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Dance/Electronic

HIGHSOCIETY Discusses His Creative Process and “Going Under” Single with Micah Martin

HIGHSOCIETY (aka James Guttman) discusses his unique musical style, creative process, new single with Micah Martin, “Going Under” (FiXT), and what artists he’d like to work with.

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HIGHSOCIETY, photo by Eric Molyneaux

Rock, punk, pop, electronic… Does it really even matter? Not in the opinion of James Guttman, the multi-talented singer, songwriter, and producer who has arrived with his new project HIGHSOCIETY. Guttman initially found his footing as a musician doing more traditional rock n’ roll, but his interests and musical goals began to change, which led him now to the more explosive, EDM sound you hear with HIGHSOCIETY. Combining stadium-sized bass, heavy metal-influenced dubstep, and red-hot trap, Guttman very capably mashes up various musical styles and makes them coexist in perfect harmony.

You’ll get a load of what we’re talking about with the brand new single “Going Under,” just released via FiXT Music. The song features another former rock guy who has found success in electronic music, Micah Martin. Martin is well known for being the lead singer of the rock band The Zealots. What made this collaboration such a no-brainer is that both Martin and Guttman share very similar musical backgrounds and interests, but they also share a lot in common regarding what they want to get out of a song. “Going Under” combines metalcore, dubstep, and rock overtones to create a truly memorable track that goes above and beyond anything you’ll hear in a rock, metal, or EDM song.

Joining us today is James Guttman, aka HIGHSOCIETY, to discuss his unique musical style, his creative process, the new single “Going Under,” what artists he’d like to work with, and more.

How would you describe your own music?

James Guttman: “I coined my own style, ‘DATAMOSH,’ as a way to encapsulate my sound in a concise way. My music is the ultimate fusion of rock energy with a bass-heavy electronic foundation. It pushes at the boundaries of rock, dubstep, industrial, metalcore, and futuristic EDM. In any given song of mine, you’re likely to hear insane electronic sound design blended together with heavy guitars, screamed vocals, and glitchy textures. I think it’s pretty unique!”

How would you describe your creative process?

“This has changed a lot for me over the years, but as my career has progressed and things have gotten more serious, it almost entirely revolves around discipline. I don’t rely on ‘inspiration’ at all. I wake up extremely early in the morning and force myself to get into the studio at the same time every day. Just by getting into the room in a consistent fashion, ideas begin to flow, and I hit a creative rhythm relatively easily most days.

“Outside of the studio, I keep notes and folders of things I see/hear that could be incorporated during the previously mentioned deep focus time. If I ever hit a creative wall, it’s good to have a bucket of references to pull ideas from.”

Artwork for the single “Going Under” by HIGHSOCIETY & Micah Martin

Artwork for the single “Going Under” by HIGHSOCIETY & Micah Martin

Tell us about the new single “Going Under.” What was your experience of making it? What went on behind the scenes? Any notable moments that stand out?

“I had originally written the ‘Going Under’ instrumental for another artist, but the collaboration didn’t end up happening. I had been familiar with Micah Martin’s work for a long time, as he’s collaborated with a number of bigger producers in electronic music. I reached out to him about potentially hopping on the song, and we had a quick phone call. We talked about our shared love for rock/metal and fusing genres together, and I knew he was the right guy for the job. I was blown away with what he sent back, he recorded some incredible vocals in a single day, and I barely had any notes/changes. His larger-than-life vocal delivery was the perfect fit for the song.

“To round it out, I enlisted my friend Brian Skeel of Void Chapter (another FiXT artist) to throw down some guitars on top of the whole song to make it a bit more rock-leaning and fill it out.”

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

“Generally, I’m looking to collaborate with big rock artists or other electronic artists that blend in rock elements. Some artists I think I’d work well with are: We Came As Romans, Motionless In White, Sullivan King, and PhaseOne. I like to collaborate with artists that can bring something different to the table so we can get unique results by working together.”

What’s the best criticism you’ve ever received about your music or performance?

“Some of the best criticism I received early on was that I was throwing way too many different sounds/elements into my tunes. As a younger producer, I always thought ‘more was more,’ and it led to my songs being a bit jumbled and lacking a cohesive, clear vision.

“As my songwriting has progressed, I’ve taken the approach of having just a few extremely well-designed elements working together. It makes the song more memorable, and it’s easier to get high-quality mixes/masters with fewer elements.”

If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?

“I suppose this is more of an observation about society as a whole that also affects the music industry, but the role of social media. I am not anti-social media by any means, but I am concerned and apprehensive about what it is turning into and the impact it is having on art and artist mental health. I am extremely grateful for how social media allows me to connect with my audience on a personal level as well as promote my music. But the same platforms that allow this can create a sense of pressure to constantly produce content and maintain an online presence, which can lead to burnout and exhaustion.

“In some ways, I feel that considering ‘what will perform well’ online is antithetical to making great art that stands the test of time and, most importantly, provides fulfillment for the artist making it.”

Do you have any touring plans coming up?

