Interview Conducted by Sreehari Vk
Tal Rochman aka Sex Whales, from Ashdod, Israel started making dubstep in 2011, and had his first release in 2012. He’s released many tracks that have received tens of millions plays around the world from Trap Nation, Trap City, DubstepGutter, NoCopyrightSounds, MrSuicideSheep, EDM.com, and Play Me Records. For such a talented producer its a big surprise that he hasn’t been picked up by a major label yet. He has more followers on SoundCloud than some major touring artists. In this interview Sreehari talks to Tal about his life starting out as a very young but very talented producer. Just like a lot of kids at 13, Tal was treated poorly in school. He was picked on, bullied, and like most kids that get picked on Tal found a hobby… Making gnarly tunes. Now he has over 100k followers that love him and his music. Sreehari had a blast chatting with Sex Whales. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!
Do you draw inspirations from your life experiences while making music? Especially after going through extensive bullying and body shaming in high school? How did you cope with that?
Well. Life is never been easy here, but there is one thing that I stick with- MOVE ON. It’s right, people never been too nice to me, but I still kept being myself. Even though this year I lost 60kgs (132lbs), and I’m not that fat anymore, I’m still dealing with some stuff about the past. Now I’m stronger, and know that it’s just the voices in my head. I stopped looking at things negatively. Life is something you have to deal with, no matter how hard it is sometimes, but you still need get your way out of the bad and stick with the good.
I do have songs that talk directly about those times. All the stuff I was putting out before I left school at the end of 2015, it just was my feelings. Tracks like “Nothing About Everything,” “Sleeping In Class,” “I Can’t Get Out,” “Lost,” and “One Day”- That released just few days before I left school, and “Ces’t La Vie” that can clearly show about what’s happened.
Did you have any classical training in music prior to your electronic music career? What was the driving force that gave you the motivation to say, “Fuck it! I am gonna try out this new movement?”
Well, none of my family member is a musician, but everyone really likes music. My father is a truly fan of music and he also like some rock/metal and hip hop, and also like melodic stuff then I guess it really shaped me music wise. My mom really liked pop music, so it also shaped me to be in a zone when anyone can find something to enjoy from!
I never been on any special musical school until 2016, I already had my career, but I left school and we decided with my parents that I should go to a college that could help me and educate myself. I really had fun there, just finished like few months ago; they really respected me out there and supported me. I’m making music for almost 10 years, so I guess the time did the most.
You know, when I started, there were no YouTube tutorials, and Facebook wasn’t a thing. We did have forums for that, but in the beginning all of them were in “English” which I couldn’t speak, but I just saw the images, tried to remake some and play around. By some years I found an “Israeli forum” which helped me to take my stuff level up.
Most of the new age bass music producers are inspired either by other heavy genres like metal, Gothic music, or horror movies. As you are coming from an Israeli background did you incorporate any mystical Israeli folklore into your music, especially the “Debukk” from Israeli culture?
Actually inspired by metal and hip hop.
That’s interesting; can you name some of your favourite metal bands?
Well, I can’t call myself metal head haha. I just was inspired by that in the past. Today I can get inspired by just art. It doesn’t have to be music, but I think anything that’s creative and cool- which I would like, can inspire me.
In the past two years I barely listen to EDM at my free time, I enjoy more indie stuff, melodic chill stuff, some movie’s background music, and I love reading stories.
EDM got great energy to rage on, and to get some stuff out by the powers it give, but it doesn’t always fits me as I am a pretty calm person.
What’s your next dream label?
tbh, I know them all, so I just have to make tunes for them, idk if you want something> you work hard> you reach it. I’m just not that excited about labels lol
But I do have some releases with some top level labels soon.
Do you think riddim wave is going to take over considering the quirky amount of “wonk wonk” music that superfluously gets uploaded in most of the promo channels?
Ahh you just asked about riddim, well, I don’t know what to say lot about it, if music is good, it’s good. I think riddim it’s kind of dubstep, and sometimes I like it, sometimes less. I’m more into melodic stuff, and creative/interesting stuff. Some riddim pals just look like they are fighting who got the “BIGGEST CHODE”… If you get me lol, I just love music.
