gLAdiator is Dan Goodman and Ian Johnson — two friends in Los Angeles making top-notch Bass music for your next turn up. The guys have reached new heights this summer and fall, playing festivals like Lightning in a Bottle, HARD Summer, and TomorrowWorld in September in addition to hundreds of thousands of plays on their (free) tracks on Soundcloud. In advance of their performance here in Los Angeles for HARD next weekend, we had a chat with Dan & Ian about setting themselves apart from other artists on festival stages, their big love for their fans, how LA has affected their music, and much more. Read on and download the second installment of the Nest HQ MiniMix series below.
You guys are on a bit of a festival circuit this summer, with sets at LIB, HARD, TomorrowWorld, and a few others. How has your experience been with festival crowds? Would you say your music is made more for the club scene first and foremost?
D: Our festival experiences have been incredible. Every crowd we’ve come across, regardless of the size or the time slot, they’re always down for whatever we’re throwing at them. Festivals bring fans that are far more diverse in their music tastes. Even if we’re booked on an all Trap stage you know every artist is throwing in something a little different, festival crowds invite that.
I: The energy that crowds bring at festivals is unmatched. I think it’s safe to say that when every DJ starts out, they fantasize about playing for big festival crowds, so getting the opportunity to actually do that this summer is literally a dream come true. I get goosebumps just thinking about it sometimes haha! I think the majority of our music translates pretty well from the club to the festival stage but we’re always trying to push our sound and go bigger with every new track.
And to add to what Dan said, playing a set on a genre specific stage with a bunch of similar artists is sometimes challenging. You want to set yourself apart, we embrace that challenge and I think it pushes us to be better performers.
2012 and 2013 have apparently been great for gLAdiator, with you guys about to hit the 50K fan benchmark on Facebook. What has been the main reason for your success this past year?
I: First and foremost, the support from our fans. Anyone who knows us knows that our fans mean everything to us and that we do everything we do for them. But a lot of our success also has to be attributed to the amazing team we have behind us. Our mangers Mike & Andy are always pushing us to be better and they’ve also played a large part in developing the whole gLAdiator brand honestly. And of course we gotta shout out our boy John Jung and the whole AM Only family. Signing with them really propelled our career to another level and we couldn’t be more happy!
D: We also have to thank our dick friends for actually being the best people we could possibly surround ourselves with. We have a very tight squad of motivated, talented best friends all excelling in their respective fields. We all motivate and assist each other towards success.
Tell us about your Squad. You guys seem very close and available to your fans…
D: Oh the Squad, how we love every single one of them so much. The Squad is just turning into our huge extended friend group. Every one of the people we meet are the sweetest, kindest people and we truly appreciate their support. Frankly I think the most important thing an artist can do is to appreciate their fan base. They are your everything, your shining star.
I: The Squad started out as just our close friend group but it has gradually expanded to our whole mgmt/agency team, close DJ buddies and more recently pretty much all of our fans haha. Like I said before, none of this is possible without them so we try to give back and show as much love as possible. #SQUAD
RL Grime has started to call his music ‘Instrumental Hip Hop’ instead of Trap. How do you feel about producers moving away from the ‘Trap’ vocab?
I: I feel like at this point it’s just a matter of personal opinion. So many amazing artists are making amazing music within the ‘Bass Music’ field and if you want to call some of it trap, that’s fine, but for me personally, good music is just good music, regardless of what label you slap on it.
D: It’s just time to move on from tropes. Time to start showing people where it can really go. Get out of your comfort zone and listen to some weird shit. Everyone’s flipping on Flume and Cashmere Cat, obviously they’re doing something right and it’s definitely not lazer sounds related.
How has the Los Angeles music scene shaped gLAdiator? Would you guys be content making music anywhere else?
D: To answer your second question first: No. I don’t think we could make music anywhere else, LA is one of a kind. I wouldn’t say our music is shaped by the scene of LA as much as the city itself. Our influences come from years of living in the sunniest place in the world and trying to spread a little of that pure sunshine to others!
I: One of the greatest things about LA is just the staggering amount of talented people that live and work here. The amount of ideas we’ve had and techniques we’ve learned from just hanging out with other people in the scene is just ridiculous. It’s also really inspiring & refreshing to see how supportive and friendly the whole community is and i really feel like we’re all just pushing each other to be the best we can be.
What’s your process like working together in the studio? Have there ever been moments that you disagree on direction or sound? How do you move forward from it if so?
I: The process usually starts with one of us coming up with an idea or skeleton of a track and then we both go in on the song back and forth adding things until we’re satisfied. As with any collaborative effort, obviously there are gonna be times where we don’t completely agree. But Dan and I have been friends for so long that we both know that at the end of the day, we have each other’s/gLAdiator’s best interest in mind and we usually end up coming to some kind of compromise or figure out a way to make both of our ideas work for the greater good of the track.
D: Exactly, we always end up agreeing on the end result regardless of whatever arguments may lead to it.
Finally, tell us a bit about this mix you’ve put together for us and what we can expect from your upcoming set at HARD here in LA.
D: We put out a mix every month trying to showcase different kinds of music we like, different styles, different genres. This mix we wanted to give you a concentrated slice of us, both in the usage of our own music and others. We are, and will always be, DJs first and producers second. All of our cohorts make such good music it would be a disservice to the crowd to not share it with them and with you right now.
I: Since we haven’t played here in LA in almost 6 months (yikes!) we extremely excited about getting the opportunity to play at HARD. It feels almost like a homecoming of sorts. We’ve been grinding it out in the studio the past few months working on our new EP, so we have tons of new material to play for HARD and we’re just excited to share it with all of our fans.
Erykah Badu – The Healer
Juj – Mbira Spirit
KillaGraham – Ice Cream Anthem VIP
Tropkillaz – Hotdamn
TLC – No Scrubs (gLAdiator & Brazabelle Remix)
gLAdiator – Weekend
DJ Snake – Bang the Underground
A$AP Ferg – Shabba feat. A$AP Rocky
Jay-Z – Crown
Travi$ Scott – Uptown feat. A$AP Ferg
Mr. Carmack – Roller (New Look)
ID – ID
gLAdiator – GameCube Nintendo VIP
Bass Science – Burnin’
gLAdiator – Magnum VIP
Baauer – Swerve
gLAdiator – Assembly Line
Keys N’ Krates – Dum Dee Dum
Don Diablo – M1 Stinger (gLAdiator Remix VIP) feat. Noonie Bao
gLAdiator x LOUDPVCK – Scaley
Disclosure – Second Chance