There was a blizzard rolling into town when our photographer, Jiani, and I shuffled through slush into the Renaissance Hotel to meet Ian and Danl from LA’ act, gLAdiator. We were met with big smiles and bigger personalities; they’d just ordered take-out and we ended up chatting around SportsCentre to break the ice. It’s hard to tell where our conversation ended and where the interview began, so we left the recording equipment running to see what we could get out of this duo before their show at The Hoxton.
Syd: So this is your first time in Toronto.
Syd: You like it?
Syd: People have been polite?
Danl: Absolutely! Too polite.
Ian: The Most polite.
Danl: It’s shocking how polite people are.
Syd: Were customs nice?
Danl: We had very different experiences…
Ian: Every time we come to Canada, we have… issues, though, the two times we’ve been to canada. I had to wait in some extra separate line and go through some other room shit… Danl just walked right through.
Danl: He was like, ‘where you playin?’ and I’m like ‘the Hoxton’ and he’s like ‘Cool, have fun’!
Syd: I’ve heard it’s weird for DJs to get work visas here.
Danl: As long as you are a performer. If people are coming to see you, you can be a DJ. If you are a DJ at a bar, you need to have a work visa.
Ian: found that out the hard way the first time.
Danl: It ended up working out after they pulled us into the back room… the guy was like, ‘if you guys are just DJs then you’re not performers, not musicians. You guys have any credentials?’ and we’re like ‘Yeah! We have a website… here’s our card’. and he was really sceptical, to say the least. He comes back ten minutes later he’s like ‘okay, next time don’t say you’re DJs,’
Ian: He said our ‘word choice was poor’.
Syd: He was salty to you then?
Danl: Little bit!
Syd: They say that Toronto’s LA’s evil twin, ’cause we took all the salt out of the water and that’s why we’re so salty.
Danl: That was good. Honestly there’s enough salt in LA for… the rest of the world. We’re working on a little Canadian tour we wanna do with our guys Thugli. They’re really good dudes!
Syd: People are becoming more interested in coming to Canada for shows, I find. Do you believe the US is an over-saturated market right now?
Danl: Yes and no.
Ian: Certain markets, no matter what it’s gonna be great, and then others you see the same people every fuckin weekend.
Danl: LA is definitely a scene unto itself, in that it’s such a big melting pot of different genres of music and different interests, you have cliques of different artists, everywhere. If one person’s playing a show, you know X people are gonna be there, and probably jump on and do a set.
Syd: So I see you’re wearing an LA shirt right now. Awesome. It goes along with the colours of your logo. Do you think your aesthetic matches your music? Did your music have much say in that?
Ian: Building the brand was a big part of it. The brand’s come up more recently, though… It’s been, five six months.
Danl: Shout out to Demo X for that one.
Ian: The music came first, I’d say.
Syd: I remember listening to one of your first remixes, the Illmerica one. Diplo played it on his Sirius show?
Danl: That was a while ago, yeah. Ian called me and was like DUUUUDE, DIPLO PLAYED ONE OF OUR TRACKS. And I was like NOOOO WHAT? WHAT? We were very stoked about it.
Syd: You started out with a lot of remixes.
Danl: I feel like we’re DJs first and producers second. As producers, we’re always developing… taking just, sounds that we like, and making music. I would feel hard pressed to say that our sound is very LA, or that LA influenced our sound. I feel that LA influences /us/, in general. Who we are as people. We are… loud, aggressively social.
Syd: Like, BE MY FUCKING FRIEND?
Danl: Well, you know, we did just meet, but.
Ian: I get pretty aggressive on twitter, I’m not gonna lie. I’m trying to scale it back.
Syd: Nah, man, your twitter game’s great.
Ian: I know! But people keep telling me to tone it down…
Danl: Just a f ew less all-caps tweets.
Syd: Are you trying to be bill_nye_tho?
Danl: NO-ONE CAN EVER BE BILL NYE THO.
Ian: It’s so sad that’s gone. We have to mourn that account. What happened to it?
Danl: Yeah, that was a shame. You know what the fucked up thing about that is? The only way that could have happened is if Bill Nye had said something.
