Brandon Mastellis, better known as Kaizen, is an 18 year old producer from Tampa, FL. Being a avid piano player, he heavily focuses on melodies and bringing the beauty of music out. He first discovered electronic music back in 2010, when he discovered deadmau5. As more and more electronic music started coming out, he wanted to learn how to make his own, and began producing with friends under his own name. As time went by, his tastes changed, going from progressive house, to heavy dubstep, to chillout, and just all over the place. It wasn’t until he discovered Porter Robinson’s album “Worlds” that his style really took a turn. When he heard this album, it changed his whole perspective on electronic music, and he quicky changed the way he produced, which also led to him changing his name to Kaizen. Kaizen is Japanese for, “change for the better”, which is something he thought he had to do to really take on this new style of music. Now, being inspired by the likes of Porter Robinson, Madeon, Mat Zo, and many others, Kaizen is looking to change the perspective of electronic music, and bring the beauty of his music out to the masses.
Hi, my name is Brandon and I like to make really pretty music. When I’m not making music, I play a lot of video games and watch anime. I make music to express who I am and what I love. I listen to a lot of melodic and beautiful music from people like Porter Robinson, Tomggg and Ryan Hemsworth. If you really want to know who I am and what I represent, just listen.
Home Town: Tampa, Florida
Currently Living: Tampa, Florida
Origin Of Name: Kaizen is a Japanese term that translates into “change for the better.” It’s a phrase that is really dear to me in both my personal life and my music.
Weapon of Choice: My laptop
Source of Power: Vast landscapes, anime, video games, really anything that just sounds pretty really inspires me. My biggest musical influences have to be Porter Robinson, Madeon, M83, Giraffage and Odesza.
What advice would you offer someone thinking about entering the Discovery Project competition?
Don’t hesitate and just go for it. You have nothing to lose at all. If you have a chance to better yourself, take it.
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?
When I listened back through the first half of the track (that I won with) while it was still being made, I thought it was truly pretty and it was really going somewhere. As soon as the second buildup was recorded, I knew this one was special and by far the best song that I have released to date. This song means a lot to me, even though I know for a fact I can go back now and make it even better. Hearing positive feedback from my fans and finding out it was something they were listening to on repeat daily and they had an emotional connection to means so much to me.
Are there any dots to connect with where/how you grew up to your musical output? From people freestyling on the street corner to a grand piano forced down your throat by your Mom.
It’s really weird because I never thought I’d be making music when I grew up. I was a video game nerd and only played a little guitar and piano. I got into electronic music when I was 14 and started producing when I was 15. I think video games really influenced how melodic and more composition-based my music is compared to your normal everyday EDM. I’ve made a huge change in the style of electronic I produce recently (which is a reason why my name got changed to Kaizen) that basically made my music less “dance-y” and more beautiful. I also try to have meaning behind my music and kind of tell a story, mainly because I feel that growing up I was so into anime and games that were so story-heavy but also really pretty. Anime really affects my music now because that’s what I loved growing up and what I also love now. Other than that, I really got into producing electronic music because of some old techno artists like DJ Splash and DJ Mangoo. The first song I remember listening to is DJ Splash’s “Party Time.” Later, I got into all different styles of electronic music from progressive house and chillout to heavier things like dubstep and electro. I’ve been all over the place with my styles, but really feel like this new style of music I’m writing is what I truly love and what is going to make producing a full-time career for myself.
Are you impulsive with your work (in the studio and/or DJing) or do you have a sketch in mind before you start?
It varies. Sometimes, I’ll have an idea in my head beforehand and sometimes I’ll just experiment with tons of different things. I think having a good blend of both can help you make something really special though, because you can both write ideas you like and also be creative with them. I recently rewrote an entire album (have yet to decide exactly how big it will be) by taking ideas that I’ve had since I was a kid and working them into a whole storyline. I am going to try to center a body of music around it and see if I can write something truly special and emotional, and I am truly hoping it works out.
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?
Listening to new music really inspires me and makes me want to go work on new material immediately. Unlike what I’ve seen from some of my producer friends, I absolutely have to hear something I like to make something good. I just recently heard the Tomggg remix of Porter Robinson’s “Flicker;” it’s absolutely amazing and now I’m trying to make something in the same style as it!
What’s the most important piece of gear in your studio and why?
Probably my MIDI keyboard. I’m using a generic Casio keyboard (nothing too fancy), but it gets the job done. The weighted keys are really nice too, although I need pedals for it so I can do some more fancy stuff. Other than that, I tend to play around with my Midi Fighter a lot, and I think having KRK studio monitors always helps. Everything else aside, all I need is my laptop. By far it’s the most powerful tool a producer can have because you don’t need much more than that. I plan on picking up a Roland Gaia SH-01 soon, which will be my first keyboard synthesizer, and I’m absolutely stoked!
How important is it for you to experiment and take on the risk of failure?
It’s necessary if you want to move forward and innovate. No inventor ever got their invention right on the first try, and the same goes for musicians. You have to fail to get better and you have to try different things and experiment to find something that works. You shouldn’t just copy others and do everything the same way as others because that takes the fun out of it. Personally, I’ve had to experiment with so many different sounds and styles to finally be happy with something I’m creating. I plan on taking many more risks with my music and marketing to push my music where I want it to be, and I feel that it is an important thing for any musician to do to truly move forward in their career.
Do you have a list of people you’d like to collaborate with (from musicians to lighting and visual artists) in the future?
Yes! I’d love to work with musicians like Porter Robinson, Madeon, Giraffage, Ryan Hemsworth, Tomggg, Wave Racer, Ninth Parallel, and No limits. All of these artists really have a style and mindset that I feel fit mine, and I think we could really make something super beautiful and inspiring. As far as visual artists, I really want to do something with Omocat, Ghost Dad, and any anime visual artists and people who can draw really pretty things and incorporate them into music visuals for live performances. There are so many more amazing people I could list here but I feel these specific ones stand out for me.
When you look at electronic music and the surrounding culture, what worries you about the future. What do you wish would change or that you could change?
I’m not too worried about the future of electronic music because I’m more worried about my own music as a whole and not the scene itself. I feel like the scene is still rising but is soon going to hit its climax point. It’ll be around for a long time but I think the music itself needs to become more innovative and creative to continue to impress people. As for myself, I’m not too into the club scene and party music, I am more of the guy who likes to enjoy hanging with a few friends or just go home and produce or play video games. I just love all types of music and I hope to bring a new perspective to people and show that this style of music can be enjoyed live as much as your generic party music can. No matter what happens though, I love music and based on where the scene is at right now, I think the future is going to be great!