Whethan‘s meteoric rise as one of electronic dance music’s youngest stars has all, but expedited the anticipation for his inevitable debut album, titled Fantasy. At only 20 years old, the Life of a Wallflower producer has been awarded the stamp of approval from legends like Skrillex, toured countless premiere festivals from Coachella to EDC, and captivated audiences everywhere with his genre-fluid sonic palette. Motivated by an instinct for purely-exceptional music, Whethan has surveyed a stylistic range that has found its appeal through high-profile collaborations with Flux Pavilion, Dua Lipa, Tom Morello, and more while executing a myriad of remixes, from Brockhampton‘s “Stains” to Elohim‘s “Sensations.” The Chicago-hailing artist’s diverse taste has led to a prolific discography spectated by pop, indie, electronic, and alternative influences. As Whethan’s experience grows, he has come to embrace a sound that resonates with listeners in search of music graced by a zest for life.
Having released three feature-studded singles, “Stay Forever,” “All In My Head,” and “Upside Down,” ahead of his forthcoming LP, Whethan prepares for a limited-stop North American headline tour with Chrome Sparks and Ramzoid in conjunction with his milestone accomplishment of the year—with it only being a matter of time before the arrival of Fantasy.
EDM All Day spoke to Whethan about the creative processes behind Fantasy, his pivotal moment with Skrillex, and inspiring side projects. Read the full interview below.
Update: Due to the current state regarding COVID-19, Whethan’s Los Angeles and San Francisco show dates have been rescheduled to August 21 and 22 respectively. The Chicago show date has been cancelled.
At what point did you decide it was time to release a full album?
I’ve always wanted to make an album. I just waited because I wanted it to be right. I’m always making an insane amount of music and felt that a certain amount of them started to feel like a project and were ones I couldn’t stop listening to.
How did the visual and title for Fantasy come about?
While working on this project there were so many moments that were dreamlike or euphoric and I gravitated towards the visual aspect of the word Fantasy. It will paint a different image in everyones head. I also felt it described how the album feels while listening through.
What stylistic direction can we expect from Fantasy? How is Fantasy similar or different from your previous work?
Every song is an entirely different world, but they all come together to create the whole picture. Fantasy is very different from all the previous music I’ve put out. I wanted to tap into a more alternative direction and keep everything high energy for my shows.
Do you have any stand-out stories from the process behind working on Fantasy, either in the studio, inspiration, or otherwise?
Near the end of finishing the album I rented a house in Malibu with some of my best friends and team. We set up three studios to mix down the album and had the best week finishing it, but also getting lost in the sunsets every night and vibing out on new music.
Can you give some insight on why you chose the pop-up like show concept for this tour? Any hints about what the special surprises entail?
I’ve only been touring for a few years, but I feel things can get repetitive after a while so I wanted to do something different and offer a unique experience alongside the album.
You’ve refused to let yourself be confined within a genre. How would you describe the evolution of your sound from when you first began producing to now?
I always have a hard time describing my sound, but I always just stuck to what felt natural to me. I used to care just about how hard a drop can go, but over time have grown to love great songs with great lyrics so I try to combine the best of both worlds. Also, I never wanted to be boxed into one thing and constantly get bored with genres so I bring everything into my world.
Having gained success at such a young age, how have you handled the pressures that come with it?
I think surrounding myself with good people that bring positive energy around.
Have there been any pivotal or eye-opening moments that specifically impacted you personally, your sound, and your growth as an artist?
I got to vacation in Thailand with Skrillex last year. He was one of the biggest reasons I started producing so it was a crazy full circle moment. I believe the energy from the trip inspired a lot of the music on Fantasy. Hanging with him always makes me want to step my game up to the max.
You’ve talked about the importance of consuming and creating outside of the music space. Have you worked on any side projects not in the music realm? What are some movies, shows, hobbies, art, and other spaces you’ve felt particularly inspired by?
I’m working on a bunch of awesome things outside of music. I don’t like to say too much before the reveal, but I’ve been designing a lot of clothes lately and also have some cool pieces for my show that we’ve been working on. I also love movies so much and am constantly inspired by cinema. I saw Parasite recently which was mind blowing.
Goals for 2020?
I want to keep my mind creating and exploring other avenues as much as possible. Being inspired is my biggest goal. Keep trying new things and also make a ton of music.