Hanging Out with Matt Van Toth and Julio Mejia of GTA

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I don't recall the exact moment I fell in love with GTA's music, but I do have a pretty good idea how it happened. There's no doubt in my mind it was during a set, amidst a crowd of crazy, sweaty people at a show where I got lost in a song that made my booty bounce.... quite possibly every girl's booty there. That's right, if you didn't guess it "Booty Bounce," is where my love for these two Miami based producers originates from.

This however, was only the beginning. If you haven't checked out their Soundcloud, I highly suggest you do because "Booty Bounce," opened the doors for me to all things GTA. The remixes, as well as all the mixes, these guys do cover such a wide variety of music, which is probably where the idea for  Death to Genres Volume 1 was born.

Their ability to collaborate together and brainstorm such postive, good energy, dancing music has put them in my most played list on both my Soundcloud and iTunes. So when, I heard  they were opening for A-trak at the Echoplex, I jumped at the chance to do an interview.

To sum up my experience hanging out with Matt Van Toth and Julio Mejia (the masterminds behind GTA,) would be that these guys are two laidback, hilarious, down to earth dudes who not only want to have a good time, but make sure you do too.

You guys flew from Miami this morning, how was that?

Julio: Uh, it was about five hours.

What do you guys do on the plane?

Julio: Um we sit together, but I don't know. We usually make jokes, try to think of clever jokes to put on Twitter.
Matt: Yeah, pretty much we watch movies.

You watch a movie?

Matt: I saw The Hobbit.
Julio: I saw This is 40.

Did you like it?

Julio: It was pretty funny.

Not too depressing?

Julio: It was pretty depressing.

Didn't get you too hyped?

Julio: Yeah you know it was a 6 am flight. It was early in the morning when we woke up anyways. Just zombie mode.

Did you guys talk at all about your set tonight or what you were going to do?

Julio: Yeah, I mean we always usually talk about that stuff before hand. Just like whenver we get a show, like it would be super dope to play this or like to try something new out.
Matt: Usually the way it turns out is we talk about all the things we want to play, and then we end up not even playing them at all. It will just end up being a random assortment of stuff that comes out.

I did read in a previous interview stating that you guys do a little research on the places before you go. What did you guys hear about this venue?

Matt: Well, we didn't hear about this venue. We've played in LA a couple times so we kind of know the vibe and then we're playing with A-trak and we've played with him before, so we know his style. So we already have a feel for how tonight is going to go. And then we also just kinda read the crowd as we go as well.

I did read on Twitter that you (Julio) said you had said something about dropping a new beat or something...?

Julio: A new beat yeah, I had done this new beat a couple days ago. I don't know. Maybe I'll drop it today if it works. We'll see. If I feel the vibe. I don't know. It's just mostly spur of the moment. We'll look out and were like, "Alright theyll probably dig it." Maybe tonight I'll throw it in there.
Matt: Yeah, we'll throw in some new stuff.

So on your Death to Genres I noticed that “Teenage Crime” said it was an unfinished idea. Do you guys sometimes throw in tracks that are unfinished to see how people will respond to it to get some feedback?

Julio: Yeah, we've been doing that for the past couple of shows. We have a few remixes that we've started and a few remakes that we started awhile ago and we are like, "oh man that sounds cool... it's not finished but let's just make it long enough to play and try it out and see how it goes." Most of the time it's pretty cool. We've gotten a lot of positive response off of unfinished ideas especially off of the mix, so we try to fit in as much new material as possible.
Matt: A lot of the time we just don't have the time to finish it. But we'll want to play it so badly. So half the time it's just a minute or a minute and a half clip just to find ways to throw it in sets somehow. That way we have a bunch of different ideas that we'll throw in there.

I saw “Hit It” had reached #2 on Beatport. How excited are you guy about that?

Matt: Really excited. It's crazy. I mean shit. We really didn't think much of the track when we made it and we were just like "oh man this is a cool track" and it's gotten all this response and going through WMC it was one of the most played songs. We got tweets that it dropped like seven or eight times a day at Ultra. And that whole thing with “Hit It” has been unreal.

Who was the star struck person that played it, that you were like, "I can't believe they played that?"

