As Andrew paved his path in the music industry using the turntables as his compass, Wick-it the Instigator would eventually uncover his style, leaving his sound uniquely, identifiable with his implementation of pulsating bass consisting of backbeats to classic rock anthems. From sampling rap to blending numerous sub-genres of electronic dance music including both hip hop and pop artists, with due respect, his creative process is ingeniously synchronized. Since debuting his music for the world, his reputable remixes and mashups remain in the playlists of hundreds of thousands of loyal fans and listeners.
In 2012, Microsoft acknowledged his identity and caught wind of his distinguished following of fans that brought forth appeal to the multinational technology corporation, outsourcing Wick-it to produce a noteworthy track for their commercial advertising Windows 8: Angry Birds Star Wars - May the Birds Be With You Ad. After obtaining this opportunity of a lifetime that this would be considered to be, this was so much more meaningful to Andrew and the inspiration behind his artist alias, Wick-it the Instigator. To learn more about how his artist alias came to life, check out our interview below and read up on what Andrew had to say for himself!
As a touring artist, a more memorable tour of Wick-it’s included a tour alongside Manic Focus and his crew. Throughout our interview, Andrew discusses his experience on the road with Twin Cities native, John McCarten, notably known under the moniker, Manic Focus, amongst other creatives including Manic Focus’ right-hand collaborator and drummer, Jacob Barinholtz who are featured on Manic Focus’ most recent album, Lost in a Digital World. Manic Focus will be showcasing this new project with guest appearances on select dates. Ironically enough, one of these events will, hopefully, include Manic Focus’ show coming up here in Minneapolis at First Avenue, Friday, November 15th!
For the last decade, Wick-it has made substantial waves in the music industry. Since charting #5 on Billboard's Next Big Sound, it's apparent his idiosyncratic talent is rightfully magnified. With a national following under his belt, Wick-it the Instigator has gained great traction through persistent work ethic and talent while touring and releasing chart worthy music that has emplaced a creative dynamic to the current state of the electronic dance music community. Having performed at numerous music festivals such as Summer Set Music Festival, Summer Camp, Camp Bisco, and Wakarusa, while supporting acts including Big Boi, Skrillex, GRiZ, and Pretty Lights, only solidifies his reputation as a DJ. As if any solidification would ever be deemed necessary. Let’s be real. His music speaks for itself. Clearly it goes to show Wick-it’s sound has instigated an impressionably, significant direction on the DJs and producers that have and continue to make headway.
Wick-it the Instigator, how did this name come into play, and what do you instigate?
I used to be the DJ in a band, scratching records and whatnot. There was this little running joke we had, whenever we told someone who did what in the band, they'd always "I'm the singer, Steve plays drums, Matt plays guitar, Andrew 'goes wicky', and John plays the bass". I used to humor the possibility of "Wicky" being a DJ name, but I thought it sounded too much like Elmer Fudd trying to say, Ricky". So one day, I randomly dropped the needle in the middle of this Star Wars record I had just bought, and the first thing I heard was "his name, is Wickit". And there was a big "holy shit" moment. (Btw, Wickit is one of the Ewoks).
from that day forward, I was "Wick-it"... Which was a play on words because it sounded like "wicked", and it was also a noun and verb reference to scratching. I added "the Instigator" a little later for a couple of reasons. I eventually found out there was a "DJ Wicked", and I wanted my name to be totally unique. I always liked names like Del, The Funky Homosapien and Jeru The Damaja, so I wanted to go that route. I was also heavy into DJ battles at the time, so I wanted it to sound kind of intimidating.
How did your career in music come to be?
From about 2005 - 2010 I was playing shows here in Nashville, releasing a bunch of mixtapes and mashups, etc.. Sometime in 2010, I made a mashup of Black Keys "Tighten Up" with Big Boi's "Shutterbug". Big Boi happened to hear it, he retweeted it, and the single got a lot of traction. Shortly after that, his manager asked me to make an entire Big Boi vs. Black Keys mixtape, which I did.
So in December of 2010, I released "Brothers Of Chico Dusty". Big Boi supported this mixtape as well, putting it on all of his social media. Eventually, the Black Keys caught wind of it, and luckily they chose to support it as well, which gave it another huge boost. It wasn't too long before a few different booking agencies reached out to me, I chose APA, and I've been with them ever since.
What city are you from and how did growing up there influence your career and/or music?
I grew up in Owensboro, KY. The city didn't really influence me as much as my immediate family did. My parents listened to rock n roll, and my older brother played in rock bands. Our basement was the rehearsal space for his bands, so I used to go down there and play all the instruments. (until someone yelled at me). I listened to hip hop all my life too, but that was mainly coming from MTV.
How does it feel after performing for almost over a decade as Wick-it the Instigator?
It's pretty crazy. One time after a show this guy came up to me and said, "Hey I'm a big fan, we listened to you all through high school and college" and that kinda freaked me out a little bit but in a good way.
The teaser you released for your upcoming EP, Game Face, was absolutely epic! What was the overall process like for you while creating your latest masterpiece? While we anticipate the release, what can your fanbase expect from this EP?
A few things here. My heavy music is usually very straight forward, whereas any time I get really experimental and creative it always seems to be something mellow. So I wanted to make something heavy that would work for my live sets, but still, have twists and turns and a lot of musicality and experimentation.
I've always been listening to some synthwave and chip tune lately, and I feel the same way about both genres. And that's that I love the synths and music, but I don't necessarily like the drum sounds. I wanted to include the elements I liked, but with big modern hip hop drums and heavy bass. I've always been attracted to all things retro and throwback. So it's basically gonna be old video games, mixed with 80's synthesizers and heavy bass music.
