While at the first day of the inaugural BOO TX! festival (You can read our review here), Bro Safari, AKA Nicholas Weiller, took the time to sit down with WOTN to discuss some exciting upcoming projects as well as how he sees the Bro Safari act evolving as he moves into 2017.
WOTN: So I know you guys just pulled into Dallas, but what do you think of Boo! so far? Have you gotten a chance to look at the stage production yet?
Bro Safari: No. It’s kind of like a surprise for now. We literally just walked in and I got a chance to peek my head through the curtains to see the crowd but I haven’t seen the production yet. A friend of mine who lives here in Dallas and knows the production crew said that it was really, really incredible though.
WOTN: Oh absolutely. Can you tell me a little bit about your musical background before you started as Bro Safari?
Bro Safari: Yea, sure. I started DJing and producing around 1998 or 1999 and I was in a group called Evol Intent and we made drum n bass with two other guys and I’m still a part of that group actually. That’s what I mainly did leading up to launching Bro Safari. Before that, growing up, I mainly played in bands. I played guitar, bass guitar, and drums growing up.
WOTN: What inspired your music at that time?
Bro Safari: Well, in highschool, I was into punk rock and then I got into hip hop, rap, came back to punk, and I didn’t really get into electronic music until I was 18 or so.
WOTN: I’m sure you have some crazy stories about your punk rock days. Care to share any?
Bro Safari: I’d have to sit down with all my old friends from the old bands but definitely a lot of funny, crazy shit happened.
WOTN: Your song “Scumbag” features lyrics from Biggie’s song “Suicidal Thoughts”, what do you like about hip hop and how does it influence your productions?
Bro Safari: I’ve always, in terms of being a producer, gravitated towards using vocal samples from rappers and like I said earlier when I was growing up I was heavily into rap and hip hop so it was just kind of natural. I just felt like it was a good complement to the more aggressive side of dance music. When we were doing drum n bass we were sampling west coast artists like Eazy-E, NWA, and stuff like that because it had a lot of attitude, so throwing that onto drum n bass just made a lot of sense. It’s a good fit.
WOTN: So, I have to ask you, Biggie or Tupac?
Bro Safari: Biggie.
WOTN: So you tend to like more east coast?
Bro Safari: No. I don’t really pick a side like that, but how about this? I’ll just take Kendrick over both of them.
WOTN: You’ve been hitting the festivals pretty hard this past year, do you have any favorites, or just standout festivals?
Bro Safari: This year, Beyond Wonderland as well as Nocturnal Wonderland were both incredible. To be honest though, they were all great this year. If I had to just pick one though, I would say Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores was probably the highlight and I felt like we just really had a great show down there.
WOTN: I was at Electric Forest and of course the Bassrush stage you played at. How was it performing at Electric Forest your second time?
Bro Safari: It was just as good as my first time playing there. Insomniac just throws really good shows and it’s always a pleasure to work with them, especially on things like Bassrush.
WOTN: So your Pretty Good Tour is almost coming to a close. How has it been so far?
Bro Safari: Pretty good.
WOTN: Pun intended?
Bro Safari: Absolutely. It’s been really great. We’ve been getting good crowds, good turnouts, really energetic crowds.
WOTN: Any standout moments?
Bro Safari: There’s always those shows that will really surprise you. Last weekend we were in Grand Rapids, up in Michigan, and none of us really knew what to expect having never played there before. Maybe because it’s up near where Electric Forest is and there’s just a lot of people into that music out there, but it was just a completely packed house and a really great show with excellent promoters. Just everything across the line was awesome at that show.
WOTN: How do you feel that you grow as an artist from going on tours?
Bro Safari: I think it’s kind of bittersweet. In a way, you become overexposed, playing out so often and hearing the same tunes, you kind of become desensitized to it and I think it makes it more difficult to not let the outside influences influence you too much. Since I’m away from my studio, I don’t have the time to sit down and make my own music right now so I’m just listening to other people’s music all of the time and I’m the type of producer that doesn’t want that much outside influence from my peers necessarily. And I mean that respectfully, of course I support and love the music that my peers make but I personally would like to go into the studio without something in my head or a preconceived notion of what I need to make.
