In this competitive and desperate market of artists publishing music and producing formulaic bangers, there is an increased recurrence of artists adopting styles from others and rarely refining them. Instead, just opting to straight-up replicate or copy them. The result is a music scene that can sometimes feel stale and unoriginal. But in this vast pool of artists testing the waters with sell-out tunes and contrived themes, there is a minority that brings a light of optimism to the shady condition of electronic music.
15-year-old future bass producer Trevor Higuera is one of those bright souls liberating the genre. In a short four years, Higuera has dropped dreamy soundscape after dreamy soundscape, making his way up remix contest leaderboards, building his following and play counts, and curating a style that rivals some of even the finest artists in originality and creative approach. His three minute remix of Virtual Riot’s In my Head placed ninth place in the official remix contest. All the while, some of his original tracks have racked up tens of thousands of views each. So if there were any doubts about whether or not the young wunderkind could piece together beautiful harmonic synth hits and deep bass tunes, I reckon it has been objectively eliminated.
For the last year, Higuera has identified by alias Astrale, and has flexed the full variety of electronic music in his compositions so well that he has not just refined his contemporaries and their approach to production, but transcended his contemporaries and applied his skills to produce masterworks that exceed the quality of music set forth by his peers. Now, the San Diego-based teen is starting his rise to prominence in the realm of cohering sounds from the future. We sat down to talk about this rise, what he’s doing, and premiere his new single out today on Future Bass Records.
Trevor, thank you so much for being with us today. Let’s talk about who you are, because I reckon that most people in the scene are not yet familiar with Astrale; I think it’s about time they get acquainted.
My name is Trev, I’m from San Diego but I recently moved to Northern California. I am an EDM Producer who’s been producing for almost four years now. I started producing when I picked up a turntable and practiced djing a lot when I was 11, and then I wanted to make my own music.
You’re relatively new into the whole scene, but I can’t imagine Astrale is your first real artistic endeavor. I think you told me before we started that you started making music about 4 years ago. What came in the time before Astrale?
Before I started making music, I didn’t play any instruments or anything. I looked at some of the mainstream artists arouund 2012-13, like Skrillex and Deadmau5 that got me into it; I started seeing that, and I knew I wanted to do something like that. So, I started producing and before Astrale, I produced under an alias called TREVVR, and that went on for about a couple of years. You can still find one of my oldest tracks on YouTube if you search the name up.
You just turned 15 the other day, and if I might say so, your music totally doesn’t sound like the work of a 15-year-old. I guess the question anyone would want to know is how have you managed to become such a great producer in such a short amount of time?
Honestly, I’ve actually come a long way to where I am now, and I wouldn’t say I got good in a short amount of time because four years is a really long time. But I’d say the trick is to always get feedback from people. I only started taking music seriously about a year ago and ever since then, I’ve been so proud of my improvement.
As far as music goes in the Astrale-era, and even beforehand though, you’ve appeared to have a great sense of community with music – you’ve mentioned you’re working with MEJKO and Foria; how has that sense of community shaped your work and experience?
Well, over this past year I’ve been getting noticed a lot more from bigger artists like Lucian, Shaun Frank, ARMNHMR, etc. I don’t want to say I feel surprised because the music industry is really smaller than people think it is, especially the one for electronic music – it’s quaint. If you’re on the grind when it comes to releasing music and stuff, then it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise when bigger artists find you – a popular track will probably get a like, and maybe they’ll even repost it. I feel like there are genres that are harder to get around with in the industry, but I’m just doing what I love doing right now and I don’t want to be known for making straight house or straight future, I want to be off the grid and make it big; I know a lot of artists who get it that way too.
It makes me feel comfortable releasing, that I know all these promoters and fellow artists. It makes me think that it’s easier to get my music around, so these two collaborations are really related to me feeling more open to people in the industry now and working with some of the friends I’ve made in the communities now.
You’re a self-professed future bass producer, but much of your work doesn’t necessarily just conform to the limited body of sounds that most future bass embodies. How would you describe your music in your own words?
I wouldn’t say I am a straight up “Future Bass Producer,” but my style of music that I make is mainly melodic. I would say my music is very inspired by Puppet, Porter Robinson and Virtual Riot. Even though my inspirations are always changing from time to time, those artists are my biggest inspirations and stay the same.
I’ve noted you’ve made a handful of remixes, including that award-winning remix of Virtual Riot’s In My Head. How is producing remixes different for you than producing original tracks?
Well, I find that making remixes helps me stay out of my comfort zone and keeps my followers as active as can be. I try sticking to at least one original song per month which is probably why you would see more remixes from me than originals. I think when you remix, you have to think more about what people want – because remixes are more popular typically. Illenium and other artists blew up off of remixes, and you have to treat remixes as if they’re something that’s meant to blow up. People go looking for remixes, so I guess you have to produce to that appeal, and make your original music exactly what you want it to be.
Everyone has a different workflow as far as production goes, what part of making music do you resonate with the most?
I just get general ideas, rather than write songs, I wanna make something – it’s more of an experimental approach rather than a step-by-step one. If anything, I think the part of making music that I resonate the most with is composition. I do agree that production quality is key to having a great sounding song, especially with EDM, but composition is what keeps the song driving.
And then as far as workflow goes, how does the start-to-finish look when you’re producing a song?
Well, usually when I start a track I always do the drop first. Then I move it over and compose the rest of the track front-to-back and after that, everything is said and done. I’ll do all the mixing and then coordinate everything like releasing and artwork, but that’s not really about making the song.
So maybe now is an opportune time to transition into talking about production because I always like to ask producers what their favourite instrument, synths, or effects are. Care to share some of your favourites?
My favorite instrument is probably the piano. As far as synth goes, I personally think Serum because it’s a really powerful synth and there are so many hidden tricks you can do in it.
Lately, you’ve just been in it to win it — you’ve released a ton of just outstanding tracks: Vigilant featuring HVNNIBVL, that remix of QUIZ’s Riot Call, and Artemis. How much of this work have you been sitting on or actively working on? How much more can we expect in the next few months?
I spend hours upon hours working on my tracks, and people always ask me the question, how do you make music so fast? My answer to that is I always have multiple songs finished before I release them, then when it’s time I’ll release them when I want to. And what you should expect from me in the next few months is me shooting for higher standards as far as it goes with releasing with labels.
Alright, so now let’s talk about this new track you have — do you want to introduce it and tell us a little bit about it?
This new track is one I finished about two months ago. Surprisingly enough, I finished the track in only 4-5 hours in one day. The whole story behind it was straight forward: I was having a really bad day, it was my last day of school before I was going to move, and I hadn’t made music for a week during this time. All I could say was that taking a break from music for a week gave me a lot of ammunition. The song is called Blinding Skies.
In the grand scheme of things, how are prospects looking as far as the long-term goes? What’s the end goal? Is it all looking to be singles and remixes, or can we expect an EP, album? Can we expect some sort of tour or live shows to be coming down the pipeline?
I am somewhat working on an EP right now that I have no idea when I’ll be releasing it. I want to base this EP off a tour that I want to do in the future when I’ll be able to play shows.
Finally, for those who wanna keep up with you as you venture into your future — and hopefully a much-deserved rise to bass music stardom — where can they find you on social media?
You can find me on all of my social media — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube — or on my Soundcloud page. I also have a Discord community for those people who like Discord and use it often.
Anything else you wanna add?
Otherwise, it was a pleasure doing this interview! Thank you very much!