From the 29th floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel to a packed El Rey Ballroom, Jared McFarlin aka Party Thieves is all smiles. Ringing in the new year with a sold-out show in Chicago, the 23 year old West Point United States Military Academy athlete-turned-musician is closing out on the most successful year of his career with a bang.
From touring around the world to dropping some of the biggest records of the year, Party Thieves helped redefine and shape the landscape of trap music in 2015. Yet armed with his loyal #TheftArmy following the New York producer isn’t just rocking shows; he’s starting a movement. With a debut EP slated for spring release as well as star-studded collaborations on the way, Party Thieves is more than ready to dominate the scene yet again in 2016.
We had the opportunity to sit down with the man himself to talk Theft Army, the state of trap music, and future projects in this exclusive Run the Trap interview. Take a look inside the world of Party Thieves below and stay tuned for his “Origin” Buygore release with JayKode on January 22nd. -Max Chung
RTT: Happy New Year! What accomplishment from 2015 are you most proud of?
Party Thieves: Definitely the Australia and New Zealand leg of the Theft Army tour. Being able to go overseas and receive the kind of love and support that I did was absolutely crazy. The shows were nuts. Both of those countries have an amazing music culture so being able to play those shows was definitely my highlight of the year.
Speaking of highlights you’re ending the year with a Mad Decent release. How’d that collaboration with B-sides come together and how did the label pick it up?
I worked with a lot of different artists when I was out in LA earlier this year. Basically B-Sides and I just went into the studio for five days straight and knocked out the track. We made about 10-15 different versions, sent it to Mad Decent, and played the waiting game with labels like you always do and the rest is history.
You’ve got a lot of releases lined up for 2016. Walk us through what you’ve been working on and what you’re most excited to drop.
I have a lot of different tracks dropping this year, the first being a JayKode collab “Origin” coming out on Buygore on January 22nd. After that it’s a pretty open schedule, I don’t like to lock too many things down just because I make a lot of music and always have a lot of collaborations going on. But we have a general schedule as well, we’re looking to drop a single every month then release the Undrafted EP probably around April or so. As far as collaborations go be on the look out for ones with Flosstradamus, Stooki Sound, UZ, Mako, and more.
The name Undrafted seems to be inspired from your military background at West Point. What’s the symbolism behind naming your debut EP this?
It ties into a few different things, the first obviously from me attending West Point United States Military Academy. I didn’t, unfortunately, get the chance to commission into the army so this is kind of my statement saying that while I might be undrafted in that sense, I now have this new world I’m entering or being ‘drafted’ into. Being my first solo release, it’s making a statement saying that this is the start of the draft, this is the true beginning to the Party Thieves project. I also call my fans “Theft Army,” so it ties into that as well.
What does it mean to be apart of Theft Army?
Theft Army is an idea and a culture. It’s an open environment recognizing why we’re all doing this – for the love of the music. It’s not about Party Thieves itself. It’s not about me. That’s why Party Thieves is plural. It’s one person, but it’s about the movement. It’s about the music. That’s why I keep in plural. As a whole we’re all party thieves.
Collaboration seems to be an integral part of Party Thieves. What is it about collaborating that’s important to you as a musician?
Sometimes people throw shade on collaborations because they don’t really know who produced what. But I love collaborating, you just learn so much. This year I really focused on collabs because I wanted to learn and grow as a producer. I know my way around the studio, but I haven’t been producing for 10-15 years like some of these other guys have. Having the opportunity to see another artist’s workflow and style is invaluable in becoming a better musician.
Speaking of collabs you’re also apart of the Lazy Boyz trio. What does this side project mean to you artistically, how does it differ from Party Thieves?
It’s hard because I don’t want people to think of Lazy Boyz as a side project, I just want it to be it’s own entity. It’s myself, a guy named Trevor from LA, and another guy Aaron my good friend from Canada. Being a collaborative project the workflow is completely different. The inspiration comes from the trap side of things but it’s a lot more open. With Party Thieves I’ve been doing trap trap and trap, but for Lazy Boyz it could be future bass, it could be house, or anything in between.
How do you see the current state of trap music and where it’s going in the future?
Trap is always evolving, that’s the thing. I started the Party Thieves project in October of 2013 so it’s been a little over two years now. When I started the project, there were people saying “trap is dead.” Fast-forward two years later and it’s probably the second biggest mainstream genre in EDM right now. And I think, again, it’s because it’s evolving. From the NGHTMRE’s to the Ookay’s there are always artists evolving the genre. The sound now is a lot different than the trap sound last year or even six months ago. With trap you have the most ability to expand as far as your sound. House music is house music, but trap can really be anything. That’s why I love trap, there’s no rules.
For someone who hasn’t seen you before, what should they expect from a typical Party Thieves set?
To sweat! (laughs) I’m gonna be working it. I go through about 50-60 songs in a set. I don’t play a lot of breakdowns. It’s all buildup, drop, buildup, drop. I’ll squeeze in a breakdown every once in a while but it’s all just really high energy. Full throttle the whole hour.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for aspiring producers in 2016?
I always live by: “Work smarter, not harder.” You can work and grind day in and day out, which you should be doing anyways, but for me it’s like, “how can I make the best moves, work in the best space, and stick out more than the guy next to me?” There’s so much talent in the market. It’s not hard to start producing. Obviously you want to have fun with it, but it’s really about making the smartest moves that will boost you career in the best direction.
Record of the year?
You’re in charge of curating your own “Party Thieves Festival.” Who’s headlining?
NGHTMRE, Major Lazer, and Quix.
Any last words for the Theft Army and RTT fans?
Shoutout to Run the Trap and my fans for all the support. I plan to keep doing my thing and kill it as much as I can for you guys!