It’s not every day that one gets to have phone time with someone who has basked in the beauty of Katy Perry, the obnoxiousness of Russell Brand, the genius of Kevin Drew or the surreal world of Skrillex. So, when one gets that opportunity, one takes it. I was able to speak with the very in-demand and talented Trevor McFedries (aka Yung Skeeter) and catch up with him on everything from this year’s SXSW “must sees,” to his stint at the Spotify House, to music in general.
CJ: The description of the Spotify House says that it is a look into the future of music. I look forward, and it seems like music’s always evolving, but a lot of the trends...they seem to be going backwards, like Mumford and Sons. What does the future of music look like to you and what is the House going to represent?
YS: Well, you know, the exciting part about music right now for me is kind of the amalgamation of all different kinds of sounds and genres coming together and I think the house is going to do that quite nicely. You have acts like White Facilities, or Flume, that are out from Australia, who are doing an interesting take on electronic music and hip-hop. And then you have someone like Angel Haze, from New York City, who’s doing kind of doing kind of like some nostalgic hip-hop. Juxtapose with someone like Wallpaper, from the Bay Area, who’s doing his own kind of take on party, electronic dance music. It is going to be a juxtaposition of all things really fun and exciting. I think that’s really going to be the theme for the House: bringing together a bunch of sounds that are both retro and modern and future and making them all kind of make sense in a celebration of music.
CJ: Everyone has their must see. Who are you are eyeing this year? Who are your must sees this year?
YS: Man, that’s a great question. I already mentioned Flume, a really incredible act, a young guy out of Australia who hasn’t had a chance to really grow his audience out here in the states. I think SXSW is going to be really great for him. Um, a band called Twenty One Pilots who are also playing at the (Spotify) House. Their live show is just incredible. The energy and excitement that they bring to any room is definitely worth checking out. I really think that people fell in love with the Kendrick Lamar record, but we’re going to have him at Spotify live on the 13th and getting to see him live and on stage is just a crazy experience. People will leave even more blown away than they were with the record.
CJ: I want to go in and make a playlist with these artists. If I really wanted to make it simple, what are some tips that you give to people on getting started on Spotify?
YS: Well, you know, I think right away, Spotify.Com, download the application, get it set up and get exploring. First, explore for acts that you like and you’re going to discover a ton of new stuff that you never would have found. Beyond that, if you go to the app section, there’s a billboard application, a Pitchfork application. You know, if you’re into some of the more classic stuff, there’s the Quincy Jones application that allows you to experience music in a whole different way and that’s really exciting for me. Another thing I would say is that Spotify is really exciting because you can follow your friends, you can check out what your friend’s listening to and you can really discover music in an interesting way because, traditionally, I’ve always found music through my peers and it is a bit difficult to do that sometimes. Spotify has made it incredibly easy to see what my friends are listening to…both in real time, and through all their playlists.
CJ: I couldn’t agree more with that and I think your playlists have got to be interesting because I know that you’ve done everything from hip-hop to punk.
YS: It’s funny because I have a playlist called “That Good Good” that starts with a group called Cold Cave which is, uh, this guy Wes Eisold who used to be the front man for a hardcore band called American Nightmare and now has an electronic project. Then it goes into Azari & III who are a Canadian, kind of deep house, classic kind of Chicago house sounding stuff. And then it falls into stuff like The Streets, which is U.K. grind.
CJ: I love The Streets! Mike Skinner is just amazing.
YS: Yeah, he’s amazing right?
CJ: He is! He’s something else. I feel like your stuff, what you’ve done, and what Mike Skinner’s done, I hadn’t heard anything like that …well, actually, the first time I heard something like that, was on the Judgment Night Soundtrack back in 1993. When I first heard what Michael Patton (Faith No More) was doing with Vernon Reid, RUN DMC and Ice-T… and Helmet collaborating with hip-hop artists…I hadn’t heard anything like that and so I was just blown away. I know that you’ve collaborated with many big artists and you’ve done many remixes. For Example, I love Broken Social Scene. What’s it like to work with Kevin Drew? Is he able to sit back and let you do your thing knowing that you’re a genius? Is he able to do that?
YS: Ha, ha! You know, they were really great about giving me a body of work that they had already prepared and saying, “Hey, do your thing” we really want you to express yourself because we like your taste and your take on things. And what I presented was kind of quite different from a lot the stuff that I had done. I kind of created like a UK Garage, kind of shuffley, almost like the Mike Skinner type sound, and sent it over thinking that they might totally hate this, but they were really supportive . They got it out for everyone to hear. They Tweeted about it, they Facebooked about it…it was really great.
