The New School Of Electro: Tribe Of Zebras, Glover Junior, RaPPerEAter Are Making Noise In Los Angeles And Beyond

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L-R: RaPPerEAter [Maynard], Tribe of Zebras [Wedvick & Akaya], Glover Junior [Glover]

It’s a typical Thursday evening in Los Angeles. When the sun goes down, the critters come out to play, taking in the sounds, the environment, the colors of the night. Prime time for characters of “the scene” to come alive, much like an animal trying to assert superiority, territorialism, or you could say be “the king of the jungle.” Whiskey flows generously, music bumps loud and personal style shines bright in a setting where scantily dressed women are not uncommon and individuals can easily get lost in the chaos that is Hollywood. What will set you apart? Will you leave your stamp on the world you inhabit? Will you be a product of your environment, or will your environment be a product of you?

For friends Amika Akaya, Austin Wedvick, Chad Maynard and Tracy Glover Jr., those questions are a no brainer. This band of Angelenos has been making the wild their own, and imprinting their mark on it as they go for some time now. Akaya and Wedvick compromise DJ/producer duo Tribe of Zebraswhile Maynard who goes by RaPPerEAteR and Glover as Glover Juniorare solo DJ acts.

Each act seems to share the same common goal in creating music that will carry on to be remembered just like any work of art, an extension of one’s self. With a shared love for nightlife, DJing and producing hard-hitting dance tunes, this crew is not one that will be broken up any time soon, as they are here for the long haul. We got the chance to sit down with each of these up-and-comers to discuss their repertoire of work, influences and plans for the future amongst other things to get a glimpse into themselves as artists in the EDM community and beyond.

After wrapping up, the boys are gearing up for a night on the town to support Glover Junior, often billed as Tracy Glover for his club DJ sets, who is spinning at Black Banditz’ weekly Thursday shindig at Hemingway’s.

HOW IT ALL STARTED & THE INFLUENCE OF BLACK MUSIC

An idea stirs to interview some local LA-based talent for a story. Realizing that February is right around the corner, it is fittingly “ripe” to do a piece highlighting a crew of predominantly black electronic DJ/Producers with heavy hip-hop, reggae, tribal and trap music influences for Black History Month (double-pun intended, Austin). With genres like jazz, funk, soul and disco being the precursor to the electronic music of today and omnipresent in EDM compositions we currently listen to, it is without question that we owe a big thanks to these genres and the artists who undertook them as they really did pave the way. Some of today’s electronic music inherently tells this story of how black music has evolved through time; specifically its affect on genres like EDM that are considered on the other side of the spectrum.

I arrive on location to exchange some words and take some footage of Tribe of Zebras and RaPPerEAteR with the help of videographer Cody Sato and friend Brett First, DJ B1st, who is largely responsible for uniting the aforementioned crew of artists that this article highlights. So this is how it all works. In their high school years, Los Angeles natives Wedvick, Akaya and Glover became friends; skateboarding, going to parties, crushing on the same women and the like. Skateboard culture greatly influenced them, from fashion to music to skate videos.

This eventually manifested into going out to clubs, taking in the different styles of blooming music that could be heard at nights in Hollywood, and developing a style of their own. Being part of this madness was something attractive to them. Akaya started DJing parties and putting together events. Glover tells us that Akaya was one of his key inspirations in beginning to DJ himself, “It all started when I was in San Francisco. I heard that two of my good friends Amika from Tribe of Zebras and Matt [Memsic] were DJing at clubs. When I came back to LA, I saw them doing their thing and they were getting hype. Matt had a whole DJ set up at his house. One day I started messing with it, and I just fell in love and have been doing it ever since.”

It all started when I was in San Francisco. I heard that two of my good friends Amika from Tribe of Zebras and Matt [Memsic] were DJing at clubs. When I came back to LA, I saw them doing their thing and they were getting hype. Matt had a whole DJ set up at his house. One day I started messing with it, and I just fell in love and have been doing it ever since. -Glover Junior

The force behind RaPPerEAter, Maynard, moved from his hometown Washington D.C. to LA 6 years ago, and was introduced to the guys from Tribe of Zebras and Glover through First who all remain close friends. He caught on quickly, at some point going out up to 7 nights a week, making new acquaintances and developing an understanding of the landscape. “Everything that I am now embodies LA culture,” Maynard says. “I try and stay to my roots; I always keep that east coast, urban vibe about me but I also got to throw that West Coast swag on top of it!”

