Exclusive Interview with Elephante

In anticipation of his return to Echostage this Saturday, Club Glow and The Diamondback had the chance to chat with Tim Wu aka Elephante about his start in music, making music while attending Harvard and what he has in store for us in the near future!

 

When did you first start making music under the name “Elephante?”  How did that name come to fruition? 

T: I had been making music my whole life, but started making Elephante stuff maybe six or seven years ago. The name was a reference to the phrase “elephant in the room” – I had a job that I hated, and the elephant was that my true dream was to make music, so it was about quitting my job and fully embracing and becoming the Elephante in the room.

Did you attend college?  If so, where did you attend school?

T: I went to Harvard, in a past life.

Did you pursue a music related major while at Harvard?  If so, what was it? If not, how long did it take you to realize that you wanted to take an alternate route and dive into music full time? 

T: I minored in music, but it was all theory and history and academic, nothing practical. As a young Asian-American boy, becoming a musician wasn’t even in the realm of possibility, it’s just not something people did. I think I knew deep down it was always what I wanted to do, but it took a long time for me to finally come to terms with it and actually go for it.

Could you describe the electronic music scene at Harvard?  Was there a lot that you learned during your time in the scene there that has positively contributed to your career thus far?

T: Honestly, there was none. I’d listen to BPM on Sirius with my friends, and hear Avicii at parties. I never touched turntables until after I graduated. But I was doing a lot of music related stuff – I interned at a recording studio in Boston, I was in bands, playing open mics, writing songs, etc. Let me tell you, there is nothing more soul-crushing than playing an open mic for 0 people. After those experiences, any failure I’ve had in the dance music scene felt pretty easy by comparison.

There are a lot of new producers coming up that are also full time college students.  After all that you’ve learned, what advice would you give them on how to balance both music and school?

T: Um… balance is overrated haha. Actually, there’s no single right answer. For me, music was everything – if I could do anything, I’d spend my time writing songs, playing guitar, watching Youtube videos on how to make dubstep growls. The thing about the music industry that I wished someone told me early on is this – no one cares except for you. No one is going to help you, and you’re going to be on your own for a very long time. If you’re okay with that, and you still want to make music, then you’ll find a way to make time and make it work. If not, there’s nothing wrong with that – just don’t be deceived by all the glamour and instagrams – most of your life is gonna be sitting in front of a computer EQing drums or something similar, so you gotta absolutely LOVE that part. So to conclude – make music because you love it and there’s nothing else you’d rather do.

Throughout your career thus far, what are some of things that you are most proud of?

T: The thing that always makes me want to break into tears is hearing people sing my songs. That’s such a crazy experience – somehow these wild thoughts running around in my head have bled out and connected with other people. Of course, going on tour, hearing my musical heroes play my music, playing festivals – that’s all wonderful. But at the end of the day it comes back to the idea that my music is being heard and has meaning to people.

What are some things that you hope to accomplish in 2018? Are there any particular shows, festivals, events, etc. that you are really looking forward to this year?

Coming back to Echostage woooooooo! Seriously though, DC is one of my favorite places in the world and Echostage is one of those legendary venues I love to play. I recently just finished a 9-song EP that’s coming out in June – I’ve been working on it for the last year and a half, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it and to see everything I have planned for it.

If you had the chance to collaborate with one other artist in the music industry, who would you choose and why?

The Walmart Yodeling kid – so many insta likes…

When you were first putting out music and starting to gain traction, was there another artist that acted as a mentor for you during that time in your career?  If so, down the line, do you hope to pay it forward and mentor young artists?

T: Early on, I met Scott from Slander (at Coachella lol), and we were kind of coming up at the same time. We’d talk and he’d give me a lot of advice – he was actually the one that insisted that I stopped using DJ controllers for shows and learn how to play on CDJs haha. And of course – I love talking with younger artists, but there’s still part of me that feels like I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s a bit of the blind leading the blind.

Over the next ten years or so, how do you see the electronic music industry changing?

T: I think the electronic music industry is just going to become the music industry. I think the novelty of EDM has worn off in the mainstream, so really to have success you have to be a fully fleshed out artist project, and you can’t just get a few songs ghost produced and jump behind a turntable. Which is great – I think it really rewards creativity and those who can find their own voice. Artists will actually have to connect and resonate with fans, and the cream will rise to the top.

Be sure to catch Elephante at Echostage this Saturday when he returns with Slushii and Volt!

 

Written by Owen Hynes.

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