When they're not performing as the electro-bass dynamo Hot Pink Delorean, DJ's and producers Matt Simmers, Chris Barlow and Jon Spero are better known for their bass music hits as Terravita. Having produced tracks that have topped music charts on Beatport (their remix of Tremourz and J. Rabbit's "Sexy Party" held the #1 spot on the D'n'B chart for over a month), Terravita has earned the support of artists such as Bassnectar, Datsik and Borgore.
We got to catch up with Jon and Chris before a performance at Gainesville's Spannk nightclub about their love for D'n'B, the evolution of electronic music and the surrounding culture that has emerged
Amanda Mesa: What’s the story behind the name Terravita?
Jon: We’re kind of obsessed with ancient Rome and Latin and witchcraft. It means “earth-life,” depending on how you translate it.
AM: What drew you to drum and bass when you first started making music as Terravita?
Jon: I grew up as a hip hop kid, so when I started going to raves back in 2000 and ’99, all the trancey stuff and the “lighter” stuff…I wasn’t crazy into it. But when I found drum and bass, it was hard and it was fast…it was aggressive—it was kind of where my head was at. And the thing that drew me to producing it was the MC’s…MC’ing to electronic music, watching other drum and bass artists, like Stevie Hyper D and Skippa, Tat and all those guys…so it kind of resonated with me; it sounded like futuristic hip-hop. It’s actually come full circle now and it almost is like the hip-hop of the future at this point.
Chris: I got into it because I was a metal dude, and trance at the time wasn’t metal enough for me. I was into Prodigy and sh*t, ‘cause I was kind of edgy. So the harder edgier thing for me was drum and bass.
AM: There’s a lot of talk that drum and bass is a dying genre. Is it really?
Jon: It's deceptive because as much of a “dying genre” as people might think it is as a whole, it's definitely not dead. Even at Ultra Music Festival, Skrillex dropped a couple drum and bass tunes and everybody went nuts. A lot of artists I’ve found have been able to sneak it in and people love it, they just don’t know what the f*ck it is. All these young kids now that weren’t around for drum and bass just think of it as really fast dub step. Our goal is to educate them a little bit as to what it is.
Chris: BPM isn’t going to be a thing anymore. Tempo is just a variable. It’s going to be more about heavy bass sounds.
Jon: You’re going to start hearing producers’ actual sounds come through more, because things aren’t going to be as structured as they used to be. You’re going to see all these artists doing all these different BPM’s, but with their sound. So you’re going to hear tunes from us at 110 BPM—you know, Moombahton speed. But, its not going to sound like Moombahton, it’s going to sound like Terravita.
Chris: You can hear that with people like Figure that do 110, 174, 140, 128 BPM, and you can always tell its Figure. That’s where it’s going: no limits. No genres, just music.
Jon: I don’t even feel like there really are genres anymore. There are just different substructures.
AM: What is your favorite show/city/artist to work with?
Jon: I love so many places and parties for so many different reasons. Actually, in America, Florida is our favorite place to play. Tallahassee, Gainesville, all these parties…they’re just so much energy, so much fun. The people here go nuts.
Chris: Yeah, Sweden is great, Australia is crazy…I think our favorite artist to work with though has been Casey Desmond. She’s a singer from Boston. We sent her a beat and she just wrote and recorded the lyrics and gave them to us—done, awesome song. That will be coming out soon—it’s a Terravita song.
AM: A lot of people are heralding this explosion of EDM as a rebirth of the hippie movement.
Jon: That’s a fair comparison. The funny thing is, this isn’t the first generation of this. This is something that happened twelve years ago, and then it died.
Chris: The difference is, now it’s become promotionally viable.
AM: What are you most passionate about when it comes to EDM and the culture surrounding it?
Jon: You go to hip-hop shows and you go to metal shows and you know what to expect. In a hip hop show, it’s going to be a room full of people nodding their heads and just listening. At a metal show you’re going to see a bunch of dudes beating each other up. At these [EDM] shows, it's thousands of people in one place so close to each other, all basically doing the same thing, moving to this beat. Half the time I look at the crowd and people just have their eyes closed.
Chris: They’re reacting immediately to what you’re doing rather than waiting for the end of the song. It’s a great energy.