For the name Crystal Skies, Britain Holcomb and Aaron Dawson could not be more down to Earth guys. Whether its playing League of Legends against MitiS for fans online or playing the Ophelia stage at EZOO these guys are as cool as the other side of the pillow. The two extraordinarily talented producers are finally getting their time to shine. If you just dig through their catalog you will see what I have been preaching for quite some time.
I have been a one-man spokesperson for the melodic dubstep duo from the Continuum EP in 2014, right on through the Serenity EP in 2016, I was on board for the Dichotomy EP last year which included full coverage that can be found HERE. I have been nothing shy of elated that Crystal Skies has gotten the nod from Seven Lions via releases on his record label Ophelia as well as the smash hit collaboration Sojourn, which was only the opener for the Journey II tour. So it was with great honor that I was granted the pleasure of being able to ask these busy men a few questions and they came through with some great answers. See for yourself.
Where did the two of you meet?
Britian: I sent Aaron a message on Soundcloud because I liked one of his tunes.
Aaron: Before that, I was just making tracks trying to sound like various artists. The track I made was called “Tenth Planet,” where I was trying to sound like Madeon. I think the track I was into was called “Icarus,” which was a really dope tune. The track didn't sound anything like Madeon, but Britian messaged me and was like “Yo this is really cool. Do you want to collab on something?” We worked on a track together called Paradise Lost that ended up doing really well, and because of that success, we ended up working together from that point on.
How did you come up with the name Crystal Skies?
Aaron: We were coming to come up with a cool name, but then Britian had the idea of using of one his track names and to name the entire group name based off of that.
Britian: I believe Aaron's original idea was…
Aaron: It was an inappropriate name; I probably shouldn't say it. Kids are going to read this.
Aaron: Obviously we would have done way better with the other name. But sometimes in life you have to make sacrifices for the greater good
What were your earliest EDM influences?
Britian: The first EDM song I heard was Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, so I'm going to have to go with Skrillex, Deadmau5, and Mitis. I found an Arkasia and Mitis mix on YouTube and I listened to it a lot, and that's how I became a fan of the melodic stuff. I was a fan of Mitis before we were ever friends.
Aaron: When I was in college I was making rock music. I was super into Led Zeppelin and ACDC at the time.
Britian: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Aaron: Yeah them too. At the time I hated EDM. I didn't want anything to do with it, but then my friend John showed me “Some Chords” and “Not Exactly” by Deadmau5 and then I listened to “Strobe” and at that point, I was like HOLY SHIT this is what I want to do. Forget that guitar stuff, I want to make some dope ass electronic music. So from that point on that's all I've really done. I guess I have to say I owe it to my friend John and even more than that my friend Nate, who introduced me to a DJ clubs in college and got me into that stuff. Those guys plus, if we're going to add influences, Au5, Koan Sound…
Britian: O shit, Koan Sound!
Aaron: Singularity, Minnesota, Xilent, basically anyone who was big in the melodic dubstep. Adventure Club, I'm sure I'm missing some people.
Britian: Early Monstercat. Rogue!
Aaron: Rogue was sick. Tut Tut Child. The list would be kind of endless, but yeah I was super into that and I still am.
What are the benefits/problems with living in different areas of the country?
Britian: Collaboration honestly
Aaron: Yeah I mean, it would definitely be a lot easier for us if we lived close to each other. So we have to send tracks back and forth to each other. It's almost like doing a collaboration with another artist, but doing it repeatedly for over 5 years haha. It's definitely an interesting situation for sure. We made it work in the beginning, and then we figured out how perfectly our workflow works together. Despite it being a bit of a challenge we've kept it up and we intend to keep it going forward.
If you had to choose from these two options would you pick? Having someone else play one of your songs on the main stage at EDC / Playing someone else's song on the main stage at EDC.
Britian: Uhhh probably playing someone else's song on Mainstage because that means we made it to Mainstage.
Aaron: Obviously playing EDC is a lifetime goal and if we got to accomplish that, that would be amazing, but you know, if before we accomplished that we heard someone play one of our songs at EDC that would be pretty dope as well.
If you could go back 5 years what industry advice would you give to yourselves?
Britian: Don't fuck up relationships with other artists.
Britian: To be honest that's probably my best answer haha.
Aaron: I would say doing focus so much on the super technical stuff like getting your sound design 100% correct. It's about writing a good tune that people can relate to, that people can listen to and enjoy. I mean obviously, if sound design is your thing then go for it, but like, at the end of the day it’s about creating music that provides and experience that someone can listen to and have that same experience. You don't need to spend hours and hours on sound design to create a good track.
What single performance has been the most memorable for you as a DJ?
Aaron: Definitely the Salt Lake City show where we opened for Seven Lions on his Journey Tour. That was absolutely by far the most amazing show, and just because of the feeling of euphoria when you're behind the decks seeing like two thousand people just lose their shit to your track. It's just amazing you really can't replicate that. It's something I've never experienced anywhere else. That was just incredible for me.
Britian: Jeff pulled us up on stage for Never Change too. That was pretty fucking cool.
Aaron: Yeah I'm not going to lie, that was one of the experiences I define my life by. Like you can't ever replace that.
When creating music what has the most pressure; Remix, Collab, or an Original?
Aaron: Remix by FAR. BY FAR.
Aaron: It's such a balance. You don't want to completely recreate what your remixing while putting your own spin on it, but you also don't want to be so far from the original that you can't even tell it's a remix. At least with a collab it's not so much pressure because each artist is putting their own spin on it. The original is the easiest by far because you can do whatever you want.
Britian: A lot of time we're doing remixes for people that we've looked up to for a long time too, so there's also pressure to please them as well.
Aaron: Especially when the track is already really good.
Your latest release was Sojourn, the collaboration with Seven Lions. Can you give us any insight into what it's like creating a song with a legend like that?
Aaron: It really is amazing. You listen to all these tracks by an artist like that, and then you finally get to collaborate with an artist like that. You know you get to see an insider’s view into… you know because we got the stems so you can see how he put together a track. You know you get to see what the stems consisted of, and we actually learned a lot by just working with him. It was an awesome experience, and you might see some more stuff from us pretty soon.
Are there any other top-tier artists you might have something in the works with?
Aaron: We are in the process of working on a three-way collaboration with Mr. Montalvo and one of his Ophelia cohorts, who likes dropping that psy from time to time.
Britian: Mr. Joe Torre as well
Aaron: Yeah Mr. Torre and we've been working on some juicy stuff with him as well. Some Ophelia incest is definitely happening.
Anything outside of Ophelia?
Britian: Are we allowed to say yet?
Aaron: Hmmmmmm. You know, an artist that has collaborated with Seven Lions in the past. We've got another one with a certain Italian artist. A remix or two of an artist we grew up listening to.
Britian: We've got some cool visuals coming of my dog haha.
Aaron: Yeah dude. That what we should really mention more than anything is the dog visuals for sure haha
Britian: She is a cutie!
Is there any genre you guys just will not even attempt?
Aaron: I would make almost anything if the opportunity presented itself. That's the most exciting thing for me is to make a new type of music. Making the same stuff over and over again is cool, but…
Aaron: I would make techno for sure!
Britian: I wouldn't let you make techno
Aaron: When I saw Deadmau5 in Atlanta he opened it with 45 minutes of hard techno and that was awesome. Techno is legit, if that opportunity presented itself I would definitely jump on it.
Aaron: There's nothing I wouldn't do
Britian: O come on
Aaron: We've actually done some hardstyle before. I would do almost every genre
Britian: What about Kawaiicore?
Aaron: Yeah… ok haha