An emerging Future and Dance music prodigy has burst onto the scene in USC student, Emerson Garnett.
Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been glued to Emerson Garnett’s SoundCloud. His recent flip of RYDER’s “Pretty Little Gangster” popped-up in my feed and I happened to check it out. Fifteen minutes later, I’m four songs deep into his profile and the tracks keep getting better. He has two head-bob worthy, captivating remixes, one of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and also Cassie’s middle school dance-floor anthem, “Me & U.” But my favorite of his reworks has a happier, dance vibe. The flip of PNAU’s “Chameleon,” touts strong, enthusiastic vocals backed by a chorus of synths that’s bound to put some rhythm into your step. It’s no doubt one of my songs of this summer.
Yesterday, he released a remix of The Weeknd’s “What You Need.” Garnett taps more into the Future Bass and Trap genres in this track with a deft versatility beyond his years. The combination of The Weeknd’s silky voice and the echoing crescendo of drums and synths makes the song seem like it should have been made that way.
I was also able to interview the rising sophomore about the music industry, recent shifts and the breakdown of genres, and much more before the track’s release. Check it out below.
1. How did you get into music? Were there any specific instruments you connected with initially?
I started playing drums in 1st grade, but never wanted to practice. The recitals and elementary school bands were never that interesting to me. Then in 6th grade my friend, Andrew Luce, and I got really into mashups, and started making our own on Garageband. I got really into producing my own stuff in 8th grade, but it took a long time before I felt comfortable putting anything out.
2. How has your musical output and your taste in music evolved over the course of your life?
My music taste has definitely changed since I started producing: when I was younger I was really into progressive house, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve been getting into genres away from electronic music. Blues and soul like Blue Magic as well as rappers like Travis Scott and Young thug is what’s currently on rotation for me. My outputs always been whatever I feel like, I try not to restrain myself to only one genre.
3. What do you think is one of the more important trends or genres breaking out right now?
I think for a long time electronic music was stuck in a mindset of having perfectly quantized drums, or no human imperfections. Now I’m seeing producers break away from that idea and are making their grooves without a grid. I believe Flume was really one of the main pioneers behind bringing this sound into the forefront. Calvin Harris’ new album is a great example of this shift.
4. Who are your main influences?
I draw influences from all over the place with music. Growing up my dad played bands like AC/DC and Red Hot Chili Peppers all the time, and those sounds have definitely influenced me. Another guy who’s played a huge role in shaping how I produce is Lido, not specifically his sound, but because he constantly pushes boundaries of what we are used to in music. In the same vein would be producers like Cashmere Cat, Ganz, and Flume. Chris McClenney, Kaytranada, and Goldlink have been killing it, I really vibe with their bouncy natural sound.
5. What keeps you going back to making music every day and where do you get inspiration for tracks?
Music just feels like something I have to do; if I have free time then I’m making something on Ableton. As cliché as it sounds, music is a huge outlet for me to express myself that I sometimes can’t in words. Inspiration for tracks comes from everywhere: sometimes it’s a picture I see on Instagram, or a line from a book. If something evokes a strong feeling from me, then I try to translate it to music.
6. What’s the biggest show you’ve ever played?
I’ve never actually played a live show focusing on my own music. I’ve had offers but I’ve always had something preventing me from getting to the shows. In high school I was at boarding school on the east coast in the middle of nowhere and they weren’t very understanding about me missing class to play a show. I’m at USC right now and have played 900 person frat parties, but it wasn’t something that had my name advertised. I’m definitely trying to start playing shows in the near future.
7. What has been your coolest music-related moment thus far?
I had just been kicked out of high school right before senior year, and I was using music as a way to cope with all the feelings that came with that transition. I found the acapella for the Fat Rat’s song “Never Be Alone,” and immediately felt inspired to do something with it. From start to finish, the remix took something like three days of nonstop work. By the end of it, I felt like I had something that really encapsulated how I was feeling at that moment. I messaged him on Facebook telling the story behind the song, and we talked about life and how getting kicked out wasn’t the end of the world. By the end of the conversation he reposted it and it blew up on SoundCloud. That was the first time a major artist, who I’d looked-up to even before I’d started making music, had recognized my own production and it’s something I won’t ever forget.
8. What are your goals for the second half of 2017?
I’m working on an EP that I hope to have out by the end of the year. I’d also like to collaborate with more artists, which is easier now that I’m at college in LA. I’m also trying to book some live shows around LA for the fall once I start school again.
9. Who is your favorite artist and what’s the best set you’ve seen?
That’s a really tough one, I’m torn between when I was stuck third wheeling at Coachella and decided to go to Kaytranada, solo which was an amazing experience, or seeing Goldlink in San Francisco in a super intimate setting.
10. Favorite color?
11. Who is Emerson outside the studio? What do you like to do in your free time?
Outside of the studio you’d find me either playing FIFA or NHL in my friends room at USC (current reigning FIFA champion of my group of friends) or in the line at egg slut in grand central market. I’ve also gotten into fashion since I moved down to LA. The culture around it is so different than in the Bay Area. I really like the whole vibe around it.
12. Katy Perry or Taylor Swift (or neither)?
Taylor Swift all day.
13. What songs and artists are in your recently played?
The whole Beautiful Thugger Girls album, Ashe’s “Used To It,” lots of J.robb, and Joyryde.
Make sure to follow Emerson Garnett’s SoundCloud and be on the lookout for that EP, hopefully dropping sooner rather than later.