Like most artists these days, Vancouver native and globetrotting DJ/producer Felix Cartal (born Taelor Deitcher) provides fans a glimpse into his journeys and adventures via his blog. For one particular entry titled “Seven Rules I’ve Made For My Life Lately” (from November 7, 2011, which you can read for yourself here), he lists current goals with No. 7 reflecting his personal agenda for future musical projects.
Take chances musically, but don’t be afraid of ‘what feels right,’ as well. Stepping inside the box isn’t a bad thing. Don’t fight things that come naturally. Great songs don’t always need to endure a torturous process to exist.
With the upcoming release of his sophomore effort, Different Faces, on March 27, Cartal has followed through with the seventh rule he’s made for his life. While his 2010 debut album, Popular Music fared well with EDM fans for its dirty dance tracks filled with heavy beats, melodic madness and aggressive build-ups, Different Faces will showcase a more mature Cartal.
In the few years that he’s been on EDM’s radar, Cartal has carved out a nice little niche for himself. Before even dropping Popular Music, he was already a sought after remixer, having reworked tracks for the likes of MSTRKRFT and Moving Units. Way even before his Skeleton EP debuted back in 2009 on Dim Mak, Cartal was opening for EDM’s finest like Justice and Busy P.
As a rising star in EDM, Cartal’s musical background stems back to his high school days when he took an interest in production. At 15, he was producing and mixing his own creations, pulling from various influences that span from punk bands like NOFX to classic rock groups like The Beatles and Elton Jon to dance artists like James Holden and Alter Ego. He even sang and played bass in a couple of punk bands before totally turning his attention to dance music.
Now as a prominent member of Steve AokiDim Mak team, Cartal is getting nothing but praise from the head honcho himself. “Felix Cartal is part of a new breed of young producers taking elements of his contemporaries and making a massive sound in his production,” Aoki compliments.
His latest club-thumping and first single from the new album, “Don’t Turn On The Lights” (featuring Polina) has been causing a stir with its catchy melodies laced with its thumping beats. Immensely excited and amped for his new album, Cartal creating explosive versatile music that can shake up dancefloors and get your head nodding as you drive to work. “I just want to keep making music. Lots of different kinds of music,” he reveals. And being the relentlessly focused person he is, that’s just what Cartal’s going to do.
Anybody who blurs the lines of genres are the people that push things forward, which is the most important thing. People can get caught up with labeling...and I think that’s backward thinking. In order for music to progress, we need to forget about genres.
In three words, describe yourself.
That’s tough…Hard working, sarcastic and, I don’t know, musically motivated. Kind of the same as hard working, though.
How do you describe your music?
I think something like energetic melody would be a good way to describe it. I make sure to excite people and make sure it’s still catchy with some kind of melody. That’s the most important thing in my productions. I focus more on song writing than production most times, and I think it’s the most important thing not to forget when creating music.
EDM has so many subgenres now. Where does your music fit in?
Don't’ know ’cause I really don’t like classifying my music or myself. It limits me to what I can make in the future. I just like saying that I make electronic music…it’s as simple as that.
Is your talent innate or perfected?
I have definitely been working on it my whole life. I don’t think anyone is born with a talent. It’s all about hard work. People who seem really talented are just hard workers. Everyday I’m not working hard at music is just really bad for my career.
Current musical mindset at the moment?
I think I’m moving into a place where I know what I want to do with my records a bit more and now it’s just a matter of how to meet those goals. With the first album that I put out I was sort of taking different chances and was quite unsure about some things. I know now where I want to go musically.
Do you think you’ve finally made it or do you still have some more work to put in?
I don’t think I made it quite yet. I still have lots of goals. I feel that if I was satisfied in the industry then I wouldn't know what my next step was. I think when I was able to tour as a living and not need another job is when I realized that I had a place in this industry. Now, I just have to keep working more and more to really feel I’ve made it.
Producing or DJing…what gets your heart beating more?
Producing for sure. I DJ because I produce and not the other way around.
Any artists or movements that influenced your music and style?
Artists/producers that I look up to right now are Diplo and Calvin Harris. They’re people that I think are doing really exciting things right now and do really well straddling different genre lines. Anybody who blurs the lines of genres are the people that push things forward, which is the most important thing. People can get caught up with labeling various genres and I think that’s backward thinking. In order for music to progress, we need to forget about genres.
Any gigs that still leave you in awe?
EDC in LA was really fun, especially now since they don’t hold it there anymore. That last one in 2010 is going to be remembered as a special place in time for EDM. That year I played during sunset and everything about that night was beautiful. There was nothing but positive vibes everywhere that night.
Any New Year resolutions for 2012?
