"When Revolvr pulls the trigger, you feel it. Whether it's through an irresistible house music hook or propulsive progressive production, the Las Vegas-based artist and producer specializes in igniting emotions. Hands go up in the air and bodies shake when his fusion of styles pipes through the speakers. Locked and loaded with numerous tricks up his sleeve, Revolvr has arrived on the scene with a big bang."
Touvan Sughiarto is known in the EDM world as Revolvr. Despite only being active since 2011, every single track he released in 2011 and 2012 reached the Beatport Top 100 chart. He has two EP’s, Two Worlds Apart and most recently Machine, and has consistently put out widely recognized remixes and original tracks. Despite him being so busy, Into The AM got the chance to sit down with this quickly rising producer and pick his brain.
Into The AM: Please introduce yourself!
REVOLVR: I’m David Guetta. I’m kidding. I’m Revolvr. What else do you want to know about me?
ITAM: So you were born in Queens, raised in the Bay Area, lived in San Diego for your college years and now reside in Las Vegas. Have the music scenes of all these different areas influenced you?
R: I mean, 80% of my experience is cut out regarding influence because the music [modern dance music] wasn’t around at that time. It’s only really exploded in the last four years, and in the last four years I’ve only lived in San Diego. To be honest, my influences are not very broad as far as what I’ve experienced in different cities. San Diego still has a lot to learn about the dance music scene goes, but it’s growing fast.
ITAM: I read that you shifted your focus to producing music after an introspective moment at Burning Man and haven’t looked back since. What is it about Burning Man that led you to this realization?
R: It’s the truth factor of Burning Man that makes things happen and it’s your extraction from the world around you - from the world that you’re submersed in and all the civilization that we live in - Burning Man is a completely different world. You don’t get to check your emails, you don’t get to check your phone, you can’t do anything except experience a whole new world that’s been built by people who are dedicated to that.
The only thing you really have to think about is self-reflection and your own life. That’s kind of what happened to me. I was so extracted and so moved from what I was used to: It made me realize that I wasn’t really as happy of a person as I thought I was. It brought a lot of new things to light, things I was missing in my life, such as focusing on my music 100%.
ITAM: Tiesto added your remix to “Beats Inside my Head” to his podcast and live set of his Club Life Tour, which really helped kick off your career. What was your reaction to finding that out?
R: I didn’t believe what anyone said. I thought they were just talking about another song. All these people were posting on my Facebook wall and my Soundcloud saying, “Tiesto’s playing this song” and I was like: “Yeah, okay, sure." After I saw five or six of them, I decided to check it out.
I did a search on Youtube and found a video of him playing my song at Ultra Music Festival. I mean, he was headlining, and there were like twenty thousand people there, and he was playing my song that I had just made! And I was like: "Holy shit, this can’t be real." It took me a second for it to sink in, but it did eventually and I actually got to meet him a couple months later.
ITAM: How was that?
R: It was surreal. I was escorted to his green room, right before he played in Vegas at Hard Rock. I went through the doors and he saw me, and walks up, and goes (in an accent) “Revolvr, how you doing? Nice to finally meet you!”
There was a camera guy in my face taping this whole thing and I’m like “uhhhhhhhhh” – I was speechless. But it was definitely a cool feeling. He was like, “alright let’s take some Jäger shots.”
R: We met randomly. I was on a trip to LA and I heard some of her stuff and she heard some of my stuff. We were a fan of each other's work, so we decided to give collaboration a shot. We just mutually created, and then decided to make a whole EP together.
ITAM: It’s a pretty diverse album, genre-wise.
R: Yeah, the scope of the project was to approach an EP with the same tools – the same vocalist - but different styles. That represents my name, Revolvr, because my style revolves around different genres, styles and sounds. That was our approach – to make a big room track, an electro piece, and a dubstep piece.
ITAM: Now is a good time to reflect on your year. It is crazy how much you have blown up in such a short time. How have you grown as a producer and a DJ? What goals do you have for yourself?
R: That’s a really good question. I’m too busy to actually think about it. I guess one goal is to play more shows, and really get on the road. This was my first year and I actually just got the report from my management about how many shows I played. Our goal was to play 30 shows and 3 or 4 festivals. I played 48 shows and 9 festivals, which is pretty good for your first year.
My goals for 2013 are to come out with more original tracks - because I’ve been doing a lot of remixes this year - work on another EP, tackle new boundaries with my sound, maybe go for a couple of new genres, play more shows and just keep on growing as an artists.
ITAM: Speaking of new genres, what’s your opinion on trap?
R: I knew you were going to ask me that. I have nothing against trap, but to me it’s just instrumental hip-hop that some hipster decided to put a label on and everyone said, “this is the next big thing.”
