Hayden Kramer – aka Herobust – has been dropping masterfully crafted bangers for as long as we can remember, but we’ve yet to see a music video from the young ‘vertebreaker’ until now. Directed by J Anders Urmacher, the visuals for ‘Move Mint’ (one of the heaviest records off the Atlanta producer’s latest EP) embodies the raw energy of the original as lively dancers and creative animations intertwine throughout the piece. And while the song is clearly designed for the festival main stage, Herobust makes it clear there’s more than what meets the eye:
“So yeah, this song is disguised as another “everybody jump” banger, but it really is more than that. Beneath the surface, Move Mint is about the power we possess. Not individually, but together. Whether your cause is affecting a sincere initiative, or merely supporting what you love, togetherness is the key to making an impact. So don’t dwell on our differences. Let the focus be on whatever brings you together. And let that be your movement. ” – Hayden Kramer (Herobust)
Check out the visuals for ‘Move Mint’ and read up on our exclusive interview with the man himself below as we talk hip-hop influence, Vertebreaker, touring + more.
Herobust – Move Mint [Music Video] | Purchase
As I’m sure some people don’t know, on your last two projects – I’m Aloud and Vertebreaker – you’ve rapped on just about every track. With these two EP’s under your belt do you see yourself developing as an actual vocalist or rapper at all? Or do you look at it more of just a method you use, as a producer, to add flavor and uniqueness to your tracks and don’t see it going further than that in the future?
Herobust: Where it’s stemming from isn’t necessarily me feeling the need to become a rapper or anything, it’s actually me feeling the need to reintroduce hip-hop and rap vibes back into bass music. When trap first hit the scene its roots were very clearly in dirty south hip-hop, but as time has gone on everybody will admit the trap sound has become more dubstep-y. I want to bring that rap emphasis back because I think that vibe is so cool and unique – the way it’s straddled between two different worlds.
So if I’m Aloud represented this encouragement for experimentation and embracing weirdness, what were you trying to do with Vertebreaker?
It‘s me exploring all of the nuances that make me different as an individual, but also heightening that emphasis on hip-hop like we discussed. I’m Aloud had the same kind of weird sounds I’m known for (the ‘Busted’ sound) but the vocals were just hooks. They played a lot like samples, which is why a lot of people probably didn’t know it was me rapping on them. So for the next EP, because I was just feeling that deficiency of actual hip-hop and rap in the scene, I was like… I need hooks but I want verses now too. So when you listen to ‘Dirt Heater Tea’ and ‘Move Mint,’ there’s actual 16 bar verses there, so the tracks are practically rap music at this point.
Where do you think your sound is going next?
Where I think I’m headed is a place where I can do both of those things – rap and dance – and not necessarily even in the same song. Don’t be surprised if Herobust drops a rap song where it’s me on the hook and then Denzel Curry and Travis Scott on the verses. I think what Carnage is doing is really cool. I don’t have the affinity for festival house quite like he does, but I think there is definitely room to do that in a bass music arena where I can make dubstep or trap but also put out rap bangers, where the crowd appreciates all of it.
What I think gets overshadowed sometimes in your production is how talented you are with melodies too. Tracks like ‘Just Dawn Hue’ or your Broccoli remix are great examples. Is this a route you want to continue pursuing?
Most of my fans are more fixated on the super hard stuff, but I’ve made a conscious effort to include at least one of those songs on every EP just to keep that vibe within my repertoire. I don’t want to come out with something melodic and have people be like “well that came out of nowhere,” so I feel like it’s important to have a diverse catalog where it leaves a lot of options open. I’m not gonna lie to you and say I’m fully in control of what I’m making and where I’m taking a project though. A lot of the time inspiration hits and I just take it towards that direction. So if that means my next EP is like, ambient music for example, then that’s what it is. But honestly, I feel like I enjoy making everything and being well-rounded.
I know you came up producing downtempo, Flying Lotus type of stuff. Do you ever feel the desire to return to those roots you had in production, maybe with a side project or something?
I wouldn’t say that I want to go back to that. Recently I was on a plane that got delayed and I literally ran out of stuff to listen to on my phone, so I just played all that old stuff and had really forgotten how much I enjoyed it. Listening to your old music is like reading a diary. There are times when I think maybe later in life when I’m done with bass music I’ll try “this or that”, but by no means does that mean moving backward. My favorite artists in my life have grown and evolved, they’ve done something once, done it really well and then moved on.