Everything that I am now embodies LA culture. I try and stay to my roots; I always keep that east coast, urban vibe about me but I also got to throw that West Coast swag on top of it! -RaPPerEAter

Whilst each artist is continuing to work on coining their own sound, I investigated into how their relationship with black music has played a role in each of their personal EDM styles:

Tribe of Zebras: Akaya of Tribe of Zebras accredits Jay-Z to being one of his key influencers. The duo’s - production can be described as dreamy indie-electro with chill-out elements that definitely draw off of melodic hip-hop instrumentals. They also draw inspiration from reggae.

RaPPerEAter: Maynard is big on southern trap music, citing rappers like Jeezy, Wayne and Ross as big influences, hence his artist name.

Glover Junior: Glover would listen to hip-hop with his dad growing up, but nobly wouldn’t tell us any specific artists who had a big impact on him seeming to just produce whatever he feels.

TRIBE OF ZEBRAS

Amika Akaya and Austin Wedvick are Tribe of Zebras, an LA-based DJ/Producer duo formed a little over a year ago who really got going by giving indie tunes the preferential dance remix treatment and have recently moved on to put out some sweet original productions. Since their formation, Wedvick explains that they've just been making tracks that they feel. As for the name, it kind of just came to them. I asked them how it got their origin (laughs). “Well, Austin is White and I’m Black. We both are down with zebra patterns and tribal shit,” Akaya says. “We wanted people to come together as a tribe and listen to our sounds.”

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Well, Austin is White and I’m Black. We both are down with zebra patterns and tribal shit. We wanted people to come together as a tribe and listen to our sounds. -Akaya

The duo has spent the past year DJing at Hollywood hot-spots like Teddy’s at The Roosevelt Hotel and The Living Room at W Hotel. Tribe of Zebras can also be found playing more lax gigs at places like Suite 700, the oceanside rooftop bar at the swanky Hotel Shangri-La run by Tamie Adaya, a good friend of the crew’s mom who is fabulous on the social media front (Random Fact: Many of dubstep and electro’s heavy-hitters stay and play low-key bashes here when in LA, Caspa, Nero & AC Slater to name a couple). However, the guys have made a conscious decision to switch their focus from concentrating so much on DJ gigs to spend more time on their production in order to spearhead their artist career.

You’ll notice in a lot of [our] lyrics, we talk about relationships and things we go through. We might bring in a singer to convey a feeling that we’re not going to sing ourselves. -Wedvick

With two tracks from their unreleased, second EP that they haven’t contributed a name for already surfaced, one thing is certain. There’s a lot more to come from Tribe of Zebras. One of the tracks is called “The Way You Make Me Feel (Feat. Jennifer Knight)” which you can download from their SoundCloud. Akaya describes it as a moombahton-dubstep feel. It definitely has some dubby, glitchy sounds as it drops, but the build up is characteristic of Tribe of Zebras’ remixes: smooth, feel-good and danceable. Vocalist Jennifer Knight adds beautiful, soothing vocal lines throughout the track to accompany the melodic piano riffs. She’s also featured on the other single, “Quit Playing Games,” which has more of a progressive house sound with euphoric, trance-like elements. Wedvick explains, “You’ll notice in a lot of [our] lyrics, we talk about relationships and things we go through. We might bring in a singer to convey a feeling that we’re not going to sing ourselves.”

Their first EP, Tribe In Outer Space, was released on iTunes in October 2011 and consisted of 4 tracks including the single “Stranger” which they have a solid music video for that gives you a glimpse into what Tribe of Zebras is all about. “Stranger” is a dreamy indie anthem where California fun meets beach vibes and soft, melodic kick drums meet a synth-heavy, electro sound. “For the video “Stranger” we wanted to shoot a music video that was kind of like a day in the life… showing who we are, where we DJ and stuff like that so people can get a feel of who we are,” says Wedvick.

