Over the past couple years there has been an incredible amount of unique and groundbreaking artists who are bending the rules and delivering their own spin on the fundamentals of electronic dance music. Whether they are tapping into parts of their mind unknown to us to deliver incredible sound design through music production or curating next level DJ sets to express themselves and their unique vibe, the talent going on in the underground dance scene is a force to be reckoned with. We've set out on a journey to tap into the minds of electronic music producers and DJs alike who are bringing their unique vibes to dancefloors and stereos. We're starting off with a producer who has become extremely prolific in Southern California over the past year with various tracks and sets that showcase a world of talent, bending through multiple genres and styles. Dustin Crain aka Carbon Street has officially decided to focus his house and techno driven music into one spot with this project, but he's got plenty of other music related ambitions going on as well, such as mastering music for others and his bass project Cranial Superfood. We caught up with Dustin and asked him a few questions about those projects and the methods he uses to create them.
First of all, How was your name created?
It came to me after I began making experimental bass music. While attempting to make House & Techno for 5 years straight, I reached a point one night when the 4x4 kick drum felt like it was drilling me in the forehead. I decided to take a break and listen to a bunch of the progressive metal and post hardcore bands that influenced my music when I was younger. I then realized that I wanted to hear heavy syncopated breakdowns in electronic music, with that same head nodding feeling. After I made my first track “Intro,” I came up with the name “Carbon Street” ; “Carbon” because Carbon is the basic building block of life (representing going back to my roots), and “Street” because I realized that was where I needed to go to, influence wise, to gain my creative momentum back.
When did you first attend Jackson Tree?
My first Jackson Tree Festival was Fall 2017. It was an incredibly intimate and welcoming experience, and I love everyone I’ve met within the community.
How long have you been spinning?
So technically I’ve been a “DJ” since 2010. I started with just a Laptop, Ableton Live, and a set of Mackie Thump PA Monitors; pre-making mashups of Electro House, Dubstep, and popular songs my friends would request to play during house parties in College. I didn’t actually learn how to “spin” with a DVS controller until 2013; beat matching on CDJ900s, free range set mixing with a Numark V7, and I developed my creative mixing skills on CDJ2000s and a DJM2000.
What is your favorite genre of music?
Depends on my mood, but I would say my absolute favorite is Classical Music from the Romantic Era.
Aside from electronic music, what do you like to listen to?
Besides Classical; Progressive Rock/Metal, Jazz, Post Hardcore, Metal, and Hip Hop.
What was the first band or musician you remember loving while you were growing up?
I think Nirvana was the first band I really loved, I remember learning a ton of their songs on guitar in elementary school.
You’re becoming quite the prolific Producer/Engineer in the underground community. We have an astonishing mix of originals you’ve served up for us, But as far as music you didn’t create yourself, how do you decide what kind of music fits into your sets?
Definitely depends on the time slot given to me, as well as the location, and who is playing before and after me. I like creating a gradual energy rise throughout the set, so I will develop multiple playlists. Sometimes each playlist will be a specific style of engineering (lofi, deep, melodic, heavy, “Wall of Sound,” etc.), or maybe the tracks have a specific kind of sub/bass energy. I like to have options. Also, I always have a playlist for throwbacks, as well as one with the “You Gotta Hear This Shit!” music.
Your mastering service, Carbon Printed, has been responsible for mastering a ton of amazing underground music lately. When did you start that journey and whats your process like when mastering?
I’ve been arranging/producing/engineering electronic music for almost 9 years now. I studied Contemporary Recording Arts & Music Production in College, and dropped out to start a record label with one of my friends who was an Entrepreneurship Major. He heard my tracks and recognized that I had developed an ear for mastering and asked if I wanted to make it official. Of course it’s been years since then, and like other professions, I believe I will always be in “practice.”
My routine has changed dramatically over the last several years, but my goal was to develop a mastering process that maintained the Artists original sound, being almost entirely transparent, while still raising the volume to club/festival or radio standards.
You have made an incredible assortment of different music spanning across multiple genres. What kind of non-musical things inspire you? What goes into your writing process?
