Kill the Noise’s forthcoming first album, Occult Classic, opens with heavy drums, tooth-grinding blasts of distortion and AWOLNATION‘s Aaron Bruno repeating the artist’s name as unanswered command. This chaos quickly coalesces into a skittering cut titled “Kill It 4 the Kids,” which you can listen to below. “It was really easy and fun,” the EDM musician born Jake Stanczak tells Rolling Stone of making the track. He was introduced to Bruno by a friend working for Kill the Noise’s label, the Skrillex-founded OWLSA. “I was actually kind of worried that he wouldn’t be into it because it wasn’t really a thing we were working on.”
Instead, Bruno was so impressed that he asked to contribute to what would become the LP’s hard-hitting closer, an apt conclusion after 40 minutes of bass drops, brilliant novelties (“Dolphin on Wheels”) and tongue-slightly-in-cheek electro-house. (“I Do Coke”). Occult Classic, which is set to be released October 9th and available now for pre-order, comes following a year that has seen Kill the Noise make an appearance on Skrillex’s debut album Recess, premiere a music video on Adult Swim and produce a song “Shell Shocked” with Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J and Ty Dolla $ign for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot.
Despite his success, Stanczak doesn’t think of himself as making pop music and he doesn’t plan on playing it safe creatively. Indeed, influences like Nine Inch Nails and Tame Impala have inspired him to do just the opposite.
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What were you trying do when you started working on Occult Classic?
I had ended up in a place where I started feeling like I was rewriting stuff that I’d already done before. There’s all these demos that I had been writing that I had been afraid to put more time into because I didn’t feel like it was stuff that people would understand. I think I finally got to this point where I was like, “Well, I’m not really growing as an artist by playing it safe.” All the artists that I admire take risks, you know? They just follow their heart. What turned out to be one of my favorite albums by Nine Inch Nails was With Teeth. There were only a couple songs on there that really resembled the older stuff, but the rest of it grew on me. Now it’s one of my favorite albums. Especially in dance music, people just want to get their head blown off in the first 15 seconds. Creatively, that’s just a really restrictive place to be.
“Kill It 4 the Kids” has some really intense distortion, which is something you’re known for. How are you creating these sounds?
It’s just tweaking synths, man, and getting really weird and creative using different kinds of effects, plug-ins and distortions. All the stuff that I’ve really loved is using things in an unconventional kind of way. Typically it’s like, “OK, I want to distort something so I’ll put a distortion pedal on it.” Well, OK, what happens when you put five distortion pedals on something? Or what if I put five compressors on something? Or stacked five EQ’s on something to just boost everything?
And this song has guitars in it as well, some guitar stuff that I played, so there’s this combination of stuff happening inside the digital realm and stuff going on in the analog world. You’re kind of only limited by your processing power, how much you can master the sound.
Do you still consider any of this dubstep?
No. And not that I don’t love dubstep — I love dubstep — but I didn’t even start putting dubstep out until 2011, and I’ve been doing Kill the Noise since 2007, you know? Now I think that the only way for me to get it through people’s fucking heads is to not make any dubstep. I think people get fixated on genres. Everyone just needs a way to identify what they’re talking about, just to sit in a social circle or sell ad clicks or whatever the fuck it is. People just need buzzwords. I guess it’s always been that way. You could use Nine Inch Nails for example: It was “alternative rock” or it was “industrial music.” I listen to it as an adult and I guess at the core it’s rock & roll, but shit, the core of what I’m doing is rock & roll, too. Even “dance music”: It insinuates that you put the music on and everybody starts, like, jumping around or whatever [laughs].
Have any musicians blown you away lately — done something that you didn’t think was possible before?
I think that Tame Impala’s new record, that Currents thing, I was blown away by that. I think that he had a lot of balls to put a record out where he’s literally and figuratively writing songs about just going for it and trying something new and not really giving a shit what people think. In a time where a lot of ideas have been explored sonically and creatively, the thing that’s missing from a lot of music is just people being honest about what their intentions are. I took away a lot of stuff from that on my record. There’s points where it’s literally my voice talking about why I’m doing this shit. Maybe that’s too literal, but at this point it’s an idea that’s fresh because it’s not something you hear very often.
It’s very different from lyrics that are co-written by four people specifically to reach a certain demographic.
Yeah. It’s getting clear to me that there’s two worlds. There’s the mega-crazy pop world and then there’s the rest of us, people that are trying to just survive. I think it’s possible to survive, as long as you’re honest. And making music is collaborative whether you like it or not — unless you’re a fucking bum on Venice Beach with an acoustic guitar — but that’s why I like all these guys like Tame Impala: They don’t give a fuck. They’re just writing songs about their life.