Last weekend at Euphoria, we got the opportunity to interview rising electronic music star, Unlike Pluto. Unlike Pluto has been making waves for a while now with his unique production style that blends his own instrumentation and vocals with hard hitting dubstep, bass, and dance beats.
What’s your take on Euphoria?
UP: Amazing. Very organized festival. I know a lot of people who are running it and it’s just beautiful. I love the map pillars that everybody can see and my favorite festivals are the ones that give time between sets so that people can travel to other stages and see other artists. Right now, there’s like a whole time lapse thing on the Elements Stage and it’s cool.
In an hour you are about to play on the Dragonfly stage. How are you feeling? Are you nervous?
UP: I’m a little nervous. I’ve done so many of these things now at this point, it’s honestly fun. You always get a little nervous right before you go on, but once you do enough shows, it kind of becomes second nature to you and you just kind of go with the flow and read the crowd. It’s kind of cool when you don’t really know, maybe 80% know what you’re going to play. I love that extra 20% of “what am I going to do?” and I have a bunch of tracks on my USB ready to go where I can get creative with my song selection.
You’re an up and coming producer, and with people still learning who you are, can you give an introduction to our readers that may not know you?
UP: My name is Armond and I’m Unlike Pluto. I’m Persian, was born and raised in Atlanta, GA, and I used to really be interested in space, hence, the name. I went to Emory University, studied biology, took my DATs (Dental Admission Tests), applied for dental school, and immediately after, I moved to LA to pursue music full time. I always did music in high school and when I went back to it I felt great. I was in a bunch of emo bands in high school and one of them, we were talking with management and record companies to do a tour. I was 18 and my parents were like “No! You will be Doctor!” So good move as that scene totally died, and ever since then I just started producing beats. I have guitar skills, I used to sing, and I play piano and the drums. I just kind of went with it for the next couple of years after and here I am.
Your “Everything Black” tour just started a week ago. and how has the reception been?
UP: The reception for the tour has been fantastic, man. So far I’ve played Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Denver, and this is a festival, but it’s the fourth stop and it’s been great. I’ve played a lot of originals, more than usual, and my song “Worst In Me”, people are actually singing along live with and that’s a very cool feeling.
You mentioned your punk, emo, and metal bands. I have to ask, do you have any crazy stories from any of those gigs?
UP: I used to play in emo bands way back in high school. I used to play the Masquerade in Atlanta in front of five people and two of them were my very unsupportive parents. They were just not supportive at all, and they’d just look at me and judge me. That was pretty much all of high school. I used to do open mic country music with my friend and we used to go into Starbucks and play acoustic guitar and sing for the people there. It was horrible, so fucking bad. I just kept playing shows though. I used to play at the YMCA in Alpharetta, GA in front of like 10 people.
In your single “Waiting For You,” your love of instrumentation really shines through, most notably with the inclusion of the saxophone. What sort of instruments have you played and what sort of instruments do you currently play?
UP: I play guitar, piano, drums, hand percussion, clarinet, saxophone, and I sing. My favorite percussion instrument is the Indian gal. It has like a swing to it that not many people put into their music and I just think it’s amazing.
With your passion for instrumentation, when it comes to production, do you prefer real or virtual instruments?
UP: I have no preference because now virtual instruments are becoming so complex. There are new guitar plugins for example that are pressure sensitive and you can do things like make it vibrato too, but nothing beats playing a real instrument. I like the imperfections of when you record. With my song “Worst In Me”, the guitar, I did it in one take and it’s not perfect. When you listen to The Pixies or Nirvana, it’s not perfect. When you listen to Green Day or any rock band, it’s not perfect and to me that gives a human edge to it, and it’s not so robotic. Which is fine, robotic is a sound, but I want, when I listen to a song, to be able to imagine that person recording it. When it’s too perfect I can tell, nobody’s perfect, not even with singing. When things are too tuned, I hate it.
Have you ever thought about making a shift towards playing live instead of DJing?
UP: It’ll happen eventually. I have over 25 songs with just piano, guitar, rough production and my vocals. Now, I’m going to finish around 6 of those in the upcoming months and maybe slowly make the transition into playing live. I think having a full live set would be amazing, but tying it in with a DJ set, I just think it would be fantastic.
Describe your relationship with Monstercat?
UP: I release tracks through Monstercat pretty consistently and there just such a futurist label. So is Lowly Palace. Lowly Palace and Monstercat are two labels that are really pushing the boundaries and they are making major labels think, “Wow, maybe we should be doing that?”. Especially their office in Vancouver, it’s almost like a startup company, it’s not even like a label, it’s more like a family or a culture more than anything.
I know you listen to a variety of music, so we’re going to do a quick speed round. I’m going to say a genre and I want you to say your favorite artist.
UP: Rascall Flatts, Keith Urban, and old Taylor Swift. That shit was good, 2009, I loved it. That bleacher song is amazing, her lyrics are connectable. It’s good and I’m not ashamed.
UP: Green Day is the first band I’d think of, but there are so many punk bands that I love.
UP: My favorite band for metal would be Underoath. I would go classic on you and say Metallica, but I’ll go modern and say Underoath, they changed my life.
UP: I like a lot of folk music but Frightened Rabbit is really good.
UP: Poor Righteous Teachers is the first thing I think of. CeeLo Green. I also love some of the bigger names today like Future, Kendrick Lamar, and Big Sean.
Tupac or Biggie?
UP: That’s actually a tough question because they are both amazing. They are both legends in the game and they are both rivals too, east and west coast, but I’d have to say Biggie because I’m from the east coast and I just grew up more on his music. I know his shit that nobody knows about, like “Flava In Ya Ear”, and I just know everything he’s done and he’s amazing.
What’s the story behind your TicketFly bio?
UP: There’s actually a Reddit thread about it. Back in high school, we used to play a game called the random game. It’s actually really hard. You say something and then somebody else has to say something completely random and unrelated. I love random shit, emphasis on dumb. RANDUMB. And that is one of those things where I would just want to write something really stupid and post it. It has no meaning to it at all. But I’m pretty sure he had sex with Oprah while watching Phantom of the Operah. Obi-Wan Kenobi -> Phantom Menace. Oprah -> Operah. Get it? That final sentence is just low-key amazing.
What can we expect from you in the rest of 2017?
UP: More songs with my vocals. I have so many that are unfinished but are done as far as writing goes. Expect more of my vocals. That’s what I want to transition to as an artist. Somebody who makes their own beats and sings over them.