Who Are Ya? Q&A with Guteren
Written by: Sam Wolloch
My first in a series of question and answer features talking with people in the EDM scene, I’m just doing my journalistic job to figure out... WHO ARE YA? Today I focus on Guteren, an artist I came across on Soundcloud when Adventure Club reposted his mashup Seven Lions x Adventure Club - "Save Me I'm Dreamin" and then dropped it on the Death or Glory tour last spring.
@samwolloch: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your artist name?
@guteren: Hey! I’m Alex. I’m 27 and I live in Indianapolis. When I was 11, I played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and wanted a name for my character. The kid in me took my first and last name to Alderaan and came up with “Alo Guteren.” Eventually as I played other games it became Guteren. Since I share a passion for gaming and music, it was just natural for me to use the same name on Twitch and Soundcloud too! 👻👻👻
But my name isn’t intuitive if you’ve never heard it out loud. I say “Goo-teh-REHN” - but you can use whatever accent you like, or just call me GooT!
S: So if you were playing Star Wars at 11, when did you start making music? Do you play any instruments?
G: Well, at 5 I started taking piano lessons and continued that through high school. Then after playing the drums in a high school pop punk band, in college I went onto be the vocalist for a metalcore band called AUTHORS and we had a decent following. We played 100s of shows and toured the U.S. - we also got reached out to for a couple good record deals before we broke up. I started making electronic music early last year.
S: Wow, what a wild way to make it into EDM. So what are your favorite genres of music and who are some artists you look to for inspiration?
G: My favorite genre now is definitely EDM, but I usually just call it electronic music. Future Bass would be my favorite electronic sub-genre, and I also enjoy indie, rock, and metal. Lately you can usually find me listening to either electronic music or metalcore.
One of my biggest inspirations is ILLENIUM, I adore his music and “Reverie” is my favorite song of his. And just listen to ASCEND, it’s phenomenal! I also love Seven Lions as an artist. My favorite metal bands are: Bring Me The Horizon, Underoath, August Burns Red, and Counterparts. When it comes to just raw musical and creative talent, Radiohead and Pink Floyd are two favorites.
S: Listening to music and making it are two separate things. The creativity is key. What inspires you to make music and what goals do you have for your musical career?
G: I’ve always felt that it is my calling in life to make music. This is something I’ve been pursuing for a long time. Music is the only way that I can effectively express emotion, and it’s something that I uniquely excel at. I think music and love are the most beautiful things in the world, and I want to be able to make a difference through music. I want to leave a legacy while I’m in this world, and I strongly believe music is my way to do that.
Right now I’m focusing on originals. My brother Zach is one of the best musicians I know; he and I are in the process of writing some really cool stuff. It’s my goal to have some high quality originals out soon. I’m also focusing on getting better at producing in general, so I try to learn something new every week while I work on what I know.
S: So I came across your work when Adventure Club reposted a mashup you made and I sure do love a good mashup. You have some really cool stuff on your soundcloud so I became curious. What hardware and software do you use and how do you choose songs for a mashup?
G: I use Ableton Live 10 for pretty much everything and for hardware I have a beefy Mac and a Novation Launchkey 49 as my MIDI controller. I haven’t done any shows as Guteren, nor do I have much experience as a live DJ, but when I get there I’m sure I’ll have a lot more equipment.
And when I make a mashup it either happens one of two ways.
Either, I’m listening to a song and I think “hey this kind of reminds me of this other song.” Or, I’ll take a song I really love and find another song in a somewhat similar key and BPM. Either way I’ll try to mash the two together and see what happens.
A tool that is really essential for mashups is Tunebat - you can look up a song’s key and BPM as well as see what songs it thinks are similar. It’s not a perfect tool, but it’s a great place for beginners looking to mix and mashup songs.
I usually don’t plan on making mashups in advance, it usually just comes to me if I hear a song that I like. I will probably be doing some mashups of ILLENIUM’s new songs soon!
S: I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Said the Sky and Dabin like your tweets, so I’m sure you’re #sadboi approved at this point. What type of interaction do you have with the other artists and what kind of memorable moments stand out along your music journey?
G: Well I have obviously gotten a really good response from Adventure Club for my “Save Me I’m Dreamin” mashup since they play it live! I usually tweet out my mashups and tag the original artists. A few artists like ayokay, Shallou, and NOTD have reached out to me and told me how much they dig the music. It’s an insane feeling when someone I adore appreciates what I produced and it inspires me to keep improving on my craft.
Some of the most memorable moments in my music journey are playing shows as part of AUTHORS in my metalcore days and hearing 100s of kids singing the lyrics I wrote back to me. I’m always super emotional when that happens; hopefully it will happen soon with my electronic music! The coolest thing that has happened to me so far in my journey as an EDM producer would be Adventure Club playing my “Save Me I’m Dreamin” mashup live at their shows. I went to see them in Chicago and it was so cool to see the crowd getting super hype to a mix I made!
S: Amazing. I can only imagine what it must feel like to have an artist I look up to playing my mashup of their work. It really is great! Finally, what hobbies do you have besides making music?
G: My primary hobby other than music is gaming and streaming. I play competitive Fortnite and I stream on Twitch every night! I play and stream other games too; check me out some time on Twitch. And be ready for some high quality original songs soon. That is my primary focus for the rest of the year - can’t wait to get some songs out!
S: Well there you have it, Guteren has made his Moon Landing. I hope you enjoyed it. Who else should I feature on Who Are Ya? Give me a follow @samwolloch and let me know.