After conquering the dance halls of Canada, Switzerland, Israel, Europe are you planning on expanding the horizons to countries of Asia and US, UK? (I being the manager of Trapstyle India, Asian division I personally would love to see you perform a gig with us)
Well, I do! I’m planning some Asia dates for the future (AUS/NZ), and also planning next year to finally get mgmt and get my debut US tour going on! It’s been so much time since I blew up there, and people truly waiting for some emotional madness out there! Haha, USA would be a sweet thing. I’m also planning to move to US next year since I’ll turn 18 years old soon.
I’m kind of up to perform anywhere, some places just doesn’t have the biggest bass communities, so the promoters can’t really afford international artists, but I know that soon things going to get bigger.
Considering the advent of “tear out style dubstep” that was so popular in 2009 slowly diminished for some years now being brought again to the DJ sets by heavyweight labels like NSD. Whats your view on the “sort of going back to the roots” phenomenon as the riddim style and tear out was so popular back then …even though it was all UK underground clubs that supported it. Do you think artists like Code P, Trampa, Mastodon are sort of bringing the roots of dubstep back again?
Well, I don’t think that Mastodon, and Code P going back to the roots, their stuff is amazing and edgy lol, also Trampa, his sound design is great in my opinion. I also make this kind of stuff sometimes, and have a full EP that is related to this “hard dubstep” stuff.
I’m not trying to be edgy like those “cool guys” that listen to one style, music can be generic, and music can be unique. If I like that, I’m all in. I can enjoy any music, and sure that there is a lot of things that can surprise me in every style. If people going to keep naming music like that, the REAL creativity going to die. I’m not talking about sound design, or about sound engineering, I’m talking about the actual music, so I’m cool with all music that sounds good to me.
Your new release “Dark Matter” is inspired by Rick and Morty right? What was your favourite season?
Well, I really like Rick and Morty haha, It’s my third song with Rick and Morty vocals, and I just like sampling shows, movies, and games I like. I like the wisdom behind the show and not just the humor, some people can’t get that haha.
Being brought up in a conservative family how did you convince your parents to let you go on your tour while you were just 15?
Well, my parents always gave me the best freedom, and been supportive about me. I had shows in my country since 12 years old, and always showed my parents I can deal with it alone, and get back safely without drugs, alcohol, or anything. So when I came up and said, ayo, I got a show in Paris, and I guess that I will have to fly, they understood it and was happy ;’)
As in one of the interviews you told that you were an introvert in nature during your school days…how did you cope up with the immense stardom, and pressure that came to you while you were on tour and doing stage shows?
I just wasn’t going to school that often since my health wasn’t good. I couldn’t go and be around people, and I had HUGE social anxiety, I couldn’t deal with anything. The fact that schools are a bad place to be creative and grow up in made it worse. I never “left” school. Legally you can’t leave school, but my country decided to free me from that, after few months of meeting and bunch of stuff, I got my freedom and started to build my own adult life, and god dammit, I’m SO glad that I did.
Do you have any plans for sending your music out to award platforms like Grammy’s, AMA or MTV awards?
Well I do believe that I will go for the MTV stuff soon, because I’m not just making dubstep, I make music, and also some “pop” stuff. Some of my most successful songs aren’t even dubstep.
Is there any logic behind your alias Sex Whales?
Well, not much logic behind the name, but I guess it just felt right when I was “13 years old.” lol
Do you have any tips for small scale producers with less than 500 followers on SoundCloud? Whats the message that you wanna convey to all bedroom make shift producers out there?
The best tip I can give the people with 500+/- followers, is to be the most creative they can. Good music is going to be heard, there is some luck involved but still, you have to push in, and don’t give up.
Well, to bedroom producers, all I say is: I know it’s hard sometimes, and you just wanna get it all, but trust me, and I know that I’m not Slushii size yet, but don’t forget that even Slushii was a bedroom producer for many years. When you going to have your shows, and watch people having fun and creating with your music/art, it’s gonna be worth it all.
