Life is getting hectic for Elephante (real name Tim Wu), the DJ/producer behind tracks like “Catch On” featuring Nevve and “Plans” with Brandyn Burnette. Almost a year ago his nine-track sophomore EP, Glass Mansion, was released independently. It was followed by a massive 33-date fall tour.
This summer, Wu is slated to perform at Lollapalooza and Made In America Festival, along with various club dates across the U.S. Even more, Wu now has the release of a new track, “Diamond Days,” on the horizon, along with a headlining fall tour of the same name. He also has his third EP in the works, complete with new songs he plans to perform on tour.
Wu has been keeping busy, and he will stay busy for the foreseeable future to come.
Focusing first on his upcoming tour, Wu told EDM.com that we can expect a brand-new, elaborate production on a larger scale than ever before. Inspired in part by Porter Robinson’s “Worlds” tour and artists including ODESZA and Illenium, he said this tour will be like nothing he’s ever seen before.
The tour's namesake track, which he said will be released at some point before the tour, also served as inspiration for its theme while also operating as the “fanatic center” of his forthcoming project.
“It’s evocative of a time passed or an imaginary past, and the memories you have,” Wu explained. “There’s this sheen of how you look back fondly on things. We’re investigating that shining aspect, the gem imagery aspect, and also the reflective aspect for how you look back at your memories.”
Both the tour and the music Wu will play mark a transition from the melodic future house and indie acoustic sound for which he has gained recognition. One major change is the focus on live performances and vocals, with “Diamond Days” being only one of many on the album that will feature his own vocals.
The classically trained musician said the album as a whole is about leaning into himself as an individual artist for the first time, and trusting his own creative process. This includes writing ultra-personal song lyrics reserved for his own voice.
“I wouldn’t feel right letting anyone else sing,” Wu said. “This album is really about me telling the story that I want to tell.”
It's a big step for the artist to recognize this. After graduating from Harvard University in 2011 with a degree in economics, he eventually left his consultant job to pursue music full time. Even his stage name reflects how he constantly feels like the elephant in the room, as he told EDM.com in an interview last year.
This third EP and tour, though, will hopefully showcase what Wu is all about. For him, it’s ironic that he’s always tried to fit in - because, he said, it’s never exactly worked out. Now, he can truly work on making music without focusing on the pressure.
“I’m fortunate that I have such a deep joy and excitement in the music,” Wu said. “On good days I get completely lost in that. For the rest of it, I have enough faith that if I am doing what I’m excited about, and making music I want to make, then everything else will work out.”
Even on the bad days, Wu said he works to remind himself that he’s a person, too, and he has to take care of himself and his mental welfare.
With Avicii’s passing last year, the EDM community has rallied around mental health efforts for DJs. The struggle is a challenge because, on the one hand, the life of a DJ is what many dream of. On the other hand, however, a huge chunk of touring is spent on planes and getting stuck in traffic.
Wu said he hopes, especially after Avicii’s death, for it to be “more okay” to talk about mental wellness and that the community will work on stigma surrounding touring artists. At the same time, he uses his work as a “guiding light” to remind himself what all the struggles are for.
“I’m really excited for this tour,” Wu said. “I know why I’m doing this - not for the money, not for the fame. It’s to create this experience I’m really proud of and to share it with people.”