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Interview: KJ Sawka and ill.GATES Are Veterans in the Game Who Know How to Throw a Party!

Don't miss their show this Friday at CONTROL Avalon.

Ill.Gates and KJ Sawka are gearing up for a massive show on Friday the 6th, and we recently sat down with the two veteran DJ/producers to learn more about production styles, their live show, and 2017!

Purchase tickets for the event here.

You've got a show coming on the 6th at the famous CONTROL at Avalon. What can we expect from you at the event? 

KJ Sawka: Dylan and I have created a unique live show for this tour. It involves most of our newest tunes we are about to release in February and March. We've made the set very interactive and fully live. Meaning, we can play all the drums, keyboard and bass parts live and mix them up however we like. It's very similar to the Pendulum set and Destroid live show that I programmed.

ill.GATES: It's been a really enlightening challenge learning to perform in this way, we went through many versions of the setup before we were ready to leave the lab, but now I'm VERY happy with what we came up with. KJ is handling the drums and vocal sync and then I have programmed all of the synths and bass into a custom Bruce Lee themed MPC1000. This means I can avoid all of the classic computer issues that can derail a live set.

You're pretty much veterans in the game at this point, how do you keep yourself motivated through the difficulties of the music industry?

KJ Sawka - I try to keep inspired by traveling the world and learning as much as possible about many things, not just music. My new label Impossible Records keeps me pretty motivated, hearing all the great music young producers are coming out with. 

ill.GATES - The main thing is to keep 'beginner's mind' and become a sponge for all of the knowledge and inspiration you encounter. If you get jaded you close your mind to growth and it all becomes a bit repetitive. As Liquid Stranger so eloquently put it 'music is a bottomless well' The digger you deep, the sweeter the rewards.

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Your work in teaching others how to produce is immensely impactful in the music community. If you had to give a new producer one advice, what would it be?

KJ Sawka: No one cares, go harder. Quote from Travis Barker that keeps me focused and has changed my life.

ill.GATES: Don't try to make 'good' music, try to make YOUR music.

Looking back at 2016, what were your best and worst moments?

KJ Sawka: My worst moment is right now trying to finish my 2016 Impossible Records mixtape that I forgot to do, oops! Almost done! Best moment was when I sort of accidentally ate two mushroom chocolates up in Alaska and basically saw god while spending 2 hours trying to tie my shoes. 

ill.GATES: Smuggling KJ past the hotel staff when he was tripping too hard to tie his shoes was definitely a challenge, but the rest of 2016 was pretty much one big high five. It really is fun being a musician.

What can we expect from you for the rest of 2017?

KJ Sawka: My new KJ Sawka EP releases February 3rd. Lots of fantastic releases on Impossible Records and several big tours with amazing studley boy bands.

ill.GATES: Oh MAN! You picked the right year to ask that! I've got a compilation of my students coming out in January called "The Class of 808". They're all pretty much ready to graduate at this point. Future stars for real! After that, I have not one but TWO full-length albums scheduled for 2017. The first one is called Terminally ILL and is mostly vocal tunes and dance floor anthems. I really tried to make every track on it a hit and if the live response has been any indication I think it's a success. The next one is all of the weird, left field trippy stuff I've made during the same period of time. That one is called Departures, and it's a real curve ball. I've also got a few singles with guys like Opiuo and Bassnectar and then heaps of other stuff up my sleeve as well. 2017 is the year I've been waiting for!

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