Mako On Avicii, Steve Angello, Gym Habits, Fear Of Heights & More [Interview]
The story about how LA-based DJ, producer duo Mako came to be is one part fate and one part chance. Alex Seaver and Logan Light's fathers were roomates in college at Syracuse back in the 1970s and this formed a life-long friendship between their two families. However the two kids went on two different paths. Seaver attended Julliard, the elite classical and jazz music school and Light went to Columbia, before transfering to Michigan where he picked up DJing. Their paths crossed once again in Los Angeles after graduation and a trip to EDC Las Vegas opened Seaver's eyes to the wonders of electronic music. Their first single "Our Story" became an internet hit and fast forward to 2015, the pair are working on an album and have played festivals like Lollapalooza, Electric Zoo and Ultra Music Festival.
We had the chance to sit down with the pair after their 1 p.m. set at Electric Zoo to a light, but growing crowd on the main stage. Tired, but excited to be in New York and at the festival, we chatted about their work with Avicii and Steve Angello, which netted the single "Children Of The Wild." We also got into some weird habits they each have including what Alex does at the gym and Logan's fear of heights.
Read on to see our full interview with the duo.
MT: Since the Mako story started with your dads at Syracuse. if they weren't roommates do you think you guys would be together?
L: I don't think we ever would have met.
A: It was barely a chance that we did meet. Because he brought you to dinner when I moved to LA. I might have never met you.
L: If I didn't leave Columbia we would have never met, maybe we would have met in some weird way. I don't know if this would have happened, but I went to Columbia for a semester and he was at Julliard and then I ended up transferring to Michigan. I'm sure we would have bumped into each other but it never would have taken on this, this is all credit to them. Dad I hope you're proud.
MT: Do you think you have to dumb down your songwriting cause of Julliard and classical music?
A: I don't know man. I like this kind of music, I don't hear this stuff and think of it as dumbed down. I think it's not as sophisticated in terms of its construction. You could analyze a symphony for your entire life and still gather things out of it. This stuff doesn't have the same shelf life, but what I do is very current, it sounds contemporary and it sounds like what it's like to live in 2015. I find it to be very emotionally moving and to me that in itself is sophisticated. I don't think about that too much. There are people from that ivory tower classical world that look down on anything that's not what they do. But to me that's not what music is about, that's why we have the opportunity to play it and listen to it and love it.
MT: What it hard to become a duo?
L: No, the single thing was just fun for me, DJing. I never thought this would be what it is today. I did this in my little room in Michigan just for fun and had fun jumping around. I met him it was kind of like, well if you want to dig around and try this let's see what happens. It kind of took a life of its own pretty quickly and I think we are very combative personalities when it comes to each other. We kind of found our own niche and made it work with what it was and if one thing isn't working we adjust. For me I was just DJing so it was always myself, he always had to work with other musicians so it was never a solo venture.
A: Yeah its way different doing this than it was doing classical music but I don't think it was ever difficult because we complement each other's personalities and our work styles, but I think the big adjustment was making electronic music.
MT: If you wrote "Our Story" in 2015, would it be any different than it was in 2012.
A: That's a good question too man, I think it really would. Right now we're really steering our music, our upcoming music especially in some really different directions, a lot of it, there's a good amount that's not even dance music, its more electronic meets pop songwriting. I think it would sound a lot different.
MT: Even the lyrics?
A: I love that song I'm really proud of that one, I jump around from material and inspiration for the songs, and I think that after I've sung something about that topic I don't really go back to it. I think that that and "Children of the Wild" kind of come from a similar place and I haven't visited that theme for a long time and I might not. But if I hadn't written it then I'd certainly work on something like that now.
MT: You guys worked with Avicii on some stuff. How did that happen?
A: That was pretty cool, that was pretty weird. They needed a keyboard player to help out.
L: You got to tell them the first time. Because they needed a keyboard player and it was my birthday, so we went out and got hammered.
A: That's right.
L: And it was like 20 of us at 12:30 in the morning, the phone rings from our old manager like "Avicii wants you". And he's like "I can't do it I'm too hammered."
A: I couldn't do it. But I wouldn't take the opportunity if I was going to ruin it, so I'd rather not do it. So then the next day, I think I was like throwing up all day and they said okay he's getting in the studio again. And I was like "I'll be there".
L: Then you were gone for like 17 hours.
A: Yeah and then we worked for like 2 weeks, a bunch of 16-17 hour sessions. It was intense but it was cool. I started off just playing keys, and he didn't really take to me. Then he like needed help with something and turned to me all fast because I did ear training in college so I showed him some things and he was like "Oh sh*t". Then we started working more and more. It was fun.
MT: How did "Children of the Wild" come about?
A: it was a song that we wrote on our own before we had met Steve, we changed managers at the time and our new manager knew that Steve was looking for songs for his album. His album was already called Wild Youth, so we sent him that song, I saw the text message that he sent to his manager saying "I need this song I need to meet these kids, I want to get in the studio with them ASAP."
So within days we were face to face with him in the studio and we had like 3 sessions with him over the course of a couple weeks, he was cool. He took me back to his house I had like spaghetti with his family and everything it was really fun. So that one sat on the counter for a while, I think it took like 2 years of him playing it out before we finally released it. I think there's a music video coming out pretty soon.
L: Sometime before 2020, you hope. The song took 2 years so hopefully the video doesn't take 2 years. It's done, we've seen it.
MT: Was it frustrating to wait for the song to come out?
A: Yeah. It's kind of how the music industry works, bureaucracy and timing and marketing all these things are extra musical factors that really infringe on getting this thing out there to people. It was also weird because all of our core fans knew it, since he had been playing it out for so long and we had been playing it out. So it was a little big anticlimactic because it wasn't like a brand new thing. I wish it had come out a little differently, but it was still an honor for us. It's one of those things that you would never really complain about because it's so cool to be a part of his project. Especially for me, he was one of the artists Logan showed to me that made me want to do dance music.
MT: What is one of the weirdest things you've learned about each other since you started working together?
A: He's terrified of heights. Like we did an interview one time on a balcony and he made the guys take the mic inside.
MT: How high is too high?
L: The Lolla Stage was high, but it was more like could I fall over the edge. If it's high but if there's a lot of space around me then I feel okay peering over it. I'd say anything were you'd feel uncomfortable to jump. Like 20ft, 2 stories. I lived in the city with two roommates on the 10th floor. We had a balcony and I never went on it once. What's something weird I've learned about you...the random words he likes to make up and sing in tune with.
A: Oh yeah I've got my own syllables that I sing.
L: I got to think of one...he only goes to the gym for 12mins.
A: That's true. I run 2 miles fast I can then go home.
L: He walks into the gym, runs about 12mins and walks out and leaves.
MT: what do you guys have coming up?
A: We just released a single called "Smoke Filled Room" and we have a whole crop of songs that we love, we are producing them to be very different. We are working on a lot of different styles actually bringing in some producers to work with. So we are really changing things right now. The songwriting and style will be very similar, but we are moving away from some of the other stuff.
MT: Anything coming out soon?
A: The next song is done but we haven't figured out when we were going to release it.
L: I was thinking November, or early October. We never know with these things. Once it's done we lose the power.
A: We are playing Webster Hall Sept. 25th with Hook and Sling. Should be a fun night. [Tickets can be purchased here]