First of all I'd like to say thank you for doing an interview with Infidel Netwerk. We appreciate your time, and music, and hope to hear much more from you in the future. You can find Trent Johnson on his official Soundcloud. Where he has been releasing music for the last 3 months.
theProphet: To start things off why don't you give us a bio/rundown of your name, where you live, and how old you are, and how many years you have been making music?
Trent: My name is Trent Johnson. I reside in Huntsville, Alabama (United States), I am 20 years old, and I have actually only been producing music for 6 months now.
Do you find that where you live, and the culture you participate in, to be an influence on the music you make?
I love my city, however, the music scene is very poor here, and the electronic music scene is pretty much non-existent. So I wouldn't say that the city of Huntsville has had much influence on my music. However, the culture that I participate in has an overwhelmingly strong influence on my music. I try to keep myself submerged in the electronic music scene nearly at all times. I frequently travel to catch electronic shows, both big and small, whenever I can. I am always listening to new music, focusing in on different styles of production that I try to incorporate in my own productions.
What are some of the major bands that influenced you? Do you have any particular band that you have a story about that connects you to your current journey in music making?
There are so many bands/artists that have influenced me over the years, but the one that sticks out to me the most is Daft Punk. I first heard "Da Funk" from their debut album "Homework" when I was eight years old (2003). This was the first time I had ever been exposed to electronic music, and I absolutely loved it. I have been a fan of the French duo ever since. In 2008, Deadmau5 released his track "Ghosts 'n' Stuff. This was another track that I instantly fell in love with. Around this time, the United States was on the cusp of its EDM boom, so this was when I really started to appreciate electronic music, and I was always trying to find more and more awesome tracks. Fast forward to 2014, and I had just discovered the young talented duo from Seattle, Washington known as ODESZA. Their music is so incredibly unique, and it really stuck with me. Last year I got the chance to see them live. My friends and I waited in the rain for hours so we could be the first in the doors so we could be in the front row. It was a truly mind blowing experience. To this day, I have yet to experience such an intimate and emotional show at an electronic concert. When I learned more about the duo, I discovered that both started making electronic music when they were studying at university, and both had minimal previous music experience. Their story really inspired me, because if they could go from being broke college students to selling out a world tour in a matter of a few years, why can't I? They were the band that inspired me to actually fork up the money for all of the software and hardware I needed to get started.
Is electronic music where you started making music? Or did you have previous musical background or experience before hand? If so does/did your previous musical experience effect your electronic compositions?
I played the trumpet in my middle school band for one year, and that is really the only previous music experience I would really count before I decided to try my hand at the electronic production world. My neighbors and I would have little jam seshes when I was younger, and I was usually the singer, but we were terrible honestly. Which is why I wouldn't count that. I don't think any of my previous musical experience influences the music I make, however, I have made a few orchestral pieces just for fun that I haven't released, and don't really plan to, but my some of inspiration for that may be from my band years.
Other then what you currently produce, what other sorts of genres, instruments, and sounds would you like to use in the future?
I would really like to produce some rap songs in the future. I'm not a fan of mainstream rap at all really, however, I really love some of the more electronically influenced rap songs. I really enjoy Danny Brown's song "25 Bucks" produced by Purity Ring, because you get the aggressive vocals of Danny combined with Purity Ring's dark, yet soft production style, and it smashes the boundaries between the two genres. Everything that I have produced to this point have multiple synthetic elements, however in the future, I may experiment with a more organic sound. Something that sounds like it could have been created without a computer.
When you sit down to write music, do you have a certain type of instrument or sound that you gravitate towards first (like bass, drums, or melody), or do you find your process is more on a case by case basis?
It depends on the type of track I'm trying to produce. If I'm making something that is more of a trap style, I'll start by making drum loops, If I'm making house music, I experiment with sounds and then create a melody, If I'm making a deep house track, I'll start off with a bass line, etc.
