Must Die swung through Seattle again recently to headline at Foundation and our conversation with him was almost as much fun as his set was later in the night. It was a blast to talk to him about his thoughts on DJing, producing, EDM in general and the fun treats he had in store for us during his set. He had a lot of love for our fair city and we look forward to when we get to say hello to him again.
Many fans are probably not aware of this, but Must Die, or Lee when he’s being a civilian, was just in Seattle at the beginning of March and opened for Datsik’s show at the Showbox Sodo. After his set he spent some time with his good friend KJ Sawka (of Destroid and Pendulum) immersing himself in the crowd to watch the show. Going to shows has a magic way of making us feel better when life or your day isn’t going too great, and Lee knows this too. In his mind, you “should see people because people make you feel better when you’re feeling down,” and it led to one of the coolest experiences Lee has had at a show.
It was an amazing experience for him, culminating with a marriage proposal and a stirring conversation with a cancer survivor; as he reminisced on that night, Lee’s face positively lit up talking about the experience. His spirits lifted further at the beginning of our sit-down when it was shared with him that the same couple he got to witness the engagement for was present that night at Foundation.
Must Die has a soft spot in his heart for Seattle thanks to the family he has here, and of course the inherent beauty of our beloved region. From a musical perspective, Lee loves that our scene doesn’t get quite as hung up on genres, and instead listens to the music that sounds good to them. “The city’s not that big, it’s all compacted into this 30 block by 30 block radius. It’s awesome, I like it.” We are of course a little biased about Seattle and our love, but it’s always interesting to hear what people who see so many cities have to say about why we’re special.
As far as other cities go nobody has quite the eclectic music scene [of Seattle].
Traveling more has led to some exciting new things creatively for Lee. He draws inspiration from some very unexpected places, and the way he translates experiences into tracks is fascinating. This is one of the great things that is unique to the instrumental nature of genres like EDM. Someone like Taylor Swift will use words first to describe her latest breakup, but someone like Must Die is able to use his talent to capture the entire feeling of the story. It stands to reason that we were more than a little interested to hear how literally bringing down the house at a show in Chicago translated into a track.
If you spend a lot of time around interesting people you’ll hear interesting things, or maybe even words. For me conversation spawns a lot of my tracks because I think that way… if someone threw out a conversation in the middle of the night about something quite deep or interesting I’ll try to write about it, but I don’t write lyrics so…I’ll try to write sounds about it.
Lee puts a lot of emphasis on being able to allow things to inspire without completely ripping off a melody or getting stuck in a mental tunnel. Diversity becomes important, so that listeners avoid the trap of assuming everything in one genre will be the same. “I feel like the mainstream push in EDM is diminishing the quality of music, because kids are like ‘it’s dubstep, I like it.'” For him this is important whether it’s listening to another facet of EDM or another completely different type of music. This advice is crucial especially for those who are just starting out in dance music as it is very easy to mirror what you like, but to truly grow requires figuring out what makes you different from everyone else and exploding from that point rather than sticking in the same genre.
Now that I travel more I love to go to places that you wouldn’t think I would, and I’ll hear something really cool… I’ll try to capture that feel, not the melodies because I don’t think anyone should rip anyone off but that feel, like imagine you’re in a speakeasy at 3am and there’s a bluegrass duo but you’ll hear the twangy lonely sounds and say ‘that’s cool, I wonder if I can transform that to electronic music.’
Must Die is an individual who certainly has a lot of opinions, and it was fun getting to hear the ones management allowed him to express. Lee places a huge priority on respecting yourself enough to learn to say no, and speak up about what is really important to you as a person and an artist, regardless of gender. “I feel like a lot of the fault that comes with being young and new is that everything looks shiny and glamorous. Keep your production on par with what you’re worth.” With that, it becomes apparent that striking that balance between not selling out and realizing that it’s also the first priority of a record label to make money.
As kids that are coming in, especially younger kids, promoters will try to ruin your life, that’s what their job is is to make money…. it’s OK to haggle and say no. They’re not gonna get mad at you, and if they do why would you work with them in the first place?
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