By: Pedro Acosta
I want to take you back to a time when dreams filled your head, and the world seemed brimming with possibilities; a time when your courage was unending, and creativity overflowing. It’s odd to acknowledge that with age, many people lose sight of this perspective of the world, by doing away with their “silly dreams” to adjust their focus to more “reasonable” exploits. Fortunately this “reasonable” mindset isn’t shared by everyone, in fact, many young kids are doing the complete opposite by pursuing careers in electronic music.
In order to further explore the idea of youthful aspirations coming to fruition, a series of interviews with six international artists under the age of 21 were conducted. We asked them about any opposition they’ve faced, their ‘No Turning Back’ moment, education, and advice for aspiring producers.
For many, the idea of pursuing the arts at such a young age seems naïve or silly, but to these artists it is no joke. They take their craft very seriously and receive a lot of support from their family and friends. Although, this support is also mixed in with some skepticism and questions of validity because ‘who really makes it in the music industry?’ This cynical view is a cliché that has no effect on these musical creators because they make music to express themselves and ultimately, to follow their dreams.
Fortunately, no. I never experienced a conversation with my parents suggesting me to quit doing music or something like that. They support me and my dream even if they don’t like this kind of music.
My parents stumbled into the dubstep that I made years ago, and they liked it, but I haven’t showed them my “DIVINE” project yet. I’m really self-conscious about my music, so I’m waiting until something big happens before I show them.
My parents and my girlfriend have shown me support time and time again throughout the past few years, and continue to do so to this day.
My family has always been very supportive of my music, but have never really believed that I'll make it professionally. But as time has passed, I feel like they've started believing in me and my music more and more.
My friends and family have fully supported my ambitions from the get-go (including my music career). They, however, raised effective questions towards the validity of my “music career” and these questions definitely created internal conflict towards my own decision making… This constant conflict of questioning was a hard hurdle for me to get over, but music is something I do for fun, not for others.
I would say that there tends to be a little bit of a skeptical attitude towards the idea that I can actually make this a full time career eventually. I think some people try to stress to me that I should take a “safer” path and sort of go the “typical” path of education, getting a job, and maybe just doing music on the side while I do all of that.
I completely understand where they are coming from, but at the same time, I feel like life is too short to always take the safe route and not follow your dreams.
II. NO TURNING BACK
As a young artist, a musical journey can be long and treacherous, but this noble quest seems to be fueled by milestones or moments that give artists the perseverance to continue. These moments can come in all shapes and sizes, but some prove to be incredibly meaningful to the artist. These moments can cause a replenished dedication to their musical ventures or even a realization that there will be no turning back from their life of music. We asked our young squad about their ‘No Turning Back’ moments and many were able to pinpoint exact moments in their careers when everything changed.
November 13th of last year. I spent the entire week before the 13th finishing up my XIII EP. I barely slept, but I promised everyone that it was gonna be out on Friday the 13th, so I had to keep pushing. After I released it, the messages and comments on the EP really blew me away. Seriously. I have never received such a positive response from anything before.
I’d have to say that the love I got from everyone who supports me is what pushed me to keep going, as well as the support from my friends Brothel, Jerry, and my best friend. I’ve never considered myself a producer, but at that moment, I knew that I had to keep going, I had to keep creating. There’s no telling where this project can go now.
Until late December last year, I had no motivation to continue making music or follow my dream. 2015 has been the best year in my whole career, it made me know that if you work hard, you will reach your dream. The ‘no turn back’ moment was when I got my first EDM.com release or when I got my first 40,000 plays on a track.
When the Denver based agency Sub.Mission reached out to me, is however, when I saw a possibility of having music as a career and I really haven’t looked back since. It’s honestly an amazing feeling to perform, or to see others play your own music out and it definitely had been an interest of mine for a long time. Seeing the crowd react in videos sent to me of Algo, Haunta, Dubloadz, Symbiotic, D-Jahsta, Bukez Finezt, Midnight T, jPhelpz, Trollphace etc; really pushed me to pursue playing shows myself, and to strive to make music that I’m actually stoked with to put out and perform for others.
The summer after I graduated (High School), I won 3LAU’s remix competition, and it opened my eye to the fact that maybe I could have something going for me here. I still don’t think that I had really made the switch that told me that I wanted to actively pursue music. Once I entered college as a journalism major, it really made me realize that I wanted to go down a different path. I found myself working pretty much day and night on music, and there was just some sort of switch that went off telling me that this is what I wanted to do with my life. Clearly, I still have a long way to go to get to where I would like to be, but I’m ready to just keep working as hard as I can and hope for the best.
For me the 'no turning back' point was when I realized I was failing school and music was the only thing that I was okay at [laughs].
Even though many of these artists have experienced the ‘No Turning Back’ moment in their careers, society expects them to be in school. Many of them are still enrolled in college or high school and see it as a great opportunity to expand one’s mind, but most of them believe education is “not necessary” at a certain point.
