Our EDC Orlando pre-show interviews keep rolling in!
We are at the last interview in the series! A lot of people I know sometimes knock electro or future house music. Why? I'll never know. It's some of the most energetic and crazy dance music out there, and I love watching artists take the main stage, turning a sea of people into a complete frenzy. Damaged Goods is one of the artists at EDC Orlando this year that deserves your attention, and for good reason. His high energy sets will be sure to get the crowd dancing in the middle of the day at the CIRCUITGROUND stage, and there's no question about it.
I had a chat with Damaged Goods (aka Obi Tawil) shortly before he headed out of the studio for a gig. We talked about the creation of his track "Recluse", what it means to be a good DJ and producer, the most important elements of songwriting, and much more.
I love your style of music. I’ve definitely always been a big supporter of house and electro. This is kind of my general festival question, but when fans attend a festival, they’re getting music thrown at them left and right. In your opinion, what do you think sets you apart from the other artists that will be playing at EDC Orlando?
I want to say that, first, I find myself as a DJ in the traditional sense. I feel like a lot of people will sometimes play music that only they like. For the most part, I’ve been here to make everyone else dance. I’m going in there with this mindset of “I’m gonna give the people what they want!” I believe they just want to rage! The point of a festival is for you to kind of leave your comfort zone. You’re [dressed] in neon! You’re in this other state of mind. I’m gonna give you some rave music.
I think what’s going to make me stand out is that I’m going to give you music from A to Z. It’s not only going to be trap music, or dubstep, or 130 [BPM music]. I might even throw in some funk. It depends on how I gauge the crowd.
I know what you mean. Festival shows versus club shows are two different monsters. When you’re in a venue show, you can have that “oh this is me” showcase. When you’re at a festival, you kind of have to give the people what they want.
Absolutely! They lose their mind! At a festival, as much as the stage is mine, I want to do this for the people. And I want to make sure that, even if people are like “Oh it’s Damaged Goods, he only makes future house, it’s all gonna be future house”, I’m gonna be like, “not at all”. I’m gonna throw in some tracks, and some other stuff that is like my tracks, but for an hour and a half, it’s going to be a fucking wild set.
That’s so rad!
Yeah! I feel like at festivals too, fans may be like, “oh let’s go see Steve Aoki because I know that person”, but at a festival, it’s more about the music. On that day, people didn’t know who I was! I didn’t have any music out then. But they heard it, and then they were like “okay, this is cool, let’s go over here!” It’s kind of like how a fly is drawn to a light.
Let’s talk about your most recent single, “Recluse”. When did you first begin the writing for that track? About how long did it take for that track to fully be brought to life?
Man, that song is so fucking funny because…so I ended going on after Deadmau5 performed here in Miami when he played at Mansion awhile back. I don’t know if you heard about that show, but that was the show where he ranted about how the crowd sucked, and it was all VIP, and it was a lame crowd.
I feel like I might have heard about that, but I’m not entirely sure.
I’m from Miami. I feel like I represent it pretty hardcore. He kinda hated on it. But honestly that show sucked because, and I’m a Deadmau5 fan, he fucking sucked. His set was so bad. He made it so easy for me to go on after and just kill it.
I had the pleasure of speaking with him, actually. I knew one of his ex-girlfriends; I had produced a bunch of tracks with her. My intro to him was “yo, I’m friends with Sydney Blue! I did this track with her!” So immediately, me and him [sic] were cool. He was like, “hey man! How’s it going?!” He is a very nice guy.
But to get back to “Recluse,” I was allowed to play the next show that he was doing for free. They gave away ten thousand tickets, and there were over ten thousand people in attendance for the following show. They told me I could play, but he only wanted me to play a certain style. The last time I went in, I played a lot of hits. He said that he didn’t really want to hear what was big at the time, like “Animals”, or anything like it. He’s like, “let’s play cool stuff”.
So I started working on a bunch of tracks as originals that I was going to play before him that I wouldn’t get in trouble with. So I made “Recluse”. It took me about two weeks to make it. I was kind of going through a really sad time in my life. I was alone for a good two weeks, so that’s why the song is essentially called “Recluse”. The song was really created to play right before he [Deadmau5] went on. It had his same kind of tempo and style. I said “I want a big song that no ones going to complain about because it’s mine.” To be honest, I didn’t even plan on putting that song out. I played it for my manager, and he said “This is the fucking shit!”