WOTN: So you want to make music that is just inspired from yourself more than those around you?
Bro Safari: Well, to pull from deep within as opposed to kind of just doing what I know is going to work on a dance floor.
WOTN: Do you feel like your sets evolve over the course of a tour?
Bro Safari: It depends. Usually, throughout the year, I changed my set up at least once a month, but during tour season, playing so many shows back to back to back, it just makes sense for me to put together a string of songs that just go together and work from that base. But, if something is working really well, I’ll stick with it because if I’m playing three nights in a row and I played a set that just killed the night before, I want to play the exact same set the next night. But, it’s important that I also allow myself the leeway to make a change on the fly if I want to. For me, it’s about putting together little sections that you know are going to work really well together and working from that. But it all depends, I don’t really tie myself down to any one form.
WOTN: So with somebody like you who knows how to play instruments, how does that effect you in the studio? Do you prefer real over virtual instruments?
Bro Safari: No, not really. I think for me it’s about what serves the song and what brings the best end result. I don’t care how it’s made, it’s more about the final product. If you put it together with some bare bones, cheap software, so be it, it’s whatever. So musicality, I put that aside and I try and go for a vibe more than anything.
WOTN: So with collaborations, you mention that UFO is probably your favorite to collaborate with.
Bro Safari: For sure.
WOTN: Who else would be on that short list?
Bro Safari: Well lately, I’ve been working on a couple collaborations for an upcoming EP I’m going to do and one of the guys I’ve been working with is G-Buck. It’s fun working with him because we are both like, I’ll work on it for two hours and send it to him, and it’s just a constant back and forth. Then we’ll take like four days off, reconvene and say “Ok, now we’re going to go back and change it completely” so that’s been fun. I’ve also been working with this kid Dion Timmer from Holland. He’s only 17 but he’s super talented and a really, really great producer. Also working on a tune with Diamond Pistols. See, I try not to work only with the people who are going to be a “good look”. I have friends who are much bigger artists than I am and I could be like, hey let’s do a tune together in hopes that I make my name bigger. But for me, it’s more about working with people who when I listen to their songs I’m like, this is dope, and I want to be in that world, pick that dude’s brain and see how he works on his files and that just happens to be newer artists a lot of the time.
WOTN: So looking at people’s style more than just their popularity when it comes to collaborations?
Bro Safari: Absolutely. 100%.
WOTN: What do you find hard about collaborating with other people?
Bro Safari: Not doing it in the same room is always weird. I think when you’re in the room with somebody, you have a good idea and you can bounce it off of them a lot quicker. Right now, Party Favor and I are trying to get a collab going, but we haven’t quite hit it yet because we’re all set on an idea and he’s like, yea that’s cool, but then without being in the same room together, it’s just kind of hard to brainstorm around the original concept. So it’s basically up to one of us to kick it all off and then we can go from there. That’s probably the hardest part.
WOTN: You mentioned in an interview back in June that you and UFO were working on another album that would hopefully be done by early 2017. How’s that been coming along?
Bro Safari: Well, I don’t think it’ll be early 2017 anymore. But, I definitely want to get it out this coming year. It’s dope. It’s just different. It’s not dance music like Electronic Dance Music. There’s no Electronic Dance Music at all. It’s going to have full on vocals, guitars, and heavy production.
WOTN: Can you explain the concept or some more of the elements just a little bit more?
Bro Safari: Sure. Absolutely. Our first album that we did together was called Animal.
WOTN: A classic.
Bro Safari: Thanks. So that one was kind of like out of left field dance music. You know what I mean? It wasn’t full on EDM bangers and drops, it was kind of like we tried to really make it diverse and cohesive. Different, but somehow it sort of all gels together and I think with this next one, it’s the same kind of approach where anything goes. But, back then what we were really into was trap and moombahton and now we’re really into creating a vibe. We’re not going to go into it like, ok let’s make a trap tune, moombahton tune or a house tune, we’re going to go into it like, let’s make some songs. That’s why the guitars are coming out, sampling organic sounds, sampling hardware synths, and we’re going to take the ethos behind Animal and kind of make a more mature album, like an adult version of it.