Julio: David Guetta
Matt: Yeah, David Guetta. It was kinda out of nowhere, we weren't really expecting it. Then we got a bunch of dudes saying, “David Guetta dropped 'Hit It' OMG”
Julio: Even people in the trance tent played it.
Matt: Oh yeah, Like W&W. They played some bootleg and then a couple hours later somebody tweeted about it and then they responded to us and followed us. I've been following W&W for four years now. So I was like, "oh shit" it's crazy.

So some producers you've been listening to for a really long time are now playing your stuff?

Julio: Yeah, and it's people we would never expect to be playing any of it. Like "Hit It," we didn't really intentionally make it for this, but we noticed that a lot of people on the Main Stage play it. The fact that someone on the trance stage at Ultra played it and it went off... like that's pretty crazy. I don't know. It's pretty awesome seeing that people we look up to in all types of genres: trance, house, techno... dubstep playing it. Like Bassnectar played it.
Matt: He's been playing it a bunch. It's very weird, but very awesome.
Julio: He's another guy we were like damn we would have never expected him to play it. It's really great to see a lot of the cooler, bigger dudes that we looked up to before we even started producing are supporting our stuff now. It's pretty fucking nuts.

Can you guys remember the first show or the first time you guys ever heard one of your tracks dropped when you were together?

Matt: I don't.
Julio: The first time I have ever seen our track for me personally was when we went to check out Laidback Luke when we first met him. He played one of our songs... well, a couple actually. But yeah we were a fan of his and he definitely is a huge supporter of our stuff and always has been. He played it the first time we met him and we were pretty star struck.
Matt: I think another time, or at least what I remember was EDC Orlando the first time they did an Orlando show... and Major Lazer was playing and he had just done the bootleg. We didn't know Diplo or anything yet, and we were in the crowd and were like "OMG he's playing our fucking thing!" That was pretty crazy.

What was the first show you guys played together like? Was it a learning experience for what works for you guys live, what doesnt?

Matt: I mean every time we play is kinda like that. We are always trying new things, what works, what doesn't. Then some stuff will work in certain places, while in other places it won't. Our first time playing together I don't really remember. Was it here in LA?
Julio: Yeah, first time we flew over was like our first time playing for real. Like we actually had the music that we made and played.
Matt: It was like two, almost three years ago. We came over here and played whatever shows we could get into. That was pretty much our first time flying anywhere, playing anywhere and just playing together really.
Julio: It was pretty crazy. We definitely learned a lot. I mean still to this day, we learn off  random sets and are like oh this definitely works, I really like how you remixed this track with that track—it's basically a trial and error kind of thing.

How has the GTA sound changed since the first time you guys played in LA to now?

I think we have more variety in our sets now. We kinda go across the board and try to fit in as much music as possible.

Is there a venue you guys are looking most forward to playing at this year? What would be a dream venue to play at?

Definitely Holy Ship....we really want to play that!

I know you guys have both done separate things and have worked separately.

Julio: We had our separate things, now we are just doing everything as a project now. I mean back like a year ago we were doing our own thing. Basically now, we are just focusing on GTA. We still do our own individual things. We still respect each other's ideas and stuff like that. You know if I wanted to do a hip-hop beat or something Matt will work with me on it and if Matt wanted to do a trance beat I'll work with him on it. We basically are friends first and foremost.
Matt: Aw.
Julio: So like the whole thing is just having fun with music and just being creative together. And that's basically what GTA is about.
(exchanges of high fives)

What do you guys like to do in your down time?

Matt: Uhhhhh
Julio: Uhhh

Play GTA?

Julio: Our whole life revolves around GTA.

Do you guys actually do the missions or just drive around?

Matt: I actually don't like playing video games. I actually go out and steal cars and beat people.
Julio: Yeah he actually robs cars, grand theft auto every day.

So in your down time people should make sure if you're in town to lock up their cars...

Matt: Yeah, just be careful cause Julio runs the streets.
Julio: But really though, I like to just run around and kill people in that game. Collect their money and buy random food. Maybe I'll go to the bar. You know how you can go into the bar and just get really drunk and walk around all stupid and shit. That's how I do it.

I do want to ask you guys, are there certain tracks you do know you're going to play tonight or a certain feel you are going to start out with? Like what can we expect tonight?

