Truancy Volume 328: Etari

For todays Truancy Volume, we’ve taken a visit to Los Angeles, with Etari stepping up to mix our 328th instalment in the series. Originally from Orange County California she’s made LA her home for the last four years, slowly becoming a key cog in the scene’s vibrant and eclectic electronic music scene. Her journey as a producer has followed her throughout the move, with releases on Yellow Island, 100% Silk and more recently Delusional Records shifting her from local favourite to a producer we predict will be having an imminent breakout in the next few months. Finding her style has needed breaks of deep introspection she’s mentioned in the past, but she looks to be assertive in everything she is putting out at the moment, with her warehouse-ready blend of breaks, electro, techno and jungle sifting through moments of both euphoria and hypnotic club functionality. Her Truancy Volume kicks off in a big way with a special remix of one of her own tracks, which  gets set to drop this month on a very exciting new EP of hers. The mix continues that peak time energy with a relenting vibrant pace that holds till the end, yet the tracks included feel incredibly varied throughout. Dembow remixes of Benga’s Night, breaky pumpers from Blu:sh and proggy rollers from Baraka captures the energy and excitement of being on a dancefloor in a scintillating hour.

Hey Lexi, thanks for taking out the time to answer some questions and doing this mix for us! So just to start, how have you been the last four months? What’s 2024 been like for you thus far? Any particular highlights? “Hey there! Of course, I’m absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to make a mix for you guys. I’ve been a long-time fan of Truants, so it feels pretty amazing to be able to contribute to the Truancy Volume mix series. So many artists I look up to have made mixes for the Truancy Volume series as well, so it feels pretty surreal to be alongside them doing this. But as for the last four months, I’ve been pretty good! Right now I’m really prioritizing health in all areas, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, creatively, etc. which has been an extreme positive for myself lately, it feels good! I’d say some of my fav moments of this year so far have been playing at Skyline Festival in LA, I got to close out the Arts District stage which was a beautifully curated lineup of incredible local LA talent that my good friend Kyle Arthur put together. What’s great also is that everyone who played at that specific stage are also some really good friends of mine, so getting to be a part of that experience together was awesome. I also made it out to Miami during Miami Music Week in March which is always a nice time! Obviously a lot of partying, but I always try to make it a relaxing time as well. I like a nice balance haha.”

Usually I’d start these questions by going way back and asking how you got into electronic music but I thought I’d save them for later on and we’d maybe start about LA first and foremost, as from someone who’s never visited before I have this image of so many different scenes and people with their own vibrant musical tastes. Have you lived in Los Angeles your whole life and is this an accurate assumption for LA life as a whole? “So I haven’t lived in LA all my life, but I was born and raised in an area called Orange County which is about an hour away from LA. I did move to LA though during the pandemic in 2020 with my partner and have been here since. Before living here, I would drive up multiple times a week after my shifts at my old restaurant job and would go hit up some warehouse parties and what not, and then I would drive an hour back home right after. Those were some crazy times going back and forth all the time haha. You’re definitely spot on with having an image of many different scenes and people with their own eclectic musical tastes in LA. The diversity here is pretty unreal and I truly feel there’s an atmosphere and community for every type of person and whatever scene they’re in. So much music also, whether it be more of the mainstream sounding stuff, or the more so cutty, underground stuff which we have plenty of thankfully haha.”

What would you say the scene is like at the moment for someone with your own musical interests? Has it been easy to form pockets of friends and like-minded people who are into the same music as you? “Our underground scene here in LA is ever evolving and has so much to offer honestly. This scene took me in and gave me such awesome opportunities that have shaped me into the artist I am today, and that’s something I’ll forever be thankful for. There are so many great parties every single weekend, it’s sometimes hard to choose what to go to at times haha. And what’s cool is that in our underground scene here, there’s the perfect sound for everybody depending on what parties you attend. We have tons of events here for the groovy minimal heads, for the breakbeat and jungle heads, for the techno heads, for the housey left field heads, basically everything you can think of, we got it and that’s what I love about our scene. And not only is it about the music, but the people as well. So many of my friends at this point in my life are people I’ve met through the music scene here. It’s truly inspiring to be a part of such a like-minded, talented, unique, badass group of people. It really is a thriving community.”

