Interview: A Q&A With J2K of Flosstradamus (A West Fest Concert Preview - Saturday, 7/7/12 and Sunday 7/8/12 on Chicago Ave. between Damen and Wood)

Interview: A Q&A With J2K of Flosstradamus (A West Fest Concert Preview - Saturday, 7/7/12 and Sunday 7/8/12 on Chicago Ave. between Damen and Wood)
Photo by Nick Walker

In town this weekend for a Saturday performance as part of West Fest, I chatted via email with Josh Young of Flosstradamus about the power of the internet, the future of electronic dance music and more...

Q.  In a lot of the interviews that I’ve read or seen you guys give, you really seem to wear Chicago on your sleeve…  How has being based in Chicago influenced your sound over the past five or six years?

We both grew up having a big mix of Chicago music around us. Juke, House, Rap. When we started our parties we were flipping a lot of old Chicago tunes that were nostalgic to us, and now those same tunes have helped inspire us in our production as well.

Q.  What’s it like returning to Chicago and playing to the festival crowd whether it be something as ridiculous as Lollapalooza or on a smaller scale something like West Fest coming up for you shortly?

Chicago is the kind of city that loves it's street fests, and whenever we've played one it's been incredible. The energy is insane! We get it from the crowd and give it right back. Also, it's always a blast playing to your home crowd.

Q.  What’s it like to have been embraced by Chicago so strongly, going from the early Town Hall Pub gigs to these major festivals in a relatively small amount of time?

It always feels good to feel like you belong somewhere. There is definitely a symbiosis with this city. We ride for Chicago as much as Chicago rides for us, and it's evident in not only the success we've achieved, but the longevity we've experienced as well. We love this city.

Q.  You guys really seem to enjoy performing live… As an electronic act, what’s the key to live performance for you in front of these increasing crowds?

Keeping your energy up. In the end of the day we're up there trying to have as much fun as humanly possible. If we're having fun, and the crowd is vibing with us, we feel like we can do no wrong. It's an incredible feeling.

Q.  Electronic dance music has really blown up of late, crossing over and becoming a hot commodity in both the touring and recording industries.  What do you attribute that to and how do you feel about it?

Well I feel like pop music has been "borrowing" from electronic music for ages, and just recently the artists being sampled started to put their names on the tracks. i.e. Pitbull feat. Afrojack etc... Also, it doesn't hurt that the internet is more of a driving force in music than the radio is these days. People can make their own decisions on what they like, and also get exposed to a larger range of music than your standard top 40 radio station provides. Long story short, I have no clue but i'm happy about it!

Q.  Do you see that success continuing now that EDM has become commercial with so many DJs working with established pop artists on major Top 40 hits?  I mean, you’ve got Afrojack showing up everywhere with Paris Hilton lately… Do you see the potential of a backlash forcing it back underground amidst cries of “sell out" or do you think it remains sustainable longterm?

There are so many genres and subgenres in EDM, and people have so much exposure to music, I hope if people don't like one thing, they'll find something they do like. As opposed to just completely turning their back on an entire community because one faction of it got huge.

Q.  The internet has really played a large role in the ability of electronic dance music to grow so organically into this groundswell of fan support despite virtually no support from traditional media like radio, tv, etc. until only very recently.  What are your thoughts on the power of the internet as the dominant music distribution force moving forward?

It's everything. The record industry is almost non-existent at this point outside of mega stars like Katy Perry & Lady Gaga. So many artists are releasing music without labels, throwing their songs on soundcloud, getting a huge number of plays, and building a fan base from there. Even mainstream artists like Soulja Boy, who was an early internet success, are releasing mixtape after mixtape for free, getting millions of free downloads, and continuing to have successful careers based only off of their popularity on the internet.

Q.  When it comes to the future of music, I find it interesting that every kid grows up now with a computer.  And just about every computer comes outfitted with something like Garageband, ostensibly allowing kids to experiment with music at an extremely young age… a luxury that something like a guitar never made quite so easy.  Where do you see the future of music heading?

I hope it gets really f---ing weird. Kids are influenced by everything now. Sounds from all over the world, all different time periods. I think music is going to keep being referenced and sampled, and flipped up into something fresh and exciting, or at least I hope it does.

Q.  Flosstradamus blends so many different musical genres.  What are some influences you had growing up that have affected your music that people might be surprised to hear?

Lots of pop, lots of house and rap. Prince, Deltron, Cat Stevens, Cajmere. Any and everything that we could get our hands on pretty much has had an influence.

Q.  As an artist whose music can, at the very least, experiment with samples from time to time, given the seeming “wild west” mentality of sampling regulations in our litigious society, is it tempting to want to focus on live performance as opposed to releasing recorded works?

Having a good live show is really important, but we've been touring and performing live for almost 8 years now. That part comes pretty natural to us at this point, but over the last few years we've really turned our focus to working more in the studio, and fine tuning our sound. Most of the music I love the most from Beastie Boys to Daft Punk is based heavily on sampling, and I feel as long as the artist has something to add to the sample, or uses it to push music forward, it's rad. And to all the kids out there, please sample us. We promise not to sue you.

Q.  Now that the Total Recall EP is out there, what’s next for Flosstradamus?

More music. Some tours coming up in the Fall but much, much more music. That's where our focus [is] for the foreseeable future.

Q.  Anything else you want Chicago fans to know?

We love you, thank you, and look forward to rocking with you all on July 7th at West Fest!

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WEST FEST 2012

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Saturday, July 7th and Sunday, July 8, 2012

Noon-10PM

Chicago Ave. between Damen Ave. and Wood St.

$5 Suggested Donation each day

All Ages

Check out the full music lineup and all West Fest details HERE...

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Music takes place both days on two stages in addition to Kid Fest and Pup Fest

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Saturday performances include...

The Black Lips (8:30PM - Main Stage)

He's My Brother, She's My Sister (4PM - Main Stage)

Flosstradamus (8:30PM - DJ Stage)

And many more...

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Sunday performances include...

Mates of State (8:30PM - Main Stage)

Bad Veins (5:30PM - Main Stage)

Jesse De La Pena (6:30PM - DJ Stage)

Derrick Carter (8:30PM - DJ Stage)

And many more...

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    Jim Ryan has written about music in print and online for a variety of Chicagoland publications for over fifteen years. In addition to duties filling in as Traffic Anchor on CLTV or in the helicopter on NBC 5, you can also catch him Sunday nights at 6PM central as host of "The Rock N' Roll Radio Program" on AM 1420 WIMS and AM 1060 WHFB (streaming at wimsradio.com and via the TuneIn Radio app for the smart phone or tablet). Jim has also worked locally for WXRT-FM, lives within walking distance of the Metro and is an avid White Sox and Blackhawks fan whose first live concert experience came at Comiskey Park in 1984 during the Jacksons' "Victory" tour.

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