2020 Mix Contest Champion: Feathervane
Our judges’ verdict is in... and Feathervane has been named this year’s Mix Champion!!
Since its debut in 2015, Monstercat’s annual Mix Contest has been one of the most hotly anticipated events within our community. Every year, “Home DJs,” or skilled members of our community who aspire to DJ at a higher level, put together their best mixes comprised completely of Monstercat tunes. Each week during the contest period, their mixes are played out on our weekly radio show as they strive to evoke the right response from the community in order to move on as finalists. For the fifth season of The Mix Contest, we decided to change things up a bit!
The first alteration we made to the decision-making process came in the form of our Panel of Elite Judges consisting of previous winners: Rocketman (2016), Duality (2018), and Monst3r (2019). The Mix Contest is all about proving your skill as a Home DJ, and who better to judge than three previous Champions?
Another update to the format, aside from changes to the weekly challenges from years past, was bringing back the rest of this year’s finalists to help determine the winner. Essentially forming a “Mix Jury,” they joined our panel of Elite Judges to cast their votes after StreaK and Feathervane’s “Showdown” mixes came to a close. Needing only five votes out of a potential nine, the champion of this year’s Mix Contest was Feathervane.
We joined Feathervane for a quick interview following his celebratory performance in Sansar! Check it out:
Let’s start with an easy icebreaker! Who is your favourite Monstercat artist?
I will admit that this question gets harder and harder to answer every year because so many great artists flow in, but over the years I think Direct has been on top for me. I’m a sucker for future garage, and he’s been at the forefront of that genre for Monstercat in my opinion, along with CloudNone and Mr Fijiwiji. Ever since I got into Monstercat, Direct has been consistently blowing me away. With his Odyssey EP that just came out a few weeks ago, nothing short of amazing! Direct takes it for me.
Seeing people react to your work in real time is something that DJs get to experience when playing their sets during parties, concerts, and festivals. For Home DJs, The Mix Contest is a great way to replicate this virtually by jumping into the chat during the week’s episode. Do you get more excited or nervous to see how people respond when your mix goes live?
I think there’s a fair share of both emotions, but I think that the excitement ultimately trumps over. Obviously it depends on how I feel I performed with each particular challenge, but with every mix that I made, and I think other finalists can attest to this as well, there’s always these few moments, like mashups or transitions, that, once you finish the mix, you are super excited to see how the chat reacts. For example, I think it was in episode 2 which was the ‘full circle’ challenge, I did this mashup between “PARTY” by Tokyo Machine and “That Sound” by Reach and Slippy, and I was just super stoked to see how the chat would react—and they went wild! It was super satisfying.
This isn’t your first attempt at the Mix Contest crown. You took part in the third season as a finalist and had an amazing showing there, too! What did you learn from that experience that helped you in this year’s Mix Contest?
In 2018 I was a finalist and this year was actually my fourth time submitting to the contest in general, so I’ve definitely learned a few things over the years. But I think my biggest takeaway from Season 3 was to anticipate anything and everything. In 2018, I ran into so many technical hardware issues. There was a point where my computer was just a black screen and I was at a standstill. This year I made sure to smooth out any potential issues that I might have so I could have a clearer shot at maybe winning, and I guess that worked out!
You demonstrated the ability to thrive under the pressure of the weekly schedule and showcased fresh new ideas each time.
Which of this season’s challenges did you find the most difficult?
The most difficult challenge for me was probably the artist mentors. I was paired up with FWLR for that challenge and I had to use three of his songs. I was provided with an acapella for one of his songs. Those were the basic requirements, but what really hit me the hardest was the fact that they suddenly introduced the time limit of a 27-minute long mix which I don’t believe had ever been seen before in The Mix Contest. So having to keep things interesting for that long of a time period was the biggest challenge I experienced this season.
Which of this season’s challenges did you find the most fun?
Most fun was the last one, “Showdown,” which was also an almost half an hour long mix, but at that point the requirements were a bit more forgiving – it was a tracklist limit in-between 30 and 50 tracks. Other than that, I was allowed to basically go crazy with my ideas. With The Mix Contest, over the course of the contest you kind of stockpile ideas that maybe just went unused in previous challenges, so I was able to bring in a lot of older concepts that I had been holding onto and I really wanted to use. So I set them free this time around and it was super exciting!
During the “How We Win, Together” episode, artist mentors were assigned to finalists and you were paired up with FWLR. What was the most helpful advice you received from FWLR while working with him and his music?
Working with FWLR was really interesting, actually. He had a super interesting approach to feedback that I’d never seen before in both music production or in mixing. So what he did was he listened through the whole mix and, as he was listening, he made a visual line graph of the energy levels of the entire mix noting where it could be higher, where it could be more consistent. I’d never seen it before and it gave me so much insight as to where I should go with that mix in particular and where I should go with future mixes.
I think I lean more towards Monstercat Instinct in terms of genres and moods and styles, so, over the course of the contest, I do think I figured out that balance between heavier music and smoother music and FWLR definitely helped with that.
You finished off your magic run at The Mix Contest this year with a victory lap in Sansar! Describe your experience playing the final mix of this year’s contest celebrations in Sansar!
A ton of fun. I thought it was a great opportunity. I love how Monstercat’s been collaborating with all these gaming companies like Rocket League and Sansar. I was especially excited because all my fellow finalists were able to take part in that as well. All of them did amazing and it was great to be able to tie it all together, especially in a year without Monstercat Compound. It kind of felt like the next best thing. It was great!
What is the biggest piece of advice you could give to Home DJs thinking about competing in future Mix Contests?
First of all, if you’re considering it, just give it a shot! It’s worth it and it’s so much fun, even if you don’t make it through. Contest season is always just a ton of fun, especially with all the other people competing. You can just bounce ideas around and make connections in the community.
When it comes to the actual contest, make sure to always be prepared. I don’t know if this will change in future seasons, but at least for this season challenges were kept secret until the advancements were announced, so you never really knew what to expect with the coming challenges or the requirements and stuff like that. For example you don’t know if you’re going to be locked to a tempo or a key range or anything like that, so it might be useful to take some of the downtime you get in-between challenges to plan out transitions or mashups or maybe even entire tracklists that you might be able to use later on. That way you may not be so tight on time and ideas once the next challenge comes around. Having that foresight is really useful in a contest like this where you have to make these high quality mixes ready to air in a week’s time. Other than that, just have fun with the contests. It’s a really good time!
Congratulations on becoming the 2020 Mix Contest Champion, Feathervane!
We’d like to congratulate all of the finalists on an amazing season of The Mix Contest and Feathervane on a huge win amidst the competition! The way he used tracks from both Instinct and Uncaged to build energy as his mixes progressed demonstrated his skill and knowledge of the Monstercat catalog. We hope that the creativity heard from this year’s cast of finalists will inspire the next wave of aspiring DJs to compete next year. After all, you could be the next Mix Contest Champion!
Relive this year’s Mix Contest: https://monstercat.ffm.to/themixcontest
Monstercat: Call of the Wild resumes normal schedule. Tune into livestreams, artist takeovers and more here.