Photo from RCKT PWR
Comprised of Mike Rende and Seth Akins, RCKT PWR has been blasting off all over these past few years. They truly made a name for themselves in the Milwaukee music scene, headlining a monthly End of the World party at The Miramar Theatre, before moving out to Los Angeles. Since moving out, they have been quite busy playing shows, producing music and much more.
RCKT PWR holds a very special place in my heart. In fact, my boyfriend and I became official July 2016 during RCKT PWR’s set. This year, I had the opportunity to chat with Mike and Seth when they returned to the Midwest.
Festival Squad: Thank you guys so much for sitting down with me.
Mike: Of course. You need to see how fresh [Kaelyn] came in dressed though. Like, I had to do a double take. I would’ve talked to her anyway, you know?! I would’ve been, like, “You seem important.”
FS: Just because I was wearing black, that’s it.
Seth: Industry tip #1 is to wear black at all times.
FS: Is that how LA is, everyone wears black all the time?
Seth: You know what, I don’t know how LA is, I kind of walk around with my eyes closed.
Mike: Like everyone else there.
Seth: But I mean, yeah, black is everywhere.
Mike: Black is the universal color of power.
FS: Other than that, how has LA been different than Milwaukee with the music scene?
Seth: Well, one, I think … Well, no one is from LA. I think that is a big thing. The whole local DJs thing is kind of different because no one is from there.
Mike: At least not a lot of the people that we’ve met. There is definitely a scene of people there that are local. Like, Space Racers is from there, technically. But it’s still different. The thing about LA, too, is that people in LA don’t seem to care about what you’re doing in LA. They want to hear what you’re doing everywhere else, besides what’s in LA because it’s kind of the way they are.
Seth: LA is more like a hub where EDM and music is always happening. In Milwaukee, it’s not all the time where all the shows are niche and everyone comes out and goes crazy. In LA, I’ll go to a show and be kickin’ it more than I’m actually into the show itself. There is always someone coming through because there is always something happening. People are more relaxed about going to shows in general. But I don’t see a ton of rave kandi or things like that because people are always at the venue.
Mike: We performed at Sacramento though, that was way more ravey.
Seth: We’re used to the small town vibe. We’re used to the small town little rave family with Facebook groups that are always talking to each other, like the Miramar Fam. We’re used to things like that, so playing in Sacramento was the closest thing to playing back [in Milwaukee] since we moved because I felt like everyone knew each other there. It was like, “impress them and all their friends, they collectively accept if they like you or not.”
Mike: Yeah, LA, there’s just so much noise all the time. Everything is happening there. There’s three or four shows a night, it’s kind of crazy. They’re all at different venues all over the place. But we definitely seen some great music out there and we’ve met a lot of great people.
FS: Speaking of music, what is your creative process when you’re producing a song?
Seth: Well, it’s all about the feeling more than it is the genre or anything, first of all. We’ll pick a tempo. Say we want it to be 4 and 4, like a house song. But then, we’ll write the chord first. The chords and the melody almost goes first for us because we’re trying to create a feeling more. Some songs will start with drums and more drum bass; but, for the most part, our music is based off of melody first. From the melody, we start to build drops and stuff around that. We like the music to sound real. We’ll basically make everything without any effects first. Then, we keep it pretty bare and just have the music itself do the buildups and have it add tension. Once it’s building up and the song is flowing without the effects, then we throw it in.
Mike: Then, it’s an EDM song!
FS: I tried to take a music technology class, it did not go well. I could not understand anything. We used a program called Logic.
Mike: Oh, fuck Logic.
Seth: We actually used Logic for the first four, five years. Once you’ve used Ableton, it’s like, “Fuck everything else.” Ableton will let you grab everything and automate it and bend it and do whatever, where Logic is like “Can’t do it. Take 20 extra steps to do this one little thing.”
FS: I dropped before I could get a W so I didn’t really do that much, but my professor would be like, “Just use a template!” But he didn’t purchase the template so we were just, like, “Well … What do you want from us?”
Seth: “You mean this empty project template?”
FS: So this is your show tonight, what is your favorite part about performing?
Seth: Hm … Sweating.
Mike: Feeling the room.
FS: And sweating?
