Behind the Beat with GTA
Skrillex just released a massive remix of their track “Red Lips,” but I was able to catch up with genre killers GTA before their show at Irving Plaza, in the heart of Greenwich Village in Manhattan. Hailing from Miami, GTA, also known as Julio Mejia and Matt Van Toth, just ended their first headlining Goons Take America tour on Saturday, closing out the tour with guest appearances by Dillon Francis and OWSLA chief, Skrillex.
In the few moments before they were swamped with what I assume must have been a contest meet and greet, I pressed Julio and Matt on the hard questions the day before Thanksgiving. Questions like how their EP development works, the difficulties of working with one another, and of course, their favorite Thanksgiving dishes. With the opener Wax Motif thumping in the background just outside the greenroom (joined by a bevy of other high quality DJs including rappers KCamp and Rich the Kid), we got down to business.
OTB: You guys are here on your Goons Take America tour, you guys have two stops left, right?
Julio Mejia: Yup, San Diego and Los Angeles.
OTB: What are you guys looking forward to in those two cities?
JM: Turning up [which they certainly did with both Skrillex and Dillon Francis spinning tracks at their last set of the tour]. Lots of havoc and mayhem, really excited about both of those shows, not only is this our first bus tour, but this is the first time headlining shows in either of those cities. You know in such a magnitude, it’s really awesome to have all of our friends supporting us along the way and really excited to be playing our new music too. We actually just released our new EP called Death to Genres, Vol. 2.
OTB: I listened to that on the way over here, got pumped to talk to you guys. The tour is going great I assume, but do you guys get to take time off tomorrow for the holidays?
JM: We actually got the day off tomorrow for Thanksgiving.
Matt von Toth: We leave at 7am head to fly back to LA.
OTB: What’re your Thanksgiving plans then?
MvT: Actually we’re doing it at my house, my girlfriend is in the process of finishing brining the turkey and all that.
OTB: I couldn’t find a turkey here to brine, but that’s a separate story…I’m dealing with two roast chickens.
MvT: HEY! That’s kinda like a turkey. Like a half turkey.
OTB: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish then? What are you looking forward to when you make it back home to LA?
JM: CREAMED SPINACH!
OTB: Curveball…creamed spinach? I wasn’t expecting that.
MvT: We did our own Thanksgiving last year in LA. We had just moved there and it was just us, my girlfriend and his girlfriend, so it was a really small little thing there. It wasn’t a big family thing. But we made a turkey with cornbread and sausage stuffing, which is…
MvT: Unreal…and then we did like a four cheese cream spinach thing. Which he [Julio] ended up eating the whole thing.
OTB: He said he liked spinach…
JM: IF YOU DON’T LIKE SPINACH THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU.
OTB: So you get spinach on your Subway sandwich then if there is the option?
JM: Yeah, who would get lettuce?…
OTB: Back to your EP…my favorite track on the EP is “Goons.” Did you guys take any particular inspiration on that track or any track generally in developing this EP?
MvT: For that track specifically, that song is actually three years old. We made that a long time ago. We just revitalized it. We gave it some some vocals, which most of them on there are Julio’s nice, deep vocals (laughs)…we had our another one of our homies on there as well, that did a verse on it. Which is how we changed it up. I’ve forgot where I was going with that…
JM: At the time that we made that, the EDM,trap kinda stuff was just coming up, so we just kinda went with it. Very inspired by horns in the melody.
OTB: I hear a lot of the horns throughout the tracks, and honestly, I started hearing you guys in mixes and saying “this is the song in this mix I like” and fast forwarding it for my friends [This clearly shows I’m too lazy to look up, or even look at, a tracklist, preferring to scroll through a Soundcloud stream instead]. “You think this is heavy right?” I’ll say to them.
So whenever your developing an EP and trying to put together tracks, are you doing that on an individual, track-by-track basis or do you have a bigger idea in mind that you want to put a lot of tracks into?
JM: I feel like “Goons” is probably one of the first tracks we were actually trying to create a theme for. We actually just had this whole branding idea where we incorporate our music with our fans, and Goons was the first one, pretty much saying, you guys are all Goons, everyone who loves good times ahead, Goons are all about death to genres, being open minded about all kinds of music. Having good times. “Goons” is like…everyone likes that.
OTB: So it’s Good Times Ahead officially…I’ve seen Grand Theft Audio, something about a taco truck at some point…
MvT: It’s official. In ink. (shows arm) We can’t change our name now (laughs).
OTB: What is your method approaching collaborating with different artists?
MvT: I’d say it really depends on the artist. It changes person to person and how they work best. We’re open to anything. So a lot of times or sometimes they’ll have an idea that we just put our spin on or we show them a bunch of projects or show them some idea we had and go with their take. It really varies and we’re always keeping an open mind so we’re always looking for something different, a way to incorporate a different sound or style.
OTB: What is the hardest part about working with one another?
JM: Scheduling I think. Maybe. You know everyone has a different schedule as far like DJs…that’s the hardest part. Staying on the same page. A lot of times emails get lost, parts get lost…
OTB: …Someone has eaten all of the creamed spinach….
JM: Haha yeah well…but honestly, I feel like making music with people, collaborating with people, has gotten so much easier over the years that so many things are happening at once that it’s hard to keep track of that.
OTB: Well that’s it, it was great talking with you guys and I hope to see you in NYC again soon!
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