By Jake Ebdale
Mt Eden have dropped the ‘dubstep' from their name. That much I know. Whilst this fad-stamp restricted the true depth of the dynamic duo, formed by Jesse Cooper and Harley Rayner in the mid 2000s, it also garnered them a wave of fervent success - dub step was the shit to many. But with the genre's popularity dwindling, they've proved they're more than a name, gaining millions of fans around the world. They can do pretty much anything - flaunting a blend of electronic, bass, trap and soul. They're also producing giants.
If that sounds like a decent resume already, they're also part of an up and coming label with New York based label Ultra Music, and share a management company with massive NZ export Lorde - yup, it can only go up from here. I ask them a few questions ahead of their homecoming tour this summer.
How does it feel knowing you've got one of the biggest online presences from an NZ act on YouTube and Facebook? Does social media matter to you guys?
Of course we are very grateful for having such an awesome following. It has really helped us in lots of ways. For example, our online presence helps us get shows, helps us nail down collaborations, and allows people from the industry and other artists to reach out directly to us. Promoters will look at your online stats to try to see if its worth it for them to book you, and our pages have been vouching for us for a long time now. We run our social media by ourselves, so we also gain direct access to our fans which is great - we always have an ear to the ground for feedback. Our pages all grew organically through word of mouth and sharing. This was quite a big factor for Ultra when they were signing us. It gives the artist a bit more leverage when it comes to signing a deal - the label will know the artist has other options. The label can rest assured knowing that the artist is a safer bet.
How does the night life in New York compare to New Zealand? And how do the crowds compare at Mt Eden gigs?
The nightlife in NY is insane. There are so many huge clubs and bars and lounges. We hit them most weeks we aren't traveling but usually we just prefer to stay in our local neighborhood dive bars in Brooklyn. We would normally be at house parties and barbecues and beach houses in NZ because one thing about Auckland is that there is hardly anything to do most nights of the week. Especially since Fu/Zen closed! The crowds at the shows in NY are at least as rowdy as in New Zealand and at a bigger scale -The equivalent concert halls we play at in America would probably be 3 or 4 times larger in capacity. I'm not sure why, but the dance music scene in the US seems quite a soft culture to get into. Here in the US they have alot more "mainstream ravers", whereas in NZ we seem to get elitist, diehard crowds. PLUR.
What can we expect from your upcoming summer tour of New Zealand? Are you excited to be back here?
I think this is the most excited we have been. "The Sky Is Gold Tour" is the first big tour of NZ we will be putting on ourselves so we are really pumped. We'll be playing a live set ourselves, and we've chosen some of our favourite artists from NZ to join us (different for different dates): The Upbeats, Broods, State Of Mind, Please Please, Minuit, Diaz Grimm, Dan Aux, Dick Johnson, Overkill and more. The tour happens right on the cusp of the release of "No Mans Land" - we'll be dropping singles so we are excited about that. We'll also be bringing in the camera crew who filmed our MTV Iggy shoot in NY to capture all the fun at the shows and on the road. Can't wait to rage with everybody there!
The management company you're part of, Saiko, also has Lorde in their repertoire - it seems like NZ is really making a mark in the US.Do you think you need to have a particular mindset in order to make a living with music?
I can comment on our philosophy as a team (Jesse and I and Saiko management). We know that we may not be doing this forever, that any number of factors could change our lives and bring an end to "Mt. Eden". Our mindset is never to be wasteful with time or money. If we have a spare few hours on the plane, or even 30 minutes in a taxi, we will be making music... that way we stay one step ahead of the game. We have material ready to go whenever it is needed, rather than stressing out trying to deliver something. Having traveled so much and met so many great artists, we now know how hard you have to work to this. You need to eat sleep and breathe your music and your business just to keep afloat.
How did you land the Ultra deal in New York?
We had been toying with the idea of remaining independent artists but that wasn't really working for us as marketing, promotion etc. was never one of our strong points. It was getting quite frustrating pushing our music uphill on our own with no marketing. We knew we needed help with the full spectrum of our public interface so we asked Saiko to talk to some different labels on our behalf. It took over a year of sending Ultra music, and negotiating over contracts, but we finally signed with them in December 2012. They are all-round good people and we love being on the label.
If you could see any other NZ artist making it big in New York, who would it be?
Broods, Ryan Enzed and Diaz Grimm. They all have dope music and I think the right sound to do well over here.
Who would be your top 3 dream artists to produce for?
Nas, Michael Jackson, Lauren Hill
What is your opinion of 'dubstep'? Is it a genre, a movement, a feeling?
It was a movement, it is a genre, and it will be a feeling
MT Eden Summer Tour
December 26th: Mangawhai Tavern - Mt Eden featuring; State of Mind, Dick Johnson, PleasePlease, Diaz Grimm
December 28th: Coroglen Tavern - Mt Eden featuring; The Upbeats with MC Armanni, Maya Vanya, PleasePlease, Diaz Grimm
December 31st: Riwaka Hotel, Riwaka - Mt Eden featuring; Minuit, Diaz Grimm
January 2nd: The Dux Live, Christchurch - NEW VENUE - NEW TICKET PRICE! - Mt Eden featuring; State Of Mind, Diaz Grimm, Thanks, Chachi
January 5th: Waihi Hotel (indoors) - Mt Eden featuring; State of Mind, PleasePlease, Diaz Grimm