EF Interview: Minnesota

Written By: Scott Bernhardt

Long time bass music producer Minnesota has been pumping out heavy tracks ever since I started listening to bass-heavy music.  His music, which has been traditionally dubstep and hip hop influenced, is beginning to open up to incorporate other genres and styles.  

I caught up with Minnesota to talk about his new direction, as well as some of his production preferences. Somewhere between playing with his stuffed (but real) raccoon Kenny, and talking about banjo strings, I conducted an interview that went something like this:

EF: Who are some of your non-EDM influences?

Minn: I guess originally a lot of psychedelic classic rock. My dad got me into Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, stuff like that.  Currently I’m mostly listening to stuff like Chet Faker and Jamie XX, where it’s like electronic music, but not EDM.

EF: What are you listening to right now, as far as DJ’s or artist?

Minn: Right now it’s really stuff like Chet Faker, Jamie XX, Bonobo, Tycho. That’s the kind of stuff I listen to in my free time. Not the kind of stuff that I make, but interesting electronic music.

EF: So I’ve heard some of your new material and it’s much different than your old stuff.  How do you think that will work with your brand?

Minn: Well my old stuff basically came from when I had discovered electronic music, and producers like Bassnectar and Mimosa, and stuff in this scene of music like Lightning in a Bottle and Symbiosis.  That was probably my first exposure to electronic music, so that was the kind of music I started making.  Once I got exposed to more and more melodic and catchy music, that’s what interested me more.  The last year and a half I’ve been writing more melodic songs, which are kind of a mix of my older trippy stuff with my new melodic music that I’m stoked on.  Hopefully the fans of the old stuff will be stoked as well as the new fans.

EF: How much does a set of yours vary from venue to venue?

Minn: So, if we’re on like a bus tour like we did two years ago, those sets will stay pretty much the same, but may change week by week, and that’s just so I can spend a few weeks before the tour getting the set perfect and not have to worry about it and modify it as we go. When I’m touring like I do now where I do a few shows every weekend, it changes based on the market I’m playing in.  If I play in the Mid West, I’ll play bangers.  If I play in LA or San Francisco, it’s a little harder to play for that crowd because they’re on the cutting edge of music, so you cant’ play some tracks. So it really depends on the region I’m playing in.

EF: What DAW do you use to produce, and do you utilize any live elements when in the studio?

Minn: I use Ableton.  I pretty much just click everything in, and sometimes use a midi keyboard. I’ve been wanting to put guitar in my songs for a while since that was the first instrument I started playing, but have been too lazy to get it out and hook it up.  Recently I set up my guitar so it’s all plugged in and next to my desk so I can just pick it up and press one button to get it going.  With all the plugins in Ableton, I don’t even need any hardware like an amp, it just goes straight through my sound card and I can process it in Ableton.  It’s been cool picking up a real instrument again.  I can do stuff to where it doesn’t even sound like a guitar, but it gives it that human, soulful touch.

EF: Do you have any favorite synths or plugins?

Minn: So, I probably have over 150 plugins, and I wish I really honed in on a few and really learned them well, but in the last year or two it’s been Sylenth because it finally helped me learn synthesis really well.  In the last 6 months, I know I’m super late on this, but Serum is one that I use multiple times in every project.  Another big one is Omnisphere, which isn’t really synthesis because all the stuff is sample based but there is an enormous library of cool sounds so any time you hear more real instruments in my tracks, it’s usually from Omnisphere.  It’s one of my favorites.

EF: Thanks for taking the time while out here in California. Nice talking to you!

Minn: Tight, thanks man.

You can catch Minnesota this Friday 1/13/17 at Union in Los Angeles.

Tickets available here:   http://browniesandlemonade.com/rsvp