Insomniac’s Metronome series features mixes from some of today’s fastest-rising electronic stars, as well as championed legends. It takes listeners deep across a wide range of genres, movements, cultures, producers, artists and sounds that make up the diverse world of electronic music.
Las Vegas native HAMi has come a long way from his “North Side” days as a youngblood skater with a love for heavy beats. After his career as a professional skateboarder was cut short by a motorcycle accident that had him bedridden for months, HAMi began to explore his love of music more seriously, first writing music on guitar before discovering the raw power of dubstep, which he’s the first to admit straight-up changed his life.
Having since founded the hard-hitting 40oz Cult alongside the likes of Dack Janiels and Wenzday, the crew has since gone on to international acclaim with support raining in from heavy-hitters like Ghastly, Protohype, Dubloadz, Habstrakt, Barely Alive and Virtual Riot.
As we close in on the highly anticipated “Draco” release from the bossman HAMi himself on July 14, we thought we’d touch down for a full-on Metronome mix to take us down the 40oz Cult rabbit hole while we pause to reflect on just how far he and the rest of the crew have come in these past few years, with an equally compelling glimpse into the future.
What was it was like coming up in Vegas, a place that until recently seems to have been more of a hot spot for mainstream bottle service club vibes than the rough and rugged underground sounds you and the 40oz Cult are kicking.
Growing up in Vegas was exactly that: very rough and rugged. It was nothing like the Strip. I lived on the north side of Vegas, better known as “North Town,” and everyone in that neighborhood was a tweaker, gangster or a kid. That being said, I had a few skater friends and a bunch of crazy kids that were always around. Crazy shit was always happening.
One thing you need to understand is that Vegas is melting pot of every culture and walk of life, but the city itself has very little culture. Everyone that moves there is looking for a fresh start, and for the majority, it’s a place to reinvent yourself. So, I found myself among people from rich to poor, from people that have “great family values” to people with no family, and this led to groups of people or cliques or some could even say “gangs” all over the city—upper class, middle class, there were no boundaries on how far this reached. It was a situation that led to a lot of clashes, as none of these people really had any solid history, which led to people robbing and fucking each other over. It was a breeding ground for negativity, but sometimes you have to go through hard and dark times to see the light.
Sounds like your love of music served as a creative outlet during those rough times, as well. What were you listening to growing up, and at what point does electronic music enter your world? We know you were a straight-up pro skateboarder, so talk about that as well!
Let’s just say the music found me, and not the other way around. Even so, I was always listening and looking for new music. I was into punk, dance music, reggae, dancehall, and the list goes on. When I was younger, my uncle Jimmy would be like, “What kind of music are you into?” and I remember saying, “Dre and Snoop!” So, he sent me a Nirvana CD. A year later, he was like, “What are you into now?” and I was like, “Rancid and NoFx!” and then he’d send me an Outkast CD. This went on for years.
What led you to DJing and production?
Growing up in Vegas, it was often way too hot to skate, so consequently we’d spend a lot of time indoors. My homie’s crib was super relaxed and we would chill there, spin and scratch records, so that was my first taste at DJing. Fast-forward years later, after coming to California and pursuing skating and becoming very well known in that world, and I got into a serious motorcycle accident while on a skate tour and ended up bedridden for two months, followed by eight weeks of physical therapy.
Around this time, I started re-evaluating my future. Skateboarding as a profession has a very short life span—for the majority of people, anyway—so I started looking ahead to the next chapter in my life. Around this time, I started playing guitar and writing songs and hooks, just trying to grasp the idea of how a song works. Sometime later, I had a couple tunes that I needed to record, so I looked up how to record a song in Garage Band and learned how to organize a beat pattern out of necessity. That was the foundation of my music production, really, and the rest is history.
Who were some of the first artists or tunes you credit with pulling you over to the bass music side of things?
In 2011, I was gifted an all-access pass to Coachella, where I witnessed Skrillex and Caspa destroying their sets. At that time, I had no idea what exactly I was listening to, but I became obsessed with all forms of dance music and was quickly bit by the dubstep bug. The music’s raw nature and energy that come with the territory had me in complete awe. I dove as deep as you could go and really learned about the culture—that was my favorite part.
