This interview was featured in NightCulture, Issue 1.
Interview by Brittany Slipko.
California-native Jeff Montvalo, better known as Seven Lions, has been dominating the market with his diversified collection of EDM tunes for quite a while. Entering a DJ competition in his early twenties quickly turned into a whirlwind career as a prominent DJ and producer. At the beginning of his career, Montvalo jumped on an opportunity to remix Above and Beyond’s “You Got To Go” and with no surprise, he was chosen as the top producer. His career immediately launched him into the fast-paced world of EDM with festival stops at EDC, SXSW, and UMF.
Fast-forward a couple of years and Seven Lions is now known as one of EDM’s most buzzed about artists. With the release of his latest LP, “The Throes of Winter” and a fall tour, Seven Lions is taking 2015 by storm.
NightCulture: 2015 was definitely the year of the Lion. As festival season closed out not too long ago and your new EP has made waves all summer, looking back, what was your most memorable experience on the road this summer?
Seven Lions: All the drinking with strangers at the meet and greets have been pretty memorable. We’ve met some awesome people this year and had beers in pretty cool places. Aside from that the show at Webster Hall in New York where the vocalists came out to perform was next level.
NightCulture: Do you find it more or less difficult writing and producing while on tour? What inspires you to write while you’re on tour?
Seven Lions: It’s pretty much impossible to work on the road so I just wait until I get home. Honestly, it’s quite a struggle for me. It seems like once I became a professional musician my time to sit at home and get in the zone has gone down quite a bit. Whenever I have 3-4 days at home it’s full on studio time.
Seven Lions – Lose Myself ft. Lynn Gunn
NightCulture: You’ve mentioned before that EDM is going down a path of monotony and becoming more basic and less special. As an artist, what do you do to make sure that your music doesn’t become like that? Do you believe that writing from the heart eliminates that a little?
Seven Lions: Well… What I’ve learned so far is that making music for a dance floor is very limiting. When you sit down to write a song for a big room of people and think, what does it take to make this smash, you are locked into a pretty specific formula. Generally at parties, people want to know what’s happening next or at least be able to dance to something and not feel like an idiot. The hard part is figuring out how to make something new and interesting that fits into those confines, which is what I try and do sometimes, other times I say fuck it and make something that isn’t meant for a dance floor at all.
NightCulture: Your music is very intellectual and is composed very well. Growing up, were you a trained musician? How did you learn to compose? Was it mostly self-taught?
Seven Lions: I’ve never learned to read or write music, my dad tried to teach me early on but I always just wanted to jam instead. My dad is actually an amazing musician. He plays guitar, drums, bass, flute, sax, harmonica and he sings so we always had instruments around the house to play with.
NightCulture: In your opinion, how is EDM/dance culture changing? Do you think it’s for the good or the bad? Do you feel the same way about festival culture?
Seven Lions: I started going to raves in 06-07 and I really loved it. 09 me and my wife went to Burning Man and that really blew my mind and we kinda faded from the rave scene after that. Now in 2015 Emma and I will sneak back out into the crowd every now and then (esp at EDC) and party. To be honest, nothing has changed. The only thing that has changed is the production value is higher. Promoters like Insomniac have really gone nuts with building something epic and worth exploring. Music wise, the only thing I can say that seems different is that everyone is riding the wave of what the new cool sub genre is. Flavor of the month.