Gotta have house music, all night long, right? House is just one category of the electronic dance music (EDM) craze that has swept the nation. The growing obsession with raves, neon clothing and colorful festivals is undeniable. But where did all the artists come from? And what did it take for their music to gain such an intense, loyal following? We sat down with Live City’s Jake Weinstein and Ethan Bruno—two producers and friends of 13 years, making beats out of their New York City apartments—to find out what it takes to become the next big name in EDM.
“Creating something in any form is so satisfying. It’s such an amazing feeling of accomplishment to construct something from start to finish and be able to share it with the world.”
MADE MAN: What made you team up and decide to get serious about making music?
JAKE WEINSTEIN: We really started liking dance music in college and dabbled a little in production, but up until that point, we knew nothing about making music. We would just share projects and teach each other new skills when we learned them. But because we had the same interests and similar production style, it just made sense to work together. And as we did, we started to notice our music sounding better and better. That’s when we got more serious.
MM: Did you already know a lot about the industry?
ETHAN BRUNO: Not at all! We were fans of the music, but there was a lot we needed to learn. For the first year and a half, we read books and magazine articles and participated in music production forums. Between reading and messing around on the computer, we were putting in about sixty-hour weeks just to become better educated.
MM: Was there anything you learned that surprised you?
EB: How much competition there is. Everyone has the same tools in this day and age, so it’s all about how much effort and time you put in. I mean, we’re competing with any 16-year-old who has access to a computer.
JW: We also quickly realized that the industry is very much run by blogs. We knew we needed to get a following on them. And only then if there’s a demand for our music would we have a chance to get signed.
We can only assume they’re playing something from Debbie Gibson.
MM: So it sounds pretty difficult to become relevant, huh?
EB: You have to treat it like a job—a full time, seven-day-a-week commitment. Your mind is always on it. You can find creativity or inspiration at any moment and have to be willing to sit down for eight hours at the computer and use that inspiration. Meanwhile your friends might be out partying. And if you want to be out partying with them, you just don’t care that much.
JW: We’ve put in more than forty hours a week, on top of our full-time jobs, and we’re still not even there yet. For years, Live City had no exposure at all. Only recently have we been lucky enough and so grateful for the coverage we’ve gotten on blogs like SoundIsStyle or the chance to do an official remix of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
MM: It seems like electric dance music has become more popular recently. Is that true?
JW: Definitely. I think it’s safe to say the dance scene has taken off. Even your typical pop and R&B artists—like Will.i.am, Chris Brown and Usher—are making dance tracks now. But there will always be the artists who headline at the biggest dance music festivals, like Tiesto and Deadmau5. Those artists have made it—they make the best music and will continue to, which is why they’re at the top. They’re making the trends.
EB: I do think the older generation who are not adapted to the era of quick digital music that can now be made right in someone’s bedroom, those artists may feel threatened. But without this technology, doors wouldn’t have opened for artists like Madeon, an 18-year-old French kid who broke through so early because of the easy access to make music.
MM: Which artist would you say represents the future of EDM?
EB: Live City.
JW: (laughs) Yeah, it’s true. Young, hungry producers like us, who are taking risks and making music, trying their hardest to get stuff out there.
EB: Risks for sure. We’ve spent way more money than we’ve even come close to making. But we truly believe there’s no reward without the risk.
MM: So what is your end goal? What’s your dream?
JW: Creating something in any form is so satisfying. It’s such an amazing feeling of accomplishment to construct something from start to finish and be able to share it with the world. And that’s what we want to do. We want to make a living off playing and producing dance music for those who love listening to it, and gain enough notoriety to take Live City around the globe for people to enjoy.
EB: Well said.