I saw you’ve played some big parties in LA recently, with some notable examples being RE/FORM and Skyline Festival. How did those go? “I know I already touched on Skyline Festival in one of the previous questions, but I will say a couple more things because it really was such a great start to the year. That was my first gig of the year which was the end of February, and damn, let me tell yah it was something else. I was absolutely honored to be given the chance to play the closing slot at that stage, and I remember feeling a bit nervous because I was playing at the same time as Carl Cox and Klangkuenstler and wasn’t sure if many people would be at my set lol. But pretty much right as I started I had a full crowd and the energy was high!. Had so much fun, truly a highlight of this year so far. For those who don’t know, RE/FORM is a huge techno event in LA and I was beyond hyped to be asked to open up the main stage at this year’s Spring edition. Getting to set the tone for the night right before Lucia Lu felt major and I’m so grateful for that experience. Big shoutout also to WORK (6AM and Synthetik Minds) and Dirty Epic! These crews are the ones who came together and created RE/FORM and they indeed keep the techno scene alive and well in LA.”

Are there any other nights you also try to keep an eye out on attending too? Or any other local LA artists that you feel are putting LA on the map? “Oh yes, 110%! Some of my all time favorite parties in LA to attend are Lights Down Low, Fast At Work, Tunnel, Warp Mode, 900 Block, Midnight Lovers, Evar Records, Into The Woods, and so many more. We’re insanely lucky to have so many amazing parties and collectives in LA putting people on with diverse, one of a kind lineups. Ahhh there’s so many amazing local LA artists that are putting LA on the map right now, but to name a few, Carré, Danny Goliger, Marie Nyx, Maude Vôs, John Bryars, Samwise, Ladies of Leisure, Annika Wolfe, Pilo, Monsieur Frazier, Mesmé, Star Eyes, Bianca Oblivion, Mapamota, Trax Unit, Anna Morgan, Selective Response and the list goes on and on and on haha. So much greatness coming out of LA, truly!”

I did notice a lot of these events usually have TBC – Address or undisclosed location on them. Is there a reason for that or is it because a lot of these events end up being in warehouses? Is LA set up in a way that warehouses are the more preferred locations for these events rather than night clubs? “Yeah, I would say most of our underground parties in LA are warehouse parties. Unfortunately, our nightclub culture in LA isn’t necessarily the best in my opinion. There’s just not enough diversity on the lineups and I think the bookers could be diving much deeper. But at the end of the day, those who throw our beloved underground parties here know what’s up and bring out such sensational talent. These are usually the spaces that feel safe for LGBTQ+ folks as well, which is really important to me as a fellow queer woman.”

I absolutely loved your ‘Ascending EP’ and it was great to hear you working in jungle/drum and bass BPM territory, as well as that amazing downtempo version of one of the tracks. Did you go into this EP as a kind of challenge to yourself in working within those parameters? “Thank you! I had such a great time creating that EP for my good friends over at Delusional Records. And it’s definitely always a bit challenging working on breakbeat/jungle tracks, especially since I don’t produce that type of sound constantly, but I always love a challenge and learning new ways to chop up breaks. I actually tend to DJ a lot of breaks and jungle in my sets, so producing my own creations within these genres felt immensely fulfilling on a creative level during that time. When it comes to producing, I don’t really like being put in a box and I always want to feel the freedom to create anything I’m in the mood to make at that very moment.

Have the tools you’ve used mainly always been the same? Or have you had to rethink the way you produce your music as you’ve learned more and maybe bought more gear? “I’m currently very in the box when it comes to producing, but I would love to have tons of fun gear to play on eventually. But at the moment I use Ableton Live, Push, a couple of Arturia keyboards, Behringer TD-3, and I have tons of plug-ins that I love to use in almost all of my productions. When I produce, I try to learn something new each time to really spice things up and make things interesting that way I don’t get bored with the same creative workflows that I’m used to doing. Whether that be learning some new, fresh tips on getting a bit more edgy and punchier with my drums, getting more creative with sound design, or exploring all of the amazing new features in Live 12. Something I really want to focus on though is getting to know my plug-ins a bit better. I have so many that I enjoy using but don’t really know all the ins and outs of each one, so that will most likely be a huge production goal for myself this year. That’s the best part about production honestly, the amount of things you can learn is endless.”

