(By: Angela McLean)
If you really do get what you give, Felix Cartal’s recent success is certainly deserved. Though many people are just getting to know him thanks to his massive 2017 hit “Get What You Give,” the Canadian DJ and producer is no stranger to the EDM world. He released his debut EP in 2009 with Dim Mak Records, Steve Aoki’s record label, and has played at some of the top festivals including South by Southwest and Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC). Cartal’s new album ‘Next Season,’ which dropped May 4, is the result of six concentrated years of travelling, touring and studio sessions and features collaborations with some of the industry’s top new vocalists.
RUtv News caught up with Felix Cartal during Canadian Music Week to chat about Canadian music, ‘Next Season’ and the album we’ll never get to hear.
We’re here at Canadian Music Week! How important do you think it is that we have a week like this celebrating Canadian-made music?
I think that Canada has so much good music right now that it’s obviously important. Also, I was actually talking the other day about how we have to have Canadian content on the radio here and it’s normally this awesome thing for artists that are coming up but now it’s really competitive because all of the best artists are Canadian!
You’ve been working on ‘Next Season’ over the past few years. How does it feel to finally have that body of work out?
Amazing! There are some songs on there that are so old and I thought they would never come out. “The Wave” is like five years old. It’s weird just releasing the big body of work like that because it’s like you’re leading up to it for so long and then it’s just out.
Do you think having the time to sit with and grow the album helped you grow as well?
During the process I wrote an entire album and then scrapped it so I think that was kind of like the catalyst for having clarity for what I wanted to do on this record. It was one of the hardest things for me to do because it was so much work that I had to just throw away but through that it made it easier to write the things afterwards.
Will we ever get to hear any of those scrapped songs?
No. Those songs are just gone. Everyone always asks me that, and I’m like no, they got thrown out for that reason – that they shouldn’t be out, I think. Maybe like a concept or a lyric will come back, that’s possible, but not the versions that they existed as.
What story does ‘Next Season’ tell?
It sort of has this DIY attitude where you may have lots of factors, external and internal, that will try to stop you from doing what you want to do but you should just resist those things and do what you want. I’ve always had this DIY ethic of not worrying if I had proper gear or a proper musical education. I’m very much of the belief that if I apply myself to learn or do something that I can do it.
The album has 18 songs. Was it a conscious decision to make it that long?
I get really upset when people put out an album that’s short. I think a lot of people put out these eight-song albums and it’s fine if you want to make an EP but then don’t call it an album. I’d rather over deliver than under deliver, especially for the people that have been following me. If it’s too much music for anyone else, well, I don’t care.
You’re a lyricist in addition to a producer. Is there a line on the album that really stands out for you?
I like the lyrics to “Stop Being Yourself” a lot. That song is like a cheesy concept that became interesting to me once I flipped it. I like that with the whole chorus, if you read it at face value it sounds really intense and negative almost, but when you listen to it you sort of get that it’s like a play on words. With “Falling Down,” the lyrics are kind of a mantra for me. I believe that success is just like failing over and over again and I think the more you can fail, the better off you will be.
Some listeners may not know that “Get What You Give” is actually a spruced-up cover of the New Radicals’ 1998 classic. What about the original version stuck with you?
I hadn’t heard it in a really long time and then when I heard it again the lyrics sort of resonated with me in a way that I didn’t remember from when I was younger. I’d had the idea of possibly flipping an older song for a while and I knew a lot of guys were flipping hip-hop and R&B stuff but I didn’t really come up listening to that kind of stuff. I wanted to do something that was genuine to my experience growing up and that song sort of felt like this soundtrack to my high school career so I thought I could give it a go.
That song led you to nominations at the JUNOs and the Canadian Radio Music Awards. How does it feel to be recognized by these big organizations?
It’s really flattering. Dance music still feels like it’s this underground thing, so when it’s recognized at the more mainstream major events it’s still a bit of a trip for me.
What was your reaction when you first heard “Get What You Give” on the radio?
I was just driving around Vancouver and it came on and I kind of freaked out. It was like that scene in That Thing You Do! where everyone loses it when they hear their song on the radio for the first time. That was me, except I was by myself.
You have a dedicated group of fans called Team Felix. How does it feel to have people from all over the world connect so intimately with your words and melodies?
Playing shows and seeing people sing along to words that you wrote in your apartment or something is the craziest feeling and probably one of, if not the main reason why I keep doing this. My fans become more devoted every day and I’m extremely flattered to have that.
What’s next for you?
We’re working on a tour for the fall. Until then, I’m just doing a few festivals and my residency at Drai’s in Las Vegas all summer. I also have a remix coming out for Illenium that I did and I think we’re going to work on getting some remixes done for ‘Next Season.’
Thank you, Felix! ‘Next Season’ is out now.
(Header portrait by Trevor Brady)