13 Things We Learned About Ansel Elgort’s Alter-Ego DJ Ansolo from His ‘Rolling Stone’ Interview
accidental douchebag teen heartthrob Ansel Elgort spoke with Rolling Stone, and as expected, his interview is chock-full of special quotes relating to the actor-producer’s burgeoning DJ-ing career.
You see, Elgort, aka DJ Ansolo, has just scored himself a record deal with Island Records.
For the second time in his career, the 21-year-old performed a set at the Electric Zoo Carnival in New York, which took place this past weekend. Now that he’s joining the big leagues, making a record, and eventually going on tour, the youth is predictably excited and ready to fist pump at a moment’s notice.
So get in the mood and turn on some DJ Ansolo on Soundcloud above (but warning: he drops tons of f-bombs during his set).
Here are 13 things we learned about Elgort’s DJ-ing career from his Rolling Stone interview:
1. He thought the point of landing a major record deal was to “just release crap”:
I was like, ‘Major labels aren’t supposed to like these records!’ I thought the point of a major label was to just release crap! But Island totally proved that wrong and was like, ‘We want the best record that all the kids at the dance-music festivals are going to love.’
2. Island Records particularly liked his “special records” more than his “radio-friendly” material, which surprised him:
I went to a few different labels and was playing everyone my music, and Island was really interested in stuff I didn’t think labels would be interested in. I played them some tracks and said, ‘These are more poppy. These are more clubby. These are more radio-friendly.’ The ones that were more radio-friendly, they were like, ‘No, we’ve heard this before. We want the different ones. We want the special records.’
3. He began his music career with the piano before transitioning into producing dance music:
I did musical theater a lot growing up, so I was singing and dancing and stuff. Then I started playing piano and writing songs. I’m really inspired by John Legend…
Then I heard some of the really early Avicii stuff and the really early Skrillex remixes before he had released his EP…I was writing music all the time and had just written seven or eight songs on the piano — just piano and vocal. With piano, I thought of it as just two channels. That’s it. Whereas with dance music, it was like writing whole symphonies. I had no clue how to do it, but then I downloaded Ableton during senior year of high school. It took me about a year before I ever made anything I was happy with. I would write melodies, but I had no idea how to produce. Over the next year, my production really came together, and now it’s been a little over three years. Four years in October.
Some Roses Outkast intro. A video posted by Ansolo (@ansolo_music) on
4. He’s, like, super gung-ho about EDM:
The whole thing… it’s more than just writing and performing. It’s engineering and producing. It’s magical. It’s something on your computer you can do all by yourself. It’s the same thing as piano and voice, but now you have tracks that are 70 channels. You can write lines for all these different synthesizers and make unique things. With a piano, everyone’s heard what a piano sounds like, but with dance music, every month there’s a new track with a sound that everyone’s like, “What is that sound? How did he do it?” That’s so exciting to me. That was like Avicii and Skrillex early on, and now it’s all these other guys.
All these songs are so epic and beautiful, but they also make you dance. It’s euphoric. Then I went to a festival and was like, “Forget it — this is incredible!”
5. He’s *obviously* already successful as an actor, but truthfully, music has always been his passion:
Then my life sort of came together. I was in school for acting. Obviously, I’ve had such amazing success, and I’ve been so lucky to do so well in that. But I was always making music. It’s something I loved doing since I was 12. Now I’ve come this far in music.
6. Even older and wiser DJ’s are into his stuff, he says, because of course they are:
With this new track, “To Life,” every DJ I’ve played it for is really excited by it. To me, it’s the best thing in the world when Axwell and Ingrosso or Steve Angello are playing my record. These are people I look up to, and my goal was to have one of them play my record. Now they’re playing the music I’m creating for thousands of people, and they’re all going nuts. That’s the best feeling.
