Artist Q & A With Crywolf
If you haven’t yet heard of Crywolf and you are a fan of EDM you may not alone, but there is no better time than the present to learn more about this multi-talented singer/producer. Crywolf is the perfect blend of melody, emotion, and bone chilling bass that will please both the rave bunnies and the bass purists alike. I had a chance to ask him a few questions to further understand his background, views, future and more.
Can you quickly introduce yourself?
My name is Justin Phillips, I produce melodic/lyrically-based bass music under the alias, “Crywolf”
What is your musical background? Have you had many musical ventures in the past?
I’ve been playing music since I was tiny. When I was 5 I had this cassette recorder and I would record myself all day singing beach boys songs and playing kazoo covers of disney songs like “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” and whatever else came to my head. Unfortunately those initial cassettes didn’t have very much commercial success. I played in some bands in highschool off and on too, but only started taking music seriously in the last two years or so.
Your recent Ghosts EP was a huge success. How did it feel making it to the iTunes charts?
It was pretty insane to have charted 18 on iTunes, especially because it happened the second day of the release. Totally unexpected. I remember casually glancing at the top 100 just on a whim, and being disappointed cause I didn’t see it anywhere… Then I realized I just wasn’t looking high enough up on the chart.
How did you get hooked up with La Castle Vania’s label, Always Never?
We had sent the EP out to a couple of labels back last year, and Dylan (Le Castle Vania) responded saying he was really interested. I was immediately down, cause I love his brand and style. Perfect fit.
By the sounds of your music it seems like you have a broad range on influence from metal to more emotional genres. Who have you been most inspired by lately in the electronic scene?
Lately I’ve been revisiting a lot of albums that I loved when I was younger. The Con by Tegan and Sara, Midnight Boom by The Kills, Illuminate by Lydia, Silent Alarm by Bloc Party – even some old Sufjan and Bon Iver… So much good songwriting. I *love* good songwriting, and think it’s the main thing missing from the electronic genre right now. Even when tracks have extensive lyrics, they are typically just about silly cliches like “losing yourself in the music,” “dancing the night away” or “Listening to your heart”. It’s so worn out. There are so few unique emotions being expressed. I find myself hesitating to listen to EDM lately because a lot of times it dampens my creativity and discourages me from stepping out and doing stuff differently.
It’s rare to have both singing and producing chops… much less to make them work in a powerful way. As far as the Ghosts EP goes are those your vocals in most of the tracks?
Thanks a lot. All the male vocals are me, and all the female vocals are friends of mine, most notably Charity Lane and Maigan Kennedy.
Your sound has recently been very refined and more accessible…What is your plan for your sound in the future?
I have been working pretty intensively on my technical production skill. I feel like that was previously one of my weakest points. Now I have a studio in Denver, and for a couple months I was spending around 12-15 hours a day only working on sound design and mixing, so that has changed pretty dramatically.
As far as form goes – structurally I am moving in a more abstract direction. I like songs that evolve and change, as opposed to the typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-
I love the intimacy of having live drums…What made you decide to have drumming as a part of the live show? Has it always been that way, and will it continue?
I actually haven’t had my drummer with me for the past 6-7 months. Logistically it’s just a very difficult thing to do, when you are flying to a new city every day. It’s also difficult because in smaller/mid-sized venues, the cymbals muddy up the mix a lot and make it hard to hear what’s going on. I’ve been moving towards other live elements instead of drums – I sing and play piano live now, and it’s been working really well. Eventually – really as soon as I can – I want to incorporate drums back in, as well as other live elements… But unfortunately that type of thing has to wait for it’s proper time – if you try to do it too early, it can mess things up.
I saw you play at Lightning In A Bottle and it was such a energetic performance at such a unique and postitive festival. How was your experience there? Have you hit many of the other festivals? Is it something you want to do more of?
Lightning In A Bottle was such a blast. I was so humbled and blown away by the response to my stuff there, as well as how many fan showed up to see my set. I played quite a few festivals this year, but will definitely be doing more next year. I love festivals because people are much more receptive to experimentation. When you play a club gig, a lot of times people just wanna run the trap or hear the bass cannon kick it… they don’t give a fuck about listening to me sing my heart out about some abstract emotional shit.
The electronic music ether seems to be suggesting dubstep is dying. Do you agree? Your sound seems to be evolving away from dubstep but you still embrace it at the same time. Are crowds still responding to it as much as they used to?
I don’t think I’ve ever really been able to fit into a pop-EDM sound, even when I’ve tried, which has been a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because I have to forge my own path, in a sense. I don’t really get to coast along to success behind the powerhouse of any certain genre. It’s a blessing, however, because I can pretty much do whatever I want. No one gets mad at me playing “dubstep”, because the dubstep I play is unique, and fits along with all the other styles I make and play.
Do you have any upcoming tours and/or releases in the near future? Any exciting news you can leave us with?
So much stuff in the works! In addition to half a dozen collabs with artists like Le Castle Vania, Popeska, Must Die, Mitis, and more, I have three new EPs that I am working on. The first is more of a pop-ish EP, with a lot of catchy, hard hitting tracks. The second is a concept album, where all the lyrics come from this specific 3 month period of my life a couple years ago. The third is an EP with Ianborg, this sick artist out of Vancouver. We released a track, “Oceans,” back last year, which is now the most played track on my soundcloud. We worked so well together that we decided to write an entire EP.
As far as shows, I’m traveling all over! My schedule is constantly being added to. I’m really just focusing on these EPs right now, but I will still be playing all over the place when I can.
Listen to Crywolf’s hit Ghosts EP below: