Artist Stories | July 24, 2014
For Beatport’s exclusive BT Producer Challenge, contestants were inspired to craft original tracks that make compelling use of iZotope’s beat making software BreakTweaker. Vying for release of their track on Beatport in an exclusive package with Armada Records, grand-prize-winners Chomstars rose above the aspiring pack of beat makers to catch the ear of the judge: BT himself.
iZotope checked in with Jordan Hewitt of Chomstars for a quick Q&A to find out what the experience was like, learn about what’s next for the band, and look at how BreakTweaker feeds into their work.
Chomstars is Nate Martorano, Colin Youngwall, and me, Jordan Hewitt. We met at school in upstate New York. I got Colin into electro when I took him to EDC 2010 in LA. After that he started DJ’ing parties at school and I started working on producing -— we were both pretty terrible at first. After a couple years we decided to join forces under the name Chomstars, which we found on Urban Dictionary. We won a little remix contest for Canadian pop act Lights at the end of 2011. Nate, who was still in high school at the time, had been following the contest and liked our winning entry. He found and added me on Facebook. The following year, Nate enrolled at our college, and when he realized we went there too he messaged me. He showed me some melodic drum and bass stuff he had been working on, and I was impressed, so we decided to try working together in the studio. Within a few months Nate was also part of Chomstars, and the rest is history.
Winning the contest was obviously huge for us. Seeing support from an icon like BT was one of the most gratifying experiences we have had as producers thus far. We haven't had any face time with him or anything, but after the win he did put us on the guest list at a show he played in Hollywood. At the show, Nate somehow managed to sneak on stage and talk to him for a second while he was DJing! Pretty ridiculous, especially considering 19-year-old Nate shouldn't have even been allowed in the club to begin with. But BT was more than cool with it. He seems like a great guy and as an artist we have a ton of respect for him.
If you had to pigeonhole us to a genre it would be Electro House. That's what Beatport calls us anyway. However, they also lump a bunch of one-note big room stuff into that category now, so we are finding it harder to associate with the genre. Our take on electro draws a lot from more melodic sources like trance and cinematic film scores. We do a lot of experimenting, so our tracks don't sound like cookie-cutter copies of some formula, but we still make sure they represent our "sound.” I won't rule out venturing into other genres in the future as that sound evolves, but we are enjoying what we have now.
Everything is coming next for us! We just released our debut EP called Stargazing on Audiophile Live. Since it's release in June it has reached #2 on the Beatport electro charts (can't quite beat that pesky mau5) and 28th on iTunes Dance charts. It's also been supported by some really talented people like Markus Schulz, Gareth Emery, Myon, and Shane 54 — and even Krewella, who put a track from it in their latest Troll Mix podcast. Besides the EP, our winning contest entry "Granulation" should be released in the near future on Armada, and we have a ton of other music and collaborations lined up to keep people dancing through the summer and beyond.
We keep pretty much everything in the box right now, though we have been playing with our friends Virus a bit. My favorite piece of gear would be our 39" 4K Seiki display. Seriously, after using this beast, going back to a 23" display feels like producing on an iPhone. Nate's favorite gear is his pair of Sennheiser HD650 headphones, which he often references to check our stereo image. Colin is more of a DJ and he has a full Pioneer CDJ2000 Nexus setup with a DJM900, so that is definitely his favorite hardware -— sometimes it's hard to get him off those things.
Since we discovered BreakTweaker, we have found a use for it in pretty much all of our upcoming tracks. It's simply killer for complex bass patterns. We take some of the built-in wavetable oscillators on a few of the channels, add some filthy distortion, throw some notes on to the sequencer, and then the real fun begins when we mess around with microedit to create interesting rhythmic patterns. Suddenly we have an angry, glitchy, multi-layer bassline with minimal processing needed outside of the single instance of BreakTweaker. It isn't just about bass though -— we use the plugin for drum fills, FX, and even chord layers as well. You would never guess some of the things in “Granulation” that were made in BreakTweaker. So yeah, we have just started to really get the hang of this beast, and we already love it.