There's not many 25-year olds that pick up their life and move to Berlin to pursue a career in techno.
But then again, Weska isn't everyone.
Toronto-native Cody Hull has already been making waves in the global techno scene. Although he's been casually producing music since the age of 19, it wasn't until Adam Beyer, label boss of the world famous techno label Drumcode, performed his track live that Weska realized the potential of turning his passion into a full-blown career. Putting his nose to the grindstone, Weska has been furiously working on putting out track after track on popular labels like Suara, Octopus, and Tronic. When Weska found out that he had a famous fan, that's when things really began to pick up.
Enter, Eric Prydz.
The Swedish DJ and global superstar that has conquered fans of all genres of dance music with his projects under Eric Prydz, Pryda, and Cirez D took an interest in Cody. With the new unveiling of his long anticipated EPIC 5.0this Saturday, May 27th in London, Eric Prydz sought out fresh blood to help warm up the massive celebration.
Now, Weska finds himself with the opportunity to perform at some of the world's most highly regarded venues. Between performing at London's Steel Yard this weekend, to heading to Ibiza's newly rebranded Hï Ibiza club, Weska is on a rollercoaster ride that doesn't look like it has any intention of slowing down anytime soon.
We spoke with Weska about his journey in music so far, how he developed his love for techno, finding inspiration in a new city, and why age doesn't matter in music.
EDM.com: As a young person, how did you first get your exposure to underground electronic music?
WESKA: I used to be super into extreme sports and would get all my music from snowboarding and skiing movies, that’s what I did before I got into making music. That led me to find artists that I never would have found elsewhere. Some artists were more “clubby” artists that would be featured in these movies, and that’s how I found out who Boys Noize was and began searching similar artists, and from there I got into electro. I’ve always liked electronic music I just didn’t know what “club” music was per sé. I didn’t know that’s what you listened to when you went out, but that was when I was like 13 or 14 years old. I didn’t start making music until I was 19 but I started DJing electro and stuff like that, and then obviously my tastes shifted drastically when I found more of the club stuff. And that’s what I think techno is, pure club music. That’s why I love it so much.
"Honesty is super key...I want people to tell me how it is, if it’s one tiny thing I want to know that one tiny thing so that I can fix it. I always want to make my music the best that it can be."
When it comes to your journey as a producer, did you get any help or have a mentor to give you tips and tricks or was there a lot of self-discoveries?
People ask me that all the time and I still can’t understand why I really started making music. I remember when Adam Beyer [of Drumcode] played one of my super small tracks a few years ago, that’s when I really kicked it into overdrive like, “Okay I can actually do something with this.” I learned a lot from trial and error, learning to just figure out Logic. When you get in the habit of finishing a track that’s when you can really start going in a single direction. Because if you never finish anything you’re never going to have anything. But also having friends to tell you if stuff’s shit or if it’s cool helps. People still tell me stuff’s shit and that’s fine (laughs).
That’s good to get that honest feedback though, better than someone telling you something is good just to be polite...
Honesty is super key. Not just in life but with that stuff too. I want people to tell me how it is, if it’s one tiny thing I want to know that one tiny thing so that I can fix it. I always want to make my music the best that it can be.
"...[I]n music it doesn’t matter how old you are. I’ve always had the mind set that people who are older are better than you. Not in music, but just in life. But I’ve learned it’s not true, especially in music."
Today DJs have so much social clout that a lot people forget that at the end of the day they’re just nerds that like music and technology…
When I’m making music I’m still listening to tracks just to get the mix right. Like sometimes I find my kicks are way too loud, but that it sounds good. So then I listen to another track that's so powerful and one that I’ve heard in a club before but the kick is way quieter in volume. So you always have to be listening to music, because you can get stuck in your zone and stuck in your head. I’ve always done that, I listen to a track and then I listen to my track and I go back and forth. It’s bad to compare yourself directly with people, but sometimes when you’re making music it helps to listen to other people’s techniques. Not in a way that is copying or changing your sound, but to make your own style more defined.
