This interview was one I had been waiting for for a long time. And when I say “a long time,” I mean it was one of those situations where it felt like a few years, but in reality, only a year and a half had passed since I’d been introduced to Minnesota’s sounds, following a trip to Lightning in a Bottle, 2010. Time flies a little differently in this world, I suppose.
To start, you’d have to understand the context of this call and what I was going through to get to this point. Christian Bauhofer (Minnesota), a young up-and-coming dubstep and cross-genre “EDM” producer, has, for lack of better words, been my absolute favorite artist for the past two some-odd years. Not only ’cause of his ultra unique style that seamlessly combines melodic synths with a healthy dose of Southern hip-hop swing (I’d like to think his employment of the snappy snare finishers and crisp high-hat runs happened far before the “OmG TrAp MuZiK edm TaKeOver” explosion of the past few months), but also the fact that following his Soundcloud account from track one really allowed you to see where and how he’s developed as an artist. Maybe it’s a personal trait of mine, but I really do respect it when artists keep their earlier work (even if it might not be as refined) up and available to tell the story of where they came from and just how they’ve gotten to this point.
Either way, enough rambling. Long story short, this was an amazing conversation with one of my favorite artists to date. Though I made a point to stray away from “normal,” run-of-the-mill questions and try to make things creative, these were the questions that came out by default. I guess my subconscious won over.
I’ve been to a couple Burning Mans now and have seen your name on a couple set lists. How was it this year?
Honestly, this year was one of the best for me. It was my third year in a row, but we did have to leave a little early (Saturday before the man burn). It was seriously fun. One of my favorite moments of this year was on Thursday morning or so — we were out all night partying, and a small group of us found ourselves in the middle of the Playa during sunrise, doing handstands and Yoga. It was an amazing feeling.
How has your participation at Burning Man changed over the years?
It’s been drastically different each year. My first year was in 2009, and it was probably my favorite burn. We went out with our friends in Camp ? (Camp Question Mark) in an old, run-down school bus. Because I went out with close friends, it made for a great experience. I booked something like two sets (considering I was just starting out), one of which there was literally no one there to watch.
The second year was a lot more aggressive. My music had gained a bit of traction, and I ended up booking 10 or 12 sets. With the way BMan works, though, I was only able to make it out to 6 or 7. It was definitely too much.
So how about this year?
This year I definitely felt a lot more prepared. I made sure to only book four sets, so I could still enjoy myself and not detract too much from my overall experience on the Playa.
Basic question that you’ve probably answered a billion times, but we need to know: how did you get into music?
I’ve been into music since I was 12, but playing guitar. Even at that point, I knew I wanted to make it a goal to make music a living. At 19 I started messing around with Ableton, and it took about 2 years of constant work to get my skills up to par. Around 21, I started to gain popularity, and it’s just been an amazing experience since then. For the timing, it was great. Bass music started gaining a huge following, and my interests were right in line with it when I was messing with dubstep sounds.
So with your “professional life,” you’ve really only known music?
Pretty much. I went to UCSC for a year, did that for a bit, and then took a leave of absence since I knew this is the path I wanted to pursue.
That’s pretty wild.
It is, when you go from working part time at a Jamba Juice to being a full-time touring musician.
So where do you draw your musical inspiration from?
In really random places, anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes I’ll just have a melody stuck in my head that I need to crank out, or sometimes I’ll work on a hip-hop beat and build from there. Everything ends up pretty random, but my biggest inspiration comes from other peoples’ music.
I saw that your remix of the Shotgun Radio track ft. Mimi Page (“A Bad Place”) got mastered by Bassnectar. How did that happen?
Originally, I had sent stuff to him to see if he wanted to play anything in his live sets. I guess he had stumbled on the Shotgun Radio song on my Soundcloud and asked me if he could get it mastered for live settings.
Let’s talk about mastering. Any tips and tricks for the production-minded fans?
A lot of times, people will be working on tracks, get to this point, and just blast it full-volume in the studio. What I’ve found is that when you’re mastering, you actually want to turn the volume down; mixing at low levels makes things blend together much better. I have a guy out in Florida who does all my mastering and mixing for me.
We’re loving the Altered States EP, by the way. An interesting change of pace from Astral Projection.
Thank you. I was really going for a similar feel, but having more of a focus on danceable tunes. It’s extremely psychedelic and melodic. Really bassy also. Collaborations were with G Jones of Santa Cruz for “Indian Summer.” [Tim Wut: BTW, for the gaming nerds, they did a great job sampling Chrono Trigger for this one!] I also collaborated with Zion-I for the track “Float.”
So considering how aggressively you’ve been touring this year, could you tell us the difference between playing small shows and festivals and what songs seem to work better?
For sure, it’s been an aggressive year, but I really like the different scales in different ways. For one, in small shows, you can usually see the faces of your audience, and you know they’re out there to see you specifically, so it allows you to play stuff that might be less popular or familiar. It’s also a good time to sneak in new tracks and get people excited. For larger festivals, the “Rolling in the Deep” remix and “Purple Haze” work really well. They’re killer, hard-hitting tunes. Overall it’s a lot more fun, but you can’t get as good of a groove with the audience.
So what were your favorite shows this past year?
Snowball Festival in Colorado was amazing, and I loved Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan.
Same here. Definitely one of my top festivals of 2012. The forest of hammocks, the music, everything was amazing.
Funny story about that festival: I actually had a really nerve-wracking time playing my set. The sun was setting right in my face, and I couldn’t see the screen, but the festival was amazing.
You know we met at Electric Forest, right?
What? Really? When?
[Tells Christian/Minnesota about our run-in at Electric Forest]
Excerpt from Electric Forest recap: Another weekend highlight: Running into Minnesota as he casually walked around during Santigold’s set. “YOU’RE MINNESOTA,” I screamed at him. He nodded. We conversed a bit, and I thanked him for playing a stellar set. The kicker, Willowtree decides to ask if he remembered the *FACE PALM* moment when, at a recent LA show, she asked PAPER DIAMOND (of all people) to take a picture of her + Minnesota. L. O. L. Thanks, Willowtree. That wasn’t awkward at all.
So this is a question directly from a couple of my friends who are also your fans. They’d like to ask you directly…why baseball tees?
[LOL]. Honestly, I’m not a super fashionable guy. If you notice, I dress pretty casual during my shows. I went to American Apparel once, saw the baseball tees, thought they were pretty damn comfortable, then proceeded to buy, like, 10 of them.
I also notice you usually brandish the wild hair and goatee. Did you participate in Movember this year?
[LOL]. Kind of. I failed in the first week. I prefer the goatee.
So what’s the 10-20 year plan for Minnesota? Will you be touring as aggressively as now?
I’d hope not. I know for now, this is an okay lifestyle, and I absolutely love it, but I know eventually I’m going to want to settle down and be more at home. I want to keep on making music, but I actually have a dream to open up a brewery. I love beer. I’d like to start brewing myself, open up a brewery, and combine it with a music venue. That’s the long-term dream.
And on that note, thanks Christian. Talking to you has been extremely inspirational, and we at the LA Music Blog wish you the best in your musical journey!
Tickets are still available for Minnesota’s performance with Zion I at El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles this Friday, December 14th.
For more info: