Wooli Wraps Up Destination Tour and Talks Ophelia Records [Interview]

One of dubstep’s most recognizable names, we interviewed Wooli about the ‘Resurrection’ EP, working with Creed, and his advice for aspiring producers.

Currently on another headlining tour across North America, Wooli has quickly earned a reputation as one of the top artists in the bass music scene. With multiple collaborations alongside Seven Lions and Excision, Wooli has achieved his dreams and worked with some of the artists that made him fall in love with electronic music.

Adam Puleo released his first track as Wooli in 2016 after several years of attending festivals and EDM shows. Mostly known for his heavy style of “briddim” dubstep, he has also released more melodic tracks on Ophelia Records. His 2021 Resurrection EP featured collaborations with Kompany, Codeko, and Trivecta, and a vocal performance from Scott Stapp of Creed.

His latest headlining tour, the Destination Tour, features opening acts like Trivecta, William Black, Calcium, Ace Aura, Jiqui, Soltan, Ubur, and Shank Aaron. For most tour stops, Wooli plays a house music set when doors open to encourage fans to come early and support the openers.

The Destination Tour started on November 6 in Buffalo, New York, and ends February 26, 2022 in Spokane, Washington. We talked with Wooli after his house set at Chicago’s Concord Music Hall about the tour, recent collaborations, his best advice for upcoming artists, and more.

We’re sitting here in Chicago at Concord Music Hall, where you just finished your house set to open the night. In our last interview at North Coast, you mentioned that you started as a house DJ in Rochester, and you produce tech house sometimes. What is it like to play house after being so focused on making dubstep?

It’s cool. It depends on the night, though. Playing house music at a sold-out show in Chicago is a lot different than playing it in other markets. Sometimes, I’ll get flashbacks of being a local opener and warming up the room. I used to do that for the tours coming through New York. They actually had a rule at some venues where if the headliner was a dubstep guy, and you were a local opener, you weren’t even allowed to play bass music.

Do you think one day you’d pursue house music under a different alias? Or do you think this will stay solely on the Destination Tour?

I’ve always thought about a different alias, but that’s not really in my immediate plans. I like making house, but it can be hard to get people in that vibe. When you’re going to a dubstep show, you’re expecting a different energy than what you get in a house set. Luckily, I have amazing fans that are open to all of that stuff. I’m fortunate that they allow me to go up there and have fun.

The supporting acts for this tour include Trivecta and William Black. Did you handpick the opening acts yourself?

100%. Trivecta is someone I’ve always really loved. He’s so talented, and I still feel like he’s underrated. I had him on the Voyage Tour, and I’d love to have him on my next tour too, but I think he’s kinda past that level. His career has been growing like crazy.

William Black is one of the most hardworking melodic producers I know. He has albums and albums of music, and it’s all so effortless for him. And if you meet and talk to him, the music just makes sense. We did “Nothing Left” together on Ophelia Records a few years ago. We’re close friends, so it’s a no-brainer. I wanna have people that I know will be fun on tour, and aren’t only there for the party.

Do you not really drink when you’re playing these shows?

I very rarely drink. Will doesn’t drink either. Sam [Trivecta] will have a drink or two, but no one’s getting sloppy drunk. We’re drinking Yerba Mate, Muscle Milk, and coconut water. There’s alcohol on the rider, but I don’t really touch it. I had some health issues earlier this year so I try to stay away from alcohol completely. I don’t really like being drunk and not in control.

Your most recent EP, ‘Resurrection’, was just released on Ophelia Records. I think we need to talk about working with Scott Stapp from Creed on “Light Up the Sky” with Trivecta. How did that feature happen?

That still doesn’t really feel real. Sam and I started it during quarantine during a Twitch live stream. We had an intro going, and I was going through a big Hans Zimmer kick, so I went in and I dialed in some strings to make it sound like an orchestra.

We’re always really inspired by big, anthemic moments, like in Slander, Seven Lions, and Dabin’s “First Time”. I was always playing this old hardstyle edit of “Zombie” by The Cranberries, and we were inspired by that, too. When we were trying to decide who to get to sing on our track, we jokingly said Creed, and my manager actually reached out to them. We couldn’t believe it when they got back to us.

