New Zealand’s own Mt Eden has had the biggest week of their career so far. Releasing a critically acclaimed EP entitled Walking On Air and preparing for their performance at EDC, the duo of Jesse Cooper and Harley Rayner have a lot on their plates and a lot to look forward to. We got the chance to chat with the guys to discuss their fame, musical stylings and inspiration, and they had a lot of interesting insight into where they’ve been as well as where they’re going. Check out the below, and don’t miss their refreshing take on dubstep on their new extended EP out on Beatport.
Earmilk: How did you guys meet?
Mt Eden: We met through friends at primary school when we were about 10. But we really made friends around when we were about 14 through playing around with music on computers together on weekends with our friends.
EM: How did you decide you wanted to work together? And what was the inspiration behind choosing the name Mt. Eden?
ME: We didn't really choose the name Mt. Eden. Jesse's girlfriend's younger brother Adam decided to make a YouTube channel for our music and called it MtEdenDnb because we lived in Mt. Eden, Auckland, and at the time we were making drum and bass. When we started making dubstep we started naming the songs Mt. Eden Dubstep just to clear up any genre confusion. Then we decided just to drop the end of the name and go with just "Mt. Eden" because we were making all kinds of music and we didn't want to restrict ourselves with a name. In saying that, Mt. Eden is the place we both grew up and where we feel most at ease and we are proud to represent where we come from and hopefully put our neighborhood on the map.
EM:How did you decide to go into electronic music, and how did you end up getting into dubstep? Your brand of the genre is a little bit different, and is more live instrument-based. How have you seen the genre change since you entered the business?
ME: We got into electronic music through going to shows and raves and festivals in New Zealand. Initially we were there for drum and bass but then dubstep pioneers Benga and Skream played at a festival we were attending and they basically blew our minds with their new sound. At the time we had been making melodic drum and bass and so we made a melodic take on of dubstep.
The genre has changed in so many ways. The shock factor that dubstep initially had has basically all but gone now, people have been desensitized to it. People are looking for something refreshing and different and many artists are now finding ways to branch out into new genres as well as trying to put on unique live shows etc. to keep things interesting not only for those listening but for the artists themselves.
The scene is also so much more developed now: there are businesses running basically every aspect of the genre from the artists to the festivals and the club shows and even the online music sales. Behind every well established artist there is a business. Electronic producers are taking over radio and internet and breaking through like never before, it is a very exciting time for young up 'n' comers. The stakes are higher.
EM: Now that you've toured the world, how does the dubstep community in New Zealand differ from what you've experienced?
ME: The music crowd in New Zealand is very picky. When we were blowing up in Europe and North America we were criticized a lot by other local DJs and bass music fans at home. We eventually won over the tough crowds but there was a lot of elitism at first. We are grateful for the scrutiny we were under though, because it made us want to work harder and helped us get where we are now.
Getting to Miami is a big milestone in any producer's career. What was that like for you? Tell us about your experience performing during MMW.
That was one of our favorite shows ever. Huge crowd! It was covered live on UMFTV. The icing on the cake was that Benga and Skream were on right after us and they saw us play. Unfortunately we showed up an hour before the set and left right away as we had another show to go to so we couldn't stay and enjoy the fun.
EM: Do you have a special dynamic that you play off of when you spin together on stage? What are you looking forward to most about performing in Vegas for EDC?
ME: There's definitely some magic when we play. We are both right in sync, we know when each other is going to speak on the mic, or pull a rewind, because we have played almost every single show together since Mt. Eden began. We can read one another's body language pretty well. It's like we can read each other's mind sometimes!
EM: How did you first get signed to Ultra Records, and what was that like?
ME: Our management contacted them in 2011. While we kept sending our latest tunes to Ultra, our management were going back and forth with negotiations and contracts until we finally put pen to paper and signed in December 2012. We hadn't released music in so long as we had been holding back and crossing our fingers it would come through. We needed to find a home for our singles and album. We knew it that it was a big responsibility and a lot would change afterwards so we were pretty nervous. It has been great to have an extra hand on the steering wheel guiding us to where we want to be and we are really grateful to Ultra Records for believing in us.
EM: How do you like to stay in touch with your fans?
ME: Mostly Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We basically share the privilege of answering fans on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Soundcloud between us. We love reading peoples comments and criticisms as it helps give us perspective on our music and shows which we think is really important.
EM: Many electronic artists like to stick to producing singles. How did you come to the point where you were ready to produce an EP?
ME: We initially wanted to release a full album entitled “No Man’s Land” and that’s what we were working towards for 2 years or so. But Ultra had the idea for us to make both an EP and an album. It was actually much more difficult than we thought to make an entire album as our direction kept on changing as our sound kept developing. Around early 2012 we really started to find a direction and sound we were happy with. Breaking the album into an EP and an LP has helped us refocus and give each project its own personality. We just released the Walking On Air EP and No Man’s Land is out in September.
EM: What's different about this EP for you, and what is the most exciting element that you're excited for everyone to hear?
ME: We worked with a whole lot of different sounds and genres. There are several different tempos on there. The new Mt. Eden sound is very musical and cinematic and less about the bass than our previous music, though it still has plenty and its still definitely got the "Mt Eden" sound. We wanted to focus more on the traditional elements of music like arrangement, flow and harmony as we felt these elements have more of an emotional effect than any sound we could generate.
EM: You've collaborated with some exciting musicians on this EP. Do you have anyone you'd love to work with in the future?
ME: Some people would like to work with Blackmill, Enya, Imogen Heap, Carnage, Kendrick Lamar, Knife Party.