Following the release of “Ride The Train” featuring Dance With White Girls, we interviewed Astronomar about his music and working behind the scenes in the industry.
Astronomar has been a pioneer of the underground electronic music scene for over a decade. His latest single, “Ride The Train” featuring Dances With White Girls, just came out on Ultra Records.
He first gained traction as a DJ/producer after his remix of “Go Deep” by Wax Motif and Neoteric blew up in 2012. Often working on the A&R and label management side of the industry, he created the Main Course record label in 2013 alongside Neoteric and Bot. Astronomar now works closely with Walker & Royce’s ‘Rules Don’t Apply’ collective and IN2ITION, his new label with Sinden.
Astronomar recently performed at Dirtybird CampInn in Orlando and the July 4th Weekender in Chicago. To celebrate his first release of 2022, we talked to Astronomar about his production style, his experience releasing music, and his advice for DJs and others getting started in the industry.
You just released “Ride The Train” featuring Dance With White Girls. What do you think makes your style of house music unique?
One thing that makes my style unique is how rudimentary my process is. I don’t use MIDI or many plugins. I just use stock Ableton plugins and audio. So I’m manipulating a lot of waves – that’s kinda my vehicle to get where I want to go. It’s a lot of destroying audio and putting it back together. Lately, I’m having a lot of fun with Corpus. It has a great resonator, and you can get some interesting stuff out of it.
In addition to your work as a producer, you are also involved in the A&R side of several record labels like Walker & Royce’s Rules Don’t Apply. What does an average day look like for a label manager?
Basically, it’s making sure that all the parts are moving as they should, like checking that artwork is coming in on time or that artists and managers’ schedules don’t conflict. It’s kind of like zooming out and orchestrating things from a birds eye view.
You’re also label manager for IN2ITION records, which was launched on 2-22-22. What we can expect from IN2ITION?
It’s a label that Sinden and I started. The idea is to keep it lowkey. We just want to release music that we love. We’ll probably keep releasing 3 tracks at a time like we did for IN2ITION 001 and 002. It’s basically dark, trippy, groovy, techno & house.
I read in another interview that demos you receive have to pass your “5 second test”. How do demos get your attention?
I think it’s important to have a short, to the point email. Not just a Soundcloud link though. Introduce yourself in a sentence or two, and then link to the music. That’s what it’s all about. Usually, I can tell right off the bat if I like how it’s sonically designed. For example, if I like the drum intro, I listen for if that vibe carries throughout the entire track.
You created the Main Course record label in 2013 with Neoteric and Bot. It had many successful years but the label has not been active since early 2020. Do you see yourself revisiting Main Course?
We did Main Course for almost 10 years, and we’ve been inactive now for about the last 3 years. We kinda just naturally grew forward in life. We went in different directions, but there’s still a lot of love there.
We’re actually talking about officially putting the label to rest soon. It’ll still be live on streaming platforms, but we’re not putting out any new stuff…other than one last song that I’m working on with Bot and Neoteric.
Bot was formerly part of the legendary electronic music duo Crookers. How did you first get connected with Bot, and what are some of the most important things you’ve learned from him?
I learn stuff from him all the time. Crookers literally changed my life. I was living in Alaska around 2007/2008, and I was just starting to scratch the surface of this new dance music movement. I was completely obsessed with Crookers, and I was also a big fan of Switch.
I knew about Neoteric because he was an active hip-hop DJ in Vancouver, and I went to school there. Eventually, I found out that Neoteric did A&R for Switch’s label. I was totally fanboying when I learned that. And it ends up, he was also managing Crookers. It was crazy…everything I was obsessed with was in front of me now. It was a weird divine path. I was originally from Alaska, and there was no scene there, but somehow it all worked out.
What is some advice that you would have for people that want to create their own record label or get involved in the music industry?
You have to really love it! You always have to give it everything and have attention to detail. If it’s your passion, you kinda have to live that life to make it real and let your dreams happen in an organic way.
I think that every day, you’re choosing your path and creating your own destiny by your interactions and deciding what to give your energy to. It’s a bigger picture, but you also have to get lucky. You have to wake up with a good mindset and make things happen on your own in life.
What do you love most about DJing?
My favorite thing is sharing music that I know people haven’t heard before. I’m lucky enough to have access to a lot of really dope music from really dope artists. It’s my favorite thing to share music that I’m obsessed with. Most of what I play is my friends’ unreleased stuff and weird demos. I’d say about 90% of what I play live is unreleased.
What’s one piece of advice for producers trying to make that jump from their bedrooms to festival stages?
Be open to hearing new things, and be aware of what’s happening around you – socially, culturally, and musically. Understand where you fit in, and don’t force things. Develop positive connections and relationships. Focus on your music, make sure you’re 100% happy with it, and make sure it’s representative of what you want to do and where you want to go.