Starting out as a dummer in several bands, Jeff Montalvo has found his way into the booth, playing to huge crowds at festivals like TomorrowWorld and on tour with Krewella. He tells iHeartRadio, he's into viking metal, but he really launched his career in electronic music when he won a remix competition for Above & Beyond.
We caught up with Seven Lions after his set on the OWSLA stage at TomorrowWorld where he talked about having his song on a movie soundtrack, his favorite bands, where he got his name from, and being on a bus tour with Krewella. Check it out below:
How was playing on the OWSLA stage at TomorrowWorld? What did you like the best about it?
It was awesome, it was a good crowd, definitely. I could tell it was a 21 and over event for sure, because certain styles go over better depending on like age groups, but it was good. I liked being on an OWSLA stage because I get to see all my friends. It's really nice to show up and see The M Machine, and Kill Paris, and all the guys from that OWSLA team. So that's what I like generally.
Tell us about your newly released track "Strangers" with Myon & Shane 54?
I did a remix for Velveteen, which is actually Myon and Shane 54 and Aruna. And then we kind of started talking after that about doing a collaboration. And it took a while to actually get it going, but once we did, I think we both knew that it was going to be something good. So we worked really hard on it, finished the track, found Tove, and she came back with a top line that was just phenomenal. She nailed it.
That song is in the "Mortal Instrument: City of Bones" soundtrack. How do you feel about having a song of yours in a big picture like that?
It’s kind of trippy. I mean there’s a lot of stuff that I never thought would happen, so I never really thought about it. It’s not like it was a big goal of mine, it’s just something that’s kind of happened, and that I'm really excited about for sure. I could never have dreamed that it would be in a sound track or even on the radio. Like it’s actually been picked up by terrestrial radio. So you know, you’re in the car and a song that I did is on the radio. That’s just like something that’s just mind boggling to me.
You started off as a drummer bands. What were your band names?
Yep. Delmar was my, my original band name. Bullet to the Moon was another one. And this is really old stuff. I was in a lot of bands.
How did you go from being in bands to in the booth?
Well basically I just got tired of waiting for other people to make music. So I had a really hard time being in bands because I would always want to play music. And it’s really hard to get other people as motivated. So I found Fruity Loops and realized, "Hey I could make a whole song just by myself." It’s really interesting even though I didn't like electronic music, I just thought that that was cool. Like maybe one day it would be something that I liked. And then I got into industrial, and then I went to rave, and then I got into trance, and then really just dove into it.
What bands were you in to back then?
I'm still mainly in the bands to be honest. I don't listen to a lot of electronic music, but Opeth is like my favorite band of all time. I listen to a lot of Ensiferum, Wintersun, like viking metal. Like just the really heavy melodic stuff. Because that’s what I like. Even in my music I like heaviness and melody.
If you were a metal band, which one would you be?
Opeth for sure. The music they make has moved me in so many different ways.
You got involved with Above & Beyond through a competition, and you won the competition for "You Got To Go," how was that?
That was uh very unexpected for sure, because even now - Anjunabeats - they're very focused on one genre. I was just hoping to get like honorable mention maybe, but like winning it was just like... it was very unexpected. And I didn't realize how much it would change my life. I was really excited, and like "Hey yeah, this is cool." But not to the point where like, whoa this is going to launch a career that’s going to take me to where we are right now. I had no idea.
How has working with them been?
Its good. Honestly it’s hard not to fan boy out on those guys. Because like truly there’s only a few artists that I would just go... like that are legendary, just amazing. Above & Beyond, and Opeth, and there’s a few others. But not a lot. And it’s hard to contain myself. (Laughs) I feel really bad. I'm like, "do you know how much you changed my life?" You know what I mean? I feel like such a geek when I talk about it.
Where did you get your name?
It’s from a book. "Latro In The Mist." It’s a fantasy book. I like to read.
How’s the bus tour with Krewella going?
Its awesome. I love it. I hate flying, so it’s nice to just fall asleep on the bus and wake up in a new City. And it’s actually been really mellow, like the crew has been great. Krewella is awesome, Candyland is awesome. The funny thing that I never thought would happen is like, the bus kind of feels like home now. Like right now I'm away from home, but when I fly back to Canada and get back on that bus, I'll be like "Home." You know what I mean? It’s a weird feeling, but it’s pretty cool.
How is being with Krewella?
It’s great! They're actually really awesome, and really mellow. There pretty chill. It's nice. They're really talented too. We've been working on some music. I have my speakers and my whole set up in the back of the bus. So we're working on stuff.
What else are you working on?
A new EP. Basically all the music is done, and were just locking in the right vocalists. So there’s four tracks, and two of them are completely done. Two of them we’re still trying to find the right vocalist, and that’s really important to me because I want something unique. And not just to kind of like go to the same vocalist that everybody else is using. It has to be something that’s awesome, stands out for sure, and has style to it.
Is there anyone that you want to work with that you think stands out?
There’s a lot for sure. Like Imogen Heap, Sigur Rós, Ellie Goulding. Any kind of vocalist [that] when you hear them once, you’re like, "Oh I know who that is." Mumford and Sons, Of Monsters and Men, like when you hear it, you just know that’s who they are, and that’s really special. In a world that we live in, this EDM scene, where the songs are interchangeable, and they're just like trendy for a week, and then they're gone. I feel like it’s important to make something that stands out and will last for more than a month.
Photo Credit Katherine Tyler for iHeartRadio