Syd: It could also have been the people who own his tv show.
Danl: That’s true!
Syd: He has a real twitter, too. He does actual science.
Danl: I feel like that’s… what Bill_nye_tho is already? It’s science shit, just… translated.
Syd: Yo, dinosaurs are fuckin rad as hell man.
Ian: To come full circle from dinosaurs, I think that especially in today’s market it’s important to be identifiable, and have a certain aesthetic or brand that people can immediately see and identify with. We worked really hard on it, and we wanted to do something good with it. You see the stickers and shit everywhere now! It’s simple ’cause it’s just us, but it’s also recognizable. We wanted to go with something strong. We’re happy with it!
Syd: You were talking about how your favourite thing is to share music for free on Facebook. Do you think this is the best method for music distribution?
Ian: I think for us it’s all about making our music as accessible as possible. Especially in today’s market, it’s a great way to build your fan base. I see it as a way to give back to our fans. If we ever started selling stuff, we already have that support. It’s not really about trying to make money off our music.
Syd: And you enjoy performing enough that it’s a source of income.
Ian: It’s a no-brainer. We put it out there for everybody to enjoy.
Danl: Going back to what I was saying earlier about how we produce what we like, in that same vein we like sharing our experiments or things that we’re working on with other people. The whole point that we’re making here is Macklemoore being number one on the billboards without being on a label. It’s amazing! He’s the first artist ever in the history of music to do that.
Syd: Some caveman right now is really pissed at you.
Danl: Yeah, he’s probably like, ‘What the fuck! I’m number one in Pangaea, and nobody gave me shit!’… That’s a landmass joke, kids. For all you scholars out there.
Syd: You’d learn that if you followed Bill Nye Tho!
Ian: You would!
Syd: So your album New was pretty awesome.
Ian: Thanks for calling it an album.
Syd: Well, it is about 11 tracks long, that’s pretty album-like. No remixes, nothing!
Ian: Basically, the way that came about. We were getting close to 20k fans, and we had all these songs in the bank. Our manager Mike was like, ‘How hard would it be if we just dropped an album at 20k out of the blue’ and we’re like ‘damn’.
Danl: It was actually all, ‘Okay we have… this and this, well that’s seven. You’re working on a track right now, I’m working on a track, that’s nine, let’s just do two more tracks, wait a minute, we’ve just been sitting on Countdown, that’s…’ And the next day I made Kambuja.
Syd: Mike — your manager — seems to push you into a lot, like the EDC thing.
Danl: Shout out, so hard, to Nomadic Music Management. Mike and Andy are the best. Mike Power is the mouth, and Andy Bernard is the brains. I swear to god his name is Andrew Bernard, and he went to Cornell, no joke! Okay, I’m kidding.
Ian: We owe at least… 47% of our success to them.
Danl: Once we can, we’re buying them cars. For sure.
Ian: Lambroghini Mercy. Would you guys be opposed to us playing that?
Danl: No! No, we are not playing that song It’s so played out.
Ian: But now it’s throwback status!
Danl: No, it’s not! It’s not throwback. It hasn’t even been six months. We heard it and Harlem shake, everywhere we went when it first came out.
Syd: You’ve been moving from different genres, moombahton to trap. Do you think genres have to go through a decline or low period?
Danl: I learned through moombahton that what’s gonna kill a genre is people using it as a method of re-creation. I think that things like re-mixing old house songs in new forms is not a way to improve or forward a genre.
Syd: A remix is only a good remix if you can translate it to a new style, and not just a new genre?
Danl: Exactly. To the point where it’s not the original song at all.
Syd: Do you see that happening in trap?
Danl: It is. I feel like it’s just as bad as moombahton, if not worse.
Ian: The way we feel about it, not everything has to get trapped out.
Danl: When we first started making trap music, we made about three remixes. We’ve made a commitment to trap, or hip-hop beats, or whatever you want to call it. We make original music, or if somebody’s asked us to do a remix we’ll make an official remix for them.
Ian: Beyond that, I feel like if the genre or scene is gonna sustain itself it’s gotta change. There needs to be more original tunes, and not just remixes.
