Vaski giving Target Field a taste of dubstep
Vaski | Target Field | Wednesday, September 3
When dubstep got big, 23-year-old Minnesota native Alex Presley blew up right along with it. The first demos he ever recorded by the name Vaski were immediately grabbed up by record labels, and his rich local following suddenly became an international one. Though his quick success led him to relocate recently to Los Angeles, Vaski continues to perform at his monthly residency in First Avenue's Record Room, the next of which will be Friday, September 12. He will also release a new EP this fall.
Today, though, Vaski is in town for a far different reason. He will perform at Target Field during the Minnesota Twins game as part of the Midwest Music Showcase, and is the first EDM artist ever to be asked to do so. Gimme Noise spoke with Vaski before he takes on this milestone about how he got started making dubstep and what the industry has taught him.
Gimme Noise: How did you get hooked up with the Twins?
I'm really stoked about it. The guy who does the booking for the Twins -- I guess his son is a fan of mine. They approached the guy that runs my residency in Minneapolis and asked him about it, and he forwarded it to me. I was like, yes, I'm definitely down to play at a Twins game!
What are the feelings surrounding that?
It basically makes me feel like the music that I make is legitimized in a weird way, you know? It makes me feel like I actually make real music, and a lot of people don't really feel that way because of the fact that I don't physically play the instruments. I think it's kind of a strange thing, because I used to play instruments, but I just realized I like to make everything. I don't want to just play the drums, I want to write this part, and this part.
I started writing stuff on the computer, and that's how that happened. Electronic music is getting more and more popular, but still, there is the fact that it's made on a computer. I don't think a lot of people realize that all pop music is made on a computer. All rap music is computer based. Even Taylor Swift's albums. Even if there are real instruments, they record them and then they process them a lot. Playing real instruments is just a short part of it.
What is your musical background?
I took piano lessons when I was younger, and I was in band all through high school. I was in choir briefly. I took some music theory courses. I was in some small garage metal bands when I was in high school and college playing drums. I just kind of fell in love with the electronic music from there.
How did that happen?
It just really gradually happened. When iTunes first came out, I was like, oh, what's electronic? That sounds cool. So I listened to the stuff that was one there and was like, wow, this is really weird. I bought a couple albums -- one of them was the Prodigy Always Outnumbered Never Ungunned. I love that one. After that I just kind of rolled with it and was really stoked about it.
When did you start writing your own electronic music? Were you more interested in learning to DJ at first?
I was doing the loop thing. I think I was 14 when I was actually writing stuff, but it was really, really basic. I was actually trying to write rock songs on the computer because I was in bands with friends, and I would try to have these ideas for the whole song and not just my part, so I would try to put that out there in some way. Then I just started to make all different kinds of music.
Did you see yourself doing this as a career?
I always did, actually. When I was 12, I literally didn't do any quality control or anything. The first thing I did, I burned onto a CD and drew album art with Sharpies. I showed my parents and was like, I made a CD! I sold it to my friends and everything.
What did your parents think in the beginning?
I think they were into it. They thought it was cool.
Let's talk about how your style has evolved, and the move toward dubstep.
I've always been messing around with a lot of different genres. What happened was, as soon as I started making dubstep, things changed and I really took off. Literally the first three songs that I made that were dubstep, I sent to labels and they were like, let's sign this, this is great. That was kind of a major gateway for me. That was late 2008, and the music came out in early 2009.
What's different today about the way you write and record music? What have you learned over the span of your career so far?
The most important concept is to not overthink it. That's the thing that I struggle with the most. When you're an artist and a producer, you want to make it the best possible, and it's really easy to just work at it too much. You have all these ideas if you're a creative person, and the best thing to do is getting good at knowing which idea is the best and just rolling with that instead of trying everything. You have to decide on one concept or one thing for each song, and I think that's what holds a lot of people back. It's definitely what holds me back. I consciously work at focusing on OK, what exactly is it, and then fully embracing that instead of trying too many different things. Then you'll never finish anything.
How has it been different for you living in L.A. as opposed to here? What are some differences in the scene that you're involved in?
The main thing is that there's a lot of studios here, and there's a lot of other producers here. A lot of people that I'm friends with live here that are like-minded, and we can just get in the studio together and show each other what we're working on and give feedback. That's really valuable, to get other people's opinions. That's the main thing, is just being around where this industry is centralized, and I think what was so cool about my stuff in the beginning was that I was separate from everybody. But you don't want to be like that forever. I still think differently than a lot of people because I'm not from L.A., I'm from the Midwest.
A lot of people on the coasts are from one of those cities, and they've never been to the middle of the country, really. It's an interesting thing to observe, and I think I'm fortunate to be from where I'm from, and I think it impacts me in a really positive way.
Vaski is performing today at Target Field during the Minnesota Twins game, starting at 7 p.m., as part of the Midwest Music Showcase. His residency takes place next Friday, Sept. 12 at First Avenue's Record Room, 10 p.m., $10, 18+