Anthony Rotella aka Mayhem has been producing for the better part of 15 years, touching base with all kinds of musicians and genres. Mayhem has been a fundamental player in the bass scene for quite some time now, always teetering between becoming the next big bass star or lurking in the shadows running the underground trap scene. His newest collab with the masked trap lord UZ is making noise as it sweeps through the ranks of artists so we dug into his new tune and hit him up to talk music.
His interesting new tune “Amazon” with fellow esteemed trap legend UZ is a ridiculously clean ride through the mysterious jungle of heavy beats. The trek begins with some impending war horns and a quick build up to the intro where we are gifted the sound of tweaked tribal calls. The melody is hypnotic as is the sound design of the calls; the underlying bassline bangs the track forward with stabs of sharp percussion. The drums pick up energy signaling the oncoming onslaught of acid bass and 808s that ring true at the song’s pinacle. The movement of the track is fluid, never jarring. The snare hits come in and out rapidly and the hi hats are fresh af, rimming the edge of our sound preception. The energy returns as we build back up and are gifted the elusive calls of a lost tribe of savages over the big bass underneath. Mayhem and UZ pulled a pristine and crystalline work of art out of the studio with this one.
We caught up with Mayhem for a quick interview about his upcoming projects, his UZ collab, and even got 5 tracks that he’s digging at the moment.
TS: How did you come about the name Mayhem?
Mayhem: I used to produce under another name when I was younger. Before I accepted my first gig to DJ I decided I wanted to go with a new name and a friend suggested I use Mayhem, which was his graffiti tag. I was always in a trouble as a teen so the name was very fitting.
TS: What or who were some of your influences at the beginning of the project?
Mayhem: Early on my biggest influences came from Drum & Bass. I listened to Ed Rush + Optical, Konflict, Matrix, Bad Company, + Cause 4 Concern relentlessly. I grew up on grunge, hiphop and electronica so they all played a role in shaping my sound.
TS: At what point in time did you realize you wanted to do music full time?
Mayhem: At 8 years old I got to play the guitar for the first time and was hooked. I begged my parents until they were convinced I would actually play the guitar. I practiced for 6+ hours a day, eventually trading a DAW out for my guitar and later turntables. I was hooked on music from a very young age.
TS: Who are some artists in the bass music scene to look out for?
Mayhem: BINKS! Y’all might know him as ½ of Pyramid Juke, but the homie BINKS has been cooking up some serious fire that I’ll be releasing on my label SKRONG. Oski is another one to watch. He’s been doing big things with UZ and his Quality Goods label. Mark The Beast has been polishing his sound over the last few years and is set to drop some major bangers in 2017 and beyond.
TS: What’s the difference in the music scene now compared to say 10 years ago?
Mayhem: The electronic scene has grown so much in the past 10 years. Back in 2006 most scenes were segregated as the rave scene took hit after hit post 9/11 and crack house laws. Now things are becoming commercially viable, with dance music’s influence becoming more evident in rap and pop productions. The amount of shows and attendees has risen exponentially. I’d say overall we’re in a much better place as long as local promoters can continue to service their markets without too much interference from the mega corps who are trying to monopolize the industry.
TS: Any other cool projects coming out soon?
Mayhem: I’ve just dropped an EP called Country with Doe Hicks from Mississippi. Several EP’s are in the works with Armanni Reign, Swazy, Manman Savage, + Spiziike. I’ve also got a big project dropping in December which we’re slowly beginning to tease starting with Amazon.
TS: How do you go about putting down a track? Any production rituals?
Mayhem: Work every damn day. That’s my ritual! I try to write at least a beat/loop/vibe a day. It’s helped my songwriting significantly. Generally I start playing keys until I find a vibe to embellish. Always save your presets + channel strips. Saving time consuming tasks can greatly benefit your output.
TS: Who have been some of your favorite collab partners?
Mayhem: Lately I’ve really enjoyed working with UZ. He’s one of the few producers also using Cubase, his team at QGR has been very positive as we’ve rolled out Amazon, and I’ve just been vibing with him heavily on a couple levels. Brillz and LAXX are two names that also come to mind as both of them really influenced my workflow after seeing how they go about things in their DAW’s. Looking forward to sharing some collabs we’ve done together with y’all soon!
TS: Do you have any upcoming festivals or tours your keen on sharing?
Mayhem: I don’t really play many festivals but hope that will change in 2017! As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got a big project dropping in December and am planning a large tour in support of it! Looking forward to hitting the road across North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and beyond.
TS: What’s the one thing you must take with you on tour?
Mayhem: Travel essentials include phone charger, a good book, and a stage hat. I sweat so heavy when I DJ that I’d ruin all my hats if I didn’t dedicate one to the stage.
TS: Any favorite events/venues you like to play?
Mayhem: I’m usually just stoked to perform no matter if it’s 100 people or 1000. I prefer playing a smaller club with low ceilings because I think the vibe is just thicker in that type of environment. Laundry Bar in Sydney is one of the perfect examples. All my friends also enjoy playing there as much as I do! Plus you can get a Steak + Peppercorn meat pie straight away after the show and you know I love my #fatboyswag.
TS: Do you have any crazy performance stories?
Mayhem: Easily the craziest performance story was a time I played in Puerto Rico. We played on an island that was maybe 50 feet wide by 200 feet long. Everyone had to take a little boat to get there. Generators powered the system and torches lit the bar. As amazing as that was it was the cocaine/molly fueled 11AM knife fight between the promoters that ended up with me being stranded in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere with only my high school Spanish lessons to guide me back to San Juan. Luckily I had a pretty good handle on mi espanol even though I slept through most of my school career.
TS: If you had one word to describe your music (other than Mayhem) what would it be?
Mayhem: Love. The good, the bad, and everything in between. I really try to turn my negatives into positives and I think it resonates with my fans. I very rarely receive any type of negativity on my music through SoundCloud or even YouTube which reinforces that I’m doing the right thing with my time and energy. I’d love to be remembered as someone who put that above everything else.
TS: If you could go back in time to the start of your career and give yourself some advice, what would it be?
Mayhem: I would slap myself around and convince myself to trust my gut more. It’s hard not to succumb to doubt and I wish I had appreciated and embellished the visions I had several times over the years. The one piece of advice I’d like to offer others that I made sure to hold on strongly to is to never give up! I could have quit a thousand times but I’ve always found a new level of success just past my failures.
We asked Mayhem for 5 tracks he’s bumping right now but 2 of them are unreleased so we can only tell you their names!
1. Oski – Super Hot
2. LOUDPVCK & Nghtmre – Click Clack
3. Peewee Longway – New Bankroll (prod. Cassius Jay)
4. BINKS – Frequencies
(Out November 4th)
5. Diskord – Throw Ya Hands
(No Release Date Yet)