During your tour and shows what’s the basic DJ setup that you utilize?
Well, like every DJ, whenever I’m having shows I’m just using CDJs 2000nxs2, but any CDJs that’s 2000+ should be good since they has rekordbox support.
Do you have any other favourite shows as well?
Umm favorite TV shows? I don’t watch TV tbh. The only shows I can watch is actually Rick and Morty and South Park. TV shows are a huge waste of time.
Being a producer is very tough sometimes…work and life balance and doing 15 shows a week and that too in different continents can be tiring to body and mind…what’s your energy source to overcome it?
Well. I’ve never done 15 shows in a week, but I know some people that do, and it’s really hard. Even 8 shows a month can get you mentally broken and wasted. It’s not that easy, but that’s the way we chose, and that’s our life.
Does Sex Whales use Machine Guns to synthesize his basses?
I never actually used Machine Guns haha, but I def made some synths that sound just alike.
The thing I love the most about dubstep? Probably the energy. It has some special energy in general. It’s amazing. The thing I most hate? Probably the drama goes around. There is way too much drama and less music, so it’s kinda wrong, but all the producers right now are young, so it’s just like a big a** high school.
I have one question from my friend here at Trapstyle. When is your next big collaboration with other Israeli genius Alon Mor coming up? People loved your song “Jasmine,” and they are desperately waiting for another one…
Good one! Alon and I are going to make another song just right after he release his AMAZING album. This dude is def the next shit haha, it’s unbelievable. I’ve known him since 5-6 years ago, and he just surprises me every single time. We already started some things that we scrapped, but after he’s going to release his album, we are going to probably go for another collab or more.
Have you seen any good producers in a country like India where “Bollywood music” is dominating in the industry?
Well, I know some talented people from India. The country doesn’t matter; it’s an internet world now.
Do you believe in Ghosts? Are you illuminati?
Haha, ghosts? Not really, I don’t have any faith but in myself and music. I just believe that I can do more than everything to myself, and also can make lots of people happy and motivated, and yes, I am Illuminati. My friends and I, including INF1N1TE, Omri, and Sekai are actually the official Illuminati. LoL
If Tal wasn’t doing music from 8 years how do you picture himself after 10 years of his life?
If I wouldn’t have been messing with music I would be dead now. I’m highly sure I couldn’t deal with my life as I can now, and it would give me a lot of trouble. I’m just thankful for everything man. It could be worse lol.
Since your last track, a lot of your listeners are waiting for the massive EP that you promised that contains super hyped collabs…Can you give us a glimpse about it…Can we expect any collabs with heavy weights on that?
Well, the EP starts with a collab I made with Omri, it’s called “The Program,” and it talks about how humans became just like machines. The second and the EP lead track “Night Fighters” with Messinian, talking basically about personal things that are going on with me and that about how no one should ever give up. We can do anything.
For the third track I wanted a kind of UK rapper thing with some nice riddim dubstep sound. Which became “I Ain’t Dat Sick,” with MagMag, that’s basically talking about some kind of people that’s just bad and exploiter. With top level artwork, everything scrapped into the Night Fighters EP, coming out 30th September.
Wow, the hype is surreal on this new one. Can’t wait to hear ’em…Where is it coming out? Self release or any label?
Self release. Would have to get a lot of support haha.
We are really indebted to do this talk with a killer personality like you…And very happy that we were able to do this. We are looking forward for more work from you, and wishing you all the best from our team at Trapstyle.
For sure, I appreciate the interview. Thank you, and the TrapStyle team.
Big shout out to Tal aka Sex Whales. I decided to keep the interview as real as possible as both of these guys first language isn’t English. As Tal said, “it’s an internet world now…Let your music speak for you.” His music speaks volumes to his wonderful personality. Here’s a big thank you to Sreehari Vk for rocking this conversation like a boss. He is our Brand Manager of India/Asia, and a very valued staff member here at Trapstyle. If you wish to snag or listen to Sex Whales’ newest EP out September 30th check out his SoundCloud, and play it on Spotify so he can make some money on all his hard work.