thing I learned how to mix on vinyl.
Did you learn to DJ before or after you moved here for LA?
I learned how to DJ in Los Angeles, my roommates and I were all ravers and one of them bought turntables. We were all Drum and Bass kids so we went to this legendary record shop, which is no longer there, called The Temple of Boom. It was a strictly Drum and Bass record shop on Melrose. I bought my first stack of records there from this graffiti writer named Hazen. He’s in a big crew out there called Seventh Letter. He and this Guy Sam XL (aka xxxl) ran this record shop. I bought my first stack of records and the rest is history.
How did you discover EDM?
As far as hearing it, I heard it all the time when I was a kid from groups like The Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk. I didn’t really bother learning what different genres were what. I guess you could say my love for it developed when I started going to raves in 2004 or 2005.
What other genres do you listen to outside of EDM?
I’m pretty well-versed. I listen to a lot of Jazz, Punk, Hardcore, and a bit of Metal. I’m kind of really picky with Metal. I’m kind of all over the place. My major focus is Electronic music, but I draw inspiration from Classical, Punk, Hardcore, Rap, and Hip Hop.
What non-EDM group or artist inspires your music the most?
That’s tough. I’d say it’s more so ideologies from Punk music that I draw into my music. There aren’t a lot of rules. I think that’s why I like Techno music so much, there aren’t many rules with it. There’s a four on the floor sort of formula, but pretty much anything goes as long as it sounds good. It doesn’t even have to sound good in some cases. Some of the stuff I like is really trashy sounding. Punk isn’t very popular in the grand scheme of that world and Techno isn’t very popular in this world. If you went to a major festival you know what you would find at the main stage, unless it was a Techno festival.
Do you think coming from the Punk scene and being somewhat anti mainstream is what drew you to Techno?
In a sense, yeah – actually, absolutely. Well that and I love the sonic landscape that Techno can paint. There’s never a whole lot going on but there’s so much feeling involved. There could be five elements in a song, but it’s completely filled out the soundspectrum. I think a lot of it has to do with me being a drummer too, I’m into tight syncopated grooves.
How long have you been a drummer and is that where your music career started?
Forever, I was in multiple bands in jr. high and high school, but stated drumming when I was thirteen or fourteen.
What do you think is the trick to becoming better at producing?
It’s all about laps. It’s like any craft. You have to spend time doing it and accept that you’re gonna suck for a long time before you’re good at it. Keep going when it seems the most frustrating. That’s the most important time to not give up. I definitely believe in taking breaks; that’s the main reason I put an Xbox in my studio. If I’m frustrated or not feeling it I can swivel my chair around, put my headset on and zone out on video games for a while. I can either come back to it after, or the next day. You have to have a way to break up the process.
If you had to give some advice to a young aspiring producer or DJ, what would it be?
Remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint, it’s not a race to put out content. Of course if you can make good music quickly, then put it out by all means. I think it’s really easy to see someone else doing better than you and be jealous. You may feel that you don’t have what they have and that you’re doing more than they are. Social media can amplify that a lot. For me, it’s about staying grateful about what you have in different areas. Be grateful for your health, your family, your friends, your job, whatever it is. As far as advice for young producers and DJs, it’s not so much about making music, but keeping other things in your life in check. Whatever your driving forces are, write those down or pay attention to them. Be okay with sucking for a while. When I first started producing the guy who taught me how to use the programs told me not to expect to make anything anyone likes for a couple years. Don’t just put anything out. Another thing is, find people who will be brutally honest with you. Your friends will tell you your music is great, but you need to find someone who is going to tell you what parts aren’t good.
What can you tell me about the new EP, is there an official release date yet?
No release date at the moment. However, the artwork is finished. I received the master back from the engineer. The artwork was done by Christian from X&G. I highly recommend him. At this point, it’s out of my hands. The EP is finished, the artwork is finished, concept is finished. Now, we get to start shopping into labels and blogs.
What was your ultimate goal with this EP?
I’ve been staying pretty quiet with a few releases in the past year. This is my first fourie publicly into Techno music. It’s all pretty maximal if I had to describe it. I guess it’s basically the opposite of minimal. The records are real big in my opinion. The goal is to show people what I’m about. I don’t want to pigeon hole myself as far as styles. Dusky is one of my biggest influences and they put out Techno, House, and Grime records. They are pretty much all over the place and that’s how I want to be. I want to have a vein I am in, but not be stuck to one specific sound. There are artists that become known for making a certain sound and when they change, some people don’t take it too well. It’s unfortunate that happens, but it does. I want to be a multifaceted artist, and want to paint this picture early on for myself.
What have been the biggest challenges you have had to overcome with this new EP or with music in general?
As far as this EP goes, there hasn’t been anything too crazy. At first, all of the songs were too long. I was telling my manager it’s common to see songs up to seven, eight, nine minutes long etc. We figured we should shorten things up so people could absorb this new style I’m working with. I think what we will end up doing is having a club mix and an extended mix. Trying to edit tracks down and condense my ideas presented a bit of a challenge. As far as long term, I’m constantly driving myself to find new ways to work with sounds. Working with X&G over the past few years has opened up a whole new foray into techniques and new ways to sample music. I wouldn’t say I’m struggling by any means, but you do have to challenge yourself constantly.
In an industry that is constantly evolving, what do you do to stay relevant?
I think how I have built whatever name I have for myself has stayed relevant thus far. I think my name has been built by showing up and supporting other people. Don’t be an asshole, that’s a big one. Do well at what you do. I take a lot of pride in being a pretty proficient DJ. I see a lot of entitlement issues with new guys where they feel like they deserve this or deserve that. The fact is: the industry is becoming more and more saturated. The moral is patience beyond anything. Be patient and be respectful.
For someone who likes your music and wants to expand their music taste, who would you recommend they check out?
I’m somewhere stylistically between Cirez D, and also similar to Amelie Lens. That dark stuff. I also touch on the melodic stuff. Listen to some Mau5trap guys: NoMana, Blackgummy. They are good as well.
If we were to end this interview and you found a winning lottery ticket for five hundred million dollars, what would you do with your music project?
I would probably fund a rehab specifically for the creative types, musicians, artists, and whatnot that struggle with substance abuse. I’d like to create an environment that is conductive to recovery, but also can be used to create art. Some people get strung out and need to take a break. You don’t want to see anyone die. If you can give them a chance to chill out in a rehab type environment where there is some sort of structured program that focuses on recovery, but also focuses on nurturing the creative side, I think that would be cool. It would be pretty inclusive, just allowing musicians and artists. I’d probably build a pretty rad studio, too. I’m kind of a gear nerd.
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Ethan Freeman – V2 Presents Intern