What about “Crazy” featuring Codeko? It’s a pretty unique collaboration. How was it working with someone from a different genre?

He does have some more classical stuff, but recently he’s been collaborating with a lot of electronic guys like Tritonal and Adventure Club. I got the vocal for that track a long time ago. I was working on it, but I couldn’t really get the drop to click and forgot about it for a while. When Codeko got the vocals from my team, he really figured it out in his own way.

It was a unique experience. Codeko put down a good foundation and I put the finishing touches on it, which is the opposite of most of my collaborations. It was cool to be on the other side of the coin this time. We also did the orchestral remake, which is something we don’t usually get to do – work with a 48-piece orchestra.

How was that experience working with the orchestra…and the cymbals?

I was a percussionist for wind ensemble when I was in middle school, high school, and a little bit of college. I was always into percussion and music. I haven’t done anything like that since, so it was fun to play with an orchestra again.

The other two tracks, “Resurrection” and “Fight Milk” with Kompany, show off that signature briddim style. What is it like working with Kompany after all of these years?

Me and Kompany have such good synergy when we work together. Our songs usually are cheeky and meme-y enough where they gain some traction and they’re fun to play out for a lot of people, like “Briddim Bomb” and “Thicc Boi”.

We try and do one song a year. Same with me and Trivecta. I don’t even care if one of us stops making music…we’re still gonna hound each other to do that one track a year. It’s a tradition at this point.

What has your experience been like working with Seven Lions and Ophelia Records?

They’re definitely some of my closest friends right now. We’re always talking to each other and giving feedback on each others’ songs. I really like the family they’ve created, and what Jeff has done with Ophelia is really great. I see Ophelia doing things that most other labels aren’t doing.

For example, I really like how selective they are with the music that they put out. Each individual artist and release doesn’t get watered down, and I love the family vibes they created. Sometimes we’ll go on trips and mini-vacations together, and I’ve never done anything like that with other labels.

A few months ago, you played your first solo set at Lollapalooza here in Chicago. Also, a lot of your merch is influenced by the Chicago Bulls logo. Would you say this city has played a big part in your career?

Definitely. It’s always been a city where you know you’re gonna have an amazing night with amazing energy. Lollapalooza – I knew that one would be crazy – but not like that. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Really? Because of the huge crowd and the skyline?

Yeah, but it’s also a different crowd. It’s a multi-genre festival, and there’s a lot of people who might not even know who you are, but they’re just turning up in the crowd and going crazy. I kinda realized what I was getting myself into when I started to play some more melodic stuff and everyone was still moshing. 

But you know what? I respect that. I dig it. There’s something to be said about that kind of crowd. And I mean, I’d look around backstage and see some dubstep DJs next to Megan Thee Stallion and Tyler, The Creator. There’s artists there with millions and millions of followers that you never really think you’d cross paths with since you’re making such different music.

With 2022 just getting started, what do you have planned later this year that you can share with us? Are more collabs or festival announcements on the way?

Oh yeah. There are a few big festivals that are supposed to happen, but I can’t say yet. Some of them are international bucket list festivals for me.

Looking towards the future, where do you see your career going in the next 5-10 years?

I feel like my goal is to stay one step ahead of the curve. You don’t want to be the guy chasing the curve – eventually, that’s gonna catch up to you. I wanna make some cool stuff that I’m happy with. It might not be the most popular thing right now, but it resonates with the crowd and paves the way for a new direction. Kinda like what Ace Aura and Calcium are doing with their melodic riddim and future riddim stuff.

Lastly, what’s one piece of advice for producers trying to make that jump from their bedrooms to festival stages?

Try to get your music up to a level where you know your favorite artists could play your music in their sets. That’s the best way to get your name out there – support from other artists.

And I know it can be hard not to be bitter sometimes…the way this industry works, it doesn’t always reward you as fast as you would want it to. It just takes time. You really have to trust the process. Be patient with it. Keep on making good music, and eventually, everything will fall into place.

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