Danl: I will say, I have no problem with calling it trap. At a certain point if you can’t describe your music in a simple way to somebody else then it’s hard to spread it to new people.
Syd: Do you think we’re all too focused on labelling?
Ian: I think that’s a huge issue, especially in EDM.
Syd: We don’t even want to call it EDM anymore!
Ian: This new sub-genre, what’s that called… People get too wrapped up on putting everything in these neat little boxes. It’s all music!
Danl: You know what the worst one is? IDM. Intelligent Dance Music. That term infuriates me. I feel like it’s almost a shame that such amazing music is associated with such an asshole term. If you asked Aphex Twin or Squarepusher what genre they make, they’re not gonna say IDM! They’d just say they make music. We’re making Gladiator music.
Syd: Have you ever tried putting Gladiator music to clips from the movie Gladiator?
Danl: You mean like YTMND it out?
Syd: Who remembers YTMND anymore.
Danl: What else do you call a gif with sound?
Ian: … A video?
Danl: … Yeah, that.
Syd: Is your studio still in one of your parent’s backyards?
Danl: Yes! Actually, it’s not in my backyard anymore because my cousin moved in. So now it’s sitting in my bedroom.
Syd: That’s a very down to earth place to have a studio.
Ian: Yeah, it’s pretty great. There’s also another studio that we go to down in the Valley.
Danl: Shout out Dirty Audio. Future Events.
Syd: Is there one you use more for mastering and one more for making?
Danl: Either/or. It all depends on when we have time. My house is a little bit more convenient to Ian than the other studio is to me. But! That other studio is way more convenient to him. So we’re essentially equidistant from each studio.
Syd: You send songs to each other in different studios more often.
Danl: All the time. We have different schedules! We bounce stuff back and forth. Fortunately, we’re almost at the point where we can quit our day jobs, which will be awesome. Ian still works at Radio Disney, I still work at the Scratch Academy.
Syd: Have you guys been touring a lot lately?
Ian: Yeah, we did tour with Rusko… It’s been picking up a lot in the last month, month and a half. We just signed with AM Only, a booking agency, so we’ve been getting a lot more shows.
Syd: I love when things come together and you’re like ‘Yeah, I did good’… You say as you sit alone in your room.
Danl: Yes! Yes. Exactly. I’ve definitely had some shower moments.
Syd: You just stand there, water goes cold, thinking about stuff.
Danl: Thinking about what I’m gonna say at Ultra.
Syd: Congratulations on that! High fives!
[Everyone in the room proceeds to high five each other]
Danl: Shout outs to Jiani, who I can’t reach to high five. Working that camera! Like a pro! She’s got a diva nail. Shout outs to awesome nails, which you both have.
Syd: How does it feel going from winning a contest to play at EDC to getting booked at Ultra.
Ian: It still doesn’t feel real. I feel like Skrillex is gonna run around on stage for us screaming WAY TO GO GUYS, YOU DID IT, YOU’RE AT ULTRA.
Syd: He’s the nicest kid.
Ian: Man, yeah. Awesome guy.
Syd: Okay, tell me a story. What happened when you got to EDC right after your trials and tribulations and car issues.
Danl: Wow! You actually read about that? Awesome.
Ian: The first thing we did–
Danl: Can I tell this one? I like my end. Right when we got to Vegas, the first thing we did was go to the EDM Conference. When we won the contest, we got free passes to the business conference, and we said ‘Oh man, we gotta go, we gotta learn all this business stuff! We gotta meet the guy who runs Beatport!’ So we get there, and people were having a cocktail party, and it was all Suits.
Syd: And you show up with your beard.
Ian: And sweatpants, and t-shirts. There was an open bar.
Danl: I smelt awful, I was gross, I was in sweatpants and a t-shirt. He changed! Ian changed! He had a button-up on! And I was gross. It was a complete fish out of water moment, and then Holly Madison walks by.
Syd: Was she wearing clothes?
Ian: Yes, she was! Surprisingly. And she was with Pasqual. As soon as I saw it, I was like ‘… Wait, are they dating?’ And then we tried to say hi, and… yeah. Yeah.