Tribe of Zebras has remixed artists like Local Natives, Morning Benders and White Arrows—local LA indie bands they’ve been into. They gave us some insight into their remix process. “With remixes we listen to the songs, decide to take it down to the acapella, and reproduce it as if we never heard the original track. We just gave it a whole different spin,” according to Wedvick. The duo has also notably put their own spin on Adele’s “Someone Like You” and Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” which specifically has garnered a lot of attention online.

With remixes we listen to the songs, decide to take it down to the acapella, and reproduce it as if we never heard the original track. We just gave it a whole different spin. -Wedvick

Tribe of Zebras spoke to how large of an influence their hometown and surroundings have had on them as artists. Wedvick explains that your hometown is constantly around you and its diverse styles rub off on you. Being in LA, you’re exposed to a little of everything from the arts/hip-hop culture on Fairfax to house music’s rise in Hollywood.

Keep your eyes peeled for any activity in the animal kingdom and on the interwebs from Tribe of Zebras, and follow them on their social media channels. We will definitely let you know when their EP officially drops! Give them some support when it does. In the meantime, snack on their unreleased tracks floating around, the Q & A below and this mix that they left with me to share with our loyal readers. It was a nice hang with you boys. Thanks for your time.

P.S. Oh, and these guys have mastered the shout out better than most with their take on it that you’ll get a glimpse into by watching the video interview. “Shouts out” fellas! Tribe of Zebras would like to give a “shouts out to Jesse Marco, shouts out to DJ Skeet Skeet, shouts out to Glover Junior and shouts out DJ Chad (aka RaPPerEATer)!” (Laughs.)

FAVORITE RELEASES OR ARTISTS OF 2011.

Amika: One of the releases I really liked is from Phantogram. She has a track called “Don’t Move." It’s one of the illest tracks that’s come out. Chopped up vocals with a smooth chick singing, electronic feel but then you get the indie feel.

Austin: Shouts out to Phantogram, if they want to do a track with us, I’m down.

TRACKS YOU PLAYED OUT IN YOUR DJ SETS LAST YEAR?

The Knocks – Dancing With The DJ (Jesse Marco Remix)

WHAT KIND OF INFLUENCES AND INSPIRATIONS HAVE YOU HAD MUSICALLY?

Austin: I like a lot of Kaskade. Like those mellow house vibes. Blood Diamond, been listening to a lot of their tracks, transition between chill and having some stuff that you can play out in a social environment. Been listening to a lot of Local Natives. Their vocals and the way they harmonize is awesome; I’d like to do some more tracks with them.

THREE RANDOM FACTS ABOUT YOU…

Amika:

  1. I’m actually a really sick diver. When I’m just at the swimming pool jumping on diving pools, I can do ill backflip and front flip, dives and sick shit like that.

  2. We both like organic farming.

  3. I like to thrift shop and go to the farmer’s market and get a little weird.

Austin:

  1. I love thai food. Love pad thai, love pad se yew, love that green curry. Definitely down with the Thai.

  2. Another thing you wouldn’t know about Austin is I’m just a big fan of yoga. Bikram, I love it. It’s just a good way to start off your day. Opens up the chakras. You just feel alive, ready to take on the world.

  3. Another thing you don’t know about Austin is I like tarot cards. I don’t know what’s in store for my future, the tarot cards do. What kind of track am I going to make today? I don’t know, the tarot card does (he picks out a tarot card). Ripeness, that’s fresh, the fruit is ready to be picked.

IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE GIRL IN THE WORLD…

Amika: Adriana Lima

Austin: The Mother Mary. My son would be half brothers with the son of god. She birthed the son of god, and she’s a virgin (laughs). (RaPPerEAter chimes in “he had to go for one that’s over 2,000 years old!”)

WHAT KIND OF VENUES DO YOU LIKE TO PLAY AND WHAT KIND OF GIGS DO YOU HOPE TO GET IN THE FUTURE?

Amika: Right now our main goal is to travel. The gigs we want to play are bigger festivals, travel in Europe, explore and figure out ourselves; learn new cultures and play in all these places

TELLS US ABOUT YOUR LIVE VS. STUDIO SET UP.

