Originally made famous by his time on the hit tv show The Voice, writer/singer/producer Collin McLoughlin is one of the solid up and comers on the EDM scene. He's been making music since middle school, and at 26 the doughnut-loving DJ has already released a list of top tracks. Here we talk about his journey, his favorite tracks, and what's next.
Edmsauce: First, the doughnuts.
CM: I don't really love sweets but I am basically incapable of eating less than 3 donuts if I eat a single one. Thus I try to avoid them at all costs.
Edmsauce: What kind of doughnuts are we talking about here?
CM: The main donut that brings me to my knees is a good apple cider donut… My family used to buy them by the dozen and I would eat between 4-6 at a time. Really brutal habit I know, but beyond those I really love Marble Frosted donuts (they're essentially vanilla and chocolate iced ones) or the apple pie filled donuts.
Edmsauce: Has never had any of these. Must try!
CM: While I'm discussing apple pie I used to eat apple pie by “tunneling,” into the center of the pie and avoiding the crusts since I enjoyed the filling much more. People would go cut what they thought was a slice of pie only to find it to be almost entirely hollow, a tradition my family still teases me about to this day.
Edmsauce: How selfish of you.
CM: Hide your kids, hide your wife, hide your apple pie…
Edmsauce: Alright, onto business. After you agreed to do the interview, the first thing we did was check out your wikipedia page. It is damn impressive. From our viewpoint, you seem like one of those people who was born to perform. How early in life did you *know* that you were going to be making music?
CM: It sounds cliche but I remember the moment like it was yesterday; I was on stage performing with my group “Nautical Young,” in college doing an opening slot for Lupe Fiasco in front of two thousand or so people, performing an original song… I can remember standing in front of the crowd singing the chorus, and thinking “I need to do this for the rest of my life, somehow, some way.” That was the real catalyst, and I’ve pursued that feeling ever since.
Edmsauce: Looking back at it, what do you think was one of the smartest decisions that you've made?
CM: (Without hesitation) Learning to produce.
In the early days of my music career I would scour the internet for “beats,” that I could lease from random producers to record and write over. I was enslaved by my inability to create my own artistic vision.
Learning to produce has finally given me that ability to take what I hear in my head and feel emotionally and convey that to a crowd.
Edmsauce: Your early interest in music was spurred by learning guitar, right? Who originally taught you to play guitar?
CM: I took guitar lessons in high school for a year after getting inspired by a friend of mine at a summer sleepover the summer before. My first song was “Time of Your Life,” by Green Day.
Edmsauce: How long did it take to learn that song?
CM: One day.
CM: My teacher was a bit taken aback. That's kind of how I've been with music production too, just forcing myself to do it and improve as fast as possible.
Edmsauce: So, when did you make the transition to electronic music from acoustic guitar?
CM: I was introduced to edm by friends in 2011 – I had never heard anything like it at the time. I loved Kaskade and Deadmau5 “Move for Me,” and Eric Prydz “Pjanoo.” And BT's earlier works, like “Rose of Jericho,” and Adam K's “4 AM.”
“Faxing Berlin,” by Deadmau5 was the song that really did it for me, I had never heard something so majestic.
CM: I was immediately inspired and started listening more and more.
Edmsauce: Then what? Did you learn Logic/Ableton etc on your own or take a class?
CM: I taught myself. I've spent about 8-12 hours a day for about three years now producing, first on Logic and then switching to Pro Tools (which I still use for vocals) and ultimately landing on Ableton about 13 months ago.
Edmsauce: How about mentors? Friends?
CM: Youtube feedback was a huge help, and I had a good friend Carlos Cid who has served as a mentor of sorts with critiquing stuff I used to send him early on. He would listen to my tracks and recommend mix changes, making drums louder or softer etc. which was a help when my ear wasn't as refined.
CM: Another producer and writer (who now is my roommate in LA and writing partner for a lot of music were working on now) who helped teach me some production stuff is Smith Carlson, google him and you'll see why. He's worked under Ryan Tedder as an engineer, writer and producer for the last three years and we've written some really exciting stuff for pop projects we're really excited about. Super talented guy and a great friend.
Edmsauce: After dabbling in multiple music genres, why did you decide to release your first album as melodic dubstep?