Syd: Okay, serious question. Can a person be both Sophisticated and Ratchet at the same time.
Ian: Oooooh. Okay. Yes, ratchet is a state of mind. I think that certain situations call for certain kinds of behaviour, so it’s definitely possible, to be both classy and sophisticated in appropriate situations but when the time comes you get ratchet.
Danl: I’m trying to figure out what you’d call a sophisticated ratchet woman. Ritchet? Rich Ratchet? Ratchets with Cash?
Danl: In short. Yes. It’s possible. Sophistiratchet exists. Everything’s a state of mind. I can be really mean for a night, doesn’t mean I’m a mean person.
Syd: I find that exists in the world of DJs, a lot. People can think somebody’s an asshole based on… One encounter.
Danl: Usually it’s people who have a shitty day.
Syd: Is Mila still your main girl?
Danl: Of course.
Syd: Black Swan on repeat? Just the one scene on repeat.
Danl: Shh. Don’t call us out like that. Yes, Mila’s our girl. The union was sanctified by her signed picture to Ian, of which I’m eternally jealous of.
Ian: It’s in my room somewhere. This is a semi-embarrasing story.
Ian: [Laughs]. Basically, my mom works at Disney Channel. She’s a talent co-ordinator. She wrangles small people. For whatever reason, Mila came into her office one day, and my mom knows my thing with Mila. So she went out there, told a really embarrassing story about how me and Danl are obsessed with her, and about our DJ career and shit, so Mila autographed a print-out picture of herself and my mom brought it home for me.
Syd: You cried a little bit.
Ian: She called me and told me and I started screaming.
Danl: Ian called and told me, I started screaming.
Ian: It went on Facebook immediately. It was a good day.
Danl: [Screaming noises]. We have no idea if she’s actually heard our music or not yet.
Ian: She definitely hasn’t.
Syd: We should start a campaign! A twitter hashtag.
Danl: What’s a clever hashtag? Mila Meets Gladiator? Hashtag #MilaMeets?
Ian: Is she seeing somebody? Ashton Kutcher? Eurgh.
Syd: How is she about that life.
Danl: I don’t know!
Ian: As long as she’s happy, I’m happy.
Syd: You’re that guy in that scene in Love Actually.
Danl: That is a great movie. It’s an amazing scene! Wait, Ian, you haven’t seen Love Actually?
Syd: It’s a chick flick anyone could watch.
Danl: Exactly! That scene is one of the single most romantic things I’ve ever seen. Period. It’s perfect! Agh. It’s like Say Anything.
Syd: I’m all about the 80′s.
Danl: Amen. Who isn’t?
Syd: So how long have you been in Canada.
Danl: What time is it, eleven? Um. Five hours.
Syd: Has anything salacious happened to you in those five hours?
Ian: Not yet, but I have a feeling that some salacious things will happen today.
Danl: My job is aggressive mic man. I am the Ian on twitter of the microphone.
Syd: What’s the craziest or coolest thing a fan has ever given or done for you.
Ian: Easy! The shoes. Shout out to Cody. He hand painted shoes with our faces on them. Amazing. Canada’s fucking amazing. There’s also that shirt that Daryn Scott made for us. Shoutout to Daryn Scott. We played a show in Tampa with UZ, and Daryn got a shirt made for us. He makes every DJ that comes through a custom shirt, so ours had our fuckin’ faces on it, and I said that when he came to us–
Danl: THEY PUT MY FACE ON A SHIRT!
Ian: And now he writes it on my wall almost every single week. It’s great.
Danl: That was also one of the first times we were like… ‘Wow, we actually did something.’
Syd: Well you do have almost 30k fans now!
Danl: We’re getting close. I’m gonna guess we’re still at 28 something.
Syd: Okay, this one might require a little action. What’s in your pockets, or in your coat pockets.
Danl: Nothing! Oh no, wait, my wallet. Wow, how lame are we.
Syd: I won’t touch that.
Danl: Why, what’s wrong with my wallet? Is it dirty?
