Autre Ne Veut and Demo Taped have a few things in common. They both produce, sing, and write their own songs. They both make forward-thinking music with powerful melodies and an electronic edge. And, as we witnessed at the last No Ceilings, they both put on amazing shows.
But while Autre Ne Veut has put out multiple albums, gone on headlining tours, and played on festival stages across the country, Demo Taped, 17 years old, is just getting started. He’s only got a handful of songs out on SoundCloud, and he’s new to performing.
Before they two took the No Ceilings stage at Pianos in the Lower East Side of New York City, we asked them to sit down for an artist-to-artist chat.
Autre Ne Veut: You take the lead.
Demo Taped: I actually have some questions. I wrote these on a plane at 4 a.m.
ANV: Alright, so they’ll be psychedelic. [Laughs]
DT: We’ll see if they make sense! Alright, this makes sense. What advice would you give to someone just starting off?
ANV: Man, try if you can to enjoy every last second of this, because this time is the best. After this, it becomes work. But right now—like fucking flying out from Atlanta and doing a show, this is the dream moment. You’re actually living the dream. And you don’t know it.
DT: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
ANV: At this point, mostly movies and books. I spent a long time being a total music junkie, and at some point your brain can’t take more. For the most part, it’s more fun for me and I come up with more interesting things in my mind by trying to take some fucked up passage from a novel and turning that into music, as opposed to just trying to copy someone else’s production techniques.
DT: Yeah, I feel that. Okay, so I get compared to artists all the time. How do you feel about comparisons?
ANV: I mean, they never feel good. Never. Even when it’s like… I’ll get compared to Prince sometimes. And it’s like, “No, but I’m not Prince.” You know? I’ll never be Prince. And Prince is the shit. It’s not an insult, but it’s like, we all want to be special flowers. [Laughs]
DT: I get compared to Jai Paul a lot.
ANV: Nah, fuck that.
DT: It’s cool though; I dig his stuff, I love it. Love it, but…
ANV: No, no he’s cool! Although, I did compare you to somebody like right away after watching your soundcheck. But it wasn’t about what you sounded like. The feeling I got hearing you reminded me of the feeling I had when I first heard Boy in da Corner, the Dizzee Rascal record.
DT: Oh okay, yeah.
ANV: It doesn’t sound the same at all, but I heard a couple of your tracks on the internet. There’s not much out there, so this is the most I’ve heard of your stuff. It just felt like there’s so much creativity and interesting shit that you’re doing but it’s so unhinged. Nobody that isn’t 17 years old would wait that short of a period of time before flipping the swtich to something else. It’s cool. It reminds me of the effervescent energy he had when I first heard that record. It’s not a sonic comparison, just the feeling I get.
DT: Yeah, I feel you. Thanks.
ANV: Sorry to compare you! [Laughs]
DT: No it’s cool! I always thought of comparison as a way to… Like, if I was describing my sound to someone else, I think they can be helpful.
ANV: Sometimes you’re talking to people who just know what the fuck you’re talking about, even if you have a specific comparison. You’ll be like, “You heard that thing on the radio? I kinda sound like that.” You know?
DT: Right. Whenever I say I make electronic music people are always like, “Oh, like techno, four on the floor…” And I’m like no, no, that’s not….
ANV: Soon you’ll start saying yes. [Laughs] Because you’ll be like alright, this conversation doesn’t have to keep going.
DT: So what is your process like?
ANV: It’s changed a lot. I like making challenges for myself. So on this last record, I decided that I wanted to tackle all the jazz that I ever listened to and really cared about, and throw it into electronic framework. But not in a Dilla kind of jazz borrowing way, in a different way. It really all depends. I write most of my songs first, and then the production is about putting things in my way and seeing what happens.
DT: I don’t even know what my process is. I start off with a blank file…
ANV: It’s Ableton?
DT: Yeah, Ableton. And I start off with drums sometimes. That’s what I used to do, then build some chords, then get all my wacky shit in there, and build and build and build. I was listening to an early demo of one of my songs, “Cozy,” the other day, and it sounded so different. I was listening, and it did not sound anything like what it is now. It was weird.
ANV: Do you sample a lot?
DT: No, I don’t sample at all. I tried to. I used to sample a lot, but it did not fit with the way I structure things.
ANV: I can’t sample either. It’s one of those things. I don’t have beef with sampling. It’s the foundation of contemporary music in a weird way, but I’m just not good at it. I’ll grab something like, “That’s amazing, I’m gonna use that.” But then I’ll cut it up and it…
DT: It just doesn’t fit!
ANV: I basically sample myself.
DT: Exactly. That’s what I do. It’s way better legally. [Laughs] I took a song and put it through a keyboard setup, and it sounded like a sample. So it was like cool, I can make my own little samples.
ANV: Yeah, exactly.
DT: And not get sued!
ANV: [Laughs] Do you play other instruments?
DT: Yeah, I play guitar and piano. I started playing piano when I was like four. I stopped, and regret it.
ANV: I did the same thing, and I still regret it. Think of all the years I could have been mastering piano.
DT: Ahh, yeah. I played saxophone in middle school.
ANV: I played saxophone for a second too.
DT: And I think that’s it. Oh, and ukulele!
ANV: For some reason I don’t get the four strings on a ukulele. Every time I pick it up I’m like, “This is not a guitar.”
Pigeons & Planes: What about performing, any tips you’d give to someone just starting?
ANV: He doesn’t need tips man!
P&P: What was it like for you when you started?
ANV: I still have gnarly stage fright. You don’t look like you have stage fright.
DT: I do! I do.
ANV: Oh, you look like you’re chilling.
DT: Once I’m in it, I’m in it. But when I’m up there in the moment before I start everything…
ANV: It seems like you know how to transfer the energy in the right way. As long as you’re not fucking up because you’re so nervous, or puking on stage—although that could be your thing—I don’t know. I don’t know what to tell people. I do too much. Don’t copy me! [Laughs]
DT: What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t doing music?
ANV: I’m pretty sure I would be a psychologist. I was in grad school for it. Then I dropped out. I’m a grad school drop out, to be a professional clown. [Laughs] How about you? What do you…
DT: [Laughs] What do I…
ANV: What do you think you will do if you don’t end up doing music?
DT: If I don’t end up doing music… film. I really wanted to be a director.
ANV: You can still do that. The thing is, now is the time to be a musician. You can have an entire career until you’re like 30, then you quit, and be a filmmaker at the right age.
DT: Right. So that was my plan. I was gonna go to college for film, and I had it all planned out. And then I made an EP, and all of that kinda got pushed back.
ANV: You have time. You’re just doing music right now. Fuck yeah. You gotta do it.