When we last sat down with Felix Cartal, we covered everything from his “all sorts of music maker” philosophy, to his thoughts on the state of EDM. Months later, he’s released his EP, toured clubs across the country to sold-out crowds, and solidified his status as one of the leading forces behind keeping dance music unique. Having skipped the tough up-and-comer scene of Vancouver by gaining his fame in Europe, he’s spent the better part of his career using his art as a way of sharing something with his audience.
I’ve always written music because I wanted it to be a way to interact with people and have a dialogue. Whether you hate it or like it, let’s talk about it.
This approach carries over to every aspect of his live performance. Playing to a full house at Foundation Nightclub in Seattle, he brought the full experience. Using a visual show replete with the best Japanese imagery, Simpsons clips, and Versace ads Tumblr has to offer, he aspires to get away from “DJ shows just being rotating shapes.” Not satisfied with bucking just one convention, Felix set out on an unprecedented photo journey to pair along with his stunning light show.
After documenting his weekend at Coachella with a disposable camera, he came to the realization that challenging your audience to create along with you is to truly connect. With that epiphany came the Disposable Camera Project, an ambitious undertaking during which one person is selected to wander the masses at every show, with just 25 photos to define the night.
It’s from a perspective you never get; sometimes they’re awful, sometimes they’re awesome. I have this obsession with giving people constraints, and you have to create within those constraints; it makes people be creative and it counts more.
While the point-and-click camera quietly made the rounds at Foundation, Seattle was treated to a night of dark and dirty house, capped off by a remix of Britney Spear’s “Toxic,” that had a generation raised by the 90s and 00s going wild. It’s little touches like these that demonstrate the balance he achieves in straddling the line between the old and the new. There’s nothing easy about making music that’s both accessible and unique, as Cartal muses, “(I) want to break boundaries and be in boundaries at the same time. If the box is here [pointing], you want your feet to be on either side of the line.”
This balance has become key to his philosophy concerning the state of modern dance music. While acknowledging that mainstream EDM is stuck in a rut, he refuses to let that dictate his creative headspace.
Felix Cartal is not on a mission to single-handedly save dance music from itself. He’s not crusading against the mainstream, and he’s not worried about what his contemporaries are doing. Rather, he’s on a quest to make his music. When you boil it down, dance music is about the relationship between the DJ and their audience, and no one understands this better than an artist who wants to start a conversation. Whether you hate it or like it, let’s talk about it.
You can buy the “Past, Present, Felix” EP on Beatport now.
Get all the latest Pacific Northwest nightlife news, directly to your inbox.