FEATURE: CRNKN [+interview // free DLs]
I’m glad to give you guys a special contribution to Dubco from Nick Moreland. Follow him for Spanglish and tweets about pomade.
Last Thursday I had the pleasure of sitting at a table with an up and coming producer who’s making waves across the internet and bursting onto the scene. Gabe Baer has been churning out bootlegs and originals on Soundcloud under the name CRNKN for the last couple of months.
What started out as fun between him and his friends has grown into a legitimate profession. Having received support from Lazerdisk Party Sex, Aylen, and the Cataracts, among others, CRNKN is set to shed his humble New Hampshire digs for a big career headlining concert halls for years to come.
Gabe chatted with me before his show with Robotic Pirate Monkey at the Middle East in Cambridge where we engaged in gentlemanly discourse and fancy world play.
So where’d this all start? How were you attracted to EDM?
Senior year in high school one of my friends came back from Throwed or some shit and he played Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites in the car for a bunch of us and we were like, “Dude, this is awful. Don’t ever play this again.” But he did and we kept telling him not to. So, when I went home I was like I’m gonna give this a try because I feel bad when I don’t give music a chance. After two weeks of listening to the EP nonstop I was hooked. I was obsessed with it and it went from there. I hate the people who hate [on Skrillex]. That whole EP was produced in a warehouse on broken headphones like myself — I actually produce on broken headphones (Sennheiser HD 220s). I bought these really nice Sol Republic HDs and my dog ate them, ripped them to shreds, so yeah, now I’m back to shitty equipment.
What genres are you producing mostly?
Pretty much dubstep. I did a remix of the XX the other day, and I don’t even do house I just did it for fun I actually wasn’t even gonna release it, I was just giving it out to people for free because I thought it was cool and I thought other people might think it was cool.
So you’re just making music for your friends and for fun?
Yeah that’s how it started. I dropped out of school last year, went on a backpacking trip to Costa Rica and Panama for two months, and I came back and had a ton of free time. I didn’t have a job, I didn’t have any money, so I was like “what am I gonna do?” So I started producing for fun and putting it up on Soundcloud so I would have it forever.
What’s your game plan, where’s all this headed?
This is what I’m gonna do now. I hope by this fall to have an EP that makes waves and gets people talking. I’ve got a lot of shows this summer. I really want the number one song on Hypem. I’ve come so close but I just can’t get to number one quite yet. The XX bootleg only got to tenth, but I think I’m at number eleven right now with the Cataracts track. I did a remix of Dev with a friend of mine that got really high, like eighth or something. I thought I understood how the system worked, like it was based on how many blogs post it and how many “hearts” it gets, but I’m not so sure anymore.
You started working on the Cataracts remix three days ago, you released it last night, and it’s already nearly top ten on Hypem?
I thought it would go over well but I didn’t think it would go over this well. That keeps happening, like with my Justice remix, I loved it, I was really proud of it, but I didn’t think that people were gonna like it because nobody remixes Justice. Every time I do a remix I’m like alright this could be cool, but if I fuck it up people are gonna hate me. That’s what happened with the XX remix. Personally, I loved it, which isn’t always the case but that’s usually a good indicator for me like okay, I’m really proud of this. But I know how many people love that song and I was just scared because I didn’t want people to crucify me because I turned it into a prog-house track. But once again, it went over crazy well, and I feel like that just keeps happening.
You’re above Madeon’s new remix right now.
Yeah I saw I was above Madeon and Dada Life’s new song and I was like, “What? Really? Why?”
So that means big names have to be hearing your stuff now.
Yeah I’m gonna guess so. That’s how The Cataracts heard it, because their original didn’t make it onto Hypem. They hit me up today and said they like my song. That made my day, probably one of the coolest things that’s happened to me so far.
I had to drive with Lazerdisk all the way from Burlington to Bristol, RI so it was an eight hour drive both ways of chatting between them, me, and my manager. They were telling us how they won the “Horsey” remix competition and Diplo actually bought the track from them. They moved to Miami right after and he messaged them and was like here’s my number, come to the studio. So they went and did a song together for his EP called “Set It Off”. They gave it to me, so I’m like one of five people in the whole world who have this new Diplo song. It’s the little things like that that make it totally worth it. But yeah, Diplo is insane. If there is anyone that I will ever meet where I’ll be incredibly nervous it’s Diplo and the guys from Designer Drugs. For some reason they kind of scare me [laughs].
Moby actually just did an interview with them live from their stretch limo.
Yeah, I saw that. MVP is just a crazy guy. I was supposed to open for them this summer in North Carolina and the promoter got me in touch with them and Alvin Risk and they’re all in that Sex Cult group and they’re super intimidating. It’s like a legitimate cult and they drive in that stretch limo and wear black and are just scary.
I make all of my own drums so I don’t use any drum sequences. That’s actually my favorite part. I’ll lay out an entire track of just drums and then build a song around it. Like with the Cataracts remix, it’s super gangster with that huge, car-bouncing sub in the beginning, and I was like that’s so nice. So yeah, I started because of the drums and worked from there, which is generally the way I do things.
Every sound you hear in my songs is something I’ve spent a very long time working on. Since I’ve got so much free time everything I do everyday is about the music. I’ll spend a day making bass patches and synth patches because as everything becomes so popular there’s a lot of homogeneous crap out there. I saw this thing on Reddit the other day where someone said that it’s gonna be easier to find a DJ than a babysitter in 2013, and that’s so true because everybody wants in on this right now. Everyone wants to sound like Skrillex, so I try to spend time making things in a way that other people don’t.
On collabs with other artists:
I’m working on a moombah track with Aylen right now. I met him through a website called Turntable.fm because I used to play on there a ton, that’s how I met a lot of people at first. Usually you just start talking to someone about music, and he actually told me he liked one of my tracks, and I was like, “I love ‘Wayne Brady’, I just started working on this song the other day do you want to get in on it?” He said it was sick and to send him the parts and so I made all the stems, put them in a folder, zipped it up, and then put it in Dropbox. That’s how I feel it works for a lot of people. It makes it a lot easier to collab with anyone anywhere.
On his rapid success:
I feel really lucky as an up-and-coming producer and that it’s happening for me, you know? It’s not for a lot of people, because there’s so many [producers] out there. For every one person that’s doing well there are at least six who aren’t. So I’m really thankful to have gotten my foot in the door to the public consciousness through Hypem, and I had the number one song on Soundcloud twice [Ed. note - The Dada Life and XX Remixes], which is incredible.
On being the opener:
I’m paying my dues, this is what I’m doing. Being the opener is like being the dishwasher at a restaurant. You have to start as a dishwasher to work your way up to being a chef. You have to open shows to work up to headlining. And I actually have been getting headlining booking requests, some of them haven’t worked out, but it is happening already which is great because it shows me that I just have to keep doing what I’m doing. Lately more so than ever. My last three remixes have been Top 20 on Hypem. I put my Cataracts remix up last night and already, wow. the Internet is an amazing thing.
Thanks to CRNKN’s manager Steve and T.R.E.E. for having me out, and of course Gabe. Be sure to check his SoundCould this week for what should surely be another huge release.
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