DECEMBER FEATURE: THROTTLE
· Artist Features
Christmas came early with the highly anticipated return of Aussie prodigy, Throttle!
Robbie Bergin, also known as ‘Throttle,’ is one of the industry’s brightest young talents. Initially scouted by Avicii’s team way back when we were just taking off as Monstercat Media, he signed his first song at the age of fourteen. During this time, modern electronic music was still in the feeling-out process; new producers were conforming to the idea that they had to have a signature sound or mould their careers to seemingly proven success patterns.
Times have changed.
Robbie pushed the limits of his music to the point where things began feeling forced. For the first time since his Monstercat debut, he’s had to rethink his approach to producing. No longer is it about sticking to a signature sound or crafting works befitting of his ideal self, but about rediscovering the joy of complete creative freedom. His first EP, Where U Are, is an experiment in giving himself the room to make music he wants to make. Replacing the idea that he must stick to making music in a certain way with the pure desire to create music that makes him happy, he is eradicating mental blocks that have plagued him as an artist. Today, as he prepares to embark on his North American Tour, we wanted to take some time to catch up with the returning fan favourite. Welcome home!
Robbie joined us to discuss his Avicii-inspired start, Pad Thai cravings, and so much more! Check it out!
Let’s begin with a few quick icebreaker questions!
You love Japan to the extent that you even named a song after it! Being from Australia, yourself, talk about how you came to have such an affinity for Japan!
I’ve been lucky enough to tour there a lot over the years, and really just fell in love with the culture and the music and the environment there. The soundscape of the whole country is different than anything I’ve experienced before, and that inspired me a lot.
The anime fan in you definitely shows in your latest album artwork! What is your favorite anime?
Honestly, the first one I saw was “Spirited Away” in school, and I haven’t watched a lot. I’ve actually spent more time looking at the different styles of anime drawing. Whether that’s on Instagram or visiting comic stores in Japan, I found a real fascination in the different styles—like Akira was probably more the inspiration of the EP rather than the softer styles, the classic style.
You aren’t shy to voice your love for Pad Thai and sushi! Why do you like these two dishes, particularly?
They have just become my tour dishes! Whenever you eat plain food and you feel like shit, then sushi is ''the best'' – and Pad Thai is just the best at anytime! At one point I was having like five Pad Thais a week, which is not healthy for anyone! It’s tour food.
For the uninitiated, indie music is actually one of your favorite genres! How did you first get into it?
I mean, it’s massive in Australia. It’s all over Triple J, which is the big indie radio station here. And it’s anything from Flume on the electronic side, to really band-y stuff and house-y stuff and everything in-between. I follow indie playlists on Spotify and Apple Music and… yeah! It’s just what I love and it’s very much the Australian sound.
Your musical career has taken you to great heights!
So you’ve been releasing music since you were 14 years old. This must seem like ages ago, but what was the moment like when you signed your first song?
It was amazing! I was actually pestering Mike – who runs Monstercat – on Facebook for a while with this demo that was “Next Big Thing.” Eventually, he had a listen to it and really liked it and then wanted to sign it! I was in, I think, year 9 at school at the time, and the Monstercat community was growing ''really'' quickly. To see the views on the YouTube video when it went live was the coolest thing ever for me!
How did you spend that very first paycheck? 😺
I think I bought a keyboard or something… no, actually, no I didn’t! I was DJing house parties at the time, still, for many years and I bought a new strobe light!
How do you stay inspired to make music today? (And is it the same as it was seven years ago?)
I’m not quite sure I understood how to stay inspired seven years ago! At that stage, when you start making music, you have all these ideas because you’ve experienced life for X amount of years before making music, so you have all these ideas waiting. And I think everyone hits a point where they run out of that because you stop doing all the things that inspired you, like seeing friends, going on trips, playing sports, learning… and I think it’s quite easy to forget to do all those things when you focus 100% on something like music. So, for me, in the last few years especially, it’s just been about doing the most outside of music possible, which fuels the inspiration—whether that’s exercise, seeing friends… anything, really!
In your AMA, you mentioned that you recently started working with Tom Norris. For those unfamiliar with him, want to just talk about who he is and what that’s been like?
Yeah, Tom is a genius! He is my mix master engineer. We’ve been in touch for years. He was actually doing sound remakes on Soundcloud that a friend of mine showed me, remaking entire songs to be exactly the same. So we started talking after that [...] and then developed a really good friendship, and then he’s mixed a lot of my records over the years and did my whole EP! I think he’s working with Skrillex now and tons of big artists. It’s been very cool to see him grow and still get to work with him!
One of the major things artists tend to consider is their own unique sound. Talk about finding your own sound!
I think the idea of trying to find a sound is the most destructive thing for an artist to think of. It’s something that ruined me as an artist in the first 5, 6 years of my career, because I’ve been obsessed with this idea of finding my own sound. To me, that meant reusing sounds from successful songs I’ve had, or, essentially, trying to make version 2s of the successful songs, which were never as good as the V1s.
Lately, it’s just been making shit that I like. If you can make stuff you like all the time, and fully like, it’s going to sound like you no matter what. I think it’s when you try and create a sound and stick to a formula, you just do your own head in and it’s never going to be as good as what you’ve already done before—because the first one was the one when you weren’t thinking about it at all. So, for me, it’s literally about making music that I believe in, in any style, and that’s what happened with the EP and that’s the first time I’ve made a really consistent body of music that sounds the same… but different.
For those who don’t know, Avicii was not only an incredible artist but a big inspiration to you! Can you talk a bit about how he impacted your career?
