Up-and-coming multi-instrumentalist, producer, and DJ ASTROJAXX is gearing up for an exciting year ahead. Get to know the LA-based musician and read about the making of his latest track, ‘Universe’ ft. Mechi Pieretti.
Few blossoming producers in the dance music sphere can confidently claim as many accolades as 16 year old composer and producer, ASTROJAXX. As one of the youngest ever graduates from the prestigious DJ Scratch Academy, ASTROJAXX has paved the road to launch himself into the spotlight. At only 14 years of age, he was accepted by exception to participate in Berklee College of Music’s highly competitive summer program. In 2017, he broke into the scene with his debut single “Back To You“, a future house jam that turned heads worldwide.
Two years later, the LA-based multi-instrumentalist has returned with a massive pop-latin single, ‘Universe’. The track features vocals from Argentinian Spotify sensation, Mechi Pieretti, and takes listeners on an emotionally-drenched ride. Upon its release, ‘Universe’ charted at #9 under the ‘What’s New’ section on the JOOX South Africa home page. This placed him alongside music giants Sam Smith, Beyonce, and NAS – an incredible feat for any artist’s second-ever release.
The single was followed by a stunning music video, which was directed by Lourival Rodriguez, the creative mind behind Nicky Jam’s iconic “X“. ASTROJAXX and his team recruited a band of talent spanning across 10 different countries to create a beautifully choreographed piece of visual art. Check it out below:
The Knockturnal: With your roots based firmly in the classical realm, when did you realize you wanted to pursue electronic music production?
ASTROJAXX: It wasn’t something I really focused on until I studied for my Professional DJ Certification at the Scratch DJ Academy in Los Angeles. Electronic music production was a minor focus of the curriculum, but it was something I really gravitated to. My teacher, DJ4TiFy, taught me how to use Ableton, and introduced me to the world of music production.
The Knockturnal: When did you get heavily involved with creating music? Was it something you always wanted to do?
ASTROJAXX: I never thought about creating my own music when I was younger. By the time I was 11, I’d been studying classical music for several years. I took a break from playing the piano for a few months and was trying to figure out how to express myself more in my music and make it my own. I had the opportunity to study with Preston Edmondson, a Primetime Emmy award-winning composer. I soon began to experiment with improvising and creating my own music. It was a really exciting time for me and a turning point in my approach to music.
The Knockturnal: Tell us a bit about where you draw your inspiration from. Who are some of your greatest influences in the music industry?
ASTROJAXX: I draw inspiration from learning new things and being exposed to many different genres, musicians, music technology and instruments. All of these experiences are reflected in my music. I grew up with my dad playing acoustic guitar during his free time, so I’ve been surrounded by his music all my life. His practice ethic is something that I’ve seen that has produced results and played a huge influence on me.
Production-wise, Grammy-nominated engineer Luca Pretolesi has been my greatest influence and mentor. He is extremely knowledgeable and he can make a track sound magical! I was only 13 when I met Luca and he has guided me these past three years.
I’m a huge fan of Illenium and Mura Masa, who I think are among the top electronic producers today. Illenium’s sound design is spectacular. Mura Masa started self-producing when he was my age and it’s inspiring to see how far he’s come. They are both really talented and have certainly motivated me to consider incorporating instruments into future live performances
The Knockturnal: Congrats on the release of your sophomore single, ‘Universe’! How did the collaboration with Mechi come to fruition?
ASTROJAXX: I found Mechi via Soundbetter, a platform that allows you to connect with music professionals from all over the world. It’s an amazing resource for me because I’m still in high school and don’t have much free time on my hands! I went through about 60 different vocalists’ demos on Soundbetter, but when I heard Mechi’s I knew she would be perfect for the track. We’re planning on releasing an acoustic version of ‘Universe’ and a corresponding music video, which features Mechi’s vocals, Kiko Brenneisen on cajon, and me on piano. It’s pretty special and took a lot of time to prepare and arrange.
The Knockturnal: ‘Universe’ is – production-wise – starkly different than your debut single, ‘Back to You’. Can you tell us a little bit about how the track came together?
ASTROJAXX: There was quite a time gap between the production of these tracks and I’ve been exposed to so many different musical influences and genres since releasing ‘Back To You’. Those influences are reflected in my music and I really enjoy being able to compose and produce whatever I like. After ‘Back To You’, I decided it was time to start introducing vocals into my productions.. I’ve produced several vocal-led tracks recently and the first I decided to release was ‘Universe’, which incorporates a lot of what I’ve studied since releasing ‘Back To You’ in 2017.
Producing Universe was an amazing journey. I composed the instrumental on keys and had started to mix the track when a friend of my parents, Nocy Karkour, came to our house to visit. Nocy is a spectacular Latin guitarist who trained at the Paris Conservatory. We jammed together and I played ‘Universe’ for him. That was the day I decided that Universe was going to be a Latin track!
The Knockturnal: Are you planning on collaborating with additional artists in the Latin American field in the future? Any in particular?
ASTROJAXX: I would love to collaborate with Latin American artists. The ‘Universe’ experience was fantastic, and although I would absolutely love to work with Leroy Sanchez, any collaboration opportunities with Latino artists would be amazing. The production team for the ‘Universe’ music video was primarily Latino, and although I hadn’t worked with any of them before, it was such an amazing experience. I would also like to incorporate more Latin instruments into my compositions and productions. I visited Peru last year and was introduced to instruments I’d never seen or heard of before, including a 20-string charango!
The Knockturnal: What are your plans (musically) for the rest of 2019?
ASTROJAXX: It will be very busy! After I finish with The GRAMMY Museum Audio Engineering program I’m going to study songwriting at Colburn School of Music with Berklee College of Music. I will be releasing two or three more tracks this year and I’m also working on an exciting South African gqom project. It’s interesting because every time I step into a new genre I learn something new. I spent some time recently with Blaq Pages, an LA-based Ghanian artist. Pages is really talented and I learned a lot about gqom and other African artists from him.
One thing that is very important to me is helping other young musicians, just as Luca Pretolesi and DJ4TiFy have mentored me. In September I’ll be working with Young Producers Group and Scratch DJ Academy on a program to introduce young producers in the Los Angeles YPG program to Dj-ing. I really enjoy performing as a DJ and it gave me the opportunity to make money and also get my music out there for people to hear. It will be great if I can help give other kids the same opportunity and we’re all doing this on a volunteer basis so there won’t be a cost to the students.
One of my main goals now is to start working more with other producers and artists. Most of my work has been produced solo, so I’m hoping that ‘Universe’ is a springboard to more collaborations!
Thanks so much for supporting me and ‘Universe’!