GTA's Matt Toth and Julio Mejia Are Taking Over EDM From a Converted Dorm in Kendall
There's a loud, in-your-face sound coming out of Miami, making waves in clubs across America. It's got a hip-hop lean and sometimes a tropical vibe. It's dirty, sexy, and full of hype.
It's a raw sound, sought out by some of the biggest names in EDM. And it's coming from a modest converted dorm across the street from Miami Dade College in Kendall.
Matt Toth, 22, and Julio Mejia, 21, are to blame. They go by the name GTA. And though they don't regularly run amok in the street committing vehicular manslaughter on hookers and the homeless, Toth and Mejia's energetic blend of hard synths, funky drops, and hood swag will jack a dance floor and make the all hoes scream.
The young face of Miami's EDM scene could be almost anyone. With today's fast-paced and highly connected world of bedroom production, the tools and skills needed to build fat beats are accessible to everyone who's got the time. But it's these two relative up-and-comers stealing the show.
"Our whole thing has always been just doing whatever we think is cool. It could be house music, could be trap music, could be moombahton, could be polka. Whatever we seem to be into, we try to make that," Mejia says. "Just good music."
Essentially, they make whatever they want and most people seem to like whatever they make. We're talking big guys like Diplo, Afrojack, A-Trak, and Laidback Luke. These giant names all vie to work with the hyphy duo and release their tracks. Pretty much the coolest thing that could happen.
Ironically, the guys behind raunchy bangers "Booty Bounce" and "Shake Dem" aren't big party monsters. They're more the stay-in-and-play-video-games-or-hunch-over-a-computer-making-sounds kind of dudes. Before their first major release, Toth says he'd only played small college events in bars and hookah lounges. Now they're flying out to play HARD parties in Los Angeles and going on nationwide tours.
But all that traveling hasn't changed their partying habits.
"I personally don't enjoy going out to clubs all the time," Toth says. "The music has evolved into being something like a status kind of thing. I know there's a lot of bottle-service clubs and stuff. I don't really like that so much."
And because it's not "the life" or "the scene" that drives them, they have more time to log hours in Toth's apartment bedroom-turned-studio. It's not a glamorous place by any means. It's just a room with a couch, a table, a desk, a computer, and an Akai MPK49. Of course, there's the obligatory pair of turntables.
They "padded the walls" with a couple strips of foam, but they've still had cops knock on their door, asking them to turn it down. Apparently, not everyone knows what the kids on the third floor are up to.
Toth and Mejia make everything on FL Studios and work by email whenever they aren't holed away together. They take turns working on melodies and drum beats, creating synths and laying down the occasional vocal sample. They shoot the shit and hang out with Matt's cats.
They make music because they love it. It's a lot better than working shitty mall jobs, which is what they were doing, not that much else had ever been expected from them.
"We're still, like, kids," Mejia points out. And up until now, they've just been kids doing kid shit. Mejia only started getting into dance music over the past couple of years. It wasn't until he worked Ultra Music Festival 2010 with his cousin that he discovered the all-inclusive nature of the dance music scene and the vast opportunities for creativity within it.
"There're so many different types of genres within genres," Mejia says. "I started listening to a bunch of weird music and that's pretty much what attracted me -- the different influences that could be incorporated with it. You can mash hip-hop into it, you can mash Latin music into it."
A couple of band kids, GTA have a modest background in musical training. Mejia used to play trumpet in a local salsa band. Even that little bit of experience can be an edge.
"It helps as far as being creative," Mejia admits. "Anybody can get on a computer and learn software, you can learn what things do and stuff. But just to think of ideas that make up a really good song, whether it may be a melody or a drum beat or things like that, comes way easier if you learn the background."
These two know what works, and they push themselves to bring their unique flavor to the table. Instead of using prepackaged synths, they'll build their own. Instead of pigeonholing themselves into a certain trend or genre, they'll mix and match whatever sounds come out of their heads that day. The main goal is to make music for themselves and knock a crowd full of revelers on their ass. Just that simple.
"We want people to understand that our sound goes everywhere. We want people to expect that, but also be really clueless as to what we're going to do next. We keep people guessing, and keep it exciting for them, just as we keep it exciting for us," Mejia says.
"We don't know what we're gonna make next. We really just want to make people go crazy over it, whether it may be something that's like popular now or even if it's like next-level, this is the future and people aren't really feeling it now.
"But next week, it'll be like, 'Damn, fuck, what song is that? I love GTA. I'm gonna buy all their music now.'"
Deadmau5. With Chris Lake and GTA. Tuesday, January 1. Story Nightclub, 136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. The party starts at 11 p.m. and tickets cost $40 to $65 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-538-2424 or visit storymiami.com.
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