How do you prepare for your sets? Do you have any rituals prior to performing that you can share with us?
Not really. A few sips of Makers and ginger ale typically loosens me up. I usually get really still and quiet an hour or so before I go on stage, it's like my body is running on airplane mode to conserve energy.
Where do you prefer performing at more and why? Residencies, intimate venues or performing at festivals?
I love the intimate venues. I like it when people are right in front of me, close enough to reach out and touch. I can feel their energy and I feed off it. Those are also better settings to play a more versatile and dynamic set, rather than feeling like every single song has to be a super-banger bass-hammer.
The best tour you have ever experienced?
Hands down when I rolled around with the Manic Focus boys for about a month. I'm a solo artist, and being that I don't have a drummer or a bunch of equipment, I fly a lot, and usually by myself. I don't often get to experience that "road life" with a whole group of people, and I really enjoy it when I do.
You recently headlined at The Cabooze in Minneapolis, MN alongside Megan Hamilton to celebrate the release of her EP, Feed the Animals. How was the show?! What about performing in Minneapolis do you enjoy?
The show was a big success, I had a blast! I've yet to have a bad time in Minneapolis. Just good vibes, good people.
You’ve performed in Minneapolis numerous times prior, what is your overall experience like performing in Minneapolis compared to other cities? Are there any recognizable similarities or differences performing in Minneapolis that are noticeable to you compared to other cities you’ve performed at?
Some places just have the vibe of being "alive" when it comes to music and art. Minneapolis is one of them. Kinda like Colorado, or Chicago, you can just feel the energy around you. The people in Minneapolis have always treated me incredibly well too. At this point whenever I come there, it's like visiting family.
You have the ability to really throw down a stellar show, delivering gravity-defying sets for your fanbase. Describe the feeling you get while watching an audience react to your every move and how you gauge the vibe of the crowd?
I love high energy shows, and I love it when people go off. It's a fantastic feeling. It's like they're feeding me energy so I can feed them more energy, and then repeat. Being that I'm a little bit multi-genre, sometimes I have to figure out if its an all-electronic crowd, an all hip hop crowd, or a crowd that is down for whatever. (my personal fave).
What was the craziest experience you had while spinning any after-hours party?
One time I thought my laptop was just sliding away from the bass vibrations, and I kept moving it back into place. But then I looked over and it was like two feet away from me and still moving, and I realized that some spun-out dude had my power cable in his hands, and he was very slowly fishing my laptop towards himself... He was staring me right in the face too, like "f** you!" He passed out and had to be carried away so it all kinda worked itself out.
If possible, would you go back and change anything you did in your career or do you feel that everything you've done was necessary to make it as far as you’ve come as a reputable DJ in the EDM community?
Which do you enjoy more, performing your art or the overall creative process involved in the production of your music?
Definitely way more time spent in the studio. Besides the turntablism factor, what I do live is pretty easy, and I like it that way. Producing music in the studio is something I'm doing every single day for the most part. I like for my live shows to feel like a celebration of all that work.
The presence of hip-hop is evident within your music, hip-hop/rap artists influenced you?
Hip hop has been something I've loved my whole life, starting with the Beastie Boys in second grade. I played in bands starting at the age of 13, all the way through high school. it took me a long time to realize that hip hop was my favorite genre of music. The first band I was ever in was a punk/hardcore kinda thing, and I was the singer. At rehearsals, I'd always try to rap over their new riff, and they'd always stop and say "Andrew, stop rapping and SING!". I didn't buy turntables until I was 21, and also around that time I started reading books about the origins of hip hop, and that was when I realized that it was just simply my favorite genre, for so many reasons.
I gotta ask ... Biggie or Tupac? Seriously.
What inspired your decision to remix Sia's track, Elastic Heart?
That one really spoke to me. Also, while I realize it's more "strategic" to remix new and current songs, I rarely do it. Not because I avoid them purposefully, but I usually just don't get inspired by much newer music (as far as catching the remix bug). But whenever I do fall in love with a current popular song, I would definitely jump on it because not only is it something I genuinely love, but it'll be more exciting to many of the fans being that it's just hot song in general.
Who was your favorite artist to collaborate without of all your material, and why?
Fyutch and I always had a great working relationship. He's just such a talented rapper, two or three takes max usually. a lot of producers know that often with rappers you have to do a little surgery on their vocal tracks. Fix words or phrases that are a little off-beat and shit like that. But Fyutch is just right in the pocket, there's never anything to fix haha. It makes my life much easier! He is also very open about letting me make small suggestions or changes to a certain line or something. He's just a pro all the way around.
Who would you say are your top three favorite artists of all time?
Hip hop: Outkast, Wu-Tang, Beastie Boys, Atmosphere (gotta be 4 here)
Not hip hop: Nirvana, Beck, ten million other things
Breakdown the story behind “Your Mom’s Favorite Mixtape” and how it created this overall, crazy journey?
That was the first "continual" mixtape I had ever made. I don't remember coming up with the name at all. At the time I hadn't even listened to very many other mixtapes by other DJs so I didn't really have a template or even inspiration for that matter. I just kinda did what I did. I put a lot of work into those mixtapes. (there's also a volume 2).
If you could leave a piece of advice for all aspiring artists out there, what would you say it would be?
My biggest piece of advice, and it's also a matter of opinion but, I think artists need to just RELEASE THEIR MUSIC. I often think it's counterproductive to sit on everything you make and never put it out. A lot of people say they're saving their tunes unless a label shows interest. Just go ahead and release those tunes, right now! If a label shows interest, just make some more. We can always make more. Stop sitting on your dope ass music and let the world hear it.