Who are your favorite artists?
If you look at Outkast, they did dirty south hip hop, then delved into future funk, then they got like super spacey with… I don’t even know what you would call it. Artists can evolve, but sometimes you evolve so much that you alienate your fan base. Guys like Radiohead and Skrillex are other good examples. You do one thing, you do it well, then you move on. It’s not even about having a goal or ‘pursuing relevance’ – if you have that creative bug, once you do something, you did it. Doing it again is not creating again. For me personally, I’m always going to change. If you’ve been listening to me for a couple years you know I will continue to innovate and progress as an artist.
How was the Vertebreaker Tour, and for someone who hasn’t seen you yet, what can they expect from a typical Herobust set?
The Vertebreaker tour was amazing! I played in Australia last year and this time around was just as great. New Zealand was amazing. I had never played India or China before and both were incredible. China was especially wild, I really just loved it man. To go to the other side of the world like that and see that you have fans is wild. People ask me how that feels and honestly, I tell them I don’t know because it’s so unbelievable I really just haven’t grasped it yet. As far as what to expect from a set: the way I see it, if you know my music you understand I’m not making generic stuff. It’s very distinct. You tend to know a Herobust song when you hear it pretty quickly. But when you see me live on a festival lineup for example, the way I think of it is – you’ve got your pitcher who has his fastball and he’s got his off speed. And he’s got his occasional curve or his slider. On the festival bill, I feel like I’m the curveball. Most artists when they play my songs, it’s like the three or four you play that are risky, because they’re different and expresses that you’re willing to go a little weirder and take that risk. So my set is exactly where I want to be honestly, because I feel like I attract the more open-minded of the fans. I pride myself on trying to bring new ideas.
So on that concept of new ideas, I know a lot of people love your sound design and that’s part of what makes your music so unique – so for all those producers out there reading this interview, what advice would you give them for making their own sounds that are unique and super large sounding?
I wouldn’t worry about ‘large sounding,’ that’s all mixing. The distinction and individuality of your sound will just come with experimenting. If you’re starting point is emulating something that’s already been done, then you need to scrap it and start over. When I’m in production mode I stay off Soundcloud, I don’t listen to anything because I’m not really in control of what influences and inspires me. Just isolate yourself and really just explore your own preferences.
If you use samples for your risers, samples for your 808s, and presets for your leads than what you’ve done is written a song, but you’re not applying your preferences to all those different sounds. Whereas if I make my riser from scratch, make my 808 from scratch, I have a preference. An 808 can sound like this, it can sound like that, and you can decide ‘I like it right here’. It’s unique and collectively my preferences have been applied to every aspect of the song, and by the end, I don’t know how it’s gonna sound but because I have my preferences applied to every aspect of it, it comes out sounding super unique.
Right, as opposed to throwing Cymatics presets on everything.
Yes, but that being said all those presets are really cool for people to reverse engineer and learn how to do it. But it’s like the difference between if you were to decorate a home and chose every single piece, versus buying a prefab home and just doing the rugs and the curtains, you know what I mean? That’s what a song is when it’s all presets and samples and you’ve only done a few things by hand. Your perspective as an interior decorator will not come across just from the fucking rug or the curtain, but if you’ve picked everything in there throughout the whole house and someone takes a tour they’re like, “Wow I get your style, it’s different. Maybe it’s not what I like – maybe it is what I like – but I understand what your style is.”
So just putting more of your own artistic style to it
Yeah everybody has different preferences. If you give a hundred people a guitar for the first time and say, “You have an hour. Make a song, gun to your head,” you come back in an hour and they’ve all made vastly different songs. So there’s no way that you should be able to give people computers and all the plethora of possibilities by this crazy technology and all of a sudden all of our songs sound the fucking same, that’s insane. But I understand execution develops as you’re learning. So first, even just playing guitar, first you play what you can play. Then as you get better and better you start playing what you want to play. So first you’re producing what you can, you make the best song you can. Maybe you’ve got a great hardstyle preset pack so the best song you can make is a hardstyle song. So you make the hardstyle song, but deep down maybe you really want to make deep house or whatever. See what I mean? You make what you can until you get the knowledge to make what you want. It’s a process and anyone who’s looking down on these young producers who are learning and saying, “Oh you’re just deluding the scene or whatever”, is not really being fair because they’re just learning and making whatever they can at the moment. The difference between now and music in the past is, if you were the Rolling Stones you weren’t browsing all of the garage practice sessions of beginning bands you know? But on Soundcloud with all the crazy reposting that’s been going on, I find a ton of artists who are amazingly talented but only have like, 200 followers. But also necessarily I find all the small ones that are still trying to find themselves. Sometimes you see artists that get really caught up in like this and that and young producers need to be doing this and not that, they’re really just reacting to the fact that they’re kinda being forced to listen to all these garage bands trying to find themselves you know? And I know for me I say when I’m producing I totally don’t listen to Soundcloud at all because I don’t want that influencing me. I don’t need that. The weirdness that I fuck with, I just want to shut everything off and explore that.
