Often times we hear artists talk about who they look up to for inspiration to create. It is not often, however, that we get to be a fly on the wall when one artist speaks with his or her greatest inspiration. Atrophia, a local favorite in the Salt Lake music scene has found inspiration in Seven Lions for years now—something that becomes clear upon listening to any of the numerous releases on his label, Nova Lotus. Having both come from musical backgrounds in traditional bands and an appreciation for both trance and metal, its not surprising to find out that their musical inspirations tread along similar lines. During this years’ Get Freaky festival, we hung out with the two artists before they took the outdoor and indoor stages, respectively, to listen to inspiration in the making as Atrophia interviewed Seven Lions. –Julia Sachs
Atrophia: Though it’s an older one, “Serpent of Old” has always been one of my favorite tracks of yours. Could you talk a little about the inspiration behind that one, the artwork, working with the vocalist Ciscandra Nostalghia, and “Gathering Darkness.”
Seven Lions: Basically, for me, I come from a metal background and when I look around in the electronic music landscape there’s not a lot of Satanic or Occult imagery, which I’m really down with as far as metal goes—not that I’m a Satanist myself or anything, but I come from that background and it seems like electronic music is seriously lacking in that department. I figured I should take a stab at it and it was an homage back to that kind of music for me. [For] the artwork I found this guy who does mainly metal albums—like really dark epic shit so we hit him up [Santiago Caruso] and he was really down to work with it and he just did all the artwork and we had him do a few other things too. He’s very much an artist as far as [the fact that] he takes some direction but it has to be very much within what he wants to do, which is cool. Ciscandra Nostalgia was just perfect for that song. I heard her song “Cool For Chaos” and I knew she would be perfect for it. She’s an amazing artist.
Atrophia: That one was part 1, is there going to be a part 2?
Seven Lions: Probably, especially because we just moved up to cold, rainy Seattle. It’s just a matter of having the time to work on something like that. I know it’s very controversial to my fans, I think that was the only time I ever actually saw my social numbers go down. I think it’s a very rare thing to piss people off enough to where they’re like ‘I don’t like this guy anymore.’ Which I was completely okay with and I know [that] when I played EDC we put those visuals up on the screen people [were clearly] not down but it doesn’t bother me at all. I’m totally happy with pissing people off, and making some people really really happy. So, it’s a balance.
Atrophia: Well I think it’s a dope, bold move and I love the song. I know a lot of your initial inspiration came from Above & Beyond as well as metal and the hardcore scene. So, when you began musically were you in bands?
Seven Lions: Yeah I first started playing bass in a band and then starting play drums. Mainly drums, that’s what I was mostly into. So … yeah.
Atrophia: And you just got into Above & Beyond as well?
Seven Lions: Yeah, I basically got tired of waiting for my band mates for practice and stuff, so I started messing around with fruity loops and went from there. That’s kinda how it started really.
Atrophia: That’s really cool, that’s actually exactly how I got into it as well. Do you still follow the metal scene, are you still a fan?
Seven Lions: Yes, some metal. Not everything it really depends.
Atrophia: What are a couple of your favorite artists or bands?
Seven Lions: The new Amon Amarth is really sick, the new Opeth is okay. I’m not as [invested in] it as I was before, but I definitely like some.
Atrophia: Another one of my favorite tracks of yours is “December”, another one of your darker ones which I’m super into. Did you know Davey Havok before working on that or did you approach him to work on the track?
Seven Lions: That actually was completely through the record label, although I used to listen to AFI a long time ago. I had the song and the record label was like, ‘hey what do you think about Davey Havok’ and I was like, ‘Yeah I don’t know if he’d be into that, it seems weird.’ He was down, and he did a great job. Then we found out later that we had actually both been like going to the same goth club in San Francisco during the same time, but we never actually met. So no we’ve never met before, but we’ve kinda of hung out in the same circles and we’re into very similiar stuff.
Atrophia: Well it turned out perfect, his vocals fit very nicely.
Seven Lions: Thanks.
Atrophia: Oh yeah so, I hope this is a question you’ve never been asked before. But “Keep It Close” is one of the few, if not the only electronic song I’ve ever heard that’s in 3/4 time. Did that come along naturally as you began writing it or did you like set out to write an electronic song in 3/4 ?
Seven Lions: For FL Studio you have to set it in ¾ timing. So, that was on purpose for sure. And um, same with “Leaving Earth”, that’s another one that I did in 3/4 time but that was recent—very recent. Yeah that one is on Creation, but I mean the main reason I did it is because most of the metal I like is in 3/4. Opeth, like so much of their stuff is in 3/4.
Atrophia: Yeah, I thought it was dope because I’ve never really heard any electronic song in 3/4.
Seven Lions: It’s funny when people ask me to play it live—like how are you gonna dance to that?
EDM Utah: You could Waltz to it. Your new track, “Rush Over Me,” seemed like kind of a natural fit for you, Illenium and Said the Sky to work together because you’re all melodic, bass music guys. How did that collaboration come to life?
Seven Lions: Trevor [Said the Sky] gave me a flash drive years ago and I never really listen to those, it’s super rare. But he gave me one in Colorado as just a fan, and I listened to it and I was like ‘damn this is actually really good.’ I emailed him about it and I was like ‘hey this is really good, let’s stay in contact.’ So we stayed in contact for a little while, then Illenium hit me up on Twitter like maybe a year ago and we started talking a little bit. We had always talked about doing a collab, but never really did anything. I had that song “In The End” with Haliene and we also did “Rush Over Me” at that same time. So I’ve had that song for a while, working on it and I kind of put it away, I wasn’t really feeling the direction because that was a long time ago that I started it. Then I decided ‘yo I should get back on this and get some fresh ears on it.’ So I hit them up, kind of re-worked the melody, send it back and forth for a while and then finished it.
Atrophia: That’s awesome. There was actually a video circulating from our local festival Das Energi of a potential collab between you three when Illenium played it.
Seven Lions: Yeah I saw that!
Atrophia: So are you dressing up for Halloween at all?
Seven Lions: Ummm, being on a tour bus, its really hard to bring costumes. Khaleesi [my dog] has a costume though, so we just dress her up instead. She has a little devil costume that she wears.
Atrophia: What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve ever seen?
Seven Lions: Hmmm, I don’t know that one’s tough. My old roomate Kurt dressed as Jesus. He pulled it off because he’s got the perfect beard that’s kind of greying just a little bit and has long hair. He just nailed it.
Atrophia: Very nice, there’s definitely a couple Jesus’s out there tonight as well. Cool, well that’s all we’ve got for you. Thanks so much man! People are really fucking stoked for you tonight, Utah loves you.