Exclusive Interview: What So Not discusses new album, Skrillex collab, and worldwide tour
A name synonymous with electronic music culture, What So Not has long served as a figurehead for a new wave of innovative sounds, with Australian DJ and producer Emoh Instead going solo on the project in modern times, having originally started as a double-act with Flume. Catching up with What So Not at the Ninja Tune offices in London, the dynamic and personable star spoke to us about life on the road, the changes dance music has experienced, and his upcoming album ‘Not All The Beautiful Things’, following a performance at Brixton venue ‘Phonox‘ in the heart of the UK capital.
Emoh! What can we expect from this latest What So Not album? How long did it take to put together?
“Well, funny you ask, one of the songs on the album (Not All The Beautiful Things) is actually 4 years old! I get an idea, which might stay on my laptop for a while, but I leave it because I know I need to flesh it out, and only like to make edits when I really get inspiration. So maybe 6 months later, an idea might come to me so I come back to it and take older vocals, flip the pitch, and try to manipulate how different synths sound. And it finally, in the end, it came together last year!”
And you have some cool collaborations on the album, right? Skrillex? San Holo? A few others?
“Well yeah, all the collaborations actually just came from hanging out with friends, people who I aspire to be like, people who I have a rapport with, and we write together and find shared experiences that we have and use those to help make a track.”
So outside of the studio, how do you deal with this hectic touring schedule that makes up such a huge chunk of the life of a modern DJ?
“Most of my life is spent travelling around the world. And it’s an unusual lifestyle to have no comforts or routine. But when I get to a country, I always try to get into a routine, of sleeping, exercise, getting coffee, and that helps me get into the routine of no matter where I am, which country, it helps me hit the reset button. But at the start of 2017, I got myself to this point where I could take some time off, and that was a scary thought. When I come back, will things still be relevant? Will my sound still be popular? But I made a bunch of new friends, and that time really helped me to connect with what life really is.”
So how do the crowds differ dependant on where in the world you play?
“Well crowds differ from City to City for sure. I played a sample of ‘Stranger Things’ and in Australia, I played it but our internet there isn’t great so they don’t really watch Netflix. They didn’t know what was going on but then I played it in the States and everyone went crazy! I remember an experience I had actually, in Hong Kong, I played all these tracks that I thought were all huge tunes but nobody reacted to them. So you have to learn and quickly adapt. It was many years ago, but I still remember that. Knowing when you have made a mistake is so important. It helps you to grow! India, for example, it is really blowing up there now. Everybody knew every word to every song!”
So what can we expect from What So Not in 2018 then?
“Now I have live visuals and effects and all these things that I have synced in line with the show. I don’t want to call it a ‘live’ show yet, but the lighting and video is all on point. We have a giant peacock structure that I’m gonna take to Coachella and around the States, but I’m really keen to totally nail a live show! So after this album… yeah, let’s get that live show out there for sure! It’s exciting times!”
Hitting up Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in June on the back of his long-awaited first album Not All The Beautiful Things which is slated for release on 9th March, What So Not has given fans a taste of the new LP with latest single Beautiful featuring Swedish vocalist Winona Oak.
You can check out the track below and let us know your thoughts in the comments!