Ah, tequila, burning like a raging inferno of poor decisions as it glides down the gullet. But the blue agave beverage isn't used only by college kids for nights of debauchery. Fifteen pushups and a shot of 1942 Don Julio are the winning ingredients behind GTA’s success onstage.
"It helps to get a little blood flowing — gets you all hyped up," explains Matt Toth, half of the dynamic DJ duo that makes up Good Times Ahead, or GTA. Julio Mejia is the other half, and he says the routine is a way to chill right before a set. "We started doing it during the Rihanna tour," Mejia recalls. "We were so nervous about playing to these huge crowds for the first time, trying to think of things we could do to shake out the nerves and stuff."
And shake out the nerves they did. Miamians by origin and sound, Toth and Mejia have since worked with Diplo, Calvin Harris, A-Trak, Tiësto, Kylie Minogue, Deadmau5, and others. You might know the two thanks to the Billboard chart-topping club banger “Intoxicated” (which they mixed for Martin Solveig), or maybe you’ve heard their trap/hip-hop/electrofusion vibe on Skrillex's remix of "Red Lips," featuring Sam Bruno. Either way, GTA is packing loads of clout in the electronic music scene, and it shows in the star power attached to their tunes. Take, for example, Rihanna. Her 2013 Diamonds World Tour was teeming with big-name opening acts, and GTA was one of those thrust into the glittering spotlight.
With hundreds of thousands of fans of their own, Toth and Mejia confess to being “nervous as hell” when meeting Spotify's most-streamed female artist of all time. But the admiration was mutual, Toth says: RiRi even requested they stay on for the second leg of her tour. "She's the
Connections like that don't stop there for the guys of GTA. Diplo himself put the duo on the map in 2012. Toth and Mejia had met in 2010 through a mutual friend, and their first hang session resulted in two key discoveries: Collective admiration of System of a Down was the first. "Matt picked me up in his car blasting System of a Down," Mejia recalls, "and I was like, 'Yo, I love this band. I know every single song.'" Their second finding would change their musical paths as they knew it: Together, their beats were unstoppable. Afrojack must have thought so too, because barely a month after Toth and Mejia began, the Dutch DJ got in touch with an offer to sign their first collaboration to his label, Wall Recordings. Requests to work on tracks poured in from there. Following a 2011 release endorsed by Laidback Luke, Diplo invited GTA to feature on the EP Express Yourself and later asked the duo to sign to his recording company, Mad Decent.
As with Rihanna, Toth and Mejia were avid listeners of Diplo’s music before they worked with him. Mejia, in particular, has a relatable story about his evolution from fan to peer of the star-studded producer. Pre-GTA days, Mejia's initial encounter with the American DJ was at one of Diplo's concerts. "I found my way backstage somehow and literally waited around, and Diplo came up and said hi and took pictures. That's how I met him." He says Diplo casually mentioned in conversation that he went to South Plantation High, an arbitrary fact that later won Mejia tickets to another one of Diplo's shows in a University of Miami radio contest. "From there, it's been pretty crazy how we've both reconnected at random times."
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"Unreal" is how GTA's dudes define their celeb-studded journey so far. "Five years ago, we were just fans to a lot of these guys: literally going to shows, getting tickets, waiting in line, you know," Mejia says in disbelief. "And now they're in our emails, hitting us up, asking if we can mix."
Twenty-seven years young and with new music on the horizon, Mejia and Toth are on the road in support of their latest EP, La Nueva Clásica. Diplo & Friends on BBC Radio 1 played all of the new album's tracks as part of the EP's international release on October 19. "We've been really wanting to put together a project that's focusing on our roots," Mejia says. "This project is really honing into the Latin aspect — you know, being from Miami and being involved in Latin music." Growing up in the 305 meant Ultra Music Festival was also the first fest both guys ever attended,
Dope tracks such as "Botellas" (featuring