7. He doesn’t want his status as an actor to get him any favors while he his develops career as a DJ (and yet the first gig he ever headlined, for his 21st birthday no less, was at the exclusive NYC nightclub Pacha?):
I’ve played a lot of opening shows. I played a lot of shows with Ansolo as the last guy on the block. I played Pacha in March and EZoo last summer, but I played the first 45 minutes to nobody because I played the first slot. Our goal is really to make sure we weren’t abusing me as an actor to get slots. The last thing I want to be is a joke or to not be credible.
8. Nor does he ever want people to think he’s just “the kid from The Fault in Our Stars,” ‘cuz he really cares about his core fanbase:
I want to enter the music industry and be respected as a musician, not just as a celebrity trying to become a musician. So I played a lot of shows but was always opening. I didn’t headline until I knew that I had a fan base. I wanted people to care about the music and not just say, “Oh, the kid from The Fault in Our Stars is DJ’ing.” That’s the last thing I want in the world.
That’s why I started Ansolo, started different social medias and kept them separate. There are crossover fans, and I love that, too. But it’s really important to have core fans who care about the music.
9. Since EDM is his obsession, he makes music during any possible moment of downtime:
When you’re obsessed with something and love to do it, it’s not hard to find time to do it…I love to do it, and it wasn’t because, “Oh, I need to get something together!” It’s what I love to do. My favorite thing to do is just to sit and work on music on my computer. If I’m shooting a movie, there’s so much downtime on set. If I’m in a different state or country with people I don’t really know that well and everyone is tired from working, I go home and make music…The turnarounds [on set] can take an hour, hour and a half, so what are you gonna do? Sit and do nothing, or actually do what I want to be doing, which is making music?
10. In fact, being an actor and not having a 9-5 makes it easier for him to have a DJ career (duh, we’re sure it does):
The fact that I don’t have a 9-to-5 job actually makes my life easier. I mean, even if I did, I guess I’d do [music] after work. Acting can be a 12-to-12 job, but it can also mean you have nothing to do for an entire month. So for that month, I’m making music.
11. He really likes to name drop “tastemakers”, in case you didn’t notice:
It’s great with how I’ve built my relationships with these DJs, I can show them to my friends like Axwell and Ingrosso, and Steven Angello. Yesterday, I played them for Don Diablo. If they react to it like, “This is sick,” then I know I’ve done something right, because they are the tastemakers. With this EP, it’s going to be something fresh and different. It’s not just going to be radio pop. It’s going to be real dance music that will hopefully work in any setting, from a festival to a radio.
OMNIA was SICK! My first time in Vegas and my expectations were totally blow away. The energy in the club was amazing. People were there to fucking PARTY, not to look cool. Was a great vibe. I can’t wait to go back and play w my buddy @nickyromero on August 15th A photo posted by Ansolo (@ansolo_music) on
12. He has a hard time describing what genre of music he creates, and ends up describing a bunch of different things:
I suppose everything today is described as progressive house. The definition of progressive house today is so broad. I like to say it’s groovy house music, or groovy, driving club music. I’m starting to make some records that aren’t just club music but are catchy, vocal kind of records with a lot of club-inspired elements. But it’s real club music, not just pop club music. It’s such a hard thing to say what genre or form of dance music it is. Now you say “deep house” and there are, like, 10 different kinds of deep house…
I guess I would call [my music] groovy club music, a bit progressive. It can be euphoric at times, and it can be intense at times. It makes you feel things.
13. He wants to make lasting, magical records, and yet still be a really successful DJ:
The problem with dance music right now is that if you play a song at a festival right now that’s two years old, then that’s really old. And that’s ridiculous! A really good record should last forever. I want to make really good music, and that’s my goal for now. Yes, I want to play all the really big festivals, and I want a lot of people to listen to my music, and I want to sell a lot of records. Sure. But the big thing is that I make the right, great record that people say, “Yeah, he’s not just an actor making music, and he’s not just a musician. He’s someone who can make really magical things.” That’s who I want to be as an artist.
Here’s to looking forward to DJ Ansolo’s inevitable EP and tour!