[Interview] TroyBoi Merges Atlanta Trap with London Bounce
TroyBoi has been steadily building a name for himself internationally, with a surprising number of steady releases on Soundcloud, and a high level of consistent quality in his productions. We sat down with him before his set at Terminal West in Atlanta to talk about his music and some of his plans for the future. Opening up for him were Ahh-Ooh and Father Dude, who played a very smooth, funky, and at times sultry set to warm the room up before TroyBoi brought the really heavy stuff to the dance floor.
First off, welcome to Atlanta!
Pleasure, man! Honored to be here for my first time.
You’re half-way through your Mantra tour. Are there any stories from the tour so far you want to share?
My tour has been really, really chill. I’m quite a chill person so not really many crazy stories except to say the tour has been going insanely well. It’s been very, very overwhelming for me. I’ve toured in the U.S., but this specific tour is quite special to me because everything you hear in my set has been produced by me. It’s 100% original. I’ve brought my own staging, the lights, visuals. I have dancers. I have a lot of things going on. I’m actually giving away a lot now to you before the show. There’s a lot of stuff, and a lot of thought has gone into it, because I really wanted to give people the real TroyBoi experience and take people on a journey through my production.
A lot of people call you a trap producer, but I know you’ve shied away from that because you don’t want to be pigeonholed. What’s it like for you though, as someone who does produce a lot of trap-influenced music to come and play in Atlanta, where trap was born? And sell out the show...
It’s amazing. It’s an honor. I’m honestly honored and I feel very very blessed by the fact that I can do that, coming from London. Regardless of me saying I’m not a trap producer, I love the genre itself and a lot of my productions have trap influences or elements in them.
So, out of other places outside Atlanta, Japan has been influenced a lot, but London stands out as a city that’s been influenced by trap with the likes of you, Hucci, Stooki Sound, and Ozzie. What about trap has resonated with the city of London?
You know, it’s actually funny you say that, because I think there is a scene in London, but it’s not as big as people think. You just literally named the entire scene. That’s pretty much it, and then The Ninetys and a couple others, but it’s not as huge as it is in the states. Our alternative to trap would be grime.
Grime’s actually coming here now, too! Mayhem (see our previous interview with him) is a local trap producer, but he’s been working on some grime projects with some UK rappers, so it looks like the influence is moving in both directions.
Ok, sick, man! That’s really dope.
Your music has a lot of cross-cultural influences in the sounds and samples. Has international food influenced you the same way, or even influenced your music?
Well, I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about that before, to be honest. I could probably say so, because I love food. I love different types of food, and food from different cultures and countries. So, probably yeah, in a certain way, maybe subconsciously.
I know Michael Jackson’s been a huge influence on you, but you don’t make what I would consider “pop." Explain why he’s such an influence on you.
First, I would say Michael Jackson was *popular.* But, I would say as what he done, he made so much more to pop. His music had so much soul in it. He had stuff which was very reminiscent of hip-hop vibes and R&B vibes. He’d have classical pieces of music, and then he’d have Motown. It was never ever just pop. People called him the king of pop because he dominated the pop or *popular* scene, but he touched many different audiences. That is how he inspired me greatly, because he never ever did just one thing. Ever. Everything he did was over and above. He only wanted to achieve the best, and I think that has always been embedded in my mind. I really want to achieve the best of me and that’s one of the things I’ve learned from that. And pushing yourself, and not being afraid, and not having people judge you. Music was his release, even if it was negative to people, like the press for example. He used to slam the press a lot in his songs, but it was a way of release, and even those forms of release were dope. So, that’s how I’ve always released my music. Everything is an expression. I don’t do it because he’s done it, it’s because that’s how I feel. And I feel that’s what made me think he’s a good vibe, because we both were on the same level.
What do you mean “on the same level?"
The same level of thought process, not the same level of music type. He wanted to be the best. He wanted to do the best he could possibly do, and that’s the same I want to do. I have a lot of music which is heavily influenced by Michael Jackson. Certain people say that my groove or type of bounce in tracks is quite unique. I’ve been inspired by that from Michael Jackson’s 80s hits and 70s tracks. “Don’t Stop 'Til You Get Enough” has a certain groove to it. I’ve used those kinds of vibes and elements in my music to create grooves.
I know from other interviews that you make a lot of your music standing in your kitchen. I wonder if it makes a difference that you produce standing up instead of sitting down.
That’s a huge part of it. That is a huge, huge part of it. When I’m making beats, I’m in my kitchen standing up and dancing, literally keeping the groove for myself. So, if it feels right within my body, then that’s what I want. So, the music is an extension of me.
Awesome. Do you have any upcoming projects you want to tell everyone about?
I’ve got a lot more music releases to come. I’m getting back in the studio after the tour, because it’s so hard to work on music when you’re on tour. I find that I need to be in my own space. I will also be working on the album, that’s for sure. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a little while. I’ve done a lot of single releases on Soundcloud, but I want to have an actual body of work, so that’s something I’m looking forward to. I’m doing the Mantra tour in Australia, with other DJ sets in between. So yeah, just expect more music from me.
After our interview, we got to talk a bit more about his DJ setup and equipment. Apparently he made the move from the Traktor S4 to the Traktor S8 because his bass would be so loud that it would bump the jog wheels on his S4 and stop the music mid-set. As a Traktor guy myself, I thought that was pretty hilarious, and is a problem I haven’t seen anyone complain about yet. Maybe nobody is pushing bass like TroyBoi.
His set was as excellent as promised, with really bouncy fun beats throughout the show, and for once, I got to hear a set with some trap that sounds like trap, not this dubstep hybrid stuff that has been going around lately. He played a lot more than just trap though, with a lot of variety, but all very groovy stuff. He even threw in a Michael Jackson remix to pay tribute to his idol. People really got into it, between the heads who just consistently nodded at the back of the room to the wild dance floor up front, everyone was having a good time. The dancers certainly added a lot to the show, coming out in front of the audience at times, and performing acrobatics on a hoop suspended from the ceiling at others.
If you have a chance to see TroyBoi on the remainder of his tour in a city near you, I strongly recommend that you go. For anyone who loves trap or bass music in general, it’s well worth the price of admission to see this rising star perform his music.
Photos by Sam Lawrence for Bullet Music