Are DJs themselves artists, or are they simply purveyors of others’ art?

It’s a fair question. On the one hand, DJs are simply playing other people’s songs. On the other, they do so with a whole lot of skillful mixing and melding that winds up transforming those songs—and, in a lot of cases, elevating them—into something else entirely. So, if DJs aren’t the songs’ creators, they are at the very least their re-interpreters—which is, in itself, another form of creation. Right?

Anyway.

This conundrum was what was perplexing Tyler Marenyi, a.k.a. NGHTMRE, back when he was DJing gigs in college. Looking at the work both he and his friends were doing, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he wanted to be the guy writing and producing the songs, not just the one playing them for a crowd. 

Marenyi comes from a relatively quiet section of Raleigh, N.C. A product of rather conservative schooling, he often dreamed of what life was like beyond Carolina’s borders—and dance music, for him, always seemed like it was the bridge that could take him there. So, after receiving his degree in finance, Tyler packed up and headed for Los Angeles, to start on his journey towards a musical career.

Dance music writers and producers are generally confined to a specific set of tools and sounds from which to choose from, and it’s how they select and combine these elements that truly sets them apart. But that wasn’t good enough for Tyler, who now spends a lot of his time developing new elements and sounds completely from scratch. That means nobody else can ever truly mimic or match Tyler’s style, because the means of doing so are not even available to them—they’re sounds that he alone has created. It’s like the old saying goes: If you want to be the best, you don’t just play the hardest—you change the game itself.

But trying to make it as writer/producer/performer in the world of dance music is very hard work. A great deal of time is spent in the studio and on the road, away from friends and family. That’s the kind of dedication that it takes. But to truly make the leap, even the best artists need a break, and Tyler’s came when he was invited to perform at this year’s Electric Daisy Carnival, the largest electronic music festival in the United States. Making a splash there is a big deal for any artist, as it can open the doors to a larger level of fans than ever before, allowing your career to reach a much higher echelon.

So how did Tyler do? Well, for that, you’ll have to watch the newest episode of Uncharted in the video above, presented by Honda.