What So Not Interview - Good Energy

Meet What So Not, one of Australia’s biggest electronic music exports. With the release of his Not All The Beautiful Things LP, What So Not has toured around the world, performing at a multitude of festivals, and headline shows. We had a chat with Chris Emerson (Emoh) the legend behind the What So Not project about his monumental career, collaborating, performing, new music and his forthcoming appearance at Laneway Festival.

Futuremag Music: How’s life on your end?

What So Not: Hahha, crazy! 2018 was one of the most extreme years of my life. I released Not All The Beautiful Things, and did 150 shows in 47 countries. It’s been awesome going to all these different places I haven’t been before. Trying to stay afloat is a challenge but I still get some time off to enjoy life with friends and family with everything going on. I also wrote a whole lot of new music, and finished some of it off.


Futuremag Music: Throwing it back to the beginning, can you talk us through your career over the years?

What So Not: This is the funny thing, when I was younger my goal was to play a Thursday night party at the local pub down the road from my house in Sydney. I knocked that one out pretty quick, so I’ve come to the point now where I’m not going to set goals, because goals are limiting everything you possibly could do. Sometimes when you complete a goal you become complacent, I think it’s better to just to keep pushing and keep going. Try to achieve the absolute maximum possible.

That’s the funny thing, because that’s what my album’s title was about. “Not All The Beautiful Things” how we strive for these larger goals and ambitions but we just forget about everything along the way. Everything that surrounds us, the people, moments and experiences are the most beautiful things to embrace and look out for. I’ve taken that concept on in my life, and I highly recommend everyone to try do it as well.

Futuremag Music: Talking about Not All The Beautiful Things, can you outline how you met up with all your collaborators and constructed the album?

What So Not: It was very organic, stressful, and a heap of fun. There was a lot of good energy around the process. I was touring around the world and had bits and pieces of music I wrote, so I took some time off to compile everything together. I did writing camps in a bunch of different place, and jumped into studios around the world and embraced the different countries I was in. I met so many different and interesting people. A lot of it was just collaborators and myself crossing paths, then jumping into the studio together having fun and jamming out. Pretty much every track came together like that.

Futuremag Music: How do you translate your studio recordings into a live performance?

What So Not: I’ve been DJing for about 11 years now, and it’s a scene that comes in waves, depending on where the industry is, where your career is, where you’re playing and a whole lot of other factors. The greatest thing about 2018 was being able to do my first live show. The moment I did that and started investing a bunch of time and energy into building that, DJing became very exciting and different again. By developing this live show, I feel we’ve created something that’s right for the stage, and interesting with the audience. A live show has given me the freedom to experiment with DJing again. 

It’s interesting how the DJing culture has changed, when I started it was about playing the weirdest and coolest thing you found in a small dark room, and it seemed to evolve into some star who needed to be lit on stage with hands in the air. Where DJing is now, is very different to what I think it’s be about. DJing for me is now the afterparty scene, where I play stuff that I love, and I’ve found. A lot of the time the best music is created by young artists in their bedrooms who push the boundaries of the genres and scenes. It’s was a really great year for me to fall back in love with things that I felt were becoming stale due to the changing nature of the scene.

Futuremag Music: You were saying you play tracks from smaller bedroom producers. Could you give us some names to look out for?

What So Not: The best people who can help you find great music is the local DJ. They’re the ones who play week in and week out at a venue in a particular scene. They’re playing their own music along with music they’ve found each week. It’s all very niche and specific which offers me variety and insight to different communities. I’m lucky to meet a lot of these people and have them on email, so I can just hit them up to find artists who’ve I’ve never heard of. These people are doing things that evolve and push the music scene forward.

I found this one artist, his name is OLSWEL and I’ve been opening my set with my edit of his edit of an MIA song. Another person to look out for is William. From Sydney. They’re both making really interesting stuff, and I can’t wait to see them succeed.

Futuremag Music: You’re playing at Laneway Festival early next year. What are you looking forward to about playing on the festival circuit?

What So Not: I love Laneway Festival! I’ve known Danny and Claire from the festival for many years, and it’s so cool to be playing it in 2019. I’m amped to get onto it, go around the country and play a bunch of new music. Now the album has been out for some time, I feel people have some familiarity around it, so it’ll be fun to flip some of those ideas and present them in a new way for the tour. 

Futuremag Music: A funny one to wrap it up. If ‘What So Not’ was a cocktail what would be in it to best describe yourself and your music?

What So Not: Hahah oh man this is tricky… Um, I’m not much a cocktail drinker myself but I’m going to say a bunch of things that will taste horrible together. Maybe it’s a neon, glow in the dark, maccha martini with espresso. It’s kinda earthy but it has some caffeine for energy.

Futuremag Music: Amazing! Thanks so much for the chat!

What So Not: It was fantastic, see you at Laneway!