“I’ll be playing live all over this year! Right now, I’ve got a handful of fly-out dates announced in Detroit, Cleveland, Phoenix, and St. Louis. But I’ll be locking in a bunch more dates as the year progresses, hitting a bunch of cities I’ve never played before and potentially returning to Europe for some shows toward the end of the year.”

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

“One that comes to mind is releasing my last single, ‘Burn’ with Craig Mabbitt of Escape The Fate. I have been listening to Craig’s work in Escape The Fate (and his previous bands, Bless The Fall and The Word Alive) for over 15 years, and he’s one of my all-time favourite singers. It’s been a bit surreal to work on a song with him and become friends. That track was my first true rock/electronic hybrid release, which was a very challenging and ultimately rewarding creative process.”

HIGHSOCIETY Selfie4

Politics and Music. Yay, Nay or What the Hay?

“Absolutely! Music has a long history of being used as a tool for social and political change. It is easy to forget that we are not just entertainers; we have a fundamental right to engage in politics. I would encourage anyone who thinks music and politics shouldn’t go together to dig a bit deeper into their favourite artists; chances are they have strong political views and use their platform to promote those views.”

How did you link up with the label for this release, and what about them was attractive enough to make you sign?

“I had been working with FiXT for a year or so, releasing one-off singles and remixes for their roster artists. I was actually pretty familiar with the label already because I have been a fan of the founder/owner Celldweller’s music since I was a teenager. As I started getting more into the idea of fusing rock and EDM together, signing with them was a clear choice as they’re pioneers in the rock/electronic hybrid genre. This latest release, ‘Going Under,’ is track #2 from my forthcoming album, so it’s really just the beginning of our working relationship, but things have been going great so far. Shoutout to the FiXT team!”

Born in 2003, V13 was a socio-political website that, in 2005, morphed into PureGrainAudio and spent 15 years developing into one of Canada's (and the world’s) leading music sites. On the eve of the site’s 15th anniversary, a full re-launch and rebrand takes us back to our roots and opens the door to a full suite of Music, Film, TV, and Cultural content.

Dance/Electronic

Chaos Shrine Reveal “Vapula” Single from Forthcoming Album ‘Mirror Division’

Ambient electronic duo Chaos Shrine has revealed their new single, “Vapula,” from their forthcoming album ‘Mirror Division.’

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Chaos Shrine, photo by Omar Bovenzi
Chaos Shrine, photo by Omar Bovenzi

“Duality describes humanity’s usual condition. All phenomena must be paired, as the senses are only equipped to perceive differences,” says Peter J. Carroll in his book Liber Null. In fact, duality, along with many of the other fundamentals of chaos magic, is a central concept of Chaos Shrine, the collaborative project between Paul Beauchamp and Andrea Cauduro.

Today, they unveil “Vapula,” the first single off Mirror Division, their upcoming album due for release on Erototox Decodings on April 5th in LP and all digital platforms.

As a duo, Chaos Shrine’s music evolves and devolves in intricate sonic rituals carried out in the studio where the two artists seamlessly change and interchange roles mid-stream, moving effortlessly from composer to musician to engineer to producer, in many cases without a word being said between the two. Often, one will be at the studio controls or working with an instrument but will suddenly step back, and the other will instinctively move in and take over. This process will go on for minutes or even hours until a moment is reached when one will look at the other, who will respond with little more than a silent nod, at which point the two will move on in unison to the next element of the composition or the next piece.

Raised on a farm in North Carolina, Beauchamp began his sonic research as a teen using tape loops and field recordings before moving on to becoming a professional studio engineer and continuing his work as a solo ambient/drone musician focusing on research music and the use of both traditional and non-traditional instruments. Among others, Beauchamp has collaborated with Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo (Larsen), Julia Kent (Rasputina, Anthony and the Johnsons), Jochen Arbeit (Automat, Einsturzende Neubauten), Lydia Lunch, Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance), Paolo Spaccamonti, Johann Johannsson, Colin Potter, and Steve Stapleton (Nurse With Wound).

Cauduro obtained his master’s in 2018 with a thesis on the guitar works of John Zorn. Cauduro specializes in the practice of contemporary music through his work in various festivals across Europe, such as Sonology Showlab (Den Haag), Noiseberg (Berlin), and Sirga Festival di Flix (Barcelona) as part of an ensemble directed by Mats Gustafsson. His solo work, on the other hand, focuses on the rediscovery of the ancestral form of guitar through loops and effects that evoke sonic visions of dark ambient, drone and echoes of ancient ritual music.

Chaos Shrine ‘Mirror Division’ album artwork

Chaos Shrine ‘Mirror Division’ album artwork

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Dance/Electronic

Vsoundz and Leng Lewn Premiere Their High-Decibel Single “Waiting In Spring”

Electronic artists and DJs Vsoundz and Leng Lewn collaborate for their high-decibel new electronic single “Waiting In Spring” (Grand Alliance Music).

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Vsoundz at Mushroom Valley 2023
Vsoundz at Mushroom Valley 2023

Not every artist is well suited to collaborate, but as you’ll hear from Vsoundz and Leng Lewn, some collaborations are a match made in heaven. The electronic artists have gotten together to record the intoxicating new single “Waiting In Spring.” The collaboration partially came about due to each artist being on the same label, Grand Alliance Music. But at the same time, they have been looking to work together for some time, and they finally discovered the right opportunity.

