skewbs Dishes on His Latest EP, unlock khepri [Exclusive Interview]

Gavin Jurewicz, known by his stage name skewbs, is a producer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Throughout the past couple years, he has been making big moves within the electronic industry. Specializing in dark bass melodies and eerie soundscapes, skewbs has even gained the attention of ill.gates and works as a mentor for his music school, ProducerDojo. Recently, Festival Squad had the opportunity to chat with skewbs about his recent EP on Rapture Studios unlock khepri, how he got involved with Producer Dojo, and more music shenanigans.

Festival Squad: Thank you so much for chatting with us! Let’s start from the beginning, how did your journey into music production begin?

skewbs: Haha, well I could go OFFF here … But to keep it simple and direct to the point, basically Skrillex. I got into his music more than anyone else’s at the beginning because NOTHING in his sound was familiar to me. I was also really big into Bassnectar, Noisia, and had actually been listening to breakbeat music for a long time because it helped me stay focused for schoolwork; but they had elements in their songs that still felt grounded in reality to me. Skrillex just felt way out there, and I fell in love with it being a young teenager looking to express individuality. Upon hearing “My Name is Skrillex,” I was immediately downloading FL Studio and searching the web for “how to make Skrillex bass.” I wasn’t very successful in ever sounding like Skrillex, but that is essentially what got me started with wanting to produce electronic music. 

FS: What was your creative process behind unlock khepri? How long were you working on that project for?

skewbs: The project as a whole was almost an accident in a way, at the beginning, but became very, very intentional once I realized what I had stumbled upon. There was a day where I just kinda had a vision for a type of music I wanted to see in the world … Which was basically vibey, melodic, lo-fi music crossed with halftime. I started an idea (which would become “commandeer”), and really liked the vibe. I developed that idea for a few weeks and was just like – ok, let’s start a new one so this song will have a sibling. Thus came “possession of originality.” Once I had developed that track far enough, I kinda realized that I had an opportunity to make an EP with a fairly cohesive sound that I was really into and hadn’t felt like I had heard before. There were two projects (“unlock” and “hear me now”) that were from a few months before “commandeer” that I remembered and felt like they could fit the vibe, if I went in and properly updated them. Then, the EP really took shape and it all came together relatively smoothly from there. The four songs individually took a total of just under 295 hours. The vast majority being from mid-March to early August. And then, I spent another 10 hours or so taking the masters and putting them into a new project to write transitions between the tracks so that the EP could play through seamlessly. 

“I have a true self set goal that was birthed from my own mind and heart, set aflame by the music of others. I just want to climb that ladder and pass my experience on to the next generation of creators who are in tune with me.” -skewbs

FS: What is your biggest inspiration when creating music?

skewbs: Detachment and inspiration itself. There are some artists that make music that is so deep and captivating; I am able to close my eyes, dissociate from this world and enter one of my own mind, guided by their sounds. This experience has inspired me so, so much that I seek to make music that can induce this feeling in another. But I don’t just want the music to create that feeling of detachment … I want to make it so good that others follow the path that I took. I want some 13 year old kids to hear my music and have NO CHOICE but to find some way to make music or art themselves. In a way, I am inspired by the inspiration itself … That fire that burns so, so bright. I want everyone to feel that. Because despite all of the problems that I have in life, whether financial, interpersonal, or really anything – I have a blessing that comes in the fact that I KNOW that I want to make music for the rest of my life.

FS: How did you get involved with ProducerDojo?

skewbs: I started as a student of iLL Gates in the Class of 808 … Eventually, I impressed the dude enough that he asked me to be a mentor for the class.

FS: What other activities and projects are you currently involved with outside of music?

skewbs: Um … I have a day job I don’t like, does that count?

FS: What are your short-term and long-term goals with music?

skewbs: Short term, there’s some labels I want releases on, and I really want to get a song played on Noisia Radio. Long term, I want to leave my mark on music by inspiring others to create music/art as well.

FS: What can we expect from you within the coming year?

skewbs: Some more releases, as well as hopefully playing a few shows for the first time.

FS: What festival is at the top of your wish list to attend and why?

skewbs: Noisia invites. So much dank music in one place, plus I could make a whole vacation around Europe out of it while over there!

FS: If you had to collab with one artist, who would it be and why?

skewbs: Ugh, this is by far the hardest question … There are so many artists whose brains I want to pick. Either Porter Robinson, because he is by far my biggest inspiration in everything outside the actual SOUND of the music, or Noisia because of all that I feel I could learn about sound design and production in general throughout the process. Those guys are scary talented in the studio.

FS: What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a career within music?

skewbs: Focus on production first. There are a million local DJs and it might suck having to sit on the sidelines for a while, but the artists with full time music careers by and large have their own library of original music to stand by.

Follow skewbs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SoundCloud.

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