It all started with that zany game that moved from the arcade to home gaming devices everywhere, Dance Dance Revolution. Producer Lindsay Lowend, aka Tony Mendez, got hooked on the game at a very young age and developed an appreciation for electronic dance music, before he began teaching himself how to make his own. Since then, he has developed a very distinguished sound and style. There is something very different and nostalgic in his music productions today that walk the line between electronic, funk, and dance genres. But he claims that his next release is going to continue to push the boundaries of what should be expected.
Lindsay Lowend's fan base has increasingly grown since the start of this project about a year and a half ago. Over that time, he has been added to the Symbols Recordings family (the label run by fellow producer Kastle) and he has played a plethora of shows and festivals alongside giant artists to grow his fan base even more. The Washington D.C. based artist recently played at a Symbols Recordings showcase at Output in Brooklyn where we got to catch up before the show. I found him sitting on his suitcase outside of the venue stealing Wi-Fi on his laptop from a neighboring hotel. If I hadn't known who I was looking for, I would have mistakenly assumed him to be just another colorful Brooklyn inhabitant doing strange things on the sidewalk. In our chat we talked about his love of video game music and his desire to see electronic music continue to push boundaries in diverse ways. See what else Lindsay Lowend shared in the interview below.
EARMILK: Why don't you start off with telling us how you got started making music.
Lindsay Lowend: Back in middle school, my brother went to this Catholic school and they had a DDR club. So he started playing Dance Dance Revolution and he told me it was a great game. So we bought it and I got hooked. I started playing it competitively and I got nationally ranked and stuff. It's all really funny. But the reason I got into the game was because I love electronic music and all the music in that game was house, trance, and drum and bass stuff. So that is how I got into electronic music. I started researching the artists and realized that they were single people making this music as opposed to bands. I knew that I could do that, too. I got some cheap software and just started making music. I've been doing it ever since. I was in 8th grade at this time. I forget how old I was in 8th grade, but I was somewhere around 12 years old.
EM: Your music has been described as electronic hip-hop, as funk, glitch, and all sorts of things. How would you describe it?
LL: Yeah, I think it is great that nowadays genres are becoming really hard to pinpoint. I call my stuff "neon music", just because it has a colorful vibe to it. But if you asked for a specific genre, I couldn't tell you what it is. I really like hip-hop, although, a lot of stuff I've done definitely isn't hip-hop.
EM: Yeah, the boundaries around genres are definitely really fuzzy these days. If we can't put a specific genre around your music, who are the artists that you draw inspiration from?
LL: Yeah, that's a tough question. I guess there is this guy, Max Coburn, and we've actually become good friends now. It really psychs me out because he is probably my biggest influence. He writes video game music. I'd say that right around the same time that I got into electronic music, that I got into 8-bit video game music too. This guy writes stuff like that, but it is heavily influenced by jazz, fusion, and other crazy stuff. I mean his harmonies... that was the first time I really got obsessed with harmonies and chords. So he is definitely a big influence.
There is also this guy Fear of Dark who is another big influence. I'd say those are the two big ones right there.
EM: What can projects can we expect from you for the rest of the year?
LL: I'm actually working with vocalists now. My last EP was mainly instrumental and I can't just release a part two of that, it has to be something different. My goal is to put tracks on this EP that don't sound like one another. Basically, it is going to be four totally different tracks; two of which will have vocals on them. I'm really stoked about them.Accurately, you can probably expect to see something from this in two to three months. Maybe sooner, maybe later.
But up until then, I have a remix coming out for my friend Lido, so that's gonna be dope. That is probably going to be coming out within the month. I also have a remix for GoldLink coming out soon.
EM: Sounds like a lot of good stuff.
LL: Yeah, definitely. I'm super stoked on it.
EM: How would you say that your music fits into the realm of electronic or EDM?
LL: Well, the new record definitely isn't going to be EDM. It's not going to be the kind of stuff I would ever play live anyways. Or at least not in the DJ setting. I might play it live with instruments, but there aren't going to be any build ups or any drops, you just have to listen to it. It is supposed to be listened to on headphones or at home.
EM: Do you have anything special planned for your set tonight?
LL: Bangers! When I DJ a club, I realize that is my favorite thing to play and it's the stuff that people like to hear the most. I've got hard hitting stuff. I like to mix it up too. It is going to be weird, diverse, and crazy.
EM: You've been working with Kastle and his label Symbols Recordings as of late, and are here at this show with a good lot of the Symbols roster. What can you tell us about that experience?
LL: Kastle is an awesome guy! Symbols is a really cool project, I fully believe in it. I think Barrett (Kastle) is a really smart guy. He really knows how to treat people like family, everyone that is on the label does too.
EM: Things have moved pretty fast for you since you debuted as Lindsay Lowend. How has that been for you?
LL: Things have moved so fast! I probably started this project like a year and a half ago. Since then, I've been playing a handful of festivals and meeting some really awesome artists. It is great. I had projects prior to this, but I think the timing worked out well that I waited until now to get serious about it.
I plan to keep playing these shows and festivals. I have to keep putting out good music. I mean if you're good, you have to be different too. Especially now, as things are getting over saturated, everything is sounding the same. That's the problem I have with EDM, it seems to be formula based now. You know, it has to have its big sweeping buildup (LL started beating on the table here to demonstrate his points). I mean, lets reverse the drop where it starts high and it slows down to nothing (Again, LL thrums out his point on the table, as my recorder bounces up and down on the table). Lets mix it up.
EM: Alright, sounds like a plan. So you're based out of Washington D.C. What do you have to say on the music scene there?
LL: It does alright for itself. It isn't up to par with places like New York, but it is small and close knit, which can be really cool. I like it.
EM: Cool. Do you have any last words for EARMILK readers?
LL: No. (Long pause followed by laughs) I was rehearsing that. I mean, have faith in electronic music. At times it is hard, it feels like it has hit a brick wall and it can't go anywhere else, but people will always whip something up that is crazy and sounds completely different.
After our chat, Lindsay Lowend went on to play those referenced bangers and kept the crowd in a frenzy into the wee hours as he closed out the show. Keep an eye out for that next EP, because I'm sure it will only continue to blow our minds.