Midnight Conspiracy stopped by the Chicago Music Magazine headquarters office in Chicago to speak with President and Editor in Chief Shawn Kellner about what they have coming up and also a look back at 2012.
Chicago Music Magazine(CMM): We’re here at our headquarters in Chicago with the guys from Midnight Conspiracy. Whats going on fellas?
MC: Not much, just wrapping up some songs that are coming out soon on Ultra records. Then we go back to touring.
CMM: Not bad for a saturday afternoon huh?
MC: Ya, I’m awake and conscious, so thats good thats a good start
CMM: Well, this has been an amazing year for you guys. From coming out on Ultra Records to live performances at spring awakening and the Congress Theater. I also think i saw you guys at the hob for an after party. How does it feel to be consistently growing the brand and consistently growing the group?
MC: It’s cool. It’s like when you get an ant farm, and you can just watch it slowly grow from the whole process. Except, I’m actually in the ant farm so i cant really watch myself, (Laughs) and i never had an ant farm, so i don’t really know what that analogy really means. But in theory, it’s awesome to watch ourselves expand and just see how far we’ve come over the last two years.
CMM: Maybe that will end up in some of your video stuff on stage like an eye with ants coming out of it or something?
MC: Ya, were going to be performing inside an ant farm next time. (Laughs). We’re always looking for new ideas for stage performance and the production.
CMM: That’s one of main things about Midnight Conspiracy that I’ve noticed, Is that you guys put a ton of time into your music, but you also put a ton of time into the visualization and just the creative thought that goes into putt on a live performance. How do you find the time to balance between those two things?
MC: Well, I come from an art design background. I used to own a print company and an art gallery in Chicago, so i focus on that stuff for the group. It’s kinda my passion.
CMM: You mentioned earlier that there may be a new eye coming. Can u tell us about it?
MC: Well, we spent the last year designing and tweaking and building the current eye. During that process we learned allot of things that we should have and could have done differently. So were in the process of designing something new. It’s not going to be another eye, but its going to be a similar take on something we’ve had already. It’s going to be called something else, but we don’t know yet, so its completely unnecessary to build a new stage show at this time, but I don’t know, you gotta do something with your time. The new setup is going to be a little more flight appropriate for getting around with. It’s also just going to have a cooler feel to it I feel like.
CMM: Cooler than the all knowing seeing eye? Whoa, I’m excited now.
MC: It might not even be cooler, It might just be different. It’s like the new girl you meet and are infatuated with because she’s different. Its going to be cooler (Laughs)
CMM: How many people go into putting on a mc show? Do you have the same crew you’ve worked with for a while? Or does that fluctuate?
MC: It fluctuates between just me and Michael and then, not just me and Michael. Most of the time its just me and him building this thing, Its crazy, sometimes if were doing a van tour we will bring some people with us who can help us. The main problem is that the eye is always changing. So no-one really knows how to build it except Michael and I.
CMM: No one gets the vision like you do?
MC: Not only that, but we keep changing the way its set up. We try to make it better every time.
The whole thing is DIY. I feel like most larger acts hire a production company to build and bring everything out. Since we don't do that, and were the ones that built and designed it, were kind of the only ones who know how to set it up. I mean, we could teach some people to do it, but its always changing so that would still be difficult.
CMM: Is that something that has become synonymous to your group? Like production wise when you show up to a venue and the production guys don't remember Midnight Conspiracy is for whatever reason mostly because they deal with so many acts that come through the venue, they end up remembering “Oh ya, You guys are the guys with the Eye” (Laughs)
MC: Ya, whats funny is, I think we did this in LA. We showed up to the venue really early and started setting up. We finished everything and left. When we got back the crew at the venue was like “Oh you guys are the ones performing (laughs) We thought you guys were the stage hands. ” I was like “ya man”. We do everything.
CMM: You guys mentioned your working on some new music. Can you tell us how has the new music changed from the stuff you have put out before? Are there some new ideas? Its kinda always conspicuous with the stuff you guys do with what the eye represents and what Midnight Conspiracy represents.
MC: Well last night we went to the Mid because DJ Funk was performing there to try and get some footage. We just did a song with him. It’s called “Tits In My Face”. So we were trying to get a bunch of footage of obviously “Tits”. The song is completely different than anything we’ve done before just because DJ Funk is a Juke and Booty House Legend. The song has elements of Juke, Booty, Dubstep, and Trap. It doesn't really have a genre Its completely different than anything we have put out before. Aside from that we just put out “Sentinel” and we have a new track coming out with this UK Rapper “Maxim” and then some other things in the works that are pretty exciting. The overall tone is a heavy bass, synth sound. you can find that in all our tracks. I think, the last 5 tracks we have finished, only 1 of which has come out so far, all have been with different BPM’s, so It’s hard to classify but, basically its “Heavy Bass Music”.
CMM: How do you put together your set when you go into these big shows such as a Congress Theater or Webster Hall show? Do you drive BPM’s to try and control the emotions people are going through with the music?
MC: Ya, I like almost every genre in EDM and every BPM. I think we try to take the audience on a journey through as many genres and BPM’s that we can. Graham might complain sometimes that its a bit manic but, it just depends, its a style thing.
CMM: How have you seen EDM change over the last year? Specifically in Chicago?
