Miami's GTA on Their Debut Album, Good Times Ahead

Walls and borders seem to be the topic of discussion for old, orange gelatinous politicians these days. But the new generation exists in a place where physical walls have no meaning: the internet. Those same politicians have worked to group people together into neat and tidy boxes – boxes filled to the brim with people they can spend advertising dollars on. But the internet has steadily been chipping away at the notion that large swaths of people are monolithic drones with stagnant interests.

Producer duo GTA stands as a testament to the idea that people and music no longer belong in boxes. Born Matt Toth and Julio Mejia, the Miami-bred GTA have taken the music world by storm with their unique takes on everything from hip-hop instrumentals to big room house. Their ability to bob and weave through sound has earned them a global following, a tour with Rihanna, and collaborations with everyone from Diplo to Rick Ross.

Next up is GTA's debut studio album, Good Times Ahead, set to drop on October 7 under the Warner Bros. Records umbrella. The video for the lead single, “Little Bit of This,” which features a bouncy flow from rap heavyweight Vince Staples, has amassed hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube since its release on September 15.

The album, a concise ten-track project with contributions from Jarina de Marco, Tinashe, and Iamsu, is the latest endeavor for the duo devoted to the “death of genres.” At its best, the album is vibrant, sultry, and tailor-made for a night out in Miami. It’s stands in stark contrast to the festival-ready bangers that catapulted them to some of the highest reaches of the electronic music world. Perhaps inspired by their recent environs, the production on Good Times Ahead feels like a nod to L.A.’s growing movement, often described as “future bass.” In turn, GTA provides a percussive twist on a sound popularized by LAKIM and a slew of artists under the Soulection banner. 
Over the phone, Toth and Mejia sound self-assured (and maybe even a bit relieved) about Good Times Ahead. “We’re happy we put together this body of work because a lot of electronic albums are not cohesive,” Toth says. “We had a ton of tracks we took off the album to make sure the album came together right,” Mejia adds. “With this album, we tried to break the boundaries, expand our comfort zone, and showcase our skills as producers.”

Still, even with their eyes fixed on the future, Toth and Mejia cheerfully reminisce on their humble beginnings in Miami.

Mejia and Toth, Honduran and Cuban respectively, don't downplay the influence their family and the city’s Latin identity had on their early musical leanings. “In Miami, as kids, we listened to all kinds of Latin music — salsa, bachata, reggaeton — and it’s always been a major influence,” Mejia says. 

“A lot of the rhythms we use now — the drums — they are very much based on salsa and merengue,” Toth concedes. 

Miami childhoods spent listening to salsa legends like the Fania All-Stars and Miami rap icons like Trick Daddy helped spark a shared interest in producing, albeit independently of one another.

As teenagers making beats in the same city, a mutual friend introduced Toth and Mejia to each other and the rest is history. “We met up, talked about music, made our first song, and the friendship — as well as the work relationship — has been working pretty well for the past six years,” Mejia says. 

Having played around the world, the two laugh a bit as they reminisce about their first gigs. “We started out spinning at places like Oasis, [a hookah bar in Coconut Grove], and Reno’s in Gables,” Toth laughs. From there, GTA eventually moved on to bigger venues like Grand Central, LIV, and a residency of sorts at famed underground dance party, SOS. Their big break? In Mejia's opinion: Rihanna. 

“We got invited to open for Rihanna on a European tour,” he says, his voice rising an octave as he finishes his thought. “We started looking at ourselves differently.”

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Jorge Courtade