Amika: In regard to the studio “We have some low key shit that no one’s got their hands on” “We have shit in our tracks that we use that we can’t really tell you guys about. It’s a secret.” Austin – “We’ll play on any kind of set up. You bring it, we’ll wreck it. It’s all about the special sauce.”  Amika—“Our set up is Serato or Traktor depending on what we want to fuck with.” Mixer, turntables, records, CDJs, anything that’s usable. Not too picky, just trying to send a message out with our music.

GLOVER JUNIOR

Glover Junior could soon become a household name in EDM. Only time will tell. Tracy Glover Jr. is the man behind the solo DJ/Producer act, Glover Junior, whose original productions including “We Go Deep” and “Watch Me Pop” have recently garnered support from Mad Decent and plays on the FM waves via LA’s premiere Indie station, KCRW 89.9 FM. Categorizing his own tunes anywhere from jungle boogie and dark tropical to swag house and crack dance, Glover is an innovator with a defined sound that he labels as tribal if he had to put a name to it. “I’m into percussions, not down with synths and crazy melodies,” Glover tells us.  While we can’t easily pinpoint one genre to his craft, this LA-born beat-smith who now resides in NYC is definitely a master of arrangement.

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Recently, I just started putting together dance music tracks, and putting them out on the Internet. It’s kind of like a video game for me, putting stuff out so it [gets] plays and downloads so it’s like points.

Glover recalls how growing up in LA, listening to music in the car with his friends and parents has had a big role in influencing him. “My dad was a producer. He loved hip-hop and stuff like classic rock so I was open to a wide variety of music,” explains Glover. Growing up skateboarding and watching skate videos that showcased a diverse mix of tunes, Glover took a lot away from that whole scene musically and stylistically. Glover tells us that he has been producing forever. His dad gave him his old production equipment and he’s been messing around on it ever since starting at a young age. “Recently, I just started putting together dance music tracks, and putting them out on the Internet,” Glover says. “It’s kind of like a video game for me, putting stuff out so it [gets] plays and downloads so it’s like points.” You’ll hear more about Glover’s whimsical and modest approach to the process of putting out his music later, as he’s beginning to “kind of” take his music seriously. It seems like getting more “points” along the way in this real-life video game is propelling Glover to potentially give this a legitimate go.

With three to four years of DJing now behind his belt, Glover Junior now has DJ residencies at powerhouses in the NYC nightlife landscape such as Avenue and The Jane Hotel, also playing gigs at Westway and The Box semi-regularly. “DJing is something that I truly love, and that’s what I want to do,” says Glover. In regard to his playing clubs Glover would consider himself an open format DJ, catering to the crowd on hand and playing whatever is necessary in the given environment to get his audience going. As touched upon earlier, Glover owes his onset of DJing to two of his good friends, Amika, from Tribe of Zebras and Matt Memsic who he caught djing in San Francisco. From there, Glover took up the art himself and was in cruise control. Glover’s first gig came several years ago at Temporary Spaces in Hollywood, alongside talent like DJ Skeet Skeet. After gigging consistently in LA for some time, Glover made the decision to move to NYC to be with his girlfriend, where he is now trying to build his name up.

Glover’s favorite track that he has put out is “We Go Deep,” which uses an acapella from a Janet Jackson song. He describes it as more of a mellow track that’s not too crazy dancey. It definitely resembles some mix of R&B, disco and deep house. Mad Decent includes this track in one of their SoundCloud roundups labeling Glover Junior a “roundup regular”. Given that Glover is influenced by the music that Mad Decent puts out, he is really happy that they’ve been supporting him. Additionally, hearing the track played on the radio, namely a station Glover grew up frequently listening to is definitely a personal achievement for him, although he downplays it. For most, getting your music played on a medium you listened to as a youngster is kind of like a dream come true. However, Glover’s modest approach seems to involve not giving himself too much credit, which may very well will help propel himself as an artist and continue to work harder. With his natural talent apparent, Glover Junior is that talented DJ/producer who when focused on his artist brand full throttle may very likely become someone we see on festival stages in the future. For now, Glover is content with DJing parties, but maybe that is soon to change?

Alike in spirit, Glover wants to give some shouts. “Shouts out to Mad Decent, Hot Biscuits, DJ Skeet Skeet, Dillon Francis, Tribe of Zebras, Will Crimes and all the homies that have helped me out.”

