Max Armata (AKA Yahtzel) has the kind of laidback yet enthusiastic attitude to music that you’d expect of a dude who wants to use his passion to accumulate big crowds and collaborate with fellow fun lovers. After speaking to him, it comes as no surprise that he was so keen to launch into the Carmada duoship with Drew Carmody (also known as L D R U). Armata spoke to us about their progress as Carmada so far, who they’re listening to, and their aspirations.
How was the show this week at Stereosonic?
Well, this weekend was actually a DJ set at Stereosonic but it was awesome. The crowd response was phenominal and it was great to be in Brisbane which is a second home to us. We had a really good time and a really good show.
Before that, you took over Triple J with Jack Ü, RL Grime and WhatSoNot. [Check it in the gallery above!] What was that like?
That was awesome. Those guys are massive legends, they’re really helpful and more than happy to help up and coming producers so it was more than an honour to be a part of that and be in Triple J which I’ve listened to all my life. For both me and Drew to be in there and actually take over with artists that we’ve looked up to for a long time.
Did you get to talk with some of those other artists much?
We did. Throughout the time, everyone was just sort of getting around and just chilling out and talking and networking, I guess. So we got a good chance to chat with everyone and they’re all really nice people so it was a good crew.
Does it still feel like networking when it’s about something that you’re so passionate about?
I guess it makes things go a little easier. It doesn’t feel like work.
Is that something you’ve strived for as a musician? Wanting to make and create and earn a living out of it without it feeling like it’s weighing you down in that sense?
Definitely. Making it to the point where now I can do this as my work and live comfortably without having to work a week’s day-to-day job is probably the biggest dream of the whole situation to me because I get to do what I love. Both of us. When I say this, I’m speaking for Drew as well. To do what we love every day as an actual job is just the best thing in the world and you can’t ask for much more than that, really.
Realise EP Did you expect the to debut at number 1 on iTunes?
The response we had from that was absolutely incredible. We were sort of really stressed through the time of making it over how we thought it would sound and how we thought people would respond to it. To get such a good response in the end and to have the backing of a lot of great radio stations and a lot of great people like yourself who are interested in us and who are interested in our music. I don’t think we expected it to just ever go that big but yeah, we’re stoked.
You also reached #1 on Triple J’s singles charts. Do you think you guys have stumbled across a broadly appealing sound or formula?
I think we respect that we work really well together. We respect each other’s traits and how we compliment each other and all that sort of stuff but a formula, no, I think it’s moreso having that friendship and good times and through that comes good music.
So you guys were friends before you came together as Carmada?
Well we met probably a year and a half ago now in Brisbane at Oh, Hello and yeah, we met and had a bit of a party in my hotel room and got thrown out and nearly got thrown out and so we sort of met then and ever since then, because we’re on the same artist management team, we started playing more shows together and as it progressed, we made a single together and at Splendour in the Grass where we played together as L D R U and Yahtzel, I think that’s when we decided to lock something down and try and achieve that type of crowd again in a more common setting, I guess. To play crowds that size more often, that’s what our dream was when we played that set. To do that more often.
So you get a rush out of the attendance element of the performance then?
For sure. 100%. It’s a rush like nothing else.
You mentioned that you two met in Brisbane and just before you called Brisbane your second home. What is it that draws you to that city in particular?
I guess it’s the people, the clubs we’ve played there and the people we know there and it’s just a city we’ve been so well looked after and so well received in. Yeah, to me, I an’t speak for Drew on this one but Brisbane is definitely my second home to Sydney.
Caramada sounds like a blend not just of your individual EDM niches but of a lot of electronic genres at the moment but it’s definitely a blend of influences.
In the EP, I guess we tried to cover as much ground as we could within in our respective comfort zones so there’s songs in there that are trap and there’s songs in there that are, like, 1/10, almost moombahton type beats with weird trappy sounds as well and then there’s the song ‘On Fire’ which is more ummm-
Boom bap beats with a kind of nu-disco feel?
Yeah! It’s got more of a trancy feel with hip-hoppy drums. There’s a lot of spices in the rack and it’s hard to sort of just pull one off and say ‘this is it’ because in that EP and what we’re trying to achieve is sort of something that’s versatile. We want our genre to be “versatile beats”, basically, if i could call it anything.
How do you resolve balancing a collaborative project with your own solo output?
It’s been hard because the last three months have been completely swallowed up by Carmada in the studio. We haven’t had much time to get back into our own stuff but now, luckily, the last two weeks since everything’s been finished and we can relax, we’ve both been starting to pick up our old sets and start sending each other music again that’s just solo. That’s going to pick up again. I have a lot of planned singles for Yahtzel, I know Drew does as well so L D R U has something planned, too. It’s all going well and there’ll be lots of music coming out from both of us.
What inspired the Carmada camping party?
It was just a funny idea. We had a tour and we sort of had this weekend in the tour where we wanted to do something that was a bit fun and a bit quirky for the fans and I was just sitting there one day and I thought “Boys, why don’t we just come to the coast where I live on the New South Wales south coast and come down camping and I’ll just set up a massive big campground?” We have really nice campgrounds on the beach. So I set up a massive camp with my mates and all the guys came down and we had a massive big campout with competition winners. It was really fun.
It all went well?
Yeah, it was awesome. We had a really good night and we had a DJ deck set up and speakers set up, it was awesome.
You’ve managed to secure a couple of nice festival spots as Carmada. Do you have a dream festival you’d like Carmada to play?
My dream festival would probably be, if I had to speak for both of us, I would say Coachella. If we got a really good spot at Coachella, we’d both be over the moon if we got that. That’s the one I’d have to lock in.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I’m listening to Jan Driver. He’s a producer from Germany. He’s really underground but he just makes these mad beats, they’re sort of housey and pumpy with a lot of compression and it’s super thumpy, cool music that I’ve been into for a while and I always listen to him. Me and Drew collectively at the moment are listening to a lot of Slumberjack, Kilter, I guess Skrillex and those guys.
Slumberjack are starting to blow up a bit.
Yeah they are, they’re killing it. They’re two really cool dudes. It’s cool to see more legends out there because we get to run into them all the time which is fortunate.
There’s a lot of positivity that seems to be emerging amongst Australian eDm acts.
Definitely. There’s a lot of positivity in the scene and it’s really booming and there’s a lot of young legends out there supporting each other so it’s a really good industry to be in. It’s a good place and a good time right now.
You can catch Carmada at Mountain Sounds festival on February 21 at Mt Penang Parklands, Sydney. More info here!