We’ve just cracked the one-month countdown to this year’s HARD Summer, and none other than Hekler steps up to help prepare us for an epic return to the Speedway in Fontana on August 4 and 5. Having emerged from the hellfire known as Las Vegas, the young producer has quickly risen to the top of the ranks over the past year.
With a sound that is at once weird and yet utterly seductive, Hekler continues to push his hard-hitting bass music via imprints ranging from Never Say Die to Fresh Blood. We thought we’d touch down with one of the most anticipated acts set to put in mad work at HARD Summer next month, alongside an ID-packed exclusive mix that’s sure to get you and the squad fired up and ready to rumble.
Let’s go back to your roots, when you were a kid: What kind of music do you remember hearing around the house?
My mom always had oldies, R&B, old-school hip-hop, and occasionally rock playing around the house.
Any musicians in your family?
I’m actually not too sure… maybe a few generations back, yes, but not any that I know of.
Were you trained on any instruments when you were growing up—and let’s be real—were you into “weird” shit even back then?
Yes, growing up, I played the trombone and the piano in a jazz band at school. I also occasionally played the drums and trumpet. As for being into weird shit back then, yes. I was one of the only 12-year-old kids in my school listening to dubstep.
At what point did electronic music—and bass music, in particular—enter your world?
Bass music came into my life when the first UKF Dubstep (August) Mix dropped eight years ago.
What was it about that sound that pulled you in?
It honestly blew my mind (at that point) how complex the music and sounds were. It should be noted that I was already sort of interested in music production when I first heard those sounds. I was only making basic beats around that time, but it intrigued me and made me want to learn about the genre more and more as I got older and more comfortable making music.
You were all about this life at a young age. Did you always think you were going to make it in the music world?
In a way, I always knew I’d be doing something music-related in life—because there was nothing in this world I wanted to do more—but I had no idea I’d even come close to where I currently am in my career. I always knew I wanted to create music and that I’d do it, even if I made it or not. I’m beyond grateful for being able to travel the world and meet so many amazing people because of it.
If for some reason shit didn’t work out, what would you be doing as a day job right now?
I’d be working at Wingstop, because those are the best wings ever—or honestly, I’d just become a chicken wing [laughs].
This past year has been a mad blur, no doubt, as you continue to crush it in the studio and on the stage, including an insane set at EDC Las Vegas. Have you had a chance to let it all sink in? What are some of the main highlights that stand out for you from the past year?
Yeah, this year has gone by so fast, from touring and going more in-depth with my music and sound design. It still really hasn’t hit me that this is actually part of my life now. I remember putting out my first song, “Ultimate,” not knowing where bass music would be taking me. Fast-forward to last May: I got to play that same tune closing out EDC to a crowd size that I didn’t expect to show up that late/early, at 4:30am. It’s so surreal to me… to top it off, I just finished my first overseas tour in Australia, and let me tell you, those were some of the best shows I’ve ever played.
We have to geek out a bit on the sound design on “404.” Give us a sense of how that tune came together, and drop just a little taste of the kind of advice you’d give to someone coming up, hoping to follow in your footsteps in crafting their own tunes.
When Gladez and I sat down in the studio the night “404” came to be, we both had no idea what we were in for. We just went in with the intentions of expanding on our sound design techniques. After a few new FM, course pitch, and vibrato automations, the beautiful accident “404” came to be.
My biggest piece of advice to anyone wanting to stand out and create their own tunes is to just be themselves. Don’t try to sound like the next so-and-so. Don’t think you need to create music a certain way. There are absolutely no rules to creating music, and if there is a rulebook somewhere that I don’t know of… break those rules, push boundaries.
Let’s jump into this mix. Especially for all those heads out there who have yet to catch you live but are excited to catch you doing your thing at HARD Summer, what should they be expecting on the mix?
Let’s just say, expect the unexpected and a lot of damn IDs.
- Hekler’s HARD Summer 2018 Mixtape Track List:
HEKLER – ID
GLADEZ – ID
ID – ID
EPTIC “No Mercy”
ID – ID
ID - ID
LUX - ID
Space Laces “Torque”
LUX & Skew “Diablo”
Computa “Sensory Overload”
TYNAN & sfam – ID
ID – ID
Boombox Cartel “NBD” (HEKLER Remix)
HEKLER & GLADEZ “404”
HEKLER & GLADEZ “404” (Moore Kismet Remix)
LUX – ID
Must Die! “Frustration” (Finderz Keeperz VIP)
Mastadon “Get Ready”
Svdden Death & Somnium Sound “Angel Style” (oddprophet remix) vs. CALCIUM X K-NINE “DAMN SON”
G-REX – ID
Liquid Stranger “Hotbox” (Peekaboo Remix)
Minnesota “HiLow” (CharlestheFirst Remix)
ID – ID
ID – ID
Somnium Sounds “Bloomkeeper” (LUX Remix)
Ekali, TYNAN & HEKLER “Bloodmoon”
ID – ID
Hydraulix & Avance “Roll Out”
Illenium ft. RUNN “Freefall” (Kompany Remix)
HEKLER & GLADEZ “Sonic Boom”
IVORY “Break It Down” (Tisoki Remix)
GLADEZ “What’s Banana Spelled Backwards”
ID, ID & ID – ID
AWEMINUS “UNDER THE BED” (VIP)
PhaseOne x Yookie “State of Emergency”
Herobust “Vertebreaker” vs. Mastadon & oddprophet “Inconvenience”
Macky Gee “Moments”