I was supposed to open for [Deadmua5], and then I ended up getting pushed to closing or him. But then, he decided that he wanted to play the whole show from start to end, so I never even got to play. “Recluse” never got played that night. I wasn’t making any music like that. I kind of just made it for that show. But my manager loved it and said that he wanted to shoot a video for it. And then “Recluse” was born! It’s kind of weird; “Recluse” has been my biggest track. (laughs)
With house music of this type, there’s always two things that really stick out to me: the melody/hook, and the drums. For you, what comes first? Does it vary track by track? Or do you have a startup routine, if that makes sense?
When I produce a track, I already know the layout in my head, and I would always start with the drums. But as of recently, I starting working with pop music a few months ago. I was invited to this writer’s camp with all of these other writers that have written everything you hear on the radio. I was around a bunch of people that have Grammys and know what their doing. I picked their brain a lot, and since then I’ve kind of shifted. They all said you’ve gotta write the melody first, because the melody will eventually dictate how the song goes. I do agree, to a certain extent. I’m a really big fan of Main Course, right now. If you listen to the Main Course stuff right now, a lot of it is just drums and bass patterns.
For anyone that is starting to make music, I would say work on the melody! That will create the rest of the song. I’m trying a bunch of different things at the moment. I’m working on all kinds of different genres. Once you start listening to my newer stuff, you’re going to see that I’m getting more into a…it’s not necessarily what I’m going to play, but it’s kind of what I want to make in terms of what I think is best for Damaged Goods to start gaining a bigger audience and more plays. I’m going into more of sexier, deep-house, sing-along sound. It’s not necessarily, to be honest, exactly where I want to be, but from what I’ve learned when I’ve spoken to a lot of labels and A&Rs, and all of my homies that are big DJs, is that unless you are a big DJ, you can’t make hard music anymore.
The music that I’m working on right now is sexier. Definitely something that you can dance to. I’m hoping that kind of opens another door for me. Look at DJ Snake, for example. “Turn Down For What” was a hard song. But all his new stuff is so soft and melodic; it’s almost relaxing. But that doesn’t dictate what he plays.
His new track, “Middle”, is a soft song, and you can’t really play that at a festival! It’s not really what his image portrays, but you know what? He was able to make a really dope song, gain a fuckin’ million new followers and listeners, which opened his audience up to [him] playing the hard stuff. So right now, I’m working on some stuff based off of what the A&Rs have told me. I’ve got a couple songs, man, that I feel could be some of my biggest stuff [sic], and potentially stuff that you could hear on radios or commercials.
But I’m not gonna lie; at heart, I want fucking wild and crazy shit. If I could, I would just make deafening music. Right now I’m in this weird crossroads of what I want to make and what I should make, what’s best for me, and what’s best for the brand.
What does music mean to you?
That’s a tough one. For me, I love DJing and performing for people. It’s like, I will die for that. Me making you dance and have a good time is what I want to do. I like producing music. I like it when I can hear my song on the radio, or when someone as yourself tells me “yo that was a great song!” That’s cool, man. For me, I know that I need to make music, and I need to make good music so that I can continue DJing and taking a bigger and bigger stage.
I’m in the studio six or seven hours a day, every day. I DJ four to five nights a week. I’ll even yell at my girlfriend to turn off the radio (laughs). I’m like, “no I want silence!” But yeah, man. I love music just like everyone else. But I’m not gonna lie, I’m not gonna give you that answer that “oh, it’s the international communication!”. I hope it doesn’t make me sound like a dick.
Not at all.
I make music because I understood years ago that being a good DJ means zero [sic]. It means diddly-squat anymore. It’s about how popular of a track you get on Beatport. That determines your placement on where you’re going to get at a festival like Ultra or EDC, or clubs. For me, it’s more about becoming a bigger artist so that I can live my dream.
Be sure to catch Damaged Goods when he takes the stage THIS SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7 at EDC Orlando on the CIRCUITGROUNDS STAGE from 1:30 PM to 2:45 PM.
For more music and info on Damaged Goods, visit www.facebook.com/iamDAMAGEDGOODS
This has been another Shameless Promotion.