Matt: We know we are going to play “Hit It.”
Julio: Probably going to play “Booty Bounce,” definitely playing a lot of the ones...
Matt: Definitely playing a lot of the ones we kinda have to play.
Julio: Most of the time it's just improvise though, we just kind of feed off whatever the crowd like.
Matt: Cause like some of the times we forget to play “Hit it” or “Booty Bounce.”

I saw you guys play at Avalon with Crookers and Valentino Khan and you guys played “Booty Bounce." The crowd went pretty crazy, they always goes insane. Did you expect that track to blow up as big as it did?

Matt: Not really.
Julio: We made that song when we were on tour with Laidback Luke last year on a tour bus and it was kinda just a funny idea because the whole song is basically just about booties and booty bouncing so the fact that people enjoy it is pretty awesome. We never expected it to get as crazy as it is. We always get people hitting us up about it months later like damn it's super crazy. They saw dudes like Congorock, 12 planet, Laidback Luke played it, Diplo played it and...
Matt: Tiesto even played it...
Julio: And Tiesto..? Really?
Matt: Yeah, he played it.
Julio: I didn't even know! It's pretty crazy just to see it happen like that especially a track we were just fucking around on a bus creating it.

A question that I just like to ask... is if you guys had to translate your life into BPMs what would it be? Like lots of builds? Drops? What do you have going?

Matt: Let's see, mine would be lots of.. I don't know. I don't even know.

Julio: My life right now is at 97 BPM.

Why's that?

Julio: I don't know. I like slow things, I'm a pretty slow guy.

You like to just chill?

Julio: Yeah, I mean most of the 97 stuff that I like or I listen to or say my life is, is kinda like ratchet club stuff. I love that stuff. Like a Bay Area type of thing, you know like hyphy. I really love that type of stuff. I also love trap.

I saw you (Julio) were listening to Lunice.

Julio: Yes, Lunice has a sick remix of Wacka Flocka called “Fuck the Club Up,” and I heard it yesterday and I was freaking out cause it sounded so amazing. I need the track in my life.

Do you have any tracks that are making you (Matt) feel that way right now?

Matt: Umm, shit. Not really. I don't really listen to music. It's very weird. I guess I'm just so into our stuff and always working on our stuff that I don't go out and listen to music. Most of the time it's just people showing me stuff or I'll randomly stumble upon it.
Julio: Yeah, but I mean that's how really anyone kinda finds music now a days.
Matt: There's a lot of people who will be like yeah have you heard this guy's new stuff. There's just so much stuff I haven't heard and everyone is like man listen to this. I don't really know what's going on half the time.

What are some producers that really influenced you guys to start making music?

The Neptunes, Timbaland, 9th Wonder, Crookers, Bloody Beetroots, Congorock, Benny Benassi, Fedde Le Grand.

When you first get to a venue do you just chill or hang out?

Julio: Yeah most of the time we just do like what we are doing right now. Just have a couple beers before we get on stage to get a little looser and get more comfortable.

Are you usually just flying in to most places?

Julio: Like LA yeah, we hang out with our manger a lot. We usually get in a little early and like today I went to go get a hair cut and he went to CVS today.

What did you (Matt) get from CVS?

Matt: Deodorant. Exciting.
Julio: Yeah we usually just come here and just hang out for a few hours.

Do you guys have anything in particular on your rider you always need?

Julio: Beer
Matt: Liquor

What's your (Julio) favorite beer?

Julio: Personally I like Newcastle or Stella. Also Doritos.
Matt: Oh. Doritos.

What kind?

Julio: Cool Ranch

Have you tried the new taco bell cool ranch tacos?

Julio: Yeah it tastes like a regular taco. I tried the nacho cheese one the other day it was pretty good.

What is your favorite food?

Pasta! Because its delicious!

Can we expect any EPs to be released soon? Or a Death to Genres Vol 2 to come out in the near future?

Yes. We have an EP coming out in the next few weeks, and DTG: Vol2 coming VERY soon !

If you've never been to a GTA show, I highly recommend changing that quick. Like the boys promised, they played "Hit it," and "Booty Bounce," but also played such a wide variety of genres that you had everything from trance to trap to hip-hop and so much more. This dynamic duo will cover everything you'll need to satisfy you musical cravings.

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