Written by Rachel Bessman
In the past year, EDM has been experiencing a face-lift of sorts. There has been a resurgence of house music – some new subgenres of which we’ve never heard before – and dubstep seems to be fading away more and more. The convergence of EDM with mainstream, dance, and instrumental music reminds me – as a longtime fan of electronica – of the Baltimore and Philly dance parties of yesteryear.
Pretty Lights has had tremendous success with this symbiotic mixture of music for the better part of a decade now, and we see artists like The Chainsmokers and Zhu taking over the airwaves more and more these days.
Atlanta raised 24-year-old Armond Arabshahi – known as Unlike Pluto – has harnessed his ability to seamlessly integrate all kinds of music in a fluid and enthralling way, and has been steadily gaining fans – his soundcloud now boasting nearly 90,000 followers. Represented by Mad Decent – a collaborative label responsible for solidifying mainstream fame for DJs like Diplo and Dillon Francis, Unlike Pluto offers a refreshing taste of electronic music that EDM fans will do well to follow in this coming year.
I had the pleasure of catching up with Armond after he played a killer set, sampling everything from TLC to System Of A Down, at this years Euphoria Festival in Austin, TX. We talked about how he found his way from Emo to EDM, what’s wrong with Iran, how rich people who don’t help the poor suck, and why JK Rowling is unequivocally inspirational.
Rachel: How long have you been playing music?
Armond: I’ve been making music un-professionally since I was thirteen, and I started getting into EDM when I was like nineteen or twenty.
R: Did you play any instruments when you were younger?
A: Yes – I played guitar, drums, piano. I sing and did hand percussion and stuff. Oh, and the clarinet, oddly enough.
R: So what led you into EDM?
A: Well, I was in a lot of bands – emo bands – and I hated dealing with drummers. And I’m not disrespecting drummers in general, it’s just the ones I had experience with were horrible. They didn’t show up for practice, they’d be late for studio sessions and stuff, and I was like, “dude, I hate this”. So I started making beats and working with singers by myself, so I had full control.
R: Who would you say are your biggest influences?
A: Damon Albarn. And JK Rowling.
R: Well that’s quite a combo.
A: JK Rowling because of, like, her story – her back story. And I just think how she created a whole f***ing world and made it a multibillion dollar industry. It’s like our whole childhood, know what I mean?
R: What Hogwarts house would you be in?
A: Hufflepuff. ‘Cause it doesn’t get enough love, ya know? They puff too. They puff in Hufflepuff.
R: You pull from a lot of different genres and artists in your music. If you could pick only three artists to listen to, who would they be?
A: Recent music?
R: Any music. Beethoven if you like.
A: Okay. The Moody Blues – Nights in White Satin is such a good song. That’s the first band I ever got into actually. Anything Gorrilaz – anything by them. And… last one’s kinda hard… I guess I’d say an emo band – maybe Underoath. I actually saw them in LA two days ago.
R: How was that?
A: Oh I didn’t see them live, I saw them at a restaurant and I was too scared to say hi! I didn’t know what to do. That band changed my life when I was like thirteen/fourteen.
R: So you just had a total fanboy moment?
A: Yeah, definitely.
R: What are you going to do tonight now that you’re offstage?
R: Can you tell me about your parents and your multicultural upbringing?
A: I’m part French and Iranian. My dad lived in Paris for twenty years. Didn’t teach me French though. Both of my parents speak French and Farsi. But I don’t speak either. My mom is from Iran, she left during the revolution. Most of my relatives f***ing left that s**t. I just – I want to write a movie script on my mom’s story. It’s insane. Like, have you seen the movie Argo? Okay, so, the f***ed up s**t that happened in that movie was not even close to how bad it was. I’ve never been there. I want to go, but my mom won’t let me. It’s just so f***ed up there. It’s so behind the times. I mean, come on, a theocratic government? Chill out guys… there is so much genocide happening everywhere that people don’t even know about.
R: If you could gain something from your fame and popularity as it continues to grow, would you like to utilize that in a humanitarian way?
A: I want to do everything. I want to build homeless shelters, schools – everything. My mom is really into that. She’s a nurse practitioner and is always involved in the community. So, I definitely want to help. I’m not at that stage yet, but when I am, I totally just want to give back. I think people who don’t do that – I kind of look down on them, to be honest. It’s a pretty dick move. Like, what are you going to do, buy a mansion in the hills and then you’ll be happy? When someone can’t eat in this world, but you’re just going to sit there? You don’t need that mansion, man.
Local Jamwich area fans can also catch him on his Everything Black tour on May 18th at U Street Music Hall in DC, tickets available here.