Wearhaus Featured Artist: MilkmanJanuary 26, 2015
Where rock stars seem at home in front of a massive crowd, DJs are much more illusive and hard to pin down. They do their best work behind their equipment, crafting magic out of music and keeping it under wraps until it’s perfect. But we discovered a much friendlier world when talking to DJ and producer Milkman, aka San Diego, CA native Gregg Luskin. Milkman has made it big as a festival DJ who crafts his own light show, but the Computer Science major is actually a chill dude who is pro-streaming music and knows his place in the EDM scene.
While it seems like endless DJs and EDM artists hail from the other side of the globe, Milkman’s Cali roots keep him gronded and we were lucky enough to chat with him between mixing. Read on to discover how many of his remixes are left on the cutting room floor, what he thinks of all the EDM sub-genres and how being a theater kid left an impact on his live shows.
Wearhaus: You hail from California and EDM is so international. How does being from the states affect you?
Milkman: I wouldn’t say it affects me, more so it is a talking point. When people find out you are from the states, they are like “Oh, there are people from the states that are producing electronic music!”
They are so used to people from France and Norway and England but there are a few of us stateside guys and the few of us that do it over here all know each other at the festivals because we’re the guys that don’t have an accent.
You mentioned playing festivals. Do you consider the best way to digest your music live at a festival or is a house party is just as good?
I like to think both but definitely a live experience has more power and has more feeling to it. At every show, I jump in the crowd and I get so involved with the crowd that it’s a whole different experience than just listening to my music. My live show is just an insane whirlwind of music. There really isn’t one thing that goes on for more than 30 or 45 seconds at a time, it’s always cool, new, weird stuff.
We read you do your own lighting at shows. What inspired you to go above and beyond and craft your own visual show?
I have definitely always been intrigued by the whole stage production. I actually used to be in theatre when I was little kid and I used to think the guys that did the stage lighting were so cool. But it’s no secret that a DJ up on stage isn’t a whole lot for the attendee to look at so I think electronic music, more so than any other music, a visual aspect is pretty important to get accross the feel.
You aren’t there with a guitar or anything. When I used to be in a band, you could come to the front of the stage and do a guitar solo. I kind of like to put the emotions into the music and lights equally and the only way to really do that is to do the light show myself. When you are going to a different venue for every show and working with different lighting guys, they don’t know your set, they don’t know your songs, they don’t know what you like to do visually. When I want something super impactful, I can hit the strobe and blast out lasers but at the same time when it’s time to bring it down, more mellow colors, the blues and the purples and more not strobey stuff and it really does make a huge difference with the live show.
You played Made In America last year; it’s such a genre-bending festival. Does playing shows with different acts inspire songs for you to remix?
Oh, totally. I mean festivals are a great place but really any place where you are exposed to new music that you normally wouldn’t have access to or wouldn’t have heard of before, that immediately expands your musical horizons. Any time someone shows me a new band, even if it is completely outside my musical pallet, it somehow has an influence on the music that I make. It’s the sounds I use and how I orchestrate and arrange my productions.
The Made In America festival, for example, was a great experience. I was walking around and saw so, so many cool, new bands. I got to hang out with Gary Clark Jr. for a little bit and that just completely opened my eyes about why am I not doing more guitar stuff, I’m a guitarist. For my new album right now, I am doing tons of guitar stuff so that is an example of festivals changing my genre boundaries.
EDM is broken down into so many subgenres. Do you think that helps or hurts the scene?
My music varies widely across the EDM genre scale so I’m a firm believer that subgenres can classify anything but when it comes down to it, it is just music. It doesn’t even have to be dance music. A lot of people listen to EDM music not even to dance, they just like it so I think in that sense, it hurts the genre as a whole because some people become so attached to their sub genre that they aren’t open to other genres. I know a lot of people in the electro house, electropop area that won’t have anything to do with dubstep and it’s like ‘Why not?’. You can have a little taste of everything.
But at the same time, it is really great because if there is one subgenre you are really into, for me it’s electro house and progressive house, then you have a whole sub community of people that are all into that one sub genre with you, so there are pros and cons.
But all in all, you don’t hear these subgenres with any other main genres. There is rock or alternative or indie but within all those, there is tons of subgenres also. Like are you going to compare AC/DC to Muse? No, they are completely different but there isn’t proper classification. But I think it’s a little overdone in EDM.
On the idea of what makes a song remixable, how often do you start mixing something and don’t finish?
It is so rare that I start something and actually like the finished product when it comes to remixes. I am so picky with my remix stuff. I would honestly say that maybe 5% of the remix stuff that I start out with actually gets released. I did a couple remixes the past couple months and I just wasn’t happy with the way it turned out. Every now and then, there is a song that I hear and I just know — I have an immediate idea and I know that I can remix it and it will take me a day for the first draft. Then two days later, the song is done. Some of my biggest remixes out there, that is how they came about. Those ones are the best.
It’s when I start with nothing and am not sure where I’m going to go with it or how I want to approach it, then it turns into a couple weeks. I have spent months on a remix before that didn’t even come out.
You released Reboot as a Spotify exclusive. That positions you as pro-streaming while a lot of artists aren’t. What about Spotify drew you towards something that often pushes artists away?
Well there is a number of things about it. The first thing is that I am a huge tech guy. I was a Computer Science major in college and I love all new tech. Whenever there is a new product that makes something easier for everyone, I am all about it. I am also all about music so when you combine that into something like Spotify, I love it. I think it’s great you can have almost every song in the world in your pocket, on demand whenever you want. And then on the other hand, you have music sharing which is probably the coolest part.
I have public playlists and I can send a note out to my fans saying ‘Hey guys, I updated the pre party playlist, come check it out’ and I know my fans can check out the new music that I am into and I do that with several playlists. I personally am a huge proponent of streaming versus buying music. I don’t want to buy music, I don’t want to have to keep it on my phone to take up space. So to me, it just made sense to do a Spotify exclusive.
What’s your favorite kind of cheese?
I have to say melted in anything with a tortilla. I’m a SoCal guy so I’m all about burritos and quesadillas. Anything Mexican food is definitely my favorite.
Categorized in: Artist Interviews