Drinking Beers and Talking Trance With Seven Lions
Don’t be fooled by the metal-inspired appearance of Jeff Montalvo, aka Seven Lions; he might be the kindest, most down-to-earth producer in the game right now. His relaxed demeanor could not be more different then his in-your-face, genre-clashing musical output. A tall, strapping man with model-like hair—who makes dubstep-infused trance more apt to head-banging then dancing—is taking the electronic music world by storm, one Guinness at a time.
“I drink Guinness during shows because I go all-out onstage,” Jeff says about the iconic tall can by his side during his sets. “If I drank IPAs, I would probably end up throwing up everywhere.”
Like many beer drinkers, Jeff has recently been smitten with Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin. However, if you ask the Lompoc, CA, native to go local, he says you can’t go wrong with anything from Island Brewing Company in Carpinteria.
Beer has played an integral part in his last tour. Much like during our interview at Spitzer’s Corner, a craft-beer bar in New York City’s Lower East Side, Jeff has been using beer as a way to bring some normalcy to situations that tend to be awkward. His Drinking With Strangers meet-and-greet campaign, which sees the artist connect with the fans at craft beer bars around the nation, has been wildly successful.
“Meet-and-greets tend to be very awkward. You throw fans in a greenroom with me, and everyone just stares at each other, afraid to say anything.”
Let us be honest: Whether you are meeting your favorite producer or going on a Tinder date, drinking a few beers never hurt the conversation. This simple yet genius campaign really gets down to the heart of the matter, which is that at the end of the day, our idols are just like us. Beer brings people together much like trance does. So, we got to the bottom of what makes Jeff tick over a few IPAs and A LOT of Beyoncé in the background before his sold-out, Anjunabeats-sponsored show at the Brooklyn Hanger.
“Meet-and-greets tend to be very awkward. You throw fans in a greenroom with me, and everyone just stares at each other, afraid to say anything,” Jeff says, taking a sip of his Easy Jack IPA. “After all, beer is the ultimate equalizer, and we found that fans were way more comfortable at bars and breweries then they were in a greenroom backstage.”
Ultimately, this campaign helped Jeff get to know his fans on a personal level. Gone were the nerves and anxiety we have when meeting someone we look up to (or in this writer’s case, literally any time he leaves his apartment), and in their place were a few rounds of beer and great conversation. The best part about it was that all fans had to do to win the contest was to upload a photo inspired by beer and Seven Lions. In a day and age when Guns n’ Roses is charging $2,500 for a VIP ticket that amounts to a signed poster and unlimited food, it gives us hope about the vibe of our scene when artists do things like this for free.
“I feel bad for the trance purist sometimes, because it seems as if he could be the type of person who eats a corndog every day for the rest of his life and be convinced that it is the best and only fucking food there is, and everything else sucks.”
“When you have it at a bar or a brewery,” Jeff says of Drinking With Strangers, “Your fans usually end up talking to each other, and it makes it feel like a communal experience. You have seven different people who, after leaving the event, usually become friends. They have common interests, and they all end up talking about festivals they have gone to or DJs that they have seen. It is such a cool thing; it is a great way to meet people. It makes the shows a little less robotic, because you get to go and see what the city has to offer and actually meet the locals.”
This theme of bringing a community together is a pillar of the trance community. Old-school kandi ravers and psytrance hippies alike congregate under a 140-BPM common ground, and it is hard to think of a more educated and dedicated—sometimes to a fault—group of fans out there (even in a city of more than 8 million people, #trancefam fans managed to find us in the back of a bar).
They are an uplifting group of people as a whole, though Jeff jokingly feels sometimes the trance family needs to chill the fuck out; his infusion of trance with dubstep has made quite a few purists scoff. “I feel bad for the trance purist sometimes, because it seems as if he could be the type of person who eats a corndog every day for the rest of his life and be convinced that it is the best and only fucking food there is, and everything else sucks.”
Contrary to his musical output, Jeff exudes a relaxed vibe that is refreshing in a time when Kill the Noise’s “I Do Coke With Feed Me”—a track whose name is as unoriginal as the 2008 French electro it is trying to rip off—is trending on Hype Machine and Beatport. A man whose perfect night out is staying in and watching Game of Thrones, and while touring Europe is more likely to be found at Disneyland Paris then at Berghain, he is the epitome of an anomaly in this scene filled with bottle service and bougie clubs.
These past few months have seen Jeff finalizing the remix package for his 2015 hit “Falling Away”; it will feature bangers from the likes of MitiS, Halogen, Zaxx, and Secret Panda Society. In March, be sure to catch Seven Lions doing his thing at Beyond SoCal.
Photo Credits: Chris Pierce
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