Bentley Dean, a Chicago based DJ, was born and raised in England. He moved to Chicago and attended Northern Illinois University. There, he was introduced to electronic music by one of his friends. While working at a bar on campus, Bentley Dean watched his friend perform which caused his interest in the genre to grow. Fast forward a couple of years and Bentley Dean is making his rounds to weekly parties hosted by some of Chicago’s most forward thinking patrons. Tonight he opens up for Malaa and Rezz at Concord Music hall. Check out the interview below.
On August 15, 2015 Tom Swoon made his appearance at Time Nightclub in Chicago. Tom was born in 1993, in a small town in Poland. When he was 14, he began playing guitar in a rock band with his friends. Little did he know, that he would discover electronic music artists shortly after, and begin teaching himself how to DJ. Within 6 months of doing so, Tom Swoon started gaining interest from international artists such as Gareth Emery and Laidback Luke. In 2011, one of his remixed reached the Beatport 100. This launched his career. Now he is touring all over the world!
WSC: Lets start form the beginning. How does a young man from a small town of Goleniow, Poland go from rock to electronic music? Your website profile states you discovered EDM, can you elaborate on that discovery?
– Basically it was a long process because I was starting as a guitar player in a rock band and we jammed in a garage, without any gigs. I was into alternative/electronic acts such as Clarksons and Justice. Somehow this way I was able to find out about people like Daft Punk and Deadmau5, and it went from there.
WSC: Besides Deadmau5 and Daft Punk, who else could you call an inspiration in electronic music? (could be answered in question one)
– Not only as a DJs and producers, but as a people too- the way of living and promoting themselves, I would call Laidback Luke and Avicii my areas of inspiration. I was a big fan since day one.
WSC: What was your first show/performance?
-The first one, still as Pixel Cheese, was in Norway at a High School graduation party for 2-3,000 kids. That was pretty cool. It was three years ago.
WSC: Your official remix of Gareth Emery’s “Tokyo” first put you on the charts. How did you get notified about your achievement?
-It was my first official remix because I put up one song of his before, and he noticed it. When he previewed it on YouTube, I messages him and asked if I can remix it officially and he agreed. Then I was checking BeatPort every day and then I saw it going up in the charts.
WSC: Isn’t one of your bootlegs one of most popular on YouTube?
-Oh, that was for David Guetta and Avicii. I used the vocals from Laidback Luke as well. And then it got support from Laidback Luke. He opened with it at SuperSonic in Australia.
WSC: That being said, it seems like the next few years have been extremely busy with remixes, tour dates, music videos and your weekly radio show/podcast. How do you keep up with life as a DJ/Producer and your family life in Poland?
-It is pretty tough. The way to sustain and maintain both things is to have both sides understand that I have to be outside of home all the time and work really hard. Back home I have very little time for my family and friends whatsoever. I am basically working and my family is aware that I need my quiet zone. Of course, sometimes they get annoyed because sometimes they want me to do something for them or the house – just to be a part of the family. Some days I am not really able to do that. We can compromise to make both parties happy.
WSC: Polish parents tend to set the bar high for their kids with career choices. What did your parents think when you first told them you have become a DJ? How do they feel now given your success?
-That’s a tricky one. They were not really sure in the beginning. They were telling me to get a real job. They thought DJing wasn’t really a job. Their attitude changed when I brought them with me to Sunrise Festivals in Poland. It the biggest festival in Poland and brings 10,000+ people. To have them see me in the crowd, thats when they understood this is what I love and I don’t want a real job. It became some kind of responsibility for me.
WSC: We’re not in tune with the Polish Electronic Dance Music scene, could you name a few artists from back home that are on the rise that you feel we should look into?
WSC: After your tour wraps up in September, what is next up for Tom Swoon? What can we expect? (collaborations, new music, EP or LP)
-After this tour, for sure there will be another tour. I have a couple of remixes lined up for Steve Aoki, Matthew Koma, and some other I can’t reveal yet. But, it is definitely something to look out for.
After hearing Xonic (local Chicago DJ) for the first time at Electric Forest 2014, we have been tracking his moves. He has made a huge splash within in the Chicago scene, especially in the last 6 months. After bumping into him after his sets at shows and getting a chance to know him and his positive attitude, we knew we would like to feature him on our blog. On January 31st, WhySoChi met with DJ Xonic, at his home studio, before his opening set for Borgeous at Concord Music Hall. He was nice enough to answer a couple of questions while putting together his track list for the night. From his transition out of professional football, to his outlook on the EDM scene and everything in-between, check out the exclusive interview below.
