Just a few days after the announcement of their 2015 lineup, Northern Nights gave us an opportunity to gather in celebration of the festival. Held in the heart of San Francisco at the pristine, underground Hawthorn Lounge, members of the Northern Nights family came together to share in the excitement of the lineup with help from one of its stars, Gabe Baer, better known as CRNKN. We got to talk with Gabe to pick his brain about current productions, what songs he’s been keeping on lock, and what he does to prepare for performances.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: We were very excited to year that you’re playing Northern Nights this year, how do you plan to prepare for the event?
I prepare for every show pretty much the same way, which a lot of people may not necessarily agree with. I play my festival sets the same way I play my club sets. I take a bunch of songs in my program, sort them by tempo, and then just kind of wing it. I’ll have around 30 songs that I know I want to play and when I want to play them, but that’s only like 15% percent of my set. The rest is just new things that I want to try and new stuff that I’m working on. I haven’t played a lot of shows with the Northern Nights type of crowd so I might try some things that I don’t normally do. More fun and summery types of songs, as opposed to rap and that kind of stuff. I think that might be different, but other than that it will be similar to the way I prepared for tonight.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Who are some of your favorite artists right now?
I’ll give you a few… this week I was listening to this dude Sam Gellaitry from Soulection. His new EP just came out and its super good. Another very different artist is Japanese rapper, Keith Ape. He just kind of popped out of nowhere because he did a song that’s very similar to “U guessed it” by OG Maco. He did a sort of Japanese version of that and it’s really become a sensation, its called “It G Ma”, it’s amazing. I’ve also been listening to the new Sia album a lot, it’s really, really good. I listen to a ton of different stuff, so it varies from week to week but this week it was Sam Gellaitry, Keith Ape, and Sia.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Well I dropped out of college because it just wasn’t my thing. I spent the money I had saved up and went on this really long backpacking trip to Central America for four months. When I got back I didn’t have any money, didn’t have a job, and wasn’t going to school. This was when I was 18, so I was still living at my mom’s and I just thought “man this sucks, this is not how I want to live my life.” I had played guitar my whole life, so I spent a lot of time playing and I got kind of bored with it because I was playing it all day, every day, so I was looking for a new music thing to pick up. I ended up just kind of stumbling upon electronic music. One of my friends came home from school in Boston, and he showed me Skrillex. He was one of the first artists I really listened to. I had also listened to Justice before, but when he showed me “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” and I was like “WHAT? This is crazy!”. Then I started producing and playing around, but I was just putting sounds together and it sucked a lot (chuckles). But I had so much time that I just did it all day everyday. I would put it all up on the Internet and slowly got better and better, and people started to like it. So then I noticed that I might be able to do something with it. It started compounding really fast and then I was hit up by a booking agency and they wanted to book me for some shows. It just took off after that.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: Each production you make is really unique and unpredictable, What’s your process when you start to put a song together?
I’ll listen to the different parts and pick one thing usually. I used to try to put all the parts into the project and then rearrange them, and it wound up being more interesting when you pick one thing and then expand off of that one thing. It ends up being its own song, which I think is what remixing is for. So I'll just listen through and find that one little element and try to write a song out of that and slowly bring more pieces from the original in. It’s different every time, like you said, it’s unique. Each song is its own experience… sometimes it’s a rap song, sometimes it’s a house song. Each one is different and that’s what makes it really fun.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You posted on social media that you’ve been working on a song with Bro Safari, can you give us any information on it? Is there a set release date?
Well, you’re going to hear it tonight! No set release date but its almost done. He’s one of my best friends so it was just a matter of time before we made a song. Our buddy, UFO! is actually a part of it too. We’ve got a nice Animal House gang.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: You guys just went on tour right?
Yeah, for the second year in a row, it was great! I love touring with all those guys. By those guys I mean UFO!, Bro Safari, ETC!ETC!, Torro Torro, Ape Drums, Craze… Who has actually gotten really big now. It’s always really fun.
EPIC PRODUCTIONS: What else do you have in store for 2015?
I have a lot of stuff that I’ve been working on from the past few months. There’s a couple things I can’t say. I did a remix with Odesza that’s going to be out soon, a remix for The M Machine that’s also coming out soon, and I just did a remix for a very, very, very, big rapper. So I have a lot of remixes that I’m really excited about and a lot of really cool opportunities. I’ve been writing a lot of really different types of music. I have like eight songs that are totally different, and that are done-ish. I’m just writing a bunch of music so I can have things to release because sometimes you get in spots where you’re not writing a lot of music, so when you’re being productive you have to go with it.
Gabe was truly a pleasure to talk to, and he spoke to us as if we were long-time friends. He spoke with unmistakable passion and his determination became prominent. Learning about all the music he is working on is making us so excited for upcoming releases!
Following the interview we had the honor of seeing Gabe in his natural habitat, behind the decks. He conducted his set with high energy, and his song choice and flawless mixing had the crowd going hard the entire time. We heard some of our favorite tracks over the duration of his set, including RL Grime’s “Core”, Zeds Dead’s “Rumble In The Jungle”, and so much more. We thank Northern Nights for giving us the opportunity to see one of their main acts, CRNKN, before he takes the stage at NNMF in July. We can’t wait to see him play in the Redwoods!
AUTHOR CREDIT: BROOKE SLIGER