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[Exclusive Interview] Traveler

Once a year, in the desolate arid Black Rock Desert of Nevada, a temporary city rises for a week, bringing with it tens of thousands of people from around the world to participate in what has been described as an experiment in community and art. For over 32 years, this experiment has been known as Burning Man. At Burning Man, the community explores various forms of artistic self-expression and frequently sees its attendees (known as “Burners”) leave transformed and inspired.

Zander Tron was one of those participants, having visited Black Rock City (the name given to the interim community at Burning Man) in 2009. There, Zander's creativity was ignited and he made it his mission to spread positivity and innovation through music. That vision has now come to fruition with Traveler.

Traveler is a one-man electronic music band produced by Zander. Having opened for big names like Duke Dumont, Seven Lions, Flume, Odesza and others, Traveler's live performances have taken listeners on a journey of emotion through sound and cutting-edge visuals. Traveler has also performed at some of the biggest festivals including EDC, Beyond Wonderland, Lucidity Festival and at his place of inspiration, Burning Man.

A Santa Barbara native, Traveler's long been surrounded by music in the California coastal city. The DJ and producer's vibrant sounds combine the psychedelic bass driven elements of the underground with chord progressions, melodies, and vocals that can appeal to the mainstream.

Those vibes have allowed Traveler to establish the Outside In Movement— a record label, artist collective and future music and camping festival that aims to revolutionize the way music and culture interfaces with the community.

I sat down with Traveler in Los Angeles where he opened up about his music, artist collaborations, and his up-and-coming Outside In Equinox Music Festival.

Q: How did growing up in Southern California influence your music style?

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A: It's everywhere here, dude. It's those California vibes. L.A. is the center of the music industry. Sorry New York, but L.A. is synonymous with entertainment and there's so much history here. You've got the center of the rave scene, West Coast rap culture, jam-band psychedelic NorCal stuff, and pretty much everything in San Francisco.

Q: You and Seven Lions are both from Santa Barbara. Did you guys know each other growing up?

A: Yeah dude, I met him around 2006–that's when we started hanging out. I was always pushing psytrance on him and he was like, “No man. Pretty trance, melodic trance.” Now he's all about the psytrance and he's huge. Jeff is one of the best on the planet.

Q: You recently had the opportunity to open for Jeff (Seven Lions). How was that?

A: As an opening act, you get the opportunity to showcase what you got. I played my show as Zander because I know his crowd likes a heavier sound. The show was in Santa Barbara, my hometown, so I was able to really feel a connection with them. If I can reach just a handful of people who can be like, “wow, who was that? He was good. I wanna follow him.” then my Job is done.

Q: You mention that opening set was a Zander set. What's the difference between a Traveler set and a Zander set?

A: The Traveler sound is a hybrid of mainstream, underground and psychedelic. My rules are that it's gotta be melodic but also gotta have underground elements. It's gotta have a good chord progression and a really good rhythm section like a pumping bassline.

Zander is an open format set. I've been messing around with turntables for 15 years and I kinda pride myself on having a huge catalog of music. That means I can play any genre, really at any event.

Q: Do you prefer one over the other?

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A: Yeah man, I definitely prefer Traveler. Sometimes, depending on the music festival I'm playing, I’ll sneak in a Zander set and I get to play around and enjoy myself a bit more and play the bangers everyone wants.

Q: What's the crowd reaction like when you throw in some Zander in a Traveler set?

A: Really good usually. People like to get loose. The one sound that will never go out of vogue is playing a really heavy sound. People will always like that.

Q: Your SoundCloud account is full of remixes, one of my favorites is “Butterfly” by Crazy Town. What made you decide to remix this one-hit wonder?

A: I've actually been playing around with that track since 2010. All of my friends love that song, and I noticed that they would come to my shows just to see me play “Butterfly”. It's just such an iconic 2000's track that everyone my age knows, and every time I included it in my set I always got requests to release the mix.

Q: Your summer track “Go With Me” was co-produced with Maarten Vorwerk. How did you guys link up?

A: Maarten and I met at EDC a couple of years ago. I remember I introduced him to some of my friends and they were shocked that I knew him. I was completely unaware of who he was. Anyway, he suggested we work together and I couldn't say no. It's exciting for me to be able to work with guys like him. When you get an opportunity like that, you take it. I trust him, so I let him take the driver's seat on that track.

Q: The song is very pop-oriented, was that the original idea?

A: We wanted to make a track that had a really good summer vibe. I sent him ten demos and he really liked them. He recreated it, changed a couple of things, and sent it back. He likes that I make more pop-oriented stuff, he wanted to it to be radio friendly and commercial.

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Q: I heard you're launching a music festival next month as well?

A: Yeah, dude. My label, Outside In Movement, and I are throwing our first festival on our own. I've been working on it for a few years now. It's gonna happen on the fall equinox, which is when the sun hits the equator and seasons change from summer to fall.

Q: What can we expect out of Outside In Equinox Festival?

A: It's an experience more than a festival, but we're gonna have some great artists from the label there. My Santa Barbara event crew have been throwing Lucidity Festival for the last seven years, its gonna have a similar vibe, very transformative.

Q: Seems like you're keeping yourself busy, what else can we expect out of Traveler in the future?

A: I've got so much music, dude. I can't wait to put it out there. But I've gotta give each song time to breathe. I put out a song every four to six weeks and my friends advise me against it, they're like you're oversaturating yourself.

But honestly, my goal is like to not make it big as an artist. I don't wanna be a huge artist, I just want to create music. Releasing art is part of the creative process, and music is my art.

Outside In Equinox Festival is taking place September 21st-23rd at the Live Oak Campground in Santa Barbara, California. Tickets for the event can be found HERE. Go to OutsideInEquinox.com for more information.

Follow Traveler on Social Media:
Facebook: facebook.com/travelermusic
Instagram: instagram.com/travelermusic
Twitter: @travelermusic
YouTube: youtube.com/travelermusicstation

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