CJ: Interactive, that’s changed a LOT. There used to be, there was a…how many SXSW’s have you been to?
YS: Man, I’ve probably been to six. I think this is my seventh now.
CJ: I grew up here and have been doing SXSW since high school when this was basically just happening on Dirty Sixth. The transition from interactive to music used to be really awkward. The line there was very defined. People would come in for the Interactive portion and then leave town for the musicians. Now they are really blending together. What do you think is the cause of that?
YS: I think there’s been a really great intersection between Interactive and Music because of people like Daniel Ek, our CEO, who really is an interactive guy that comes from a technology background, but he’s still passionate about music. He obviously built this incredible platform and I think a really good opportunity for people who are coming to SXSW would be to see him on March 12 at 3:30. It’s a really good opportunity for people who will be sticking around for the tail end of Interactive and the beginning of music to really go see where they intersect.
CJ: You’re going to be starting a new radio show this year, but I don’t really know much about it. What are you doing and what we can we expect?
YS: I’ve been good friends with Steve Aoki and the whole Dumac Records camp for a very long time and they were asked to put together a radio station for some FM stations. Boston, Evolution 101.7, amongst others and Steve asked me if I’d be the host and be the face of the radio station because while Dumac started off as a punk label, obviously, you know, it’s evolved into Indie Rock like Bloc Party, Master Craft and Aoki and he really wanted me to bring all of that type of stuff to the radio station. So, we’ve got all kind of guest’s mixes, and guests like Red Light. We have hip-hop acts. We have a friend of mine, Lee Spielman, and Trash Talk is putting together a little mix of some punk rock stuff for a show down the road. It’s basically that. It’s what Steve and I grew up on…Punk Rock, the Electronic stuff that we love and everything in between.
CJ: Speaking of Punk, I read where you were the first DJ on the Warped Tour. That has got to be a cool title to have.
YS: Yeah, that was really fun because I love that environment. I think it’s a really formative time for a lot of those kids that are coming out to the shows. They’re like 13-14 years old. The music that I appreciated when I was that age is so near to my heart. To be able to be on that show, and to be able to travel throughout the country playing music to people that are that age, I guess at that sweet spot in their life where music is so important, that was just really special.
CJ: I think I was 14, or maybe 13, when RUN DMC and Aerosmith came out with Walk This Way, and I think Steven Tyler should be thanking them every day because I think they (Aerosmith) were done before that, you know. Then Permanent Vacation came out and they were relevant again. I had just never heard anything like that, or Licensed To Ill, and I was just blown away by some of the samplings and mixes that they did. So, that was formative to my music likings. You’re right about music at that age.
YS: Yeah, I think what was cool at that moment too was that a lot of those kids weren’t familiar with electronic stuff, they were more into hip-hop, punk and hardcore and if you watch that scene really evolve to where a person like Skrillex can be so massive because he’s been able to tap into that audience and the electronic audience. It’s pretty cool to kind of be on the cusp of that.
CJ: I read where you said, and I agree with this statement, that “we can’t all live in one space really and Facebook is already watering itself down.” I feel that way too, but what did you mean by that?
YS: Um, I can’t remember what that quote was from exactly, but for me, I guess, I’ve always thought of Twitter as a place where you’re surrounding yourself with people that you’d like to know and Facebook is a place filed with people that you used to know. The exciting part about Spotify, for me, is that it kind of has the perfect place in between those two situations where you may have people, friends, family members you may not talk to anymore, and you may not want to share personal photos with, but you can lean on them to discover more about them and their lives via their music collection. And that’s what’s kind of rad is that I have friends who I grew up with in the Midwest who are far deeper into like Country and Folk than I am and I can lean on them in a pretty impersonal way and be like “Huh…Hunter Hayes. I like this guy.” Or it can be someone that I’m extremely close with and I can then, you know, guide them via a message in their inbox or send them a playlist some of the stuff that I’m feeling that I think they might enjoy as well.
CJ: So true! I feel that you get to know someone so much better through their music catalog because music is so subjective. You don’t get to really know someone through a posed picture on Facebook of them aiming a camera at themselves in front of a building. That’s where you were, not who you are so I think that music speaks more deeply. You just summed up perfectly what Twitter does, what Facebook does and what Spotify does. I don’t know man, I’m looking forward to the House and the optical journey into the future of music. Is there anything else that maybe you should let me know about or at least prep Austin for?
YS: I think that you should just remind people that the Spotify House is going to be open every day the 11th through the 15th and that it really is a great intimate setting to just get away and experience some really great music.