Behind the Beat: Crywolf
Photo Courtesy of Redlight Management
L.A.-based producer, Crywolf has made a name for himself over the last two years as a unique indie electronic artist. He’s had a great year so far, from releasing his ‘Skeletons’ EP to playing major festivals like Middlelands and Electric Forest.
We went ‘Behind the Beat’ with him after his set at this year’s Sunset Music Festival.
OTB: Hi Justin! How’s your day going?
Crywolf: Ah, it’s great. Still high off of that set. Unfortunately, there were lots of issues because of the airline delaying our equipment, but somehow we were able to pull it off.
OTB: Your set at Sunset Music Festival was absolutely moving; you even had someone dressed as Louise from Bob’s Burger tear up. How would you describe your set to someone who has never heard a track of yours before?
Crywolf: Oof…To someone who has never heard a track? Aggressively, emotional indie electronic music. Like Odesza and Alt-J had a child, and then after growing up in Iceland, it became the producer for a trio with Bon Iver and Dallas Green from City and Colour and itself.
OTB: You’ve come a long way from ‘Home We Made’ and your dubstep roots. It’s incredible to see how you’ve evolved. Did you initially find it strange when you moved into the indie rock/”post-EDM” era as they call it now?
Crywolf: Making the music was second nature for me. I already had a side project called Cataclasm, which was fully unreleased (That’s where the song Ghosts, Angels, Whisper, Queen Of Fiji, and a few new ones came from.) As soon as I started that side project, I knew it was the direction I needed to go. It was so much more real, so much more visceral, so void of any other influence.
OTB: You brought up Iceland earlier, you went there to work on ‘Cataclasm’. Would you say being alone in Iceland allowed you to break free and reach your artistic potential?
Crywolf: Absolutely. I wasn’t subject to all the stressful and depressing realities of the current music industry. I wasn’t thinking about branding, I wasn’t thinking about Facebook likes or Spotify plays or size, I wasn’t thinking about which artists liked me and which didn’t. I was legitimately thinking 100% about the art, and how to express myself. It was such a foreign place, so far away from what I know. It was the only place strange enough to evoke that reaction from me.
OTB: You obviously didn’t stop after ‘Cataclasm’, would you say that it was the tipping point that pushed you to create ‘Skeletons’?
Crywolf: After I released Cataclasm, I had an insane breakup that was like a cyclone in my life. Everything changed, everything was strewn about. I knew I needed to write about it or it would fester inside of me.
OTB: It sucks that happened but at least this beautiful piece of work came out of it. It’s hard to describe what I felt while listening to’Skeletons’. For a listener it was extremely moving, I felt connected to your soul. What was your thought process going into this EP?
Crywolf: I really just wanted to be as honest as humanly possible. I think we lack a lot of candid, genuine honesty in lyricism nowadays. It’s always buried in metaphors, or ruined with cliche expressions.
OTB: I’ve always admired how honest you are about your emotions since it bleeds out into your work. How do you stay inspired?
Crywolf: It’s really about two things. 1) surrounding yourself with art that blows your mind and inspires you, and 2) being dedicated enough to write every single day, even if it’s terrible or you don’t feel like it.
OTB: So Bassnectar remixed your track ‘Rising Rising’, what were your initial thoughts when you heard his remix?
Justin: I loved how strange it was. It sort of flips everything on its head. He explained to me that it was made for live sets. We performed it at Basscenter and it worked so perfectly as an end to the night.
OTB: Who are some artists/albums that you’ve been listening to lately?
Crywolf: I’ve been obsessed with Life Itself by Glass Animals, RELAXER by Alt-J, as well as DAMN by Kendrick.
OTB: If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?
Crywolf: Alt-J for sure. Or Bon Iver.
OTB: Outside of performing, what are your interests or hobbies?
Crywolf: I love working with video, shooting friends. I also help out friends a lot in building live sets and music. I’m in a pretty intense kickball league. I surf sometimes, fly my drone, snowboard.
OTB: What is your favorite food spot in L.A.?
Crywolf: Recently, I have fallen in love with Night + Market in West Hollywood. It’s a world renowned Thai place, but not the typical Thai you are used to. This is Northern Thai street food. It’s very strange, but god it’s so delicious.
OTB: What can we expect from you for the rest the year?
Crywolf: New album, new concept live set, gah, so many things. I’ve been very busy.
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