ABQ Green Room
Q&A: pocket elephant
By August Edwards
Every musician in Albuquerque fulfills a roll in supplying unique music that's best suited for a particular audience. The demand from our local audience is totally diverse and widespread. There happens to be a large demand for electronic music; this is where the artist pocket elephant comes in with his persevering sound.
pocket elephant strives to bring a perfect sense of balance to his music. He's garnered some accolades and has come into his own as a producer and creator of music. In this interview we talk about the intricacies of EDM as well as how the genre might be better perceived.
On June 4th, you can stream "Love Alive," pocket elephant's latest single - a collaboration with artist Elliott Blue.
How did you get your start in music?
As a young kid, my dad would teach me how to play guitar, so I was always really into it. But the kind of music I do now, all the electronic stuff—I remember I was about eleven years old and I heard Skrillex for the first time. Like a lot of other kids that do what I do, I was like, I saw Skrillex somewhere! And right then you just kinda get into it. That’s definitely how I got my start, and I’ve been building my sound since then, for about ten years.
How would you describe your sound?
I really like the idea of yin and yang in music. I do more chiller, jazzier stuff, and on the flip side I like having more aggressive-sounding, bassier shit. I just like a balance between emotions.
You mentioned Skrillex—what drew you to him upon hearing that?
I never heard music like that. Dubstep, I guess. I was just like, what is this? How is this made? Is this a guitar? Is it a band? So when I got into it, I was like…it’s just one dude and he’s making all these crazy sounds? It just blew my mind. I was like, I wanna do that. I was really antisocial, I didn’t like the idea of working with other people. Do it on my own, I don’t have to rely on anyone else, that’s kind of what got me into it.
Are there pros and cons to working alone, then?
There’s not as many people to push you all the time to be on your shit. But I'm more social now for sure. I do work with a lot of people collaborating on music and stuff. When I started out, it’s kind of weird not having anybody to work with. You kind of miss people, I guess.
What have been the high points of making music?
In 2019 I got to play Silent Lights over at UNM, and there were like 2,000 people there, which I was freaking out, I’d never played to a crowd that big. And I got to release on a pretty well known label on YouTube, it’s called College Music Records. They do a lot of the lo-fi hip-hop. I got to release two songs and it turned out pretty well for me—like 200,000 plays on them. That’s awesome to get that recognition.
I’m interested to know, do you think that enough people give electronic music a fair chance? Is it widely misunderstood by the general population?
I think that maybe not so much here in NM. I think it’s been a slow climb. When people think EDM they think Steve Aoki, and the generic stuff. They don’t know all the subgenres and all the really cool sounds that come from all of these artists. But I think slowly its starting to become more accepted and well know. But I guess here in New Mexico it doesn’t have enough respect, yet.
What makes it different here in NM than maybe in other places?
I don’t think there are enough people really doing it. If there are, and there are some really unique acts—like Galaxy, she’s amazing, The Red Panda, who I got to share the stage with in April at the Art Walk—you see a lot of artists and they tend to do one thing and it tends to sound like other people. I don’t think people are willing to step out and sound like themselves, and be unique.
What are your favorite parts of your scene or community here in Albuquerque?
If I go to a show and it’s somebody I know, and it’s a huge crowd, it’s awesome to see the support. There are a good amount of people here who are interested in seeing what’s out there. And people like you that are running these kinds of things that are supporting artists. It’s awesome, and I appreciate that.
What’s something that you’d like to see more of from your fellow electronic musicians?
I guess getting to play more for opening for bigger names, and at well-known venues. A lot of the shows that we get, it’s like behind the El Rey, or at the Jam Spot. Which is a great place to start, but I think it should be more inclusive for people to be opening at the El Rey. Or more accessible for people to play at these venues. It’s really hard for people to get in at these places.
Do you know why it might be hard to get into these places?
I’m not entirely sure.
Sure, yeah. Tell me about some of your upcoming releases.
This one ["Love Alive," to be released on June 4th] with my friend Elliott Blue, we’ve been working on that song for a couple months now. He came over one night, and we knocked out kind of the general track out in a few hours, and I was just freaking out. We got the lyrics in like a half an hour, and that was amazing. Yeah, we spent these last couple months getting it to where we want it to be. And then I have one coming out, I'm not sure with, but with Munirah. I’m really excited about that. It’s R&B feels with some electronic in it, of course. And I have another one coming out with The Red Panda—we just have to pick a release date.
For a general reader, when it comes to a collab, you might picture how a rock band collaborates, but that’s not necessarily how you might work. Walk me through what it might look like creating a song for you.
I’ll make a track, and I’ll send it out to a group of singers that I think will sound good on it. And I just wait for them to send me back lyrics, or vocals, or both. Then I kind of work the song to match them more. And we just go back and forth from there. Yeah, it’s weirder with an electronic musician. With another electronic musician, we’re on one laptop and we’re exchanging ideas and we take it from there.
What do you wish people knew about EDM that they might not know?
I wish people would take it more seriously. It’s not people pressing buttons and shit like that. Even in my own family, I had to grow up hearing ‘It’s not real music!’ and there’s so much more that goes into it than just hitting buttons. Its being able to have an ear to mix shit together and make it sound clean and loud. And there is a lot of real instrumentation that goes into the songs that I do—it’s not just all digital.
I wish people wouldn't look at it like it’s only something you can party to. Its something you can just enjoy. You don’t have to be at a rave , you don’t have to be rolling your face off to enjoy this music. It’s like any other kind of music—its accessible to everyone. I think a lot of people don’t see it that way. A lot of older people look at is as a phase; but with those people back in the day, when they were into like, Mötley Crüe, I'm sure that their parents said the same thing. But its not. It’s all just music.