MC: I think its crazy to see artists who use to play at the former Sonotheque and now they are playing and even headlining shows at the Congress Theater within like 2-3 years. Just that rise of EDM alone. Then you look at the festivals. The Perry Stage at Lollapalooza has grown every year exponentially and it’s now recognized as one of the best stages (and a main stage) of the festival.
CMM: Now growing your group in Chicago alongside all these acts. You guys being one of the premiere EDM acts in Chicago. As everyone has grown and gotten bigger and bigger, has it happened as a community or have you seen some separation as bigger and better things have happened across the board?
MC: I think you see some of the house guys kind of stuck in their house roots. Some of them have branched out like Felix Da House Cat has changed his style up and even the way he DJ’s now. We’ve also had some breakout Chicago acts that have broken out. Then you have acts that redefine themselves such as Flosstradamus who are doing the Trap thing right now pretty successfully. EDM today is allot different than it was just a couple years ago. So its either that people have adapted to the newer styles or stay more true to the older ones. Its interesting, last night when we were watching DJ Funk and DJ Godfather and DJ Gant-Man were all there. Allot of them were playing allot stuff with newer sounds to it and a juke vibe to allot of the stuff. The other day I heard a juke beat over Skrillex’s “Cinema” (Laughs). It made me laugh and say “ok thats cool.”
CMM: Well thats basically the evolution of EDM, right?
MC: Ya, genres melting together and creating all these sub genres that aren't even classifiable anymore really. The music is what it is. Its just music.
CMM: Like I said earlier this has been a great year for you guys. how was playing at Spring Awakening Music Festival earlier this year. getting to play at Soldier Field?
MC: That was great. It was definitely the biggest crowd we ever got to play to. We got to play the main stage there right before A-Track. I think the main thing for me was just like bringing back that arena rock. I use to watch Depech Modes “101 tour”. Just playing massive stadiums like people back then. . EDM is doing that today with all these DJ’s. Its pretty powerful.
CMM: You also got to be on a bill there with some artists that have inspired you, right?
MC: Definitely, yeah. Some pioneers of the EDM sound that has grown.
CMM: I found it kinda cool to see like Derrick Carter on a stage and then you’d go to another stage and you had Afrojack and Skrillex. You had so much Chicago music alongside East Coast Music and West Coast Music. It was a representation of almost everything EDM has to offer. The Chicago acts definitely stood out in that experience. Do you see the festival scene changing in Chicago with EDM?
MC: Yeah, every festival has definitely been skewed more towards EDM than it ever has in the past. Now there are EDM specific festivals popping up like Spring Awakening. There is Spring Awakening in its first year, North Coast is very EDM heavy, Wavefront on the beach, Lollapalooza has a huge stage, Plus Electric Forest and Summercamp within driving distance. In the summertime there are so many cool EDM festivals. I don't know how kids are able to go to so many things. Makes me tired just thinking about it (Laughs).
CMM: So what do you have going on with Midnight Conspiracy coming up?
MC: Well we are going to NYC and bringing “The Eye” to Webster Hall on November 30th. Then we have some dates confirmed in Brazil, Argentina, and Costa Rica in December. Then we have some new shows coming out next year. One of them is called “Conquest” with Maxim and another one with a working title of Satellite. Our collaboration with DJ Funk “Tits In My Face” will also be coming out soon. We will probably hit up a college tour come February or so.
CMM: Well it sounds like you guys are going to be busy for quite a long time to come. Enjoy NYC and those shows outside the US. Thanks so much for taking out to stop by the Chicago Music Magazine office here in Chicago to chat. I look forward to doing it again with you guys again soon.
MC: Thanks for having us Shawn.
About Midnight Conspiracy:
From behind the sixteen foot laser and LED structure dubbed “Eye Live,” Midnight Conspiracy emerges as a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma that will literally overload your senses and still leave you coming back for more.
When the dark, moody, and even ominous undertones of their hard-hitting, no-holds-barred bass drops and harmonic melodies lift, you’ll be left pondering a few things.
What is the Midnight Conspiracy? Who is behind it? Where did the last two hours of my life go? These aren’t questions that we can answer for you. These are questions that only you can answer, and only after experiencing Midnight Conspiracy live. Here’s what we can tell you:
Throughout history, imagery of “The Eye” has been associated with everything from secret societies to ancient deities, but Midnight Conspiracy is concerned with something much different: using an out of this world light show and their own special blend of heavy bass to put on an unforgettable show. It worked. They’re signed to the legendary Ultra Records, which is also home to favorites like: Deadmau5, Bloody Beetroots, Wolfgang Gartner and Benny Benassi. In addition to the DIY endeavor that is the “Eye Live—Laser Light & Heavy Bass Experience,” they also started the art collective and clothing line Dead Fame. They’ve risen to the top of Hype Machine, Beatport and BBC Radio 1, along with destroying stages at Lollapalooza and Ultra Music Festival.
Is Midnight Conspiracy a collection of heavy bass, mixed with electro and topped with dubstep? Or, is it some sort of mystical, musical chimera with a singular goal of putting on the best show you’ve ever experienced? Or, is it a perfectly produced musical narrative that evolved into live instrumentation and ultimately into a sixteen foot bastion of laser lights and brain-melting bass? The correct answer is all of the above, but “The Eye” commands something else entirely. Put yourself in its gaze at a show and get inducted into the Midnight Conspiracy.