New Zealand production duo Mt. Eden (AKA Harley Rayner and Jesse Cooper) are perfectly emblematic of the sensational overnight success today's young EDM stars enjoy thanks to viral online exposure.
Take 2009 breakthrough hit, "Sierra Leone," which received tens of millions of YouTube views before it even got an official label release.
"It changed our lives," the pair tells Crossfade.
"The other songs we posted on YouTube were doing well too, but 'Sierra Leone' shot out in front of the others. We are really grateful for what happened with 'Sierra Leone' because it has been a springboard for us to get out of New Zealand, get to America and really immerse ourselves in the scene over here. The bookings have sustained our business and kept us going for 4 years now, whilst working on new original music, and taken us all over the world."
But Mt. Eden also represent a major post-millennial shift in the way electronic dance music is experienced -- no longer a soundtrack for dancers grooving on the dancefloor, but for stadium arena spectators. This shift is especially evident in dubstep, which was was once heard in small underground sound system parties in the UK, but now tops the bills at all the major US music festivals.
"Dubstep can really be heard anywhere," claims Mt Eden. "The experience basically depends on who is listening and what head-space they are in. In our opinion the 'big room' sound is one that is simple and clear because, put simply, that is what sounds best in big rooms, because of all the echoing and reverberation. We always strive to make our music simple and clear but that is not necessarily for the way it sounds in big spaces. Rather, we like it simple because it boils a song right back to its raw, essential elements -- nothing is there that doesn't absolutely need to be there."
Of course, Mt Eden's productions are also pointing to dubstep's evolution into an epic stadium arena sound with the duo's cinematic live orchestral interpretations of the genre. They even recruited Grammy-nominated conductor Larry Gold to write string arrangements for "Sierra Leone", along with a string quartet and live drummer to bring their dramatic dubstep sound to life onstage.
"Ultra Music wanted to repackage and release 'Sierra Leone' officially, for the first time, to reintroduce us to our fans," they explain. "We had worked with violinists before in the recording of several of our tracks, and while touring in New Zealand, it was something that was really popular and we enjoyed.
"We came up with the idea of doing an orchestral version of 'Sierra Leone' that we could play live and also release as part of the 'Sierra Leone' remixes EP. Ultra was onboard, and when they suggested we get Larry Gold to compose, arrange, and score the orchestral version we couldn't have been happier. We were already fans of his work with Kanye West, Jay-Z, Common, Justin Timberlake, etc. and couldn't really believe he wanted to work with us."
Mt Eden's live show at Grand Central on Thursday might be the last chance you get to catch this act playing a mid-sized venue, because their future live performance goals are nothing short of epic.
"In the future we will be experimenting with stage designs, so hopefully the big room will come into play with that," they promise. "If we could play anywhere in the world it would be the crater of Mt. Eden in Auckland, Red Rocks in Denver, or the Shambhala festival in Canada's West Kootenay mountains."
So what to expect on Thursday?
"We always try to make our sets as dynamic as possible," they promise. "We play a set based around our own original and unreleased tracks, remixes of our tracks by other artists, remixes we have done ourselves, tracks we made on the way to the show on the airplane, etc. We move through several genres and tempos and always try to interact with the crowd a lot."
Mt. Eden and Figure. With Caligula. Thursday, May 30. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $20 plus fees via ticketfly.com. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
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