I kind of made a resolution to stop procrastinating before New Year’s actually ’cause I think if I made them all on January 1st, I wouldn’t follow through with them. So I made my resolution to stop procrastinating on things late last year.
In a previous blog post on your site, you noted that you took a new direction on Different Faces than the last, adding lots of vocal collaborations and just trying to make “catchy, memorable music.” What made you want to take this direction?
I think I’ve always enjoyed pop music and catchy hooks and choruses. Now I’m musically more confident and can achieve those sounds that I hear in my head. It’s also nice to be able to be at a point in my career where I can work with more people. It’s really flattering to know that people would like to work with me, too. This album is a reflection of all that.
How is it different from your first album, 2010’s
I think I just focused more on various elements with this one. The first album saw me aggressive and featured all these loud noises. But really, there’s nothing you can’t do on a first album since there’s nothing to compare it to. So I kind of took elements of catchiness I really liked from the first record and used it for the second album. I really wanted all the music and songs to work. Not only work in a club setting, but also when you’re listening on your iPod at work or whatever. I was focused on bridging that gap where songs would work well at a club at 3 am or at 8 am on your drive to work.
In your opinion, what is/makes “memorable music” as stated on your blog?
Something that you can’t stop humming after you’ve heard it. I always say, like, if by the third time you hear the chorus and you know it by hard then it’s a catchy, good song.
Best song your new album in your opinion and why?
That’s really hard to say. But I really like the third single, “Black To White,” that’s coming out with vocalist Miss Palmer. She has vocals that are just amazing, very catchy, but still unconventional for pop music. It’s sort of like Björk meet Emily Haines or something. I played it in the clubs and it works really well. But then I also played it for people when we were all just chilling and they loved it, so it’s a really nice hybrid of the two.
What’s your method to your madness in terms of your creative process?
It’s definitely sort of strange. It starts off with either something that’s hummed or I just start with a kick drum and just work my way around it ’cause I always know there’s going to be a bass drum in it. That’s usually always my grounding point. If it's a remix or something else, it’s about trying to take the elements of the song that sound like that band or singer and then blend them with sounds that define me. It’s kind of like combining the two in an interesting matter so it reflects not just the artist, but my sound, too.
As a member of Dim Mak, what’s it like to be part of Akoi’s team?
It’s really awesome. Steve is one of the nicest people I know and has really been supporting me from a really early point in my career. On top of that, I also think it’s really important to be part of a label that’s being run by a DJ ’cause he’s touring and supporting all his artists’ music, so he’s out there promoting us, too. That’s not only a really big help, but it’s a cool thing to always have support. He’s always backing me up 100% on anything I want to do or in any direction I’d like to take with my music. He never limits me either and is always creatively open to suggestions.
EDM has definitely infiltrated America in the past few years. How have you seen it evolve?
I mean, when it first started, it was very underground. I think the thing I noticed the most about its evolution is how it has so many different fan types. Like when you go to a show, there’s such a mix of different people who attend. There are those who go because they really love the music, some that go to a club for bottle service or those that don’t really go to clubs but just love one artist. The biggest thing is it has a really wide array of people, but that’s such a great thing for the music. When you can appeal to various audiences rather than just a specific niche really says something about its influence.
Any predictions for its future?
For me, personally, I look at it like rap music in a way. People thought rap music was a trend and wasn’t going to stay, but it’s now part of the main music stream. And like rap music, it’s also providing a new lifestyle that people are following and enjoying. It’s almost become a brand in itself. There are also lots of subgenres to dance music, which other genres don’t really have. It’s going to have a long lifespan and it’s now a part of mainstream music now.
What would you say sets you apart from other EDM artists?
I just think I’ve always just tried to focus on the songwriting aspect a lot more. A lot of DJs put a lot of effort into making sure their production is 100 % perfect. But don’t get me wrong, that’s amazing and all, but sometimes the track can be an impressive sounding song, but is the song itself actually good? That’s the aspect and focus I’m working into my music now. It needs to not only sound great, but really leave an impression on listeners.
You started off playing in bands, but will you ever transition back to being in a band in the future, why or why not?
Yeah, I think like there’s always a possibility. I’ve been craving that legitimate live aspect for a while, but I’m not sure if it would deal with Felix Cartel directly. But for me, personally as an artist, I think it’s exciting to do different things on stage, so I wouldn’t entirely write it off for a future project of some kind.
What’s your ultimate musical goal?
I think just if there’s a song that sort of lasts forever then that's what I want to achieve with my career. I want that one hit that transgresses through decades and lives on forever if it can. I definitely haven’t created it, but that’s the goal.
Felix Cartal Podcast: "Weekend Workout"