If you really think about it, Trap is just Southern hip-hop with the vocals taken out. But, if that’s what it takes to remove shitty vocals like “Poppin’ Bottles” and “Them Bitches and Hoes,” then you can count me on board.
ITAM: You’ve played shows and festivals all across America. Do you prefer smaller shows or big festivals? What are the highlights of each?
R: Being in the club or smaller environment is cool because it’s more intimate. You really get to connect with your audience on a different level than a festival. But I do like festivals because there’s so much energy, and it’s a whole different level of connectivity between you and the audience. The only downside is that, at a festival, you are 40 feet away from the audience and it’s hard to high-five everyone.
In a club, you can high-five every single person that comes up. But, don’t get me wrong, in a club you will also inevitably get,“Oh! Hey! Do you have any Beyonce? Can you play ‘Sandstorm’?” I don’t have to deal with that at a festival because it’s your show – your hour is your hour. Everyone is on that same understanding of what they are there for. I love both.
ITAM: Favorite place you’ve played so far?
R: I get asked that a lot. One of my favorite places is Avalon in Hollywood, because the energy is so good, great sound, and it’s a club environment. For a festival, El Paso. I played Sun City Music Festival a few months back and the energy there – those kids are just crazy. I think that Zedd can speak for that, Knife Party, all those guys have the same thing to say about it. Everyone there is so interactive on the social level. Everyone is tweeting at you.
ITAM: Name some DJs and bands who blew your mind at a show in the past year or so.
R: That’s a hard thing to ask because I’m not going to lie, I’m very hard to impress. I can’t even impress myself. I saw Knife Party play in Vegas once, I had never seen them play before, and I really, really enjoyed their set.
Other than that, I haven’t really gone out and enjoyed anything because I’ve been in my own world. Working on my music and stuff like that. If I’m not on the road, I’m in the studio.
ITAM: Biggest inspirations?
R: Some of my biggest inspirations are producers – Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen from Knife Party, formerly known as Pendulum. I love them. I loved their engineering and I always looked up to them. Wolfgang Gartner, definitely a huge influence of mine. It goes all around, even The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers, old electronica acts like that.
ITAM: Any pre-show rituals?
R: Nope. Drinking I guess? Taking shots.
ITAM: Any last words?
R: Have a great 2013!
After my interview with Revolvr, I later stopped by the front stage to catch his set at Wintersalt. I came by around 11:20PM and was unsure what was going - I saw him behind the DJ booth and ready to play at his allotted time slot, but no music was emitting from the speakers. Scattered fans stood around, seeming just as confused as I was.
Meanwhile, Travis Barker and Mix Master Mike started up at the distant main stage, so many wandered off. What just happened? If you looked into it online, you would have immediately have seen the drama that ensued over Twitter, involving accusatory statements exchanged between Revolvr's party and Barker's party.
According to Revolvr, “I started my first track, the stage was packed, the energy was amazing, crowd cheering, then seconds later to silence & confusion. No one understood what had happened, so they just walked away…They just told me I wasn’t allowed to play until Barker finished his drum solo. At first I thought it was a joke.”
Explained further in a Facebook post, Revolvr stated the following:
"I had a set time of 11:20 to 12:20. I showed up at 11:19, plugged in and started on the dot of my scheduled time. Moments after I started, I'm told to shut it off. I was told I could not start until Travis Barker & Mixmaster Mike started on the main stage and we get the OK from the main stage. All this happened with thousands of people in front of my stage, looking at me, confused on what the hell is going on. They had me just sit there, while Mix Master Mike & Barker began, as I watched everyone at my stage just walk away to the other stage. I sat there for 20 minutes and by the time I got the OK, my stage was practically empty. The truth is, there was absolutely nothing wrong with my stage. The sound was fine, the crowd was ready to go, and I started exactly when I was supposed to, my assigned time slot. So why would you stop me in the tracks and hold my set until it was 'OK' for me to play? It's as if someone did not want me to play. It made no sense, and It was a slap in the face to me as one of the headlining artists. Shutting my stage down temporarily, then letting me finally start at the 'convenient time' without notice only makes me think about who really benefited from this." (Full post here)
Revolvr was held 20 minutes until he could start again. Shortly into the set, he was able to recover a decent amount of the crowd he lost, still managing to carry out an amazing set and setting off the crowd.
An official statement was released by Wintersalt, claiming that "the decision to push Revolvr’s set time at Wintersalt (12/28) to a later time was NOT a decision or request from anyone within Travis Barker’s camp or Travis Barker" (Full post here).
So what really happened? Why was there so much miscommunication? And why was Revolvr's set time pushed to start later than Barker's opening? It appears the truth will remain a blur. What we do know is that an instance like this is upsetting to not only the DJs involved, but supporting fans as well.