I was in middle school when I first heard the music inside my head. I was playing along with the Senses Fail “Let It Enfold You” album, for the 100th time, switching between the rhythm and lead guitar parts, when all of the sudden I heard these, Motifs, in my head, which I was able to instantly play on top of the rest of the music. I learned in college that this was called “musical intuition,” and is the secret recipe behind improvisational musicianship. This was before I learned any music theory so I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew what sounded right, and I could hear it in my head seconds before I played it.
I used this gift to begin writing my own music for bands in high school, and then electronic projects in College. But back then I was writing a specific style or sound that had already been created. I was a copycat, but it helped develop my craft into what it is today.
Today, my writing process almost always starts with a melody in my head. The mood of the melody always correlates with the emotions I feel that day. Love, Anger, Happiness, Sadness, Regret, Gratefulness, etc. I’ve always been on the extreme side emotionally, so I feel very intensely. I also let the song develop organically; adding more voices and chords as I’m arranging the songs from start to finish. The song is not done until I can actually feel the emotion in my heart. I’m a sucker for tear jerkers and I am not afraid to admit that music makes me cry… A lot.
You have recently started a fantastic bass project called Cranial Superfood that blew us away at Jackson Tree. What kind of things do the future have in store for that project?
I’m still developing a new signature sound at the moment, but it’s close; real close. Heavy Atmospheric Drum & Bass is what I hear in my head.
What is your favorite genre to produce? What about when spinning?
Produce, experimental bass music is the most fun. However, I can pull more emotion out of me with this Atmospheric Hard Techno/Trance stuff. I guess it just depends on my mood.
Spinning, definitely Hardcore Techno. The energy level is thrilling, and the drops are ruthless. The only problem is I can only play it in the desert.. Between the hours of 1 and 5 am. Lol. I don’t think the clubs are ready for it here in LA.
What kind of vibe do you like expressing in your sets? What energy do you want the crowd to feel and take home with them?
Emotion is my drive. I strive to give my audience a vast array of musical ideas they hopefully can identify with. I want to give them an escape; something to get lost in and distract them from the mundane activities, or negative vibes they may feel throughout the day. This is what music has given me and I want to give back.
How do you keep a fresh selection of music in your roster? What’s your music hunting process like?
For the last couple years my catalogue has mostly grown with originals. I literally went broke and couldn’t afford to buy the music I wanted to play. So I had to start making it myself.
I still crate dig from time to time though. I usually go to websites like Beatport and Hard Wax record store and find tracks that are both outstandingly original, and deeply emotional.
Lets talk about Synchronistic Sound! You guys are bringing amazing sound quality to festivals and clubs, whats your mission with that group and how did you get into it?
Ahhhh, I remember the first time I heard the full Hennessey rig at Fuzzy Puddle’s Lost In the Sauce Campout Spring 2018. They were phenomenal, so thick, so clear, and the selling factor: you can be right in the sweet spot and still hear conversations with the people next to you. I got to camp with the Synchronistic crew at the Untz festival last summer and they were so warm and welcoming. I talked with Kevin Maldonado about my education and experience as a sound engineer and received a trial run at a B-Side dubstep event where they had live vocalists. After that, they asked if I wanted to be their engineer for future events and I was ecstatic!
I’m unfortunately working more than I would like to at my day job, so making all the events is a little difficult at the moment. But I’m excited to see where the company is going and I’ll always help and support them whenever I can. I have so much love for that crew.
You’ve created your style and sound for your sets, and its incredibly unique and fun all at once. Any tips or last words for DJs starting out that want to really create their own sound like you have?
I would say, always go back to your roots. Try to remember what got you hooked on music in the beginning. Also, go broke, literally, so you can’t buy new music, and you have to create it yourself. I realize this sounds dangerous to some people, but try to develop a lifestyle where you are earning just enough to survive. Ignore the temptation of unnecessary wealth, and fall in love with that which is free.
As far as influence: listen to your world, your friends, foes, colleagues, coworkers, and family; try to tell the story of your life through music.
Remember that art is never finished, only abandoned.
Also, fun fact; the only sound you can use that no one will ever be able to reproduce, is your own voice. ;)
Carbon Street has contributed this 40 minute set of original music to the first season of Faded Morgana Mix Friday's and it's a perfect, vibey playlist to get you in the mood to relax and enjoy your day. Check it out exclusively on our Soundcloud!