Justin Graves (aka "Dertwev") is an East Coast based EDM artist whose songs began as an emotional outlet but soon matured into multiple albums' worth of material. Coyote Music recently caught up with Dertwev for an electronic heart-to-heart.
Coyote Music: How did you come up with the name Dertwev?
Dertwev: When I was in fifth grade I came up with it for some online game and I've used it ever since.
CM: What drew you to electronic dance music (EDM), as opposed to other genres?
D: Well, it's much easier to make when you're on the go. I can make EDM from my laptop just about anywhere, while I can't really play guitar or sing anywhere. Also, I recently started listening to it and after all that time saying, "I could make this," I did!
Music is the closest to heaven we will ever get to on earth.
CM: Do you like other bands outside of EDM, who may have inspired you to pursue music?
D: Bands such as Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Cobra Starship, and too many more to name have taught me to love music. Music is the closest to heaven we will ever get to on earth.
CM: Have you toured? And if so, where?
D: No I haven't toured yet, but today I may have set up a potential gig. Live performance really isn't my thing yet, I need to get more comfortable with it.
CM: What type of equipment do you use to make your music?
D: I use Ableton Live 8 along with plugins such as Melodyne, StutterEdit, and Wobble.
CM: What inspires you to choose the name of your songs such as: “Groove”, “Al Final”, “Stuck in Your Head”, “At the Start”, and “The Aliens are Coming”?
D: I was going for really cliché names at the time just to give them a name. I never thought I would have posted any of them online until one of my friends convinced me to. Now some of the names mean something generic, for instance "Al Final" was the final song in my album At The Start.
CM: Talk about your writing experience, or your personal writing process.
D: Most of my writing experiences involve me doing something besides music, then thinking of a cool melody or bass line and running back to my computer to add it in. I've gotten up in the a.m. hours just to write down an idea.
CM: What are your goals for your current project?
D: Overall, I just want to have fun with this. Fame really isn't much of a goal and certainly not money. I spend most of my paychecks on music software or instruments!
CM: How would you describe your music?
D: Nothing all that special. I've been playing it safe, posting stuff that doesn't have a lot of time put into it because I fear a big project just being hated and all that effort being lost. Soon I plan to stray away from EDM and have songs with vocals. I have a song about a girl I just started talking to for instance...but I'm not posting it yet because 1. I use her name, and 2. It could cause some tension between me and someone else.
CM: Ah, yes. Girls. The subject of much music throughout the entire history of music. Thinking back, what is your first music memory as Dertwev?
D: I remember buying my MIDI keyboard and playing around in garage band thinking I was going to be the next Mozart. I spent quite a few hours just toying on that thing.
CM: Can you explain the way that you produce a track? Do you always start from the start, or do you work first with a breakdown?
D: Oh, I never work from the start. In fact, the start is always the hardest part for me to do so it generally comes last. In my acoustic stuff that I'm working on, thoughm I do work from the start because it's slightly more structured.
CM: What does it take to get started in the EDM scene?
D: You have to know the right people and advertise and promote yourself. I see some incredible people over the internet who have music far better than mine or most, but they just don't push hard enough.
CM: What is your biggest success as a musician?
D: In my opinion, my biggest success was getting that first favorite on my first song. That really got to me and I got pretty excited.
CM: Speaking of Favoriting, Liking, RT-ing and the like, how has social networking impacted your career?
D: Twitter got me so many new fans! By seeing how many people I have following me, it inspires me to keep making music!
CM: What obstacles did you have to overcome to be where you are at right now?
D: A lot of things...the normal stuff like too much work, going to school, and going through life's rough patches. Then there's the specifics. My girlfriend of one and half years recently cheated on me, so that made me kind of want to quit because she was pretty influential in me making music. Life goes on, though, and you can't spend your life sulking over some unfaithful girl. What you CAN do as a EDM artist is make a song with lyrics that completely bash her. Yes, I have done that (but it's not yet posted anywhere).
CM: Interesting. Sounds like something that readers of this interview may want to hear. Please let us know if or when you put that online. For now, we'll wrap this up and let you get on to more creating (and maybe more bashing).
D: Thank you so much for the interview.