Meet Whethan, The 17-year-old Producer Working With Skrillex
We chat to the up-and-coming producer about his roots in electronic, working with his idols and his debut single - previewed exclusively for us.
Header image by Cody Burkhardt - follow him on INSTAGRAM.
Counting Skrillex as one of his biggest fans, 17-year-old Chicago producer Whethan (formerly known as Wheathin) is on the path to success. I know that phrase is thrown around lightly in this day and age, particularly on the topic of music, but when you’re counting some of electronic’s biggest and best as your supporters before you’ve hit the age of 18 and have millions on millions of plays across your Soundcloud account without releasing a single original record – you’re definitely doing something right. Championing a synth-saturated, future-bass sound, something we’ve seen rise exponentially over the past few years with the surge in popularity of artists including Flume, Wave Racer and GANZ, Whethan’s growth as an artist has been inescapable and he’s only just begun.
With originals sporting Skrillex and Flux Pavilion as guest features and some monstrous shows set to come in the near-future, the opportunities arising for the future-bass wunderkind have been endless, but it all began from very simple beginnings. “What got me into music production at first was just the simple love of music. Once I loved music I was able to explore and listen to all different types of sub-genres and really find what I liked. It was probably Kanye West with Stronger that was on the radio heaps that actually made me discover electronic artists like Daft Punk (whose track Harder Better Faster Stronger was sampled to create the underlying melodies of the Kanye’s hit single)” he explains on his origins with electronic music. “From there on, I dug deep into all of electronic music and found artists like Skrillex – who had a very different sound from anything I had ever heard before.” From there, he was led straight into the realms of producing music, with only minor experience with violin and guitar behind him.
One thing I’ve noticed from talking to many producers over the years is that for 90% of them, their origins in music production and songwriting came from outside of the EDM umbrella. Take Ekali for example, who played as a bassist for Canadian indie-rock band Said The Whale in his early days of music work. Whethan, on the other hand, has been all about electronic music. “I started (working) with dubstep because of my inspiration from Skrillex” he says. “After I was through with dubstep, I moved onto house music and still have some big-room, four-on-the-floor bangers on Soundcloud under my real name Ethan Snoreck hahaha.”
Although his past work dabbled between multiple genres, on his Whethan account you’ll only find one – future-bass. Whilst each song in his repertoire have characteristics that make each of his releases slightly unique to each other and to other artists showcasing the same genre, each of Whethan’s productions are ultimately based around the future-bass sub-genre. It's the supporting legs that hold up the grand sculpture that is a Whethan production. The major, linkable feature between each of Whethan’s productions that make it a Whethan production. Whether it be the pulsating central drop of his remix for Elohim, the soaring synth melody of his recent MAX remix or that flat-out saturation of distorted synth in his infamous flip of Mssingno’s XE3, each of his productions centres around future-bass characteristics with nuances and tinges that make Whethan productions unique.
In future-bass, these small nuances are incredibly important as they differentiate you from the rest of the crowd. In the past year or so, long-time future-bass pioneers such as Flume and Rustie have been joined by a legion of up-and-comers pushing similar sounds, including acts like Louis The Child, San Holo and Australia’s own Enschway. Differentiating yourself from other artists pushing similar sounds is crucial and for Whethan, it comes at a time when it seems everyone is hoping on board the future-bass train. “When I first started with the Whethan project I was very influenced by acts like Flume and my good friends Louis The Child and still am, but at first it was hard to create a lot of music that sounded like its own thing and not a rip off of either of the two” he answers on the topic of separating himself from the rest of the crowd. “At this point in my musical lifetime I have worked in other genres and got a good grasp for music production, so I take elements from other genres and artists I like and incorporate that into my own music. I basically take the best elements of all the things that influence me, like hip-hop and alternative music for example, to craft my electronic sound.” He also believes that his sound, and everyone else’s, become unique by reasons exterior to music. Speaking about his transition between producing different genres and where it has led him to today, he says “it’s funny to look back and really see what made an artist and the journey it took to get to where they are now. Most friends of mine made other types of music before they were known for their projects now. That is another thing that differentiates artists - the journeys and life experiences that influence the music.”
When tackling remixes, however, this becomes tough. There are so many little influences that make each artist unique to each other, and when creating a remix, there seems to be a need to balance your own little nuances with the original’s to create a balanced sound that reflects both parties. For Whethan, this is achieved in vocals. “The most important part to me is the vocal. That’s the part I pay the most attention to. I like to basically build an entirely new song or version all around the vocals.” Using this technique, Whethan ensures that his remixes remain fresh and exciting, and not enveloped and swallowed up by the many other artists producing similar kinds of music.
Ultimately, the next step for an artist like Whethan is moving into the realm of originals, with the producer already convincing us that he’s onto something with a multitude of faultless remixes. There’s a collaboration with Flux Pavilion to come, and a collaboration with Skrillex in the pipeline too, as well as a solo-produced single featuring guest vocals from Ashe, and whilst remixes have always been Whethan’s forte, experimenting with producing originals opens up a whole new world for Ethan Snoreck – a world that is proving to be extremely exciting. "It’s the craziest thing to work with people like Flux Pavilion and Skrillex because they were the first artists to inspire me to start creating music in the first place" he gushes. "It’s so cool that they not only love my music but love it enough to want to collaborate.” In terms of new music and touring in 2016, it doesn't start and end with collaborations, as exciting as they are. “The rest of this year is going to be a big year and I’m very excited about it. I get to finish the US summer playing some really cool festivals" he says on what's to come for the rest of the year. “You can also expect some new music from me on August 12th. I have my first original coming out. I couldn’t be more excited”.
On the topic of new music, today brings a teaser of what’s to come for Whethan and what to expect from his first originals, with a taste of his forthcoming debut single Can’t Hide, featuring guest vocals from Ashe. “This song came about from me at first having this instrumental idea that took a lot of elements from my remixes, that most of my supporters will notice.” he detailed on the topic of the first single, which we’ve been treated to a preview below. “I live in Chicago and pretty recently got a studio with all the homies in town. The studio is basically Louis The Child, Win & Woo, Light House and myself for the most part, with friends who come here and there. Once I started working in that studio, nothing but collaborations and support for each other’s projects has been the goal. I have a good friend who I’ve been working with a lot who goes by the name Light House, who was school friends with Louis The Child. He’s a great producer and an excellent trumpet player. Something was missing from my track and so I asked him to maybe try and play some trumpet over it. Instantly, we all knew we were onto something really cool. Once the instrumental was finished I asked a friend of mine Ashe, who is really good friends with all the homies, to see if she wanted to sing over it. She loved it and sent me a top-line for it. Now, we finally have the final product of Can’t Hide."
From his early days in experimenting with dubstep and big-room house, through to his debut remix under the Wheathin name and then through to now - for Whethan, it's been all about finding his place in electronic music and finding his own, unique sound amongst the chaos that is the building future-bass scene. Can't Hide opens up a new chapter for the producer and really shows to the world what's yet to come for the Chicago local. "I’m super excited to see the reaction of people when they hear the song. It’s a very special song to me and I love every little bit of it. I believe this track is the perfect representation of me as an artist right now and what’s to come.”
Whethan’s debut original Can’t Hide feat. Ashe will be out on August 12. In the meantime, listen to a preview of the single below – exclusively to Pilerats.