The Montreal native speaks about his swift and speedy rise into the limelight
With TomorrowWorld just two days away, the excitement is building with each passing minute. Rumors have been spreading that the festival has gone to new lengths in curating their "menu," and we have recently gotten confirmation that escargot will be making an appearance at this year's gathering. Well, not exactly escargot per se, but there will certainly be Snails. Frédérik Durand is the man behind the mollusk, and his attitude towards making genre-defying music makes him a must-see act at the festival. With his first ever TomorrowWorld performance coming up, we got a chance to speak with the Montreal native about his newest EP, favorite moment of the year, upcoming tour, and his unexplainable love for escargot.
"They are so weird... with their eyes and slimey bodies. I really don’t know why I love them so much, but I can say it was love at first sight. Weird recognizes weird.”
It's a little ironic, but this cannibalistic nature couldn't have suited the producer better. I mean, he is a member of Kannibalen Records, the birthchild label of Black Tiger Sex Machine and home to other genre-devouring producers like Apashe, Kai Wachi, Dead Battery, and more. But to Durand, it's more than just a label - it's a family too, and their relationship runs deep.
"I’ve known the Kanni crew for so long... When I was part of my old group 'Dooze Jackers,' we started to do shows with BTSM (Black Tiger Sex Machine) in some weirdo cafe and some underground place. However, it wasn't until we did the first 'Kannnibalen show' at Le Belmont club in Montreal that everything changed. We never would’ve predicted the turn out; it was sold out, and with a bunch of BTSM parties lined up, it eventually lead to the creation of the label.
When my other project stopped a couple of months after, I decided to to join Kannibalen Records. It’s a family thing there, and nothing is stronger than that, you know? It has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. Being part of that label is not only about releasing music and partying, it’s about creating an image, a brand, being part of a movement that is unique. The family thing is one of the strongest aspects that made me stay with them too, because I really feel I belong with those people and I love them. As for my career, they were the ones working with me since the beginning (when I was still trying to find my name “Snails”), so it has really been a big push for me as an artist to be part of it on all of these aspects."
Kannibalen Records serves as a home for a number of Snails' releases, from his earliest singles like "Bubble Gun" to his latest tracks such as "Slugz" and "Dirty Raxxx." Showcasing his signature "vomitstep" sound, each track has solidified his place in the heavy bass scene. His fans have donned him the king of this movement in sound, although he doesn't quite see it that way.
"I remember like it was yesterday when I was with my friends and telling them my sounds were like 'vomit sounds.' It all started as a joke, and now it’s funny to see that people really dig that sound. That king thing that we’ve created with 'Slugz' is another idea that I had with the label for a cover. Personally I’m always a little bit shy to have the title of 'King Vomit,' but on the other hand I’m so happy I’ve been able to make my way and create a new sound.
The 'vomitstep' movement is more of a way to laugh and and connect with fans on a new 'hybrid' sound. And as for the pressure, I take it more as a challenge. I try to do something I’ve never done before in every song... So I guess the more people are asking for the 'vomitstep' sound, the more it’s gonna push me to do weirder stuff. The cool thing with vomitstep is that it’s a movement based more on a type of sound than on a technical thing like the bpm, genre, style etc. I love it like that because personally, I love electro house as much as dubstep, drum n bass, and hip hop, so I’ve found a way to put all them together by using a distinctive sound."
In the last year alone, Snails has performed at renowned festivals such as HARD Summer and Ilesoniq, released chart-topping collabs such as “Wild” with Antiserum and “Pump This” with HeRobust, and just finished his latest original EP "STOMP." With so many accomplishments in one year, we felt the need to ask his most memorable experience of the last 12 months, and weren't surprised to hear there were more than just one.