WOTN: This isn’t a question but I was playing Animal on the way over here and it reminded me exactly why I bought a subwoofer for my car.
Bro Safari: Haha, nice. There you go man.
WOTN: So how about your solo stuff? Do you have any special goals or releases slated for 2017?
Bro Safari: For me, it’s about finishing up this year. I would really love to get an EP out before New Years and now, start from scratch. I kind of just want to reassess what I’m doing and make some new stuff. The album with UFO is going to be a big part of that where we do whatever we want. But, I want to do the same with Bro Safari, I’d like to have the freedom to do a trap tune, moombahton tune, and if I wanted to make an artist’s album where it’s 8 songs where I sing on them, I play guitar, I play drums, and I can go out on the road and perform the album. That’s what I’d like to get to. Flume is a huge inspiration for me in that sense. I saw him at Hangout Fest and something clicked when I was watching him because the crowd was just going apeshit and he wasn’t necessarily playing bangers. He’s playing Flume tracks, and they’re great. The crowd was really receptive because it was Flume performing them and I was thinking to myself that that’s what I should be doing already and I don’t know why I haven’t made that move already where I created an album. Like a 45 minute journey, soundscape and then perform it live, not DJ it. And I can DJ still, still make remixes and original tracks for DJs to play, but I think my heart is more into live instrumentation and more free form music as opposed to the boundaries that are placed on you when you try to make banger after banger and I’m sick of, who has the best mix down? Who has the biggest growl bass? Who has the best weird trap lead? Who has the best snare drum? It’s becoming really redundant so I think at this point, I’m just going to dig deep this year and with this tour ending in two weeks. I’ll be spending all of November, instead of working on songs for my album, I’m going to be getting some new gear like some guitar pedals, some new synths, and I’m just going to spend a month going into my studio, recording, coming up with and saving patches. Then, I’m going to use what I’ve made at the end of the month and start working on the sound design for the new album, so I can make a cohesive and coherent album that sounds like a band played it as opposed to just me. That’s my goal. I don’t want to say it and commit to it just yet and say that’s what it’s going to be, but in my mind right now, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Obsessing over what I’m going to do next year and I think that for me, the ideal situation would be to make an album, tour the album, and then play DJ sets at festivals and stuff where it seems appropriate. But, you know, I’m kind of getting to the point where I’m over, and I feel like I’ve been doing this for many years and I’m ready for the next step musically. Kind of get away from the EDM thing a little bit. Be around for it because I like it, but just to do something new.
WOTN: I feel like as a listener, going to see artists like Flume, Porter Robinson, Disclosure, or Gorgon City play live is a really special experience.
Bro Safari: It just has more of an impact. It’s more thought out, more personal, and I love that aspect of it.
WOTN: You mentioned in a previous interview that you want to play almost everything GTA puts out.
Bro Safari: Haha.
WOTN: I recently interviewed GTA about their new album and their whole “Death to Genres” approach to music and I can’t help but see parallels between you and GTA as artists. Have you gotten a chance to listen to their new album?
Bro Safari: Yes. I did. It’s absolutely great. Those guys can do no wrong in my book. They could even make a song that I’m not even into and I’d still DJ it. I just love their production. Their style of production is really unique and they just don’t sound like anybody else. You can tell it’s a GTA track when you hear it and it’s very hard to standout like that. They’ve got a lot of funk and soul in their productions.
WOTN: One final question. What sparked the move to Austin?
Bro Safari: My girl. I met a girl there and we started a family. At the time I was living in Los Angeles and I was kind of over it. L.A. is a great place but I felt like I was paying a lot of money to live in a place where I was constantly feeling pressured to perform, socially, professionally, and I don’t know, it just wasn’t for me. It was a cool experience and I love going there but I was happy to leave and go to Austin, and Austin is just perfect for me.