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I know that you recently moved to Berlin, how has that helped to accelerate your career?
There’s definitely a lot more opportunity in Europe, I moved here for music. That’s the only reason why. It was so worth it, it’s definitely inspiring and a crazy city. You need to be smart about it and know when to party and when not to party, there’s this crazy atmosphere in the city. It doesn’t compare to North America at all, there’s something in the air here. Especially never having lived in Europe before.
I recently sent a friend one of my songs and he said that there’s been a drastic change in my music since I moved to Berlin. I guess it’s gotten harder, I know it’s gotten faster because the last few tracks are 130 BPM. Maybe it’s just that my mind is working differently, and obviously I’ve been exposed to different parties and cool spaces and have been inspired by them.
"I was always the one of my friends introducing people to techno, and they understood it, but once they heard it in a club it changed everything."
What’s been the most challenging thing about your move to Berlin?
There’s always something to do here (laughs). You have to stay focused. Obviously don’t kill yourself, you have to enjoy life in the city. But I always think to myself about the reason why I came here, even though I can get very distracted very easily – that’s just my personality. Music is the one thing that I don’t get distracted with which is why I love it so much. But people can also be intense here, Germans are just honest (laughs). Probably the biggest challenge is making music without an established studio, but also being careful to not party too much.
It seems like most established techno acts are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. At 25, do you feel like you face any “ageism” or feel pushed to work harder to prove yourself?
I literally was just talking to Christian Smith about this when he was asking me how I'm enjoying Berlin. We got to talking about how most of the people I hang with (except for one of my really good friends that’s a year younger than me) are older than us. And that’s the cool thing because in music it doesn’t matter how old you are. I’ve always had the mind set that people who are older are better than you. Not in music, but just in life. But I’ve learned that it’s not true, especially in music. There’s guys that are younger than me that are so good, and then there are guys older than me that are great too.
A lot of people are 40 and 50, and I guess in techno it’s more about the long term. It’s not like EDM where you can produce one banger at 15 and then the next thing you know you’re playing all across the world and making thousands of dollars per show. It’s about longevity in techno. I think that’s why there’s so many older people doing it too, I think it’s a more mature sound. I didn’t know what techno was when I first started, but I found myself getting closer and closer to it and realized that is where my heart is. I was always the one of my friends introducing people to techno, and they understood it, but once they heard it in a club it changed everything.
"I think techno is on the rise again - not that it ever went out, but it’s not just going to be older people anymore. I think it will be more prevalent in the younger generations than ever before."
This summer you’re jumping onboard with Eric Prydz for the unveiling of his new Hologram at Steelyards as well as his first ever residency at Hï Ibiza. How did you get linked up with him?
He actually just likes my music. That’s literally how it happened. His manager hit up my manager with me as the subject line and got to chatting. I opened up for him in Toronto when we saw that he was coming and I briefly talked to him, and he said, “I really like your stuff, man.” Which was so crazy to hear from him! I have more Pryda songs than any other artists, it’s crazy! He’s one of the guys I’ve liked throughout my entire career from when I first got into music. When I listened to electro, he was there. When it went into progressive, he was there. And even now with techno he has Cirez D that I listen to. He’s just such an inspiring artist and he crosses genres which is so cool.
But yeah, he just literally likes my music. I’m not sure how he found it, but he started playing it last summer and now this summer I’m playing parties with him that is pretty surreal.
Do you think techno will have more crossover appeal to young people, or do you think it will always cater to a more mature audience? Do you think techno will become fashionable and have its moment in the sun?
It was first, so it’s always been there. I don’t think it’s going to go commericial, there’s already commercial techno if you think about it. But I think it’s on the come-up as a genre that’s going to appeal to everyone. I don’t think it’s going to sell out but it’s going to become extremely popular in the next few years. You already see DJs and labels that are switching their sounds when 5-6 years ago they were playing deep-house. I think techno is on the rise again - not that it ever went out, but it’s not just going to be older people anymore. I think it will be more prevalent in the younger generations than ever before.
Techno is cool!