We sat down with Elephante following the release of his debut EP, “I Am The Elephante”
Hailing from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Tim Wu, has made quite an impression among electronic music fans as Elephante. According to Nexus Radio, Wu was accepted into the economics program at Harvard University, but left it all behind for dance music after landing a corporate job. Prior to releasing his debut EP, Elephante built his discography with productions such as “Shake The Earth” (2014), “Temporary Love” feat. Brooke Forman (2015), and “I Want You” feat. RUMORS (2015).
Breaking out into the electronic scene two years ago, one thing’s become certain about the emerging new artist: he is the Elephante. The release of his breakout EP this year, “I Am The Elephante,” showcases his superior tastemaking abilities and originality. The 9-track EP, which spans nearly 35 minutes, includes collaborations with BISHØP, MIIA, Nevve, Jessica Jarrell, Jody Brock, and Lyon Hart.
Read our full interview with Elephante:
The Nocturnal Times: When and what made you first begin exploring dance music?
Elephante: I’d always been a casual fan of dance music, but hearing Skrillex for the first time was really what blew my mind – I had no idea sounds like that could exist and still feel musical. Seeing Kaskade at Coachella was the moment that sort of cemented it as a “well, this is what I want to do with my life” thing.
The Nocturnal Times: Did your upbringing or hometown influence your decision to pursue a career in music?
Elephante: Of course, music was a huge part of my childhood. I grew up playing piano and guitar, and have been writing songs since I was in middle school. I was that guy playing open mics and begging his friends to come. Deep down I always dreamed of making music for a living, so I’m still blown away that I’m actually doing it.
The Nocturnal Times: What made you choose the name Elephante? What is the significance (if any) behind your stage name?
Elephante: Elephante is a reference to the phrase “elephant in the room”. I was working at a corporate job, and the elephant was that I was really unhappy and all I wanted to do was make music. So the name is about embracing that feeling, and quitting and becoming the Elephante.
The Nocturnal Times: What can you share about your debut EP, “I Am The Elephante.” which is out now. Can you share your vision with us?
Elephante: The EP was about staking my ground as an artist, and showing all the different sounds and styles that I love. It’s about fully embracing who you are, and being yourself despite what the world wants you to be.
The Nocturnal Times: How long did it take for you to create the EP from start-to-finish? What can you share with us about your studio sessions and what a day in the studio is like for you?
Elephante: The short is answer is a couple years, but really it was a culmination of my entire musical life. Studio sessions totally vary – sometimes it’s me sitting by my computer and being depressed and hating everything I do. Other times it’s total magic, where the songs write themselves. I start pretty much everything on either piano or guitar, away from the computer, and usually like to start with writing the vocals. Then it’s a lot of banging my head against the computer until the production figures itself out.
The Nocturnal Times: Do you have any studio routines or pre-show rituals that your fans might be surprised to hear about?
Elephante: I light 3 dozen candles, drink an entire bottle of vodka, and sacrifice a small goat. Jk, I keep it pretty simple – I like to have 5 or 10 minutes to have some me time and pray that I don’t fuck up, but usually it’s just meet and greets and then hit the stage. When I was first touring I would do some jumping jacks and stretch though, I was in such bad shape and would actually cramp on stage, but it’s a little better now.
The Nocturnal Times: You recently played a show in Chicago as part of the 3LAU Haus World Tour. What can you share with The Nocturnal Times readers about your experience playing at the Aragon Ballroom?
Elephante: Aragon is one of the coolest venues I’ve seen – everything from the columns to the painting on the ceiling makes it feel like more than just a music show. The crowd was incredible, and Justin (3lau) is the man so it was a ton of fun.
The Nocturnal Times: You’ll be playing a gig in New York this weekend at Lavo. Have you ever played a show in NYC before? What do you enjoy most about life as a touring DJ?
Elephante: Oddly enough, NYC is the city I’ve played the most in my career. It’s sort of like a second home, and it’s always a ton of fun. The best part of touring is definitely seeing people react to your music – so much of your life as a producer is spent by yourself in front of a computer, so it’s incredibly gratifying to see people enjoy the music in real time, and really makes all the grind worth it.
The Nocturnal Times: Looking back on the year in music, what have been some of your most-played tracks? Most played or favorite albums of the year?
Elephante: I’ve been wearing out the Flume and Rufus albums – my favorite song is probably Shelter by Porter Robinson and Madeon – it’s everything a dance song should be. I’m really digging the new Weeknd and Empire of the Sun albums as well.
The Nocturnal Times: With the year coming to an end soon, what are some of your short-term goals for 2017?
Elephante: Just working on a ton of new music – everything that’s happened with the EP has been incredibly inspiring, but also scary because I know that everything I do from now on has to be even better.
The Nocturnal Times: Where do you hope to be five years from now?
Elephante: On a beach somewhere drinking a Daiquiri collecting checks from my hit single “Levels 2.0”… just kidding, honestly I hope I’m sitting in a studio somewhere working on music – it’s a tough life, and I try not to take anything for granted. If I’m still doing this and making music that connects with people then I’ll be a happy camper.
Keep up with Elephante on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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