Syd: No, that’s just not the Canadian thing! You don’t just touch people’s shit.
Ian: Everyone is so nice.
Danl: Let’s see my embarrassing driver’s licence photos. What do I have in my wallet? Oh! I have one cool thing. I have a good customer card at my favourite weed store. Can we trade licenses? I wanna see everybody’s.
[We all trade driver's licenses]
Danl: Hell yeah. That’s not bad, Sydney Jones. Oh wow, check out the flower hologram!
Syd: Oh my god. Yours is terrifying. It’s pre-beard.
Danl: Ian looks like a delinquent.
Syd: Oh god he does. So thug. I love it. Ian wins the license game.
Danl: I’m totally okay with that. This is me with girly hair and pre-beard.
Syd: How old were you when that was taken?
Ian: Don’t people from Toronto have to take like… two or three driving tests?
Syd: More if you fail.
Danl: I failed my first time too.
Syd: I hate it when you take the whole test and you failed super early on, and they wait till the end to tell you.
Ian: Exactly. What’s the conversion system from KM to M? Or from Celisus to Farenheit? I was listening to the radio on the way here, and the weatherman said ‘Yeah, it’s gonna be -15 degrees outside’ and all I could thing was ‘This isn’t what I signed up for’.
Syd: Double it and add thirty. It’s pretty easy.
Danl: I’ll tell you this. If we were in LA, people would be freaking out about how cold it is.
Syd: I know you guys do a shoutout thing. Is there anybody you’ve missed?
Danl: We just love shoutouts! We are eternally grateful. To everyone. We are just music nerds. We grew up in the blog culture.
Syd: All of us grew up when the web was starting out. It’s an entirely different mentality towards an online space.
Ian: Yeah. There’s a lot of stuff that I enjoy, and I want other people to know that too. Like Snapple. Fire Berries. Pogs.
Danl: Pogs were the shit. So is Toronto.
Syd: People don’t call it Toronto around here.
Danl: What do they call it?
Syd: more like ‘Rana. You don’t pronounce the T or the O’s.
Danl: So do you pronounce all the O’s in Ottawa as A’s?
Syd: I… Don’t know.
Danl: I’m gonna say that tonight. ‘Really awesome to see you all here in ‘Rana. First time in ‘Rana’. There’s my strong Canadian accent.
Syd: Anything else you guys wanna say?
Danl: Thank you to you guys for having us here! Big fans. Love the blog. Please keep writing, please keep doing Salacious Sound. Seriously. Do we have any new shootouts?
Ian: I just love doing shootouts.
Danl: I haven’t done a shoutout to /r/ Trap yet. Love you guys. Shoutout to the Reddit community.
Syd: It was our source of strange questions.
Danl: Seriously? Awesome. I see you guys. Being Redditors. Shout out to NMG. Shout out to John Jung, AM Only, making it happen. Shout out to Sportscentre. What the fuck is this Canadian Sportscentre. Shout out to throwback Toronto Raptors uniforms, the one with the Purple. Shout out to hats. I really love hats. Can you gold plate a hat?
Ian: Shout out to Claire Daines. Homeland is amazing. HBO? HBO. What’s your favourite HBO show.
Syd: Uh. Game of Thrones. Homeland. Sometimes Dexter.
Danl: Any good movies lately? I think I need a guy-cry. I haven’t had a good guy-cry–
Ian: Since Lord of the Rings?
Danl: I was gonna say since Toy Story 3. All these 90′s kids grew up with Andy in a very real way.
Ian: I saw it with my mom, and she was like, ‘Are you fucking crying right now?’ and I was all ‘YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND MOM.’
Syd: You haven’t cried that hard since Mila.
Danl: Don’t remind us.
Ian: Yeah, the last time I got that misty was Lord of the Rings. ‘I BOW TO NO MAN.’
Syd: Fuckin’ Nazgul.
Danl: Fuckin’ Nazgul.
Syd: That’s probably a good place to head out. Thanks for the interview, guys.
Ian: No, Thank you. Love you guys.
And with that, we promptly turned to the wonders of Sports Centre and HGTV once more. Some things never change.