I think it goes without saying that a high school education is extremely vital to the development of a young adult; though I cannot necessarily say the same for college. A degree can surely help you secure a job, to have that concrete proof that you have at least some qualifications has proven to be very helpful for many. Though I think in the music business, a degree isn't necessary. I'm obviously biased considering I've just dropped out of college to focus on music, though I'm hoping to prove this thesis right.
Definitely not necessary. I know many producers that have found success without the help of academic education. However, I feel that a formal education will make things easier in the long run. Formal education has taught me to pay attention to details, such as when looking at contracts. It has also shown me many options that are available in the music industry, as well as in the rest of the world. Sometimes school will get in the way of producing, but that’s life.
Everyone has their own opinions about formal education but in my opinion, school at one point it’s useless. You MUST do elementary school to get to know the basic notions of your maternal language, mathematics, chemistry and all the other courses. But, I don’t see school’s point when you reach high school, I think that we should get a system where the student chooses what he want to do and not be forced to do other useless courses with useless notions.
Though finding a job you like is possible without school, going to school is really helpful, so I recommend you do it for as long as you possibly can.
I was a good student in high school, and really focused heavily on getting the best grades I could in all of my courses. However, I felt at times like that wasn’t necessarily the greatest thing. A lot of kids get too hung up on letter grades, and really let it weigh on them heavily. I think there is more to education than that. It is a place that you can really discover who you are and what you want to do. With that being said, everyone has a different path when it comes to this. Some have career goals that require them to obtain a college degree, and there is nothing wrong with that. At the same time, there are some who feel as though they need to step away from education and pursue their other passions, and that is also a great thing.
I’m currently a student at MacEwan University, and I am studying a degree in business with full intentions to finish school with my major as Marketing. I do consider education very important, but music is at the center of my life right now, and I don’t want either of them to negatively affect each other’s progress and I find it hard to find a good balance. I just think people should decide what is best for them, there are times that I think I’m too ambitious with music but I also kind of regret jumping right into school. I initially chose business because it’s applicable to a lot of things, and I think a marketing degree may be beneficial to my music.
Despite their young age, these artists have been around the block a few times. Throughout their careers they have experienced up and downs, but at the end of the day they are fulfilled. These teenager-tweens are creatively supporting their dreams and people are recognizing them for their talent. That being said, we wanted to give our group the opportunity to offer advice to aspiring artists and this is what they had to say.
My advice to young producers would be to just be yourself and try to find your own sound. Produce to express yourself, don't just produce for the sake of producing.
I think patience is a key trait that beginner producers (and really everyone) should embrace. When I first started out, I had no idea how much time and effort you have to put in to even learn the basic ins and outs of the software you use. There is so much that you can learn, but it doesn’t happen overnight. One other key thing that I feel is very important is not to put too much too pressure on yourself. Everyone has a different story and a different journey to get to their goals, so if you trust that you are putting in the time, I don’t think there is a need to put huge amounts of pressure on yourself.
Follow your dreams whatever happens. I’ve been through hard times this year and earlier years and, honestly, continuing to follow my dream was the best decision I ever made.
Always strive to learn and improve. Most of what I know today is a result of messing around with my DAW for hours. I’m still trying to get my mixes cleaner! Never stop creating. Get involved with the Soundcloud community, and make friends through the internet. A lot of the friends I’ve made online have proven to be more useful/supportive than the ones in my personal life. Watch tutorials all over the internet. They don’t even have to deal with the genre of music you’re trying to make. Tutorials will help you learn about the tools you have in your DAW. Stay humble. Learn an instrument if you can. Express yourself with your music. Be different. Push boundaries. Never be afraid to reinvent yourself. Most importantly, never give up.
Take continuous feedback from others, put your own time and effort in, and above all: have fun making music. To some, putting out music may look like a competition with others, but it should never be a competition! You should prioritize cooperation with others, networking, and making friends and learning from what they do well. I owe a lot of my own improvement to the criticism of others (producers or not), and I have benefited greatly from just hearing an impressive track that I can’t fully grasp from a technical perspective and over-analyzing it.
Work hard every single day. Do not allow your fears to inhibit you from growing and moving forward. If you aren't working as hard as you possibly can, ten other artists like you will gladly take your spot.
Collectively this group of young artists has developed a following of about 62,000 people and have racked up millions of plays. They have collaborated with the likes of Mr Carmack, C Y G N, Phiso, E-Hide, Doja Cat and have gained recognition from institutions such as THUMP, Firepower Records, and Sub.Mission. Below you will find the names, ages, hometowns, and Soundcloud pages of these inspirational musicians.
Angel - October 13th, 1995 Salem Oregon
Harris Cole G. - September 2nd, 1996, Highland Park, IL
Justice S. – October 17, 1996, San Rafael, California
Scott G. - November 6, 1996, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Olli S. - March 7, 2000, Kirkkonummi, Finland
Miron D. - October 1, 2000, Babadag, Romania
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