As someone who is constantly on the lookout for new American talent, when I first heard murmurs of Flite being one of the next artists to break out of the States I was shocked that he had practically flown under my radar. Since then I’ve been following his rise into the conversation. When we received the advance copy of his debut EP on Liquicity a couple months ago, we were in the middle of a string of shows and at our Webster Hall stop, a NYC mega club that is known for having a broad audience we (The Burner Brothers) played two cuts from Flite’s The Cure EP and they went right the f*@k off, everyone in the club was vibing super hard to these tracks! At that moment, I knew I had to have a chat with Flite to find out more about him, how he got here and what he has planned for the future. He is one of America’s rising stars and everyone should get to know his talent! – DJ Seen.
Hello Mr. Flite, for the folks out there who are not familiar with you and your talents, please start with telling us a bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Justin. I’m a 22 year old producer and composer from Virginia, and I’ve written music as Flite since early 2011. I’m also a partnered broadcaster on Twitch.TV, where I live stream my production and composition sessions. Along with writing Drum & Bass, I write music for videogames and film, and am eagerly expanding that area of my skill set.
How and when were you introduced to drum and bass?
I found my intro to Drum & Bass around the time Dubstep was becoming popular in the US, at probably 16 years old. People like Skrillex and Flux Pavillion introduced me to bass music, and I was really energized by it. I began listening to UKF Dubstep and UKF Drum & Bass, hearing people like Zeds Dead, Chasing Shadows, and Datsik. Eventually I was looking for more music through the iTunes charts and found myself buying Pendulum’s Immersion album, which I fell in love with. The Deluxe version included a remix of Witchcraft by Netsky, which I really enjoyed. This lead me down the rabbit hole of Liquid Drum & Bass, introducing me to producers like Fred V & Grafix, Logistics, the Hospital Records sector, and many others. I was totally in love with it after that and began trying to make some of my own, and the rest is history.
Who were your favorite artists at the time?
My absolute favorite tune at the time I discovered Drum & Bass properly was probably “The Fountain” by Pendulum. I grew up with a punk rock and metal phase, but I always enjoyed bands that had a hard sound but were tastefully melodic. The contrast was really enticing to me, and finding Pendulum was a perfect introduction at the time. Some of my other favorites included Nero, Sigma, and London Elektricity. Hearing the Apex remix of Just One Second made my life complete for a few years, I really enjoyed that one, and I think these set the pressure on to dive deeper into the history of Drum & Bass, which I am relatively new to.
When did you start producing and how did you get the bug?
I started producing about a year after discovering electronic music and becoming interested in DNB and rave sound. I had previously been making music for years with keyboard workstation as well as midi notation software called Anvil Studio. Combined with my love for the piano, marching band, and playing trumpet in a jazz band, I was hugely interested in music. Appropriately, having full control and being able to write things myself was right up my alley, and I dove in headfirst.
Being new in the scene and getting your name out there can sometimes be tough but you have managed to break thru with what seems very little hassle. Can you tell us what was your thought process to getting your music heard?
Getting your name out is definitely tough, even getting a little support is hard these days with so much content happening from thousands of people every month. And it might seem like I broke out with little hassle, but I suppose I found a crack and decided to pry it open so-to-speak. I’m really persistent with a lot of things and music is definitely one of them, so when I found a place like Liquicity and liked the sound, I got to work making music that they would react well to. I think I literally took the last 5 tunes they uploaded and compared them all side by side to my tune, and the production and songwriting held up. They consequently loved the tune and to this day it has 270,000 hits and a successful VIP. I don’t really believe in luck in the music industry; you’re either going to impress the right person or you won’t, and usually it’s because you didn’t prepare enough or in the right way. Sometimes you get second chances, but that comes down to making good business relationships. In my mind, if you make the right kind of noise, the right people will notice that can get you farther in your career. Promotion networks and discovery outlets are super accessible right now to small artists, all it takes is a little digging for emails and sending a proper submission. Promotion channels are so successful that they’re turning into labels and out-doing major record labels in some cases…Monstercat is one of the most successful indie electronic labels out there and they began with YouTube. Breaking through in the internet age is probably easier than ever, but keeping your momentum and competing with thousands of younger producer’s means you need to actually stay unique.
What went thru your head when you had your first song signed to a reputable label?
I think the first song I signed to a reputable label was Colorless, which had an awesome release. Galaxy of Dreams 2 was an amazing compilation, and Colorless did really well because it was so different. However, I think my first real release as Flite, ‘Featherfall’, was a solid introduction to the big time drum & bass community. It was my first UKF upload, one of three so far, and really helped me begin connecting with bigger audiences and labels, because UKF felt really exclusive to big artists. That was probably the first time I had the thought, “Damn, I could take this seriously” run through my head.
How did your relationship with Liquicity begin?
My relationship with Liquicity began probably around 2010 when I started listening to Netsky and Fred V & Grafix. Eventually I found music on their channel that I started to love and take inspiration from, and that led me to submit my own music. I remember getting super nervous when I sent them music over AIM and seeing them actually write replies to me. I started to get to know the founder, Maris Goudzwaard, and we began working together more often after the upload of Blue Spark. Liquicity’s community is amazing and so full of love, people are very excited and accepting of the music, it’s a hugely uplifting community and has been for years. That’s why I think they’re so successful, because they encourage new talent and grow artists. People like me went from being regular listeners to guys getting hundreds of thousands of hits in uploads per year…They’ve got my full support going forward, and I would love to see them and help them facilitate work in the US!
You have a new EP out now that has been tearing down dancefloors worldwide. Can you give us some specifics about it? How long did it take to produce, what were your influences and what do you hope to accomplish with the release?
My debut EP ‘ The Cure’ has been out for about a month now, and I am super pleased with how it’s been received! Amazing feedback from a lot of my favorite artists, some big firsts like a Mr.Suicidesheep upload, and lots of great opportunities coming around, it’s felt super rewarding. As for the production phase, the actual content took about 200 hours to produce, but the demo fine tuning, campaigning and other things surrounding a big release took ages. I wrote almost all of the music while broadcasting live on Twitch.TV, so it was encouraging to watch people’s reactions to the parts I was writing. I was really going for a collection of uplifting, euphoric pieces that took the listener to an environment unique to the music. I view music as an emotional language, and when I write music, I hope to communicate in a way that will move people’s moods and imagination. I think I achieved that, ‘The Cure’ tells a story within the 4 tunes I have. I think it’s a good example of what I represent as a musician, but I am pushing myself to experiment as much as possible in the future. What you hear today will not sound like tomorrow!
What is next for you? Touring schedule? Are you as comfortable behind a DJ set up as you as behind a DAW?
Next up for me, as always, is getting better in production and expanding my live shows! I am really interested in getting more shows in the US this year. Most of my listeners are from the states, and I would love to connect with them more in a live setting. I’ve been working on bootlegs and originals that people will not expect coming from me, so I can’t wait to play them out. While I am definitely most comfortable in the studio, once I get into it at a show I feel unstoppable. Sometimes I feel like it’s easier for me to get gigs in Europe than it is to get them in the US, but I really hope to change that soon. Like I said, I just need to make the right noise.
Make sure to catch Flite at the Liquicity Weekender! More info and full line up here: https://festival.liquicity.com/
Any last words? Shouts etc?
I just want to say how thankful I am to my Twitch community; without them I would not be able to do what I do full time and focus so much on music. You guys are awesome, and you make me love doing what I do. Shouts to the industry professionals who gave me a chance when I was young; I look forward to tomorrow’s challenges and can’t wait for the new opportunities around the corner! Thank you Seen & the DNB VAULT!