What sort of musical gear and/or software would you consider to be most valuable to your production? With my current setup, I'm running Ableton Live 9 paired with Native Instrument's Masssive VST plug-in. I have an Ableton Push and an Akai APC Key 25. I also recently purchased Dada Life's Sausage Fattener plug-in. Each piece plays a valuable part in my production process, because each one gets used frequently. FL Studio 12 was actually the first DAW I gave a chance, but I moved on to Ableton and have never looked back. I love my Ableton Push. It does everything you could ever ask a midi controller to do, and more. I use the APC Key 25 to write melodies often, because I like the traditional feel of the piano. It also has a 5X8 launch clip grid that helps me with the flow of my tracks when it's time to put all of my jumbled creativity into an actual song arrangement. If I had to pick a single piece of hardware that I consider the most valuable to me, it would be the Ableton Push, hands down.
Do you have any other musical projects that you are involved with, or do you have any other musicians or artists that you collaborate with in some capacity?
I have collaborated with my friend who produces under the moniker "Ghost Prose" a couple of times, and we plan to do more collabs in the future, but as of right now, we only have one track published on SoundCloud. We have another finished song that we don't plan to release until later this year, as we plan to release it alongside a couple other tracks we are currently working on.
If you could collaborate with any musician or artist, dead or alive, who would it be? And what in particular draws you to want to collaborate with them?
If I could collaborate with any artist, I think I would pick Porter Robinson. His album "Worlds" is one of my favorites of all time. His music is heavily electronic, yet he does an incredible job of evoking emotion through his music. In my opinion, he is a pioneer in the electronic music world because he uses production elements that no one has ever seen before, such as singing a duet with a robot in his song "Sad Machine." It would be an incredible experience to get to work alongside him.
Are live shows an important part of your career? Or are you predominantly a studio musician? If you could play a live show anywhere in the world/do a tour anywhere, where would it be?
At this point in my career, live shows are not yet a thing. If I were to do a live show right now, it would have to be a DJ set because I don't have enough material to perform a full live show. Plus, in my opinion, my music is not where it needs to be in order to perform a live show right now. So I am strictly a studio musician at the moment. If I could play a show anywhere in the world, I would pick the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado. It is such an iconic venue for electronic music, plus it is just a beautiful place.
Do you have any themes or topics that you find frequently inspire you when you are creative? Sometimes when I am making a track, I will have a specific theme that I am aiming for, and other times I just make a song I like and let others tell me how they interpreted it.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?
I think the biggest challenge for me so far is overcoming external negativity and believing in myself. Most people find it ridiculous when I tell them I want to be an electronic music producer, especially since I have only been actively pursuing this for a little over 6 months. I have learned to channel external negativity and doubts into fuel that drives me even harder towards what I want to achieve. Some of my friends are extremely supportive of my dream, and I appreciate them dearly. Another challenge is not being lazy. Some days I'm extremely excited to get in the studio and start writing music, and other days I have to drag myself in there, but once I sit in front of my computer and start hammering out notes on the keyboard, it doesn't feel like so much of a chore after all.
Have you had any particular moment(s) that you would like to share, that you would consider to be a crowning achievement in your musical career so far, or moments that you would say truly continue to inspire you to peruse your artistic path?
Honestly, I would say that you reaching out to me for this interview has been the coolest part of my musical career thus far. Because that tells me that my music is getting out there, and people are listening and being receptive of it, which I think is so incredible. Even if my current reach isn't much, my music is still getting into the hands of total strangers who are being greatly accepting of my work, and I am so thankful for that. Not to mention, this is a Canadian blog, so I already can say that my music is reaching others internationally less than 3 months after my debut release. That has a nice ring to it.
What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output? In the future, I would like to work with vocalists more to add some more emotion to my tracks. I also would like to do some remixes. I'm still trying to discover my style, and I have made it my goal to release a minimum of 12 tracks in 2016, so hopefully by the end of the year I will have a solidified style that will be my signature sound in the distant future. I have already released 3 songs this year, so I am definitely on track to make that happen!