Mike: Yeah, and sweating. Sweating is great, it’s great exercise. But I would say the feeling in the room and putting on the show for the people. The feeling you get playing for a room full of people is my favorite part.
Seth: My favorite part is playing a song that we made that crushes and gets the best response. Like, “fuck yeah! Because I KNOW you like Zomboy and I know you’re going to like that!” Tonight, my part of the set is almost completely original. I’ll play maybe four songs that aren’t ours. All of our music in a row, unreleased shit, it’s like banger after banger. Hammering over the head with unreleased tunes and tunes we just put out recently.
FS: Do you have any weird crowd stories during End of the World?
Seth: I tell this story all the time, but one time this girl bit me after I played. She latched onto my neck and I was bleeding. She bit the shit out of me.
FS: Oh, my god. You were bleeding?
Seth: Yeah, she bit me in the neck and just latched on.
FS: Did you get her number?
Mike: That’s not the point though!
Seth: I got her number because I wanted to ask her about being a vampire.
FS: Do you have any dream collaborations with anyone?
Seth: Zeds Dead.
Mike: Zeds fucking dead.
Seth: That’s the dream dream thing. I would like to make a song with Travis Scott or Drake, someone ridiculous, where it’s just “Where the hell are they even thinking, doing this?”
FS: Because you started with hip-hop, right?
Seth: Yeah. I would also love to produce a song for a hip-hop artist, that would be tight, or produce a pop record that’s crazy. It wouldn’t even have to be all about us, just knowing we did that.
FS: I totally get that. Is that where you see yourself in 10 years, producing still? What do you have in mind?
Seth: Totally. I think this is going to go until we pass the torch to a young, interracial duo. We’re definitely trying to get into more helping people with their projects, producing for vocalists and things like that. I want to do albums releases. Having some songs be radio songs are ideal, too. We’re trying to be able to do everything, because we’re doing dubstep hard, right now. We have a lot of dubstep music, but I still want to be one of those artists that are not just dubstep. I think Zeds Dead did a really good job at not just being something, like one thing, it’s just Zeds Dead.
FS: Definitely, that’s what they’re known for.
Seth: Right, it just hits you out of nowhere.
Mike: That’s what we’re trying to do.
FS: Okay. Question of the hour. Culvers or In ‘N Out? Explain.
Seth: Culvers. Explain? In ‘N Out is trash.
Seth: Dude, it makes me feel like shit. Every time I eat it, I feel like I have to shit for six hours. And then, two hours after that six hours, I actually do, and it’s the smallest little poop. It’s, like, “What the fuck just happened?” For real. They have animal style fries that’s just fries with a thousand island dressing all over and it’s hard when the time you get it.
FS: I’m surprised, I’ve heard so many glowing reviews.
Mike: They don’t have Culvers there, that’s what’s fucked up. The nearest Culvers is 137 miles from LA, I looked.
FS: Is it even in California?
Mike: No, it’s in Nevada. It’s by Vegas.
FS: Have you ever driven there, just for Culvers?
Mike: No, not yet.
Seth: Maybe for a vlog, we’ll do that.
Mike: That would be tight.
Seth: But if I had to pick The Spot or Culvers, I’d pick The Spot.
Mike: The Spot, that’s in Kenosha though.
FS: Is it a burger chain?
Mike: No, it’s just a drive-in in Kenosha.
Seth: You drive in, they put your food on a little tray- it’s cute.
FS: Is it a franchise?
Mike: There’s two locations, that’s it. They’re both in Kenosha. It’s so good. Best burgers, hands down ever.
FS: What can we expect from you guys soon?
Seth: Hella music, man! We have so much music that’s going to come out this year. We’ll be back in Milwaukee and Chicago, playing more shows in the Midwest, playing more shows out in California, too. Vlogs like crazy, hella videos. Hella content! It’s about to be a fucking lifestyle thing, where you’re just going to be watching us all the fucking time. Basically, the plan is to let people in to what the hell is actually going on. There’s a lot people want to see, and they never get to see it, like they never get to see what the green room is like or the commute to the different cities or the funny, quirky conversations that come about from making all these friends and being nerds, doing music.
FS: Well, thank you two so much for sitting down and talking with me!
RCKT PWR: Thank you!