WhySoChi : Your profile information on social media (Facebook, sound cloud etc..) reveals you are a former NFL player, that being said how did you transition from Football to music production/djing?
Xonic: “Well, I went from professional football, which I worked my whole life to achieve the highest level of success in a certain arena, and ended my career with an untimely injury in 2006. **(Xonic blew out his elbow and Shoulder in NFL Europe- while playing for the Amsterdam Admirals in 2006)**I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life because everything has always been focused on making it to the NFL. In-between the NFL and DJing, I did some other career stuff like commercial real-estate, industrial real-estate, and stock trading at the Board of Trade right when the financial markets collapsed in 2007 and 2008. I was used to trying to find some sort of career where you can rise up fast since I don’t really see obstacles in my path. If someone can do it in a year, I want to do it in 6 months. So, just trying to find a purpose or passion along the way that allowed me to still wake up every day and love my life, and also be able to do something that I had a talent in. I stumbled on DJing and EDM when I went to a Deadmau5 concert at Soldier Field in 2010. That was the start of my love for electronic music”.
WhySoChi: That being said when and where did you play your first djing gig?
Xonic: “After I decided that I want to make dance music and become a DJ, and after seeing Deadmau5- he really blew my mind with his production and was so far ahead of everyone else which is why he is noted as one of the kings now, he really inspired me to not only take the DJ route but production too so I needed to play catchup. I had some audio engineering background and work in management and artist management, some behind the scenes stuff in the music industry so I wanted to make a segway as well as learn a new skill. A lot of DJs and producers are not willing to share their hard fought accumulated years of knowledge and wisdom. At the same time, their livelihood is their knowledge. I was very fortunate to find someone (my “mentor” D2A) that took me under their wing and taught me everything he knew about DJing and got me my first DJ gig at the basement of Fedora (Lounge) Clark St in Downtown Chicago in October of 2011. I screwed up about 4 times and the music stopped a few times. I don’t think anyone noticed though”.
WhySoChi :Does the name XONIC have any meaning behind it?
Xonic: “I wanted to play off of the word sonic, like the sound. I like the brand ability of the X, it makes for a good logo. It was finding something that nobody is using because internet search ability is huge. When someone wants to find an artist, it is easier. No joke, Urban Dictionary recently defined it as a state of euphoria. I mean if someone has a great name for example, Max Strong or something, they can use that. My name isn’t like that since people mispronounce my last name”.
WhySoChi: You are very active on social media, talking to your fans and contributing to discussions on several topics regarding Chicago’s scene. In your opinion what is the best thing about Chicago’s scene and the worse thing?
Xonic: “First of all, Chicago is the birthplace of house music and EDM is just an evolution of that. EDM has become a bad moniker, kind of like an STD. But EDM just means electronic dance music and Chicago will have a significantly strong role in that. Some of the guys that are leaders in the production and DJ community, such as Jason Kalendr, Inphinity, or Marc Stout, they are setting an example for some of the mid range veterans such as myself who are looking out and trying to make Chicago the stronghold of production and DJ talent. They’re putting some new projects together. The best thing right now is everyone is starting to realize that synergy and collaboration are the secret ingredients, so to speak, to the recipe of success amongst DJs. It is such a complicate profession with so many nooks, crannies, and knowledge – so many areas that you have to be talented in from marketing to advertising to promotion to creation of music to mixing skills to everything. The more you can team up, the better you will be. Everyone saves up their bag of secrets and tracks and its not really too much like that really anymore. The worst thing about the Chicago DJ scene is that there is a lot of DJs who get work solely of the fact of how many people they bring into the club with little to no regard of their talent on the decks. It is tough to see them struggle when they get up there and it will give the club a bad reputation. It really is a carefully cultivated art”.
WhySoChi: You had a busy 2014, this week proves the momentum form last year has not stopped you are playing your 3rd show in as many nights. Explain your creative process on how to keep your sets fresh and new.
