25 year old multi-genre producer from West Michigan.
Hometown: Mattawan, MI
Currently Living: Kalamazoo, MI
Origin of Name: My friends used to make up words that sounded like “Gavin” a lot. It started out as “Babbin” and then somehow got shortened to “Babz.” It kinda just stuck after that.
Weapon of Choice: Serum, french press coffee, and some PBR.
Source of Power: Skrillex, Kill the Noise, and Excision were huge influences to me starting out. Haywyre, Porter Robinson, Rezz are some of my favorites, too. I really enjoy what Boombox Cartel has been putting out recently; their latest EP was insane.
Link to Discovery Project Mix Entry:
What advice would you offer someone thinking about entering the Discovery Project competition?
Just go for it. I found the competition on the last day and wasn’t planning on doing it, because I didn’t expect anything to come from it. I made a mix super fast, because I was late for work, and just sent it in with one of my songs. [I] got a phone call a few weeks later saying I was picked. If I hadn’t tried at all, I’d probably just be playing some video games instead right now, or something. So, yeah, just go for it!
I’m pretty late to the electronic scene. I’ve listened to Daft Punk, Pendulum, and some deadmau5 for a long time. But when I heard one of Excision’s Shambhala mixes and Skrillex’s Bangarang EP, I totally fell in love with the scene. My first electronic show was Skrillex at Bonnaroo in 2012, and it just blew me away. The week after I was back, I became super interested in DJing and started doing that in 2013-ish. I picked up producing in 2014 when DJing just wasn’t enough for me; I felt like producing would be much more rewarding and satisfying. I started watching YouTube videos all the time and just messed around in Ableton and finished a few (bad) songs that November.
I really started taking it seriously when I saw the remix competition for Party Thieves & ATLiens’ “Chief.” I made the remix in about two hours and submitted it. I was picked as one of the finalists, which made me think maybe I should start putting more time into this. I don’t like most of my older stuff, but my EP I recently put out is something I’m proud of, just because I’m slowly getting better at translating my ideas into a song without having it sound too terrible. Overall, I’m a pretty expressionless person, so having music as that avenue—where I can somewhat put emotions into a song—is a pretty good feeling.
Was there one particular moment in the recording or mixing process for your Discovery Project entry that made you feel like you were creating something pretty damn special?
It was the last day I could enter, and I knew I wouldn’t be out of work in time to make a mix after, so I really didn’t have time to think about the details or anything. I just made a mix without any second thoughts and just turned it in—which I think helped, because sometimes I overthink things. Going back and listening to it, I do wish I could’ve polished up some of the transitions, haha.
Are there any dots to connect between where/how you grew up and your musical output?
I’m pretty surprised where I’ve ended up; my family isn’t too musical. I think my sister and I were the first ones to start playing instruments in my house. My parents didn’t really listen to music growing up, so my influences were all just discoveries on my own.
Tell me about your most memorable night out as an artist or as a fan.
I do some more live-style shows with my friends, which we call Babz n’ Friendz—super creative name, right? We have drums, guitar and vocals, along with me just DJing. I’m not used to working with others for shows, so practicing gets old for me, just because I have the easiest job compared to the other guys. But once we start playing, it’s super fun every time.
How, if at all, does listening to music figure into your creative process? What’s the last song you heard that made you drop what you were doing and go into the studio?
I really enjoy hearing new sound design; I think it’s the most important part of any song. Whenever I hear some sound I’ve never heard before, it always has me wondering how they made that. I’m not great at recreating sounds, so I live online, watching sound design tutorials. I think the last time I did that was after I heard RL Grime, What So Not, and Skrillex’s song “Waiting.”
What sound or noise do you love?
Any growl/bass thing Kill the Noise does; he has the craziest sound design. I’ve been really enjoying stuff that has a ton of low-end and an almost hollow sound. It’s hard to describe, but having a lot of space at the drop after a busy build is always super cool.
What do you remember about your first DJ gig?
I had never played a show and didn’t know how to even go about getting booked for one. My old roommates are in an awesome acoustic band and came over to my parents’ one weekend when they were out of town and set up their PA system. We had a little daylong festival-type thing and invited a few other friends in bands and rappers to play, as well. I played after them and had a ton of fun—my setup was a little unorthodox, but pretty funny. I used a Kontrol F1 for Traktor, which is usually used for remix-type stuff, but I loaded each song into a grid instead and played that way. Glad I moved on from that.
What’s the hardest professional lesson you’ve learned thus far?
It’s more than just about making music. The whole business side of the scene is new to me. I’m pretty quiet and shy, so networking and connecting with new people is definitely a challenge for me.