Elephante Is the Poster Child For Following Your Bliss
Real Name: Tim Wu
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
Profession: Producer/DJ/wannabe gourmet chef
Hobbies: Watering my pet cactus Enrique
Affiliations: Go Blue
From Harvard to Ableton…
…Elephante is the poster child for following your bliss. While his passion for music was evident from an early age, he still pursued a degree from Harvard in economics and took a highly paid corporate job. Even then, he found himself spending as much time tinkering with Ableton as he did at work. And it finally dawned on him that to be truly happy, he had to ditch the suit and tie, pissed off his parents a little bit and go for it. The decision to leave that behind wasn’t taken lightly, but it ended up being one of the best things that he could have ever done for himself.
His trajectory since has been spectacular thanks to the many years spent meticulously picking apart every song that has made an impact on him. Like many producers, he started off with remixes. However, the brilliance of his rework set him far and away from most artists leading him to official remix work for the likes of Galantis and Katy Perry.
In September of last year, he released his debut EP, “I Am Elephante” a stunning nine track work that encompasses everything the young producer loves about EDM. Swelling with the emotion he has continued to exhibit since we first heard him, the EP is a declaration that Elephante is as dynamic and multi layered as they come.
You’ve spoken extensively about your previous corporate job, and your reasons for leaving. Besides knowing that the corporate life wasn’t for you, what did you take away from that experience that benefited you as a musician?
It made me realize how lucky I was to be making music for a living, and to cherish every moment I had doing it. A lot of musician life is a huge grind but I get to remind myself that I should stop being such a baby and be thankful for what I have.
You started off making remixes but you’ve been writing songs since you were in Jr High School. Was that marketing move, or was it more about finding your footing in a new scene?
Making remixes is a great way to learn the craft. It gives you high quality vocals which as a fledgling artist can be very hard to find, plus it gives you some creative sparks to build from. Starting from scratch can be really daunting. Also, it gives potential fans a reason to listen to you, there’s so much good music out there that it can be hard to break through at first.
When you are writing a tune with a guest vocalist, how much of you goes into the lyric writing process?
Depends on the song. I came up as a singer-songwriter so writing lyrics is a big part of what I do. Sometimes though I’ll work with an artist and they’ll have lyrics that are perfect as is, and a big part of being an artist is knowing when to step away and not fuck things up.
And how does it change the relationship you have with the song when the vocalist writes the lyrics?
It doesn’t really. Every song I’ve made has a special place in my heart, and I wouldn’t release anything that I don’t believe in and stand behind.
Before EDM went mainstream the only way to get electronic music was at an event via the DJ. Now that music is so readily available, how do you think the relationship fans have to the music and the artists has changed?
I think fans are a lot more educated now. They know every song and ID, so you really have to come with your A-game, both with your productions and sets. I think before some people could get away with some half-assed music, but now the standards are higher. And that’s a great thing.
2016 was a rough year for a lot of people. How was your 2016 overall?
There were ups and downs, sure, but I’m one of the luckiest people out there. I released my first EP, had songs on the radio, played shows around the country, and I’m just thankful I get to do what I love every day.
And what are you looking forward to in 2017?
I’m going on my first proper headline tour this spring, which I’m super excited about. And I’m always making music, this new stuff I’m working on is really special, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.