Xonic: “This is definitely one of my better weekends, for sure. It is interesting when people say “set”, because it is like you already have an idea of what you are going to do. You might have an idea, but for good DJs that might only last like the first 15 minutes to throw some tracks out there to see how the crowd is and to see how the crowd feels. Tonight for example, there are three acts after me, who are all going to play live music from trap, progressive, to electro. I will have to test the room and see what kind of room it is, I can give the guys after me that information. I have my ways of testing it. I have tracks that are sorted to make it easier for myself. In a 1 hour set, I would play anywhere from 25 to 30 songs. I will probably be prepared with 100-120 songs with potential. Then, I weave my way through it. The songs that will stand the test of time, I will drop anytime- such as “Lazer Beams” by Green Velvet”.
WhySoChi: All time favorite track?
Xonic: “My favorite track is “The Reward is Cheese” by Deadmau5. It is the perfect blend of techy electro and underground yet it has a familiar build and drop style”.
Xonic: “It changes and it really just depends. Right now I like super advanced, intelligent dance music, like The M Machine. I like the people that push the limit of sound creation, noises that you would never anticipate to be part of the music. Industrial sounds for example that are twisted, a snare drum, and a melody on a synth that you would never be able to do with regular instruments. That is the beauty of electronic music”.
WhySoChi:Favorite local dj/producer besides yourself and why?
Xonic: “Theres a few but I would say Jason Kalendr, Infinity, Marc Stout, my mentor Brian (goes by D2A). There are a lot of guys in the city that I love to listen. Those are probably the main acts that I would go support and see. The guys who are up there getting mentioned consistently, they are mentioned for a reason. DangerWayne is great too, Zander, GoodSex, J. Worra”.
WhySoChi:Favorite room to play (club)?
Xonic: “The main room at the Mid on a Saturday night. Anywhere that its crowded, and I am connecting with the crowd. That is something you cant really describe till you feel it”.
WhySoChi: Favorite Chicago festival you have played? (wavefront/north coast/spring awakening) why?
Xonic: “The main stage at Spring Awakening. Nothing really beats that level of production. Setting the stage where when you feel the bass hit you can see the water vibrate right off the table. It was crazy. Spring Awakening 2013”.
WhySoChi: What should we be on the lookout for? New releases? Collabs?
Xonic: “I am staring to work on a lot of stuff by myself but the sounds that I am hearing in my head are a little more advanced than the sounds I am capable of making out. So I am chasing this elusive production dragon where there has to be the right combination of time, the music thats in your head so it can be packaged correctly, and its the right time for the listener. Some really good DJs and producers put something out and its not the right time. Something new probably within 2 months”.
After a short but wild Friday (August 29th) night at union Park for North Coast Music Festival I traveled with a few WhySoChi members to check out the Portage Theater, a new EDM hosting venue in Chicago, for a coast after party. After getting settled and checking out the place (which has a great sound system by the way) we were ushered passed the stage into a nicely hidden green room. There we found some familiar faces including our friend Jai Sephora aka Animale.
After a drink, some chit chat and meeting his agent and manager, a crew member enounced ”where is the press?!” Instinctively a few friendly fingers pointed my way. “Do it on the fly” cheers ensued. Below is what I came up with spare of the moment. Hope it gives you some insight to who I think is a very talented local DJ,
1.“You have had a really busy year. You have come out with some great singles and performed at EDC Chicago last year. Is there anything that we should know about within the next 12 months?”
“Yeah, absolutely. We also just dropped a Borgeous remix so we will have a free download. We also have an Oliver Heldens remix we have been sitting on so that should be coming out within the next couple of months as well. I have an EP I am working on. A lot of new music and hopefully more gigs as well.”
“You have a lot of local success. We also saw that you have been touring around in not only the Midwest, but also other states. You just recently went to Orlando. Being that you are from Chicago, how do you feel the Chicago scene or crowd differs from other places around the country?”
“The one thing I notice is that most crowds are all the same as far as if they’re going to come out to see you. The internet makes it so that you don’t have to be from a certain city to know what people’s songs are or what they’re going to play. There’s a lot of love everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you are from.”
“You mentioned you are working on a EP. I know you had collaboration with Dani Deahl and Alex Peace. Is there anybody local or anyone up and coming we should know about that will be on your EP?”