Both veterans of the electronic music scene, each artist has been rebranding from other aliases. They have also each modified their musical approach to some extent, with both Vsoundz and Leng Lewn previously known more for their work as DJs. This project has entrenched them more as producers, and they are happy to show what they are made of.

Discussing “Waiting In Spring,” Daniel Chiang, the mastermind behind Leng Lewn, comments:

“‘Waiting In Spring’ came about during winter time this past year, I was writing and writing, trying to create new stuff for this project, rebranding from DeciBel was a little bit of a switch for me personally and just eagerly wanting something to bring upon the feeling of spring. Of course, here was Matt (Vsoundz) and we were both waiting for the bloom to come, and so I sent the original project over to him to work on, as I just had a feeling from our brief time interacting online and at our interactions at festivals that our writing process and sounds were a match made in heaven.

“So ‘Waiting In Spring’ was born from this desire of another phase, the next chapter, the push for a new beginning, and often being able to observe that, wanting, wishing for it through nature for spring and a collaboration set to bring many more.”

Vsoundz, aka Matt Vos, adds:

“It’s been a long time coming for me and my buddy Leng Lewn to finally collaborate on a track. It was crazy how it all just sort of fell together… You can be sure to expect more tracks from both of us in the near future. Creating ‘Waiting in Spring’ with Leng Lewn has been an absolute whirlwind of inspiration and energy. This high-vibed hybrid dub/trap anthem practically wrote itself, exploding into existence within just mere days of Leng Lewn first sharing the initial concept with me. The synergy between us was electric, and the result is a track that’s not just music; it’s an invitation to elevate your spirit and groove to the rhythm of life. Let’s get ready to celebrate the inevitable energy of spring and feel these vibes together with us!”

Both Vsoundsz and Leng Lewn have become live sensations in their own right. The former has become well recognized for his arsenal of high-vibed bass tracks, with high-energy live sets able to bring down the house. Interestingly, Lewn grew up a fan of heavy metal, which was his real introduction to live music. He played guitar in a metal band in Australia but realized being in a band wasn’t for him. So he decided to turn to electronic music.

Lewn is a Melbourne-based DJ who was previously known as DeciBel. He began his DJing career laying down drum & bass sets throughout the city, supporting many international acts. Lewn views electronic music as an avenue for freedom and ambition. He has a knack for developing big basslines, sing-along vocals, and innovative drum patterns. As an artist, he seeks to surprise, but this is where he and Vsoundz find common ground. And it’s what has driven this collaboration and will continue to drive it to gloriously unpredictable places.

Vsoundz x Leng Lewn “Waiting In Spring” single artwork

Vsoundz x Leng Lewn “Waiting In Spring” single artwork

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Dance/Electronic

Holly Riva Drops Powerful Single “Labyrinth (Mask Of Me)”

20-year-old Australian singer-songwriter, & John Lennon songwriting contest winner, Holly Riva drops single “Labyrinth (Mask Of Me).” 

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Holly Riva in 2024
Holly Riva in 2024

20-year-old Australian singer-songwriter Holly Riva releases powerful single “Labyrinth (Mask Of Me).” Continuing a huge swell of momentum since the 2023 John Lennon Songwriting Contest winner snowballed in popularity since her emergence last year. On January 19th, Riva will also release an Antonio Ruffino-directed music video, a vibrant and exciting accompaniment to the track with a fun aesthetic that evokes the spirit and vibe of the HBO series Euphoria.

The new single explores the double lives that so many people often lead, with online, filtered versions of themselves proving to be miles away from their authentic selves and creating a disparity that Riva describes as “a lie that you can’t live up to, the truth always eventually creeps up on you.”

Riva says of the writing process:

“I went into the co write with a top line and chord progression that I thought would sit well and the guys took it down an electronic path that flipped it on its head, there was a magic flowing in the Hollywood studio with Ben and KONG, it was incredible, we knew we were onto something.”

The illusion and mystique of the narrative are mirrored perfectly through the expansive sound, with LA-based Ben Epand’s dark electronic production paired with the sweet but deadly warm vocals, which create the perfect blend. The lyric “A city made of ancient stone, my heart it shatters, can’t break the patterns” depicts the maze-like Grecian setting that features throughout the track as well as emphasizing the mask being the filter we use when hiding our authentic selves and the patterns we can’t break out of. There is a real feeling of fierceness throughout here, with all of the elements and facets of the track working together to create a distinctive and memorable allure.

Riva says, “We live in a time with epidemic mental health issues with my generation and I feel this plays a huge roles.” The title alludes to not truly letting anybody in for fear of seeing the real us and, ultimately, creating complex emotional issues hidden within a maze of illusions. The reggaeton Latin beat kicks off the track with its fierce, distinctive rhythm, creating a truly unique pop track, and one that adds to this feel of mystery and intrigue.

“Labyrinth (Mask Of Me)” is now on all streaming platforms.

Holly Riva “Labyrinth (Mask Of Me)” single artwork

Holly Riva “Labyrinth (Mask Of Me)” single artwork

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