By Tracy Vu
Wiley Webb has been going to electronic dance music (EDM) festivals since he was 15. He has produced music for nearly four years and just a few weeks ago, he played at Ruby Skye with the likes of 3lau. He has even hung out with Ferry Corsten backstage. All of this, mind you, before completing his first year at Stanford.
In person, Webb seems like a normal freshman, eager to eat off campus before we begin our interview, asking for somewhere more exciting than Chipotle since this is a “rare opportunity for a wee little freshman.” While certainly not Stanford’s first EDM DJ, Wiley is one of the few who have made significant strides in the world of electronic dance music.
INTERMISSION: How did you get into DJing?
WEBB: DJing really for me was just a side thing off of producing music, making music, so that’s just the performance aspect of producing dance music. I started off playing parties at my high school.
INT: What about producing music?
WEBB: Playing around in Logic, which is the software I’ve used for a while now, probably four years or something. Just fooling around, gradually learning, but I didn’t really pursue music production intensely whatsoever until about two years ago.
INT: What changed two years ago?
WEBB: I think I just really began loving music, appreciating it, and I just reached a point where I felt like I was doing quality work that was good-sounding and different from what other people were making. A track I made that was a hallmark of that era was my remix of Kaskade’s “Dynasty,” and today, that’s still my most popular track. It kinda went semi-viral on blogs and stuff, and I made that when I was sixteen and a half.
INT: What was it like playing at Ruby Skye?
WEBB: It was really fun. Actually, when I got into Stanford, one of the first things I did was do some research on San Francisco and identify what I thought was the best club in the city, and that was Ruby Skye. I set a goal way back in December that I’d play at Ruby Skye within two years, so it was pretty awesome to have that specific goal realized within two weeks of being on campus.
INT: How did that happen?
WEBB: I’m friends with Justin 3lau, the headliner that night, and he — his manager, rather — got me the gig because he knew I was in the area and they both wanted to help out because they’re great guys.
INT: How did it feel in front of the crowd?
WEBB: It was great. Sure it makes you a little nervous being on stage, but I did have some preparation playing a big gig in Boulder, Colorado in May. That was my first real show, as in a venue, and not a house. And that’s where I met 3lau because he was also opening for another guy we both knew. There, I just learned a lot how to have a presence in front of a crowd, how to interact with them, and just how to de-stress and de-nerve.
INT: How do you balance Stanford life with producing music?
WEBB: I’m still learning. It’s still such a struggle to get enough time everyday. Today’s Tuesday, right? So that’s seven days straight of getting 4 hours of sleep average. This weekend was performing at Ruby Skye, Facebook Hackathon, and then our scavenger hunt in San Francisco, so I’m still catching up. I’m still getting used to that, so I really have to figure out if there’s even time for me to work on digital music while I’m here, and maybe DJing is all I can really do, but we’ll see, especially when I stop being a freshman who’s excited by every little thing and manage my time more efficiently.
INT: Are your parents supportive of your music production?
WEBB: Yeah, they’re pretty great about that. For the majority of my life, soccer was going to be my ticket into a good school, so I played club soccer at a very national level, but I finally had the courage to quit it and focus on music instead. But besides their persistence in encouraging me to stick to soccer, after that they’ve been very welcoming to this pursuit of a questionable thing, this pursuit of just throwing parties and playing at parties, as a job, as a profession and especially just letting me go to all of the shows I want to. They’ve never had an issue about when I go out or how long I can stay, if I have a good reason, which is always that I want to see this artist finish this set because I love the music not because I’m getting drunk or high or something, but because I’m there to see the end of the music.
INT: Could you tell us about your latest track?
WEBB: I’ll answer this with “Nectar,” which is currently still in progress, but I did have a chance to play it out at Ruby Skye last week. I closed my set with it and actually the crowd really went wild. It was probably the best-received track that I played in my set that night. I love it because no one has made a single track that is sort of like it. It’s a slow tempo, 106, sort of walking tempo. It probably has the catchiest rift I’ve ever written but also the prettiest verse melodies that I’ve ever made.
Check out Wiley Webb’s tracks on Soundcloud at http://soundcloud.com/wileywebb
Hometown: Malibu, CA
Biggest Influences: M Machine, Madeon, Porter Robinson, KOAN Sound, Skrillex and his label, OWSLA
Track of 2012: Finale by Madeon – “It’s exemplary of the direction I think dance music is headed –accessible to the mainstream listener, yet beautifully written and uniquely produced so that it doesn’t fit under the umbrella of just one genre.”