What So Not: “When we started the project the scene was the absolute worst it got to”

When inthemix sent a writer along to cover one of What So Not’s recent club dates, the review came back prefaced with an admission. “Having heard of the carnage that had ensued along the route of What So Not’s ‘Massive Universe Tour’ to say I was apprehensive about this show would be an understatement,” it began. “I may even go as far as to say that I was genuinely scared for my life.” Word of What So Not’s tendency to inspire “queues from midday”, “floating sound desks” and “sweat pouring from the ceiling” had, evidently, got out. In the couple of years they’ve been doing this, Chris ‘Emoh’ Emerson and Harley ‘Flume’ Streten have certainly earned their reputation for raucous club shows (and with this particular night ending up with Chris peeing behind the decks, it’s safe to say it’s one they they regularly live up to).

So it’s little wonder Stereosonic decided to bring the boys on the road for its 2013 festival tour. Come November, What So Not will be heading around Australia’s as part of the “greatest EDM line-up Australia has ever seen” alongside everyone from Dog Blood to Armin van Buuren. It was a savvy booking, because the pair haven’t just been killing at their shows – on the production front, they’ve just been signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA label and dropped their very-nicely-done EP The Quack. So with 2013 looking like What So Not’s year, we got Chris Emerson on the phone to talk Sonny Moore, the rebirth of the local scene and the Flume thing. Here’s how it went.

So tell me about the OWSLA signing, how did that come about?

I’m not actually 100% sure. I know my manager sorted Blood Diamonds out to help us to develop one of our songs in a way that would be internationally appealing. So he had all the parts and was working on it and kind of made his own version. We ended up going with our own version and having someone else help us mix it down and beef it up a bit, but I think he’s on OWSLA and played it to Sonny who was like “what is this track, I want it”. But also, Sonny’s been across Harley as Flume for a while and around that same time, Harley got in contact with Sonny and was like, “did you know I’m half of What So Not too?” And Sonny was like “oh no way, I just heard that track, give me everything”. So it was a natural development from those two instances.

What do you think it’s going to mean for you guys day-to-day? How much is it going to change what you do?

I guess not too much. We’re still doing everything we were doing before and writing and creating things in the same way. It will just open doors for us more in America and give us more of a presence. And Sonny is so enthusiastic about music and about what we’re doing, he’s posting it up on his own page when we put stuff out. Which is really great, to see someone so on the ground and so involved with the artists he’s signing and helping to push forward.

Do you think it will mean you’ll play more shows overseas? I saw you have some dates in San Diego coming up…

Yeah definitely, we’ve already had two American tours that had to be put on hiatus because of back end issues. But there’s definitely big demand and we know that as soon as we get there, there’s plenty of shows that are more than willing to have us and promoters that have been trying to get us for a long time. So I’m really excited to head over there with OWSLA, that’s just the icing on the cake. We can really push up the level that we’ll enter into when we get there.

On a more locally-focussed note, I read an interview of yours from last year where you said that What So Not came out of the desire for better music because you thought that the scene was being bogged down by unimaginative line-ups, generic DJ, promoter DJs and an oversaturation of club nights. How do you feel about the scene now? Do you think it’s changed a lot in the last couple of years?

Yeah, so much. When we started the project the scene was probably the absolute worst it got to. And without being too biased, I credit a lot of it to the spiralling acceleration Flume has had and young producers aspiring to that kind of sound rather than commercial stuff. There are just so many Australian producers sending me stuff every week that’s on that electronica tip, it’s deep house, it’s like Disclosure. It’s not people just sending really basic Dutch house bangers.

What year was it that you thought it was at that real low point?

It would have been like late 2010, early 2011.

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