The first thing on our minds when reviewing Montalvo’s history was the challenge that comes from keeping the momentum of a remix contest win going. The answer he provided is easier said than done: “I’d say work your ass off and be persistent. Don’t get too caught up in…I don’t know, there’s a lot of shit that happens very quickly in the scene and I’d say if your main goal is to put out high quality music then you’ll be fine.” Sandwiching Metal, Electronic, and several other musical influences out of curiosity and extreme interest in creating a new universe, it’s clear that Montalvo is more interested in working diligently than indulging in the glitz and glamour of being a superstar DJ.
We’ve never quite run into a producer who is so enthusiastic about being controversial, and listening to Jeff talk about his upcoming music supported the idea that you really shouldn’t try to fit in when you were born to stand out. “Anybody who’s a stickler for genres is not going to like this EP. Which is okay, those people are going to go their own way. I am trying to cultivate a audience who likes all kinds of music, and actually likes music, you know…not just ‘I identify with this one thing because all my friends like it and that’s the cool thing.’ that’s what happens in scenes,” he remarks. The dance music scene in particular is seeing more and more style hybrids and unconventional influences than ever, but the climate does not seem to have become more overall inviting or open to it all quite yet:
That also happens in the Metal Scene: “I only like Black Metal” or, “I only like Death Metal.”
Even in Drum n’ Bass: “I only like Liquid Drum n’ Bass.”
Exactly! People just get so specific with it: “I only like Minimal Techno.”
Where do you think that even comes from? This specific taste for one kind of sound and nothing else?
Montalvo was quick to point out his thoughts that this close minded genre mentality seems to come from social stigma: the bare bones fact that some people cling to a style of music because they feel the need to fit in with people or stay true to a thought pattern that they reluctantly stick to. He points out how this does more damage to the person making these base judgements then the person they’re condemning: “The analogy I like to use is food, like ‘the only thing I eat is Green Beans, and everything else sucks…’ You miss out on so much with that kind of thinking.” As frustrating as that narrow mindedness is, it doesn’t seem to sway him from the path that he’s on.
You drink with strangers often, yeah?Yes. All the time.
Planning something in the spirit of but far less awkward than a meet & greet was the vision of Drinking with Stangers, which is done at as many shows as possible. A handful of dedicated fans are given the opportunity to speak with Jeff in a comfortable environment away from the craziness inside of the venue. “having people walk into the green room and shake your hand and say ‘Bye!’ Is really not…meeting people. But when you get a beer with someone you get a chance to loosen up boundaries.” The awkward walk down a long backstage hall full of possibly stressed out and jaded souls just to stand in a room, take a picture, and traverse said hall again isn’t the most desirable thing.
A quick pass through the door of a bar is a lot nicer, especially to meet people who all share a common interest- people who may become a part of your life subsequent to that meetup. “half the time, we’ll talk a little bit and then everybody else who comes will start talking and then they make friends and hang out…it’s a cool thing.” It only makes sense to gravitate towards someone who listens to what you do, especially if you’ve been inspired by the same feeling and imagery that Montalvo’s catalog represents.
Taking a closer look at the bigger picture of Seven Lions’ career, one can see the manifestation of a full fledged fantasy world. Everything in relation to his music is created in the spirit of stories that Montalvo puts time into following like Game of Thrones and, unbeknownst to us, works from Jhonen Vasquez like Invader Zim and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. “I just remember seeing [Invader Zim] and it had a very dark edge to it. It’s just a disgusting look at the human characters; they’re all slobs basically. It’s so depressing but so funny.” There are a lot of things that occupy Montalvo’s personal life in addition to TV shows he loves including his wife and dog, but none of these are things he’d put out on his social media. The reason why resonated with us:
I personally don’t want to be connected to my music. As a person, my politics and my beliefs and what I like has nothing to do with the world I’m trying to create. My music and what I do is all about escapism, listening to music and being somewhere else that’s not connected with the real world, and the less that I’m a part of that, the better. To be honest, I didn’t want my face involved in it at all.
Placing the work beyond themselves is an essential trait of an artist who’s head is in a good place and who’s music will remain genuine. It is a practice we’d love to see more of as Electronic Music continues forward with new producer/DJs and new fans looking for the right ideas to follow.