FAVORITE RELEASES OR ARTISTS OF 2011.

Wolfgang Gartner "Space Junk"

TRACKS YOU PLAYED OUT IN YOUR DJ SETS LAST YEAR?

Sia "Clap Your Hands" (Diplo Remix) and Alex Gaudino "Destination Calabria" (Original Mix)

WHAT KIND OF INFLUENCES AND INSPIRATIONS HAVE YOU HAD MUSICALLY?

Hip-hop and shit that I hear. I don’t really have anyone that I look up to. I love creating, putting some stuff together and putting it up on the Internet. That’s what I find fun. Also, the Mortal Kombat theme song.

RANDOM FACT ABOUT YOU…

I can read Korean. I know how to sound it out.

IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE GIRL IN THE WORLD…

Raven Symoné in her prime from That’s So Raven. She was in Dr. Doolittle.

WHAT KIND OF VENUES DO YOU LIKE TO PLAY AND WHAT KIND OF GIGS DO YOU HOPE TO GET IN THE FUTURE?

The gigs that I like to play are the ones with the most energy where most people dance rather than sit around trying to be cool. In the future, festivals, if my production name picks up.

TELLS US ABOUT YOUR LIVE VS. STUDIO SET UP.

My production set up is Reason, Midi Keyboard and 2 M Audio Speakers. Live set up is basic: Serato, turntables, computer.

RAPPEREATER

The story of RaPPerEAter is largely unwritten and in the process of manifesting itself. With three years of DJing behind his belt, Chad Maynard, the force behind RaPPerEAter, can be found playing at some of LA’s notable up and coming parties at Room 86 Fridays and Ham on Everything Wednesdays. Maynard just came off a mini East Coast tour playing gigs in Tampa, Atlanta and DC, before jetting off to Vegas to catch Afrojack at Surrender. Maybe being on the road is natural for RaPPerEAter. Still in the works of developing his original productions, RaPPerEAter has a bright future, his work reflective of his love for electro, dubstep and trap music.

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I got the bug from going to a couple shows, inquired more about it, and knew some friends that were already involved. -RaPPerEAter

Now DJing daily, Maynard tells us that once he got the virus, he couldn’t be stopped. “I got the bug from going to a couple shows, inquired more about it, and knew some friends that were already involved,” Maynard says about how he got his start. His friends started to teach him from there and that was it. RaPPerEAter was a created alias that stemmed from Maynard’s time spent in the night scene that eventually led to his presence as a DJ in it. As noted earlier, when Maynard first moved to LA from DC, he was going a lot in Hollywood familiarizing himself with the nightlife and music scene. Eventually, he used this leverage from knowing most of the people who went out to these club nights to generate a buzz for himself even before he started to DJ. Maynard has settled down to focus on his DJing and has ambitious plans as a producer, explaining how that coupled with his gigs is his party scene now.

[Moombahton] is very upbeat. The bells, the live sounds they’ve got in there… it’s so DC, I love it. If DC had a style of electro music, that’s what it would be.

DC has played a large role in shaping RaPPerEAter as an artist. To Maynard, it’s a big part of who he is and he tries to stay to his roots. It’s no surprise then that Maynard has caught on to the Moombahton movement, a genre created by DC-based DJ/Producer Dave Nada. The specific event that stimulated Nada’s development of Moombahton was his slowing down the Afrojack remix of the Silvio Ecomo & DJ Chuckie track “Moombah” to 108 BPM, a tempo near that of reggaeton. Musically speaking, Moombahton is Dutch House or Electro House at slower bpms and added percussion elements.“That genre is very upbeat. The bells, the live sounds they’ve got in there…it’s so DC, I love it,” says Maynard.  “If DC had a style of electro music, that’s what it would be.”

Maynard comes from a hardcore background, which consists years and years of listening to hardcore rock, which definitely adds to his style as a DJ/Producer. Brostep is just that for him, a variant of dubstep that is more aggressive. Pioneers of the genre include Skrillex, Rusko, Datsik, Excision, 12th Planet and Bassnectar. Mixmag described the sound as “a viciously harsh, yet brilliantly produced sound that appealed more to Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails fan that it did to lovers of UK garage.”