You’ve got a yet to be announced new EP coming out on a special label soon. Without giving too much away can you tell us a little bit about the sounds explored for this one? Ahhh yes I’m so excited for this EP to finally be out in the world, very very soon hehe. It’s going to be my biggest one yet, and I’m extremely proud of myself for the work that I’ve done with these tracks. I’ve been beyond inspired by the new wave of progressive, trancey/housey stuff that’s been coming out lately, and right now on a production level, that’s what I’m loving to make and that’s the overall direction I went in for this specific project. Also, to be releasing this EP on one of my favorite artist’s labels feels so surreal and I’m just incredibly hyped that they loved the tracks when I first sent them out and saw the vision. There’s an insanely badass remix on the EP also from another artist that I really look up to, and it’s just a major pinch me moment honestly haha. It’s a body of work that I’m extremely happy with and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it!

In your view, what defines a good DJ set? Are there artists who consistently embody these qualities? Could you share a recent memorable experience watching another artist perform? “To truly define a good DJ set is a bit tricky, because I feel like there are so many different directions an artist can go in to make a DJ set really pop off in its own unique way. But one thing I love is when you can tell a DJ took the time to dig deep for some sexy, powerful track IDs to share with the crowd. I always take it upon myself to look for new music before each gig I play, I find it very important to spice up my sets in that way so I really respect when other artists do the same. It creates such awesome moments playing tracks that tons of people in the crowd may not know yet and you can tell everyone is just like damn, what track is this?! Haha. Those are some of my favorite moments when I’m dancing in the crowd, personally. Or when a DJ set has a bit of nostalgic IDs from the 90’s/00’s here and there. It’s fun because you know they took the time to rip these records from their record collection most likely which is pretty epic in my opinion. What’s key to me though when behind the decks is making sure to show up as your most authentic self, and letting that guide you throughout the journey of your set. One of my most memorable experiences recently was seeing Shanti Celeste b2b Peach at Dekmantel last August. They closed out the new Radar stage on the very last night and let me tell you, those two hours gave me the absolute chills. I was blown away by their chemistry together behind the decks and how perfect that moment was. The track selection was so captivating and the energy in the crowd was indescribable. I think about that set often and luckily it was recorded, so I watch it on YouTube all the time lol. Another set that completely blew me away recently was Succubass at Fast At Work in LA. It was my first time ever seeing her play and I swear that was set was such a breath of fresh air. So many track IDs I’ve never heard before and she created such a unique experience that night on the dance floor. My friends and I were losing our minds haha.”

How does music fit into your daily routine? Do you regularly listen to music or search for new records? How do you focus your intentions and craft, and how distinct are your roles as a producer, DJ, and music enthusiast? “Music is always a part of my day. Whether that be while I’m working, at the gym, deep cleaning the apartment, cooking a meal, etc. I love throwing on records while I’m home, especially my “The Best of Sade” vinyl. Such a gem. I have my moments when I’m digging for new music throughout the week and will listen to tons of SoundCloud mixes, scroll through Bandcamp, or watch some sets on YouTube. I also love listening to tons of RnB and Hip-Hop, Indie Alternative, Downtempo, and Ambient. Listening to more so mellowed out chill stuff throughout the week is ideal since I’m always out and about during the weekend going out to shows or playing gigs. When it comes to my role as a producer, I often try to go into each session with a goal in mind, but I won’t let myself get entirely consumed by that goal. I just like to use the goal as a technique to help guide myself so I don’t get lost in whatever I’m working on with no direction. This is mainly because when I work on music, I am most of the time always working toward finalizing my next EP. With DJ’ing, most of the intention is during my music prep before each gig. I spend hours and hours digging for new music and then forming a playlist of about 100-150 tracks that I know will create the vibe I want to showcase for that specific set. I usually will pick the track I’m going to open my set with and the track I would like to close my set with, and then everything else in between is whatever direction I feel like going in. It makes each set its own unique adventure.”