So tell me about the Move Mint video- what can we expect from that and how does that fit into the whole Herobust image and brand and everything?
So the music video for “Move Mint”, which has me rapping on it, that portion of the video will be like a hip-hop video, we’re going for that type of vibe. We want everyone to know this is for people who have an appreciation for hip-hop and bass music. The premise of the song is kind of expressing frustration, but also the belief that unity is very powerful. So that will be expressed. It’ll have a nod to political and riot type stuff but again, still very much a hip hop vibe. I think it’s the right time for something like that, for people to really receive the message because there’s a lot of frustration these days.
So I saw on Soundcloud you had some crazy b2b with 5 other producers on Holy Ship which got me curious – what’s been your best b2b moment?
It was me, Ookay, Getter, Jauz, Kayzo, and Slushii was there also. That was amazing. That may have been the most fun b2b because it’s Holy Ship and everyone is partying… we were so drunk (laughs). The vibe was just awesome. Also when you play a 5 + hour set, since we’re all bass music acts people just assume that’s all we appreciate and all we play. But when a set is that long you aren’t just gonna play bangers all day. So we had an opportunity to play some deep house, some ‘pool vibes’ type of stuff and show a different side of what we like to DJ for a lot of people who really didn’t know us for that. As far as b2bs that I’ve really enjoyed, I’ve loved playing with G Jones. I thought that was a really cool vibe because he and I have been fucking with each other musically for a long time, but our fans are totally different groups of people. So it was a cool experience where I’ve aggregated a like-minded group of people, he’s aggregated a like-minded group of people, and they get to see, “Oh I understand why he likes his shit”. So that was pretty cool. I had a bunch of shows with Ookay this year and I’ll say he’s been really really fun to play with, man. He’s such a funny guy, he’s such a character. Because of that a lot of people may not realize how skilled he is with the actual craft, but I can tell you man, he can DJ the gambit. So he was really really fun to play with.
Why should people care about Herobust?
Pfft, they don’t have to. (both laugh) I’m making this music for me. If you like it then that’s amazing and we can let this movement grow and we can share it with more people. But, you don’t have to. I’m doing this for me whether you’re listening or not.
If you were in charge of curating your own festival – Herobust whatever – what would be the 3 headliners?
I ask this to every artist, they’re always like ‘ugh’, so you would have to think about like who the crowd might want..
No I don’t. This is purely a selfish thing (laughs).
Okay perfect! It’s your festival man.
I don’t care if I sell zero tickets… am I paying for the festival?
Uh you’ve got it financed from Dubai.
Okay so I’ve hypothetically got it financed through Saudi Arabia..
Dead or alive too, any artist, three headliners. You can put yourself up there if you want.
Absolutely not. (both laugh) I’m gonna put Outkast on there. I’m gonna put James Brown on there. And.. shit I don’t know man. I’ve got rap covered, I’ve got live music covered. I definitely need some dance music. Uhm.. shit I don’t know I might put Aphex Twin on there. So basically I’m selling zero tickets (laughs). It’ll be like, just me there. It’ll be tight.
Any upcoming releases or collaborations you can tell us about?
Expect new singles. We’re definitely coming out with some hip hop tracks. Definitely coming out with some more trap and dub tracks. Honestly too many collabs to name. But the nature of the beast is you never know which ones are really gonna get finished, but I mean everything that’s in progress is fuckin’ ridiculous.
Any last words for Run the Trap fans or Herobust fans?
Just keep on supporting dope shit. You guys have been doing a good job of spotlighting really cool shit so far. And you know, just keep doing it for the culture man, keep that shit vibrant!
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