His team found me online many years ago and I ended up doing a remix for “You Make Me,” which was on the True album, which was massive for me because, until that stage, I’d never seen anyone play out my music or seen anything beyond an online success… and when I did that remix, he premiered at the Hollywood Bowl and then invited me to tour with him. It literally opened up this entire world that I’d never seen before in music, and that was when me and my family were like ‘wow, this is so much bigger than we ever thought’ and ‘this could be a career.’ That was amazing. I got to work with his team for many years and I even met him a few times. But, yeah, he was instrumental in making me realize that I could have a career in this business and how far music can take you from your bedroom!
Back at Monstercat is Where U Are with the release of your debut EP!
Talk us through some of the influences behind your new EP!
Most of it has been time at home. It’s been waking up, going for a run, walking the dog, having a coffee, and then an idea will just hit me. I have no idea where that comes from, but I think being home and living life opens up a new area of my brain that gives me these different ideas that I’d never have when I’m overseas.
So, most of the EP has been inspired by home and then, in my travel, I’ve got bits and pieces [...] the start for the production of “Japan” happened in Japan. “Where U Are,” I think the vocal was written in [...] I think that might’ve been written in Tokyo too.
Did you run into any obstacles or roadblocks during the process of putting everything together?
Actually, no. It is the first time… it’s been the easiest body of music I’ve ever written. It was just creating exactly what I wanted. I had no label in mind. I had no outcome in mind except for that I wanted to make music that I wanted to make. And, once it was done, Monstercat was definitely the right fit for it.
But I think for a long time, it’s kind of like what I was saying with having your own sound, I was trying to make music for a purpose. Whether I knew what that purpose was or not I don’t know, but I kind of knew what the outcome should be before I was even doing it, and that is what stopped me reaching the outcome. Whereas, with this one, it was literally just ‘Alright, I woke up with this melody in my head… let me turn that into a synth’ and then it became a song, or I heard a drum pattern in my head when I woke up. It was that sort of process and it felt amazing to work like that for once!
What made you lean towards anime when finalizing the album artwork?
It was actually something I found through Instagram. There’s a guy called “Che” who’s been the designer for the EP artwork and has inspired the upcoming anime video we have. He’s done artwork for an artist called BENEE, who’s a New Zealand artist that I absolutely love. I think she’s, as an artist, incredible. I found his work through her and then had a really good dive into what he’d done and he’d done this… neo retro future style. His style was that more aggressive style that I really, really liked. And at first I had just asked him to draw an anime version of me, not even thinking of the EP artwork, and then, once I’d seen that, I kind of had this big vision for different angles and different animations in my head and it went from there quite quickly.
What did you learn about yourself in the process of putting together your first EP?
I don’t know if it’s ''just'' been in the EP, but probably in the last year or so, how important it is to be happy in order to be creative… and that I cannot be creative without being, not necessarily happy all the time, but having a clear mind. So I’ve spent a big part of my time trying to access that part of my mind through exercising or relaxing or seeing friends. Because, for a while there, I was just sitting in my room every day trying to get inspiration that didn’t exist because I was sitting in a room!
I think the EP speaks to that. It speaks to life and living and nothing formulaic. I think, for future art, I will never force myself to sit in a room again and try to make music all day, every day. I only really need half an hour a day to make music if I’m in the right headspace.
The Where U Are North American Tour is about to kick off!
Quickly walk us through a typical day in the life on tour!
I mean, it’s kind of changed! I now just love walking around cities. I used to try and do the touristy stuff and do it everywhere. Look up everything. But, now, I just have a fascination with walking around cities and experiencing what it would be like to live there even if I’m there for a day, like trying to go to the local coffee shop and see the non-touristy stuff.
We always go out for a nice dinner, whether that’s sushi or Pad Thai or maybe even being crazy and having something else for once! And then we go to the club and might head out after, and then come home and go through photos and videos and I’ll read through my set. That half an hour after the set is when I’ll make edits for the next show, ‘cause I’m in that hyper-alert show mode and I know exactly what was wrong and what could be better for next time. And then we wake up and do it all again!
When you’re on tour, craziness definitely ramps up! How do you stay healthy on tour?
I exercise every day, whether that’s running or swimming. I’ve just added tea to my list of what gets provided at the club. Like, it’s usually just alcohol, but we’ve added tea. And then we just eat really well, like we try and sleep well and then just eat really well. That’s all you need, I think. If you can exercise and eat well and sleep well, then you’re set for a good tour life.
How do you prepare yourself for a great tour before you start?
I’m in that stage right now. I leave in about two, two and a half weeks… so I’m making a whole bunch of live versions. And I think the live versions are important, because they not only make the experience unique but they make you excited about the experience. [...] It’s really important to be excited up there and as excited as the crowd is seeing it. So, to make these live versions that I only play on tour is really fun and makes it all a better experience for everyone I think.
Thanks for joining us today – one last question, though!
With Christmas right around the corner, what is your favorite Christmas gift of all time? (Or, if you can’t choose one, perhaps rank your top five!)
I started the idea for “Next Big Thing” on Christmas Eve 2011, which is crazy! Like, Christmas Eve, at like 10PM out, I started the idea for “Next Big Thing.” So, I think, in a weird way, that’s become the best Christms present ever for me, seeing as that was my first song and literally started my entire career – even if that was a mental present that my mind gave me. That would be it!
Vibe with Throttle on the Where U Are North American Tour starting January 2020!
Throttle’s journey as an artist has been a joy to witness. It’s astounding just how much he has grown and changed over his seven year career, and he isn’t slowing down anytime soon. No longer does he have to prove himself as an upstart. Now, it’s all about keeping the pace up and staying inspired consistently. Luckily, Throttle’s creative well is deep and free-flowing. Armed with his already-existing skill set and a fresh new approach to producing, all of his pent up creative potential will soon be realized as music. Looking forward, we can’t wait to see where his adventures take him next!
Catch Throttle on his North American Tour!