“I don’t have anyone directly that I am collaborating with. However, I am working with Trentino on a new track and had a release with David Hopperman not too long ago that was on Big & Dirty. I am trying to focus a lot on branding myself without being stuck to too many other people.”
“Given the recent success, what is your personal triumph that you take pride in and what is the ultimate goal for Animale?”
“I just want more people to know my music and experience my live shows. I’ve been doing this 10 years now and I am very comfortable with DJing and so I want more people to come out. My motto has always been to aim as high as you possibly can and if you come up short, you are still above everybody else. For example, my goals are obviously to play Ultra Music Festival and hopefully headline one day but the goals are high obviously. ”
“What is one thing you want your fans to know?”
“Be safe and have fun. Live it up. Life is short. You should never be unhappy doing anything. Whatever makes you happy – DO IT”
6.“What is with that port-a-potty video?”
“Well I like to have a lot of fun and I was really drunk. I had just gotten a GoPro and I wanted to make the best of my new GoPro. Plus, how many DJs have you seen go to a port-a-potty. I am probably the first and the last.”
It was truly an honor to interview the members of Kings of Class, Tsunami and Bobby De Maria. This DJ/Producing, clothing line and entertainment company owning duo from Chicago *deep breath* is seriously the ones to look out for. Please checkout their new and hottest remix of Kaskade’s “Ain’t Gotta Lie.” This deep house track will definitely be on my summer favorites track list. Below this interview I posted all the links you need to learn more about Kings of Class. Hope you enjoy this interview, I without a doubt did!
What is the meaning behind the name Kings of Class?
The name is kind of an irony in itself. Based on our past track record of basically just being like party boys. Some might say, we are the opposite of classy. This was more towards our younger age, not so much now.
What are some of your influences?
We’re both into Dance and House Music before this whole EDM bubble popped. Bobby: One of Erik’s favorite groups that he turned me on to and one the first electronic shows I ever saw, that changed everything for me was Crystal Method. As far as our influences now go, we are more towards Underground Tech House and Deep House, this is what we are playing more at these shows. Guys like Mark Knight and Alex Kenji are pretty big influences.
What do you think of Spring Awakening Music Fest (Chicago)?
It was great, we were supposed to play Sunday but we got pushed up to play Saturday. We performed on The Club House Strobe and the Dirty Bird Stage. Just seeing our name on the big LED sign, it was great! The rest of the night was cool, we had a chance to play at Concord with Ardie and Sander Van Doorn. It was really a fun show.
What advise would you give to upcoming DJs/Producers?
Making your own stuff and putting your own spin to things, you have to make your own tunes. Do anything that will set you apart from the 9 million other people doing this. We still learn as we go, especially through of trial and error. Never think as a DJ that you don’t have to promote yourself your music and shows. You always have to network. Promoting yourself and others around you is important because, especially with this social media bubble, is that everyone is promoting and supporting everybody to maximize your reach. You can’t be in it just for yourself. You can’t be selfish and bigheaded, you have to work as a team. You have to emerge yourself, work on your music at least a couple hours a day. It is easy to lose focus, treat it as a job. The party doesn’t have to stop, it just has to become smart.
What is House Music Saved My Life?
House Music Saved My Life was created by a national entertainment company called United2Nite. United2Nite creates, produces, and funds dance music shows. The conceptual idea behind the sessions is to bring out of the ordinary house music parties to venues across the country. Three months ago we decided to turn the company more towards non-for-profit in hopes that we can have a more literal meaning and get house music to “save some lives.” We pledged to raise money for the charity during the course of the year. All the money we make at the events will be donating to the cause.
**Event dates for House Music Saved My Life are posted below this interview**
What do you think about the EDM scene at the moment?
Its blown up bigger than its ever been in the US ever. EDM is a lot more mainstream, everyone likes it, therefore a lot more opportunities popping up. We are sitting in an especially awesome position because people are going to being to get into the underground sound, which is like the tech house and Chicago house. They want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
What’s your favorite set?
As Kings of Class, we played in New Orleans last summer (2013), it was one of those outrageous road trips. That night before we left for New Orleans, we were fortunate enough to play on the main stage in Castle( in Chicago) for the Lollapalooza After Party! The whole weekend was outrageous. The club in New Orleans we played at was open until 8am and our set didn’t start until 5am, it was complete chaos!(In a good way) People kept coming in, it was a great time.