For me, music and skating were always the same thing. They are both communities of incredibly talented and dedicated individuals that are all pushing the craft into places no one could have ever foreseen. I honestly just took the passion I had for skating and funneled it into my music.
How has moving to Los Angeles influenced your sound and vision as an artist?
Moving to L.A. definitely shaped everything I do. L.A. is a very competitive place, and you consistently need be on your Ps and Qs to ever get noticed. For me, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. The amount of amazing producers in L.A. has made it an incubator for creativity, and that to me is invaluable, because it’s either sink or swim. There’s a lot of people trying to make it here, so that definitely has a lot to do with it.
Let’s talk about the 40oz Cult. What’s the meaning behind it, and how does that ethos reflects the vibe of the crew?
The Cult is the embodiment of “anti-bottle service.” If you’ve ever been out in L.A. or Vegas, or any other major city, there’s always a bottom line; if you’re balling and ready to drop a shit ton of money, you could pretty much run the spot. This is the opposite of that: You can’t buy your coolness.
As for the Cult’s day-to-day operations, they are run by Dack Janiels, Wenzday, and me. But honestly, the Cult is composed of members all across the globe. Cult affiliation doesn’t really have boundaries; it’s based on respect.
What kind of advice do you have for some 16-year-old kid out there who just started producing music and is hoping to be part of the 40oz Cult one day?
My advice to anyone that wants to be down with the cult is that you already are. You just need to be active on your socials, show support to 40oz Cult posts and events, rock the gear, and kill it at whatever you do. The cult is for everyone from artists, videographers, graphic designers, DJs and skaters, to tour managers, artist managers, agents, promoters, street teams—you name it. It’s all about dedication. Do whatever it takes to be the best you can be. Everything else will fall into place!
Looking ahead, what projects do you and the crew have cooking that we should be looking out for?
Keep your eyes peeled for new music dropping this Friday, July 14! I’m really excited about this one, as my latest single, “Draco,” is coming out as a joint venture between Big Tooth Records and 40oz Cult. From there, I have music coming out every month until the end of this year! I’ve been talking with a few heads about doing some projects together. I’m not going to name names just yet, but trust, some big things are in the works. Keep an eye out for some big announcements!
Speaking of big, let’s jump into the mix. For someone who has yet to experience the power of HAMi live, what should they be expecting when they hit play?
I really like to dance, so I made sure to keep a bouncy rhythm throughout the set. At the same time, I’m also an explorer, and I love pushing the boundaries, so expect it to feel like your favorite adventure film, with an incredible battle scene at the end. My favorite mixes leave you feeling like you’ve gone through a journey, and that’s what I tried to do here, as well. Enjoy!
- Track List:
INIT X GOLDPLATE X HAMi “Greens”
Dack Janiels “LSDemon”
HAMi x Dack Janiels “Def Match”
Herobust “Vertibreaker” (Cosma Remix) [HAMi edit]
UZZI “Neon Ghost”
UZZI X HAMi “GO HARD”
Famous Dexter “Goin for Ten”
Frim “Doot Camp”
Wooli “Wave It Up”
Flux Pavilion x Doctor P “Party, Drink, & Smoke”
Datsik x 12 Planet “Party in the Sewer”
GTA x Wax Motif “Get It All” (Getter x Ray Vople remix)
SWAGE x HAMi “BAD”
HAMi x SWAGE “ID”
Dack Janiels “Backwoods”
COSMA X HAMi “ID”
Helicopter Showdown x Yakz “Juoki”
Yakz “Emergency” (P0GMAN remix)
P0GMAN “All Day Long”
Dubloadz “Ghost on Acid”
Spock x Covah “Watch Your Step”
MineSweepa “Stank Breath”
Cherney x Grieber “12 hour”
Protohype x Dack Janiels “Savage”
ID x ID “ID”
Oolacile x Code Pandorum “Pity”