"There were 2 big things that happened for me this year. The first was 'Wild' - as stoked as I was on the overwhelmingly positive response on the track, I think I was the most happy about that song because I made it with Antiserum. Mikey (Antiserum) has always been a big influence on my music, and he was one of the first ones that put me in the trap vibe with his track “Bricksquad Anthem” with Anthony (Mayhem). I remember when I received a DM from him on Twitter asking for a collab like it was yesterday. Since then, everything that has happened around “WILD” has been out of this world. Skrillex adding me on Twitter, Diplo playing out my stuff, having the chance to meet artists that I’ve looked up to since my beginnings etc. But the second big thing is when I played HARD fest for my first American show last month. I’ve never been so shaky or stressed before a show, and it was a 1pm set time nonetheless. I was the first act to play in the OWSLA tent, and 3000 kids showed up for the set. Even today, the whole set seemed to be like 2 minutes long - everything happened so fast. To be honest, it was one of the best moments I have ever had. The adrenaline of all the people in the crowd still gets me shaking since it was so crazy. I’m also beyond stoked to be part of HARD Day of the Dead edition for Halloween!
As a pioneer of this hybrid sound, it's not easy to pinpoint the exact origins or influences of Snails' work. The Kannibalen crew is predominently known for their merciless bass sounds and heavy attitude, but the Montreal producer is incorporating an unprecedent style and finesse in sound. One of the biggest people influencing his unique taste is fellow producer LAXX.
"This dude is killer! Every song he’s put out recently has been such a big inspiration. It’s not even about a sound or recreating something he has done... it’s more about how you can go beyond yourself on every single track. It’s a personal challenge that I love, and for that his work has been a really big thing for me. 'Quality over quantity' that has always been my way of thinking and that guy is one of the best examples."
Despite there being nearly 3 months left to 2014, Durand's breakout year is still far from finished. Last week, the Montreal-native released his newest 2 track EP STOMP, which features a heavy trap original of the same name, and an epic drumstep collab with Bawdy titled "RDM." Each artist has their own fine-tuned process in writing and creating tracks, but Snails sees the production process as a method of storytelling more than anything.
"I remember when I first started "STOMP" - I was in Europe for my first tour, sitting on a couch at the promoter’s house that I was staying at. I was just so stoked about the fact that I was in Europe for my music that I was 1000% inspired to do something. Then I started this weird vomit bass and 1 month later STOMP was born. Every track has a history behind it or something that I can relate it to, even though it’s mostly me who knows the story. I think it’s one of my ways of getting into a record and trying to tell a story with [it]. With the 'STOMP' EP, I just wanted to try something new and push the boundary of “Vomitstep” to somewhere else. Trying to mix the dubstep vibe with the trap side. Personally, it’s one of my favorite tracks I have ever written. It’s just so weird and vomit-y."
Durand is also preparing for his debut U.S. tour this fall, where he will be directly supporting the "twonk" master Brillz. We asked how he got linked up with the twerk-master and his perspective on live performances.
"I’ve been linked with Brillz via Twitter and we exchanged some messages for each other’s tracks. I remember one day I got a DM from him about the tour. I was dancing on my bed like a kid going to Toys ’R’ us for the first time! I’m so happy about that; to be honest I don’t even understand all of this. When I told my mom I was going to tour the U.S for like 2 months, she was just mind blown too. I can’t wait to start the tour with him; it’s gonna be so much fun. Brillz is such a down to earth person and I feel like doing this tour with him will be a very good experience. I couldn’t ask for more for my first US tour!
There’s always that voice inside my head that is telling me to drop the biggest songs and hits, because I know the crowd is gonna love it and I love them too. There’s always a bunch of tracks that I would put in my set but they are just so weird that I'm not sure everyone is ready to hear them yet. I guess since I’m a fan of both, I’m building my set towards doing a mix of both. I’m always trying to show the crowd something different. Since my productions are already strange to start, I’m trying to slowly introduce people to this genre without overwhelming them. I'm aiming to make my live set like my ‘SNAILEDIT' mixtapes, featuring as much unreleased stuff as possible! I want to make my set unique and different from other artists and djs I’m playing with, so I don’t have to wonder if a song in my set will be played multiple times before me."
Looking ahead, Snails has quite a few gifts for us in the coming months. Rumors have spread of a “Wild” remixes EP, along with a number of originals and upcoming collabs. Snails brought us up to date with his current release status and the recent EP rumors.
"Well, let’s say that it’s not a rumor anymore - it’s going to be OMEGA. I have other remixes coming out in the next month too, maybe a new track with Botnek, a follow up to KRMT, and more... I just can’t wait to show everybody all the new stuff I'm working on."
Look out for Snails this fall in a city near you!