ICYMI, there’s less than a week to go until Stereosonic – an event which aligns with your both personal brand and interests, evinced by your reading these words – starts tearing the nation a new one with a two day line up that includes Calvin Harris, Disclosure, Diplo, Steve Aoki and Tïesto alongside local legends like Peking Duk, Nina Las Vegas and What So Not, the joint side project of your boys Flume and Emoh.
In anticipation of the coming month’s festivities, and with it, the beginning of ~Summer~ we took five minutes out of Emoh’s day in the studio to rehash the duo’s biggest year to date, which has so far encompassed both touring and competing with Skrillex for the title of EDM’s most directional hair, working with some of hip hop’s finest and finding his zen on the road as one of Australia’s most promising musical exports.
PEDESTRIAN: How and where in the world are you?
EMOH: I’m great man, really happy to be home. I’ve been such a long time away.
How long have you been away for?
I first went over to American in January to do Holy Ship and I’ve been there for about five to six months this year. I only came back for a week or so to do [Groove In The Moo] tours in April, and an Emoh tour in May.
How long are you sticking around for?
I’m back for a month and I’m very excited to have some time off, which is quickly turning into two studio sessions a day. But, I’d much rather be doing that than being in a different hotel each night. It’s been really amazing touring but I’d rather get back to just doing some writing every day. I’ve actually just rented a studio in Sydney for the month and I’ve been in here every day, having friends come by, doing vocals, working on production.
What are you working today?
Yeah, just writing in general – not sure what it’s going to be for later in the piece. I’ve been working for some rappers, working on their beats and doing some stuff for the What So Not project and its been really great.
Is there any one thing or any one person that you’re particularly excited to be working on or with?
There’s a lot. I can’t name names until a later date. We have done a couple of things I can talk about with Dillon Francis and Skrillex but then also some amazing rappers, top liners; there’s still a lot in the works and a lot of things that we’re planning and hoping that they come through. I never like to jump the gun with these things because you never know what’s going to happen.
Obviously you spent a lot of the year touring with Skrillex on his Mothership. What goes on during that kind of tour?
It’s really funny, I thought it was going to be a lot more intense than it was. I thought everyone was going to be partying really, really hard but they were kind of quite professional. Everyone decided early on ‘Let’s be healthy and work on the music instead of just getting hammered every night.’ Traditionally [Sonny] isn’t someone who sleeps that much; he’s the kind of person that wakes up a 2:00pm and stays up till 6:00am, which is both amazing and exhausting. But it was really good. We’d all wake up on the bus, jump off, go to catering, go for a run and then come back and work on the music until we go do our shows. That was kind of the routine. And when we had days off we’d all go and do something.
That sounds really zen and blessed, and frankly surprising.
I know right? Me and Dillon talked about it when he was out here for Big Day Out and we were like ‘We’re going to destroy each other on this tour. We’re going to get reckless way too often‘ but it was really tame and everyone got on a really good train together and wanted to be really healthy and productive instead of just being loose.
Would you say your general state of health has been improved by touring with those guys?
You could definitely say that. I think Sonny’s a healthier person having toured with me. It’s actually the first American tour he’s done which has had a really amazing impact because – this is something that a lot of teams seem to do over there – they have a tour manager who’s also a personal trainer and a dietician and they set the artist up with all these health schedules and exercise routines. When you travel every single day and get one or two flights, sleeping only for four hours, if you don’t take care of yourself you’re going to crash and burn really fast. A lot of these guys, like Henry [RL Grime], who have two projects and who tour relentlessly – he has a show every day for three weeks a month and then has a couple of days off and he’s writing songs then entire time – if you don’t follow that kind of lifestyle, it’ll beat you.
How then do you prepare mentally and physically for something like Stereosonic?
That’s going to be amazing for me [being back in Australia]. I’ll probably be surfing between shows. You wouldn’t believe how much talk there is about Stereo in the international artist community. It’s kind of this amazing holiday that everyone has in Australia and they get paid lots of money for it. That’s what everyone looks at it like. A lot of these festivals I’ve done overseas are quite different – people kind of fly in for the day in New York, do their show and leave; whereas it seems that with Stereosonic, because Australia’s so isolated, they come over and stay for two weeks and they have this mid-week where everyone goes and hangs out together at all these private parties and things like that. It’s such an amazing atmosphere, instead of everyone just flying in and doing their set only to leave straight away. Everyone hangs out at the shows and at the after parties and it becomes a whole two week event instead of just being a single set time that you come in and do.
Last year, we got roped into the HARD [Summer] family which was amazing because Gary and Dan put us on almost every event they did this year in America, which was so cool for us.
What would you say to Haters who contend that DJs and producers like yourself only get up on stage at those kinds of festivals to press play?
So much of what you’re doing, even when you’re up there, is playing something you’ve composed: you’ve written the baseline, you’ve written the drums, you’ve written the leads, you’ve worked with the vocalist to write the song lyrically, you’ve worked on the sonics and engineering of everything. You’ve done all that and there’s so much more that goes into it. Some people, yeah, they might just be the face of a brand and just play CDs but that’s, you know, there are so many other thousands of people who aren’t doing that as well. And the difference you see in a DJ set of someone who knows what they’re doing and is doing some really complicated stuff as opposed to someone who is just playing a pre-recorded or pre-meditated set is a large variant. If you can’t see that, then you’re pretty narrow minded.
What was the most “turnt” thing you saw on your most recent tour?
I think someone climbed some scaffolding and they had to stop the music and he got booed and then he kind of fell. That was pretty bad. I’m trying to think of something positive I’ve seen. Actually, I saw Flosstradamus – the Kings of Turn Up – play in Atlanta when we did the [Mad Decent] Block Party and they told all the girls to get on all the guys shoulders and for the first time I saw every single girl in the audience on a guys shoulders and there were guys looking for girls and there were none left. It was about 15,000 people and there were about 6,000 on shoulders singing an Usher song.
That’s a beautiful moment. I saw you were just officially commended for having some of the best hair in EDM.
I actually have the best hair in EDM, apparently. Someone just sent me a screenshot and I was very, very excited.
Ya boy Skrilly is going to be so jealous.
I know, although I don’t think Skrilly was even in there. He’s had his hair the same for quite some time, maybe that’s the issue. I don’t know, I’m not going to get involved in the politics of it [laughs].
One or two day Stereosonic tickets are still available for purchase here for the following dates:
Claremont Showground, Claremont, WA
Sat 29/11/14 – Sun 30/11/14
Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW
Sat 29/11/14 – Sun 30/11/14
Adelaide Showground, Wayville, SA
Fri 05/12/14 – Sat 06/12/14
Melbourne Showgrounds, Ascot Vale, VIC
Sat 06/12/14 – Sun 07/12/14
Brisbane Showgrounds, Bowen Hills, QLD
Sat 06/12/14 – Sun 07/12/14
This interview has been edited and condensed for tl;dr reasons. Photos supplied unless noted otherwise.