EXCLUSIVE: Electronic producer Pusher on his “Clear” path to success

(By: Angela McLean)

In recent years, Toronto has become a hub for awesome music in the electronic and dance music scenes with artists like deadmau5, Rezz and ZEDS DEAD making a name for themselves internationally. That’s why it’s no surprise that Pusher, an up-and-coming electronic producer with a fresh and unique sound, hails from Toronto and is already making us so proud. His new single “Clear,” featuring rising American singer Mothica, has been dubbed by many as the underground pop hit of the summer, and his remix of “Lean On” by Major Lazer and DJ Snake featuring just surpassed one million plays on Hype Machine. Excuse our pun(s,) but it’s clear that Pusher just keeps pushing himself to the top – and deservedly so!

RUtv News sat down with Pusher backstage at Bestival Toronto to chat about “gloom-pop” collaborations, his upcoming EP and why you shouldn’t call yourself Pusher.

We’re here today at Bestival Toronto! Which act are you most excited for?

I’m so excited to see Grimes! I have never seen her and she was always kind of on my radar but that album ‘Art Angels’ is unbelievable. I started listening to it and I got the whole way through and I was like, “Wow, I think that was really great,” and then I listened to it 40 or 50 more times and I was sure. There’s so much diversity in sound on it and I love it.

For people who have never seen you live, what can they expect from a Pusher set?

They can expect to have a very difficult time taking photos of me because I move around a lot! I always try to keep the energy up pretty high.

Pusher hanging out backstage at Bestival Toronto. (Photo credit: Angela McLean)
Pusher hanging out backstage at Bestival Toronto. (Photo credit: Angela McLean)

Your sound has influences of trap, pop and all sorts of good feels. How would you describe it?

I would describe it as shiny, colourful music. Right now, what I’m trying to do is make music that makes you feel like you’re hearing something from your childhood but just isn’t. So, it kind of brings back that ‘90s nostalgic thing but you can’t really tell why because it’s fresh and new. I’m the happy Flume!

What got you into producing in the first place?

I’ve been playing piano forever. I went to Humber College and did the jazz program there then I finished that and I was doing their film scoring class. I was using Logic to produce for that because you can sync up video and Logic and then when I finished school I was like, wait a second. Every time I do a film score, I’m making somebody else’s vision and the success of my music is dependent on the film. So, I could just cut out the middle man and make my own electronic music. Then, I heard Madeon, Porter Robinson and Skrillex and I was like, oh okay, that’s a very viable career path.

You recently released your new single “Clear” featuring New York-based “gloom-pop” artist Mothica. How did that collaboration come about?

I met her in Austin at SXSW last year. I was doing a really depressing show and I didn’t have any water and I was very hungry and everything was pushed back two hours. Mothica came out to watch me do the worst set of my life. We met, hung out, I added her on Facebook and we talked about stuff. Last summer, I sent her a track and she sang on it, which is a mystery to me why she ever did that because it was so bad, but then it turned into “Clear!”

The official single artwork for Pusher's "Clear," featuring Mothica.
The official single artwork for Pusher’s “Clear,” featuring Mothica.

“Clear” is fans’ first taste of your forthcoming EP. What can we expect from the EP?

It’s going to be out in late August via Black Butter Records, which is based out of the UK. They can expect some good variety and I’m biased obviously but I think every song on it is a hit in its own regard. I worked very hard on them and I culled only the best stuff. I’m very happy with it and I can’t wait to put it out.

You’re always offering bits of advice to aspiring producers via social media. What advice can you give to our readers who have dreams of making it big in this industry?

This is where I excel! So, the trick is to structure your entire life around it. If you want to be a music producer, just like if you wanted to be a dentist, you’re going to devote your time to that. Learn everything you can think to learn. I have a note on my Facebook page that’s like a FAQ and it’s got everything I could think of down to the finest little detail of how you can be just like me! Learn from my mistakes. Don’t call yourself Pusher because people will think you’re selling drugs on the street.

What’s next for you?

This EP, and I’ve got some remixes that may or may not ever come out. I’m going to hopefully work on an album but, as the saying goes, you make the universe laugh at you by making plans! I’m just going to keep making music and when you hear the EP, basically just try to extrapolate and that’s what I’ll be doing.

Thank you, Pusher! Check out Pusher’s Spotify playlist, Pusher Picks, to see what he’s listening to and stay tuned for his new EP in August.

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