CM: I have always been drawn to melodic stuff… when I initially heard dubstep I didn't like it. It was too abrasive, too much sound design, almost like it was a nut flexing contest between who could make the craziest bass one shots and riffs. This same friend of mine who first showed me electronic music in general sent me an artist named Blackmill and I was completely floored. Never before had I heard dubstep done in that way, with so much passion and tranquil beauty yet still utilizing the dubstep LFO pattern people like Skrillex and Nero were using. This piqued my interest, and I began producing similar stuff. After hearing Seven Lions I had another incredible moment of awe, and from that time on I've been making melodic dubstep.
Edmsauce: So far you've collaborated with a handful of really amazing artists (Mitis, Vicetone, etc)… Did these sort of stay just business or did you become genuine friends with anyone?
CM: I've been blessed to have a lot of people interested in working with me. Most of these collaborations started out with me messaging the artist on soundcloud or email saying I loved their music, and that conversation eventually led to a full on collaboration. Mitis has become a good friend of mine, as have Project 46 and Vicetone. Otherwise I am friends with a lot of different artists in the scene; Mako, Mutrix, Carlos Cid, Kap Slap, Jay Cosmic, and 3LAU… I'm all about connecting with people who share similar life goals and aspirations.
Edmsauce: Who would you love to collaborate with next?
CM: Too many to list, but Seven Lions, Kaskade, and BT have long been inspirations for me, I would love to collaborate with any of them someday. I also would love to do some sort of indie / crossover collaboration with someone like Ghost Loft or Kygo, i'm all about mixing genres together and making something new. A collaboration with Blackmill would also be incredible, as I would essentially be collaborating with one of the main reasons I produce the style of music I make.
Edmsauce: Looking back on 2013, what were some of your favorite memories?
CM: 2013 was finally having an opportunity to show my music to the world, and to see the positive response the music has gotten. I've spent three years working and honing my production skill, and for me to be putting out remixes getting hundreds of thousands of plays on Soundcloud alone has been nothing short of gratifying. I couldn't be more happy that people are willing to share my music and enjoy it, thats the stuff that makes all the hard work worthwhile.
Collaborating with Laidback Luke was really cool, I used to frequent his production forum two years ago trying to find any sort of tips I could absorb. To be featured on a track of his that I wrote two years later is pretty surreal.
Edmsauce: Goals for 2014?
CM: In 2014 I'd like to keep releasing remixes and originals, start doing shows and additionally continue writing pop songs for label acts. I'd also like to start to combine my own voice with my production again as we move through the year.
Edmsauce: Performing at big festivals?
CM: Yeah – performing at a festival like Ultra or EDC is also on that list. I went to Ultra in 2011 and it was one of the most memorable concert experiences I have ever had. I moved from tent to tent to catch Avicii everywhere he went (mind you this was before Levels was released, so at some of the smaller tent gigs he did there weren't even 150 people there) having a blast catching the variety of sets he was performing. I can also vividly remember being woken up one morning at Ultra by Deadmau5 sound-checking “Raise Your Weapon,” over the MainStage sound system, which was a pretty awesome way to wake up.
Edmsauce: What's one festival or place you'd most like to DJ?
CM: I've always wanted to go to and play in Ibiza. The place has been such a hotbed destination for electronic music, and the energy and history of the place is something I've always dreamed of experiencing. Beyond that I would love to go play at the original Sensation overseas, that would be incredible. Also Ultra Music Festival in South Korea looks incredible.
Edmsauce: Ok, let's pretend we're in some alternate universe where you never learned to play guitar, didn't make music your life, or didn't get selected for the voice. What would you be doing right now? (What career interests you besides music?) Would you have stuck with “music business stuff” if you weren't an artist?
CM: I would have most likely gone into real estate in some capacity, I've always been somewhat intrigued by houses and their value. If not music then probably real estate, ideally I would love to get into it later in life even if just as an investment.
Get to know more about Collin on his Facebook, Twitter, or Soundcloud.
Collin's Favorite EDM Tracks:
Avicii – Seek Bromance
Eric Prydz – Pjanoo and Everyday
SHM – Save the World Tonight
Deadmau5 – Faxing Berlin, Strobe, and The Veldt
Mat Zo – Rebound
Edward Maya – Stereo Love and Desert Rain (I might like Desert Rain more actually)
Seven Lions – Strangers
Koan Sound – Fuego
Seven Lions – Running to the Sea remix
Aluna George “You Know You Like It” (Tchami remix)