Can you tell us about three albums that a) define you getting into electronic music in general, b) maybe a midway album when you were fully invested in DJing and and c) a recent album that you’ve especially enjoyed? And what made these albums so special at the time.

1) Ahh wow it’s actually pretty hard to just pick one album that got me into electronic music, but I’d say “Sirens of the Sea” by Above and Beyond and Oceanlab and “Fire and Ice” by Kaskade were two of the most influential albums for me when I first started getting into electronic music in my teenage years. I’ve always been a major trance head from the very beginning haha.

2) Rare, Forever by Leon Vynehall- such an inspiring album from start to finish. I remember when I first gave the whole album a listen, it immediately made me want to jump up and make some music. It’s just one of those creations that has so many different sounds to offer to the listener and I absolutely love that. Also, the album artwork is chefs kiss haha. Also, Lovers Rock by Sade. That’s my all time favorite album and artist. I even got “Lovers Rock” tattooed on my neck lol. A couple of other albums I really love are Blonde by Frank Ocean and The Love Movement by A Tribe Called Quest. The track “Find A Way” on that album is one of my favorite tracks ever.

3) My most recent favorite album is “Red Moon In Venus” by Kali Uchis. There truly isn’t one song on that album that I dislike. It’s a masterpiece. She has the most effortless, beautiful voice. I actually got to see her perform that album live at Coachella last year with my partner and one of our best friends which was a lovely moment because all three of us equally appreciate the album so much. I think it was the only thing I listened to for about 3 months straight which is pretty crazy haha.

What sort of other hobbies or interests do you have outside of electronic music? Are there any books, films, shows or other things you’ve seen or been reading/watching that you might want to share? “Lately I’ve been really about my health and fitness, so I try to get a daily sweat sesh in during the work week. I also love cooking! Luckily I have the luxury of working at home so I have plenty of time to cook myself some healthy, nutritious meals at least a couple times a day. I find it very therapeutic. For any of my foodie/chef heads out there, Next Level Chef is one of the best cooking shows ever. I highly recommend! I haven’t been reading much lately, but I definitely want to get back into it. Some of my favorite books I’ve ever read are The Alchemist, The Mastery of Love, and the current book I’m reading is one that most people know, The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin.”

Could you describe the process of creating this mix? Was there a specific message or feeling you wanted to convey? “I wanted to showcase some tunes I’m really loving right now and throw that into a “peak time energy” type of vibe. I love so many different sounds, so it was a bit hard to decide what direction I wanted to go in for this one. It even took me around 7ish takes to get this mix just right haha. But I ultimately felt like the track selection I chose for this mix is a pretty solid example of where my artistry is currently at. Of course, that’s ever evolving, but right now I enjoy creating a fast-paced, clubby, energetic atmosphere within my live Dj sets, and that’s what I wanted to present within this mix. I may have also started the mix with a track from my upcoming EP.. hehehe ;)”

Last, usual question from us, what was the last thing to put a big smile on your face and when was the last time you had a proper dance? “Driving back home from the gym the other day I was blasting “Linger” by The Cranberries in my car with the windows down and it was a beautiful sunny day in LA and I couldn’t help but have the biggest smile on my face in that moment. It was such a feel good moment. I’ve had quite a few proper dances recently, but I think my favorite recent experience which is one I already mentioned in a previous question was during Succubass’ set at Fast At Work. What an otherworldly experience that was.”

Etari: Soundcloud, Instagram, Bandcamp, Resident Advisor

Photos 1, 2, 3 & 4 by Haley Busch

You can download Truancy Volume 328: Etari in 320 kbps and view the full tracklist on Patreon here. Your support helps cover all our costs and allows Truants to continue running as a non-profit and ad-free platform. Members will receive exclusive access to mixes, tracklists, and discounts off future merchandise. If money is tight however and you’re desperately after any ID, please leave us a comment over on the Soundcloud link and either us or Etari will get back to you :)


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