Expect a lot more from RaPPerEAter in due time, as his original productions begin to surface and he works more on his producer alias. In the meantime, check him out at a gig in LA and listen to this mix he left us with!

FAVORITE RELEASES OR ARTISTS OF 2011.

I didn’t see it coming, but I have to say Justice’s album was a work that changed me this year.

TRACKS YOU PLAYED OUT IN YOUR DJ SETS LAST YEAR?

When you drop Future "Tony Montana," that’s a club-starter right there, between me and my friends I know that. Big songs I’d have to go with are: Steve Aoki’s “No Beef.” You throw on virtually any Tiësto or Skrillex track people are going to love that. Calvin Harris & Kelis “Bounce.” I think that set the bar for most DJs, if we’re going to make something, it’s got to be as good as this song or better.

WHAT KIND OF INFLUENCES AND INSPIRATIONS HAVE YOU HAD MUSICALLY?

I’d say I’m heavily influenced by a lot of electro DJs. Steve Aoki, obviously he’s a legend. People don’t realize what that guy has done for electro and house music. From finding virtually every artist you hear from now and revolutionizing the style of how it should be played. I look up to him. Calvin Harris, Afrojack, these are all influences of mine. But then I’m also heavily rap influenced hence my name. I like a lot of heavy Southern trap music. All the big names: Jeezy, Wayne, Ross. My new guy who I’m loving the most is this guy, his name’s Future. He just brings an energy like none other. Man, rap really needed him. I’ve been enjoying his stuff recently.

LOCAL SCENE INFLUENCES?

I got to give a shout out to my homie Dom P. He’s a really, really good technical DJ. He’s taught me a lot in the Hollywood club scene: how the clubs work, formats, to always keep that energy and vibe up in the club because when you lose it in the club it’s pretty much the worst thing. I’m heavily influenced by Tribe of Zebras, Glover Junior, DJ Skeet Skeet, Dillon Francis, 12th Planet. These are people in the scene I look up to and inspire to be one day.

THREE RANDOM FACTS ABOUT YOU…

  1. I’m a hardcore kid; I listen to hardcore rock. I know some of my friends know about that. I listen to a lot of it: Atreyu, Avenge Sevenfold, Circus Revive, I could go on and on and on. I’m heavy into that scene. Not a lot of black people into that, but that’s my stuff!

  2. I’m educated! I have a degree, people. I know that’s kind of surprising. You don’t hear about a lot of DJs that went to school. Yeah, I have my communications degree.

  3. I’m not African American exactly. I’m South American. I mean most black people, you look at someone as dark as me you’d be like that fool is African. But no, I’m half British, half South American, that’s the mix you see today!

IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE GIRL IN THE WORLD…

If you had asked me this question last year I would have hands down said Zoey Deschanel but I’m going to change that because she’s kind of blew up and once they blow up I don’t like ‘em anymore. I’m going to have to go with Olivia Wilde. She’s my girl now. Ah, Cowboys and Aliens, I don’t even care about the story, I just want to watch her. If you’re out there girl, ya heard me.

WHAT KIND OF VENUES DO YOU LIKE TO PLAY AND WHAT KIND OF GIGS DO YOU HOPE TO GET IN THE FUTURE?

Well this past year was a lot of clubs, all in Hollywood or Downtown. I love that scene [although] I’d like to get out of it. I really enjoy the smaller venue, where I’m not the only act that’s a DJ, like if there’s a live performer type to also mix in because we all bring different things to the table. In 2012, I would love to do festivals, whether it’s small stage, small tent, Id like to do that. I think the energy that comes from festivals, like Coachella and the HARD festivals. I love those, I think that’s an energy I could bring a positive to that people haven’t seen yet.

TELLS US ABOUT YOUR LIVE VS. STUDIO SET UP.

I was taught on Traktor, survived through Serato. If I would have to pick one, I would have to say Traktor. The way you can control songs now is insane. I would say Traktor gives me a more overall control of the music. I’d go off with Traktor, the new Traktor Pro. I’d love to learn Ableton in the future. I’m a Traktor guy.