by Mike Pfeiffer
Super Future is 26-year-old Michigan native Nick Rowland and he has a vision for his music and life that is bound to take him places far and away, starting with this weekend at Electric Forest. He’s a winner of The Untz Challenge IX that will bring him to over seven festivals this year. You can catch his track “Transcendence” below to give you some good vibes as you read his thoughtful words on what inspires Super Future and where that inspiration is taking him.
HWID: Who were the DJs you saw that first inspired you to take a shot at it?
Super Future: The first DJs I saw were these guys who used to kill it at my favorite college bar when I went to Michigan State. I had always been the guy running the aux cord at parties, so when I saw them doing a great job with the actual art form, I was like damn I need to get to know these dudes.
Overall, I think the first artist that really solidified the dream for me though was Skrillex. I think I speak for 99.9% of people around the age of 20 when I say that there was this undeniable pull into electronic and bass music when Skrillex released his debut EP, My Name Is Skrillex, in 2010. Since then, I’ve expanded and grown with the explosion of genres, but I’ll never forget that initial magnetic attraction to the scene.
HWID: How long have you been DJing?
SF: I started off DJing at random college apartment parties, just using my MacBook and Virtual DJ, in 2013. Once I graduated in 2014, I got serious about electronic music production since I had more time and money to invest in myself. The entire journey into becoming a DJ/producer has been an interesting and explorative learning process, but it’s been nothing but fun so far.
HWID: Most DJs I know also play instruments, do you play any and if yes, do you mix that into your music?
SF: I was raised on classic rock, so it was a very natural decision for me to pick up guitar in high school. I played A LOT of Guitar Hero, too. Which, honestly does give you a sense of what it’s like to perform, but I’m a gamer at heart so you could not pull me off of that thing.
When I went all-in on playing guitar, I learned plenty of classics, played in high school metal bands and got fairly good with theory. I put it down to learn electronic music production. But, what I didn’t realize until years later is that key, melody, scaling, timing and all the benefits of learning theory from an instrument helped me progress a lot faster than people who had never played anything.
I began to miss it in early 2017, so I began incorporating it into my music and eventually mustered up the courage to play it live starting at the end of 2017. It makes it harder and I wish I had more than two hands, so I could mix and play, but altogether it’s setting me apart and bringing me back to the happiness and nostalgia of my high school years.
HWID: I read you are taking part in seven festival lineups this year. Have you ever tackled something this ambitious? And, how do you think you will survive it?
SF: It’s been quite a ride so far and I don’t think I’ve ever been more strained. I’m actually confirmed for eight festivals this summer (five from winning The Untz Competition) and I’m in the process of confirming a ninth! I’m definitely taking off at least one year of my life to make this happen due to the stress haha…but it’s hands-down the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had to date.
The main reason I’m probably overdoing it is because I still manage to work my 40-50 hr-per-week Chemical Engineering job. That part is the toss up because in one hand I have money to fund all of this (plus great branding, videography, travel, etc.), but you eventually start to realize that your time is more important than your money. I’m not there yet, but with the way things are going I’m reaching a crossroads on the horizon.
HWID: Tell me about some of the festivals you are playing, except Electric Forest, we’ll get to that one…
SF: I didn’t really know what to expect going into some of these other festivals, but I’ve gone in without any expectations because I’ve learned that life’s just more fun with this mindset.
The first festival I played was Summer Camp in Chillicothe, Illinois and it was HOT! I almost passed out from 105 degree heat. So each festival has been one learning experience after the next. Other festivals I’ve played so far are The Untz Festival in California, Spring Awakening in Chicago and Sonic Bloom in Colorado.
The experience of playing for new people and making new fans is by far the best part. Kollin (Flats Stanlie), last year’s winner of The Untz, gave me a rundown of what to look out for and what to know in order to make this summer as worthwhile as possible, so I’m thankful for his help (shout out to Flats Stanlie!).
HWID: Speaking of festivals, Electric Forest is coming up this week and you are performing it for the first time, are you excited?
SF: This will be my fourth Electric Forest and I would keep going back every year even if it wasn’t in my home state. That place has something that brings out everyone’s inner-child and has that pure feeling of enjoyment. It’s definitely my summer festival home. To be performing at it, after watching so many artists and just wanting so badly to be up there doing it too, it’s a feeling I could cry about if I reflected on it long enough. I even get to take my little brother for his first time, so that’s heartwarming as well.
Overall, I have three performances between inside the forest and out in the camps (some announced some not), so I’m soaking it up in a new way this year! This will feel like a beautiful half-way point in the summer because it’s going to be a party in my home with hundreds of my friends and fans there to support me. I’m excited to take in all of the feelings that come with this place and moreover, performing for my fans.
HWID: You are playing the Silent Disco which is an interesting concept, have you played one before?
SF: Silent Discos are a really fun concept. I’ve played several and attended some as well and they’re a riot! Plus, the wireless/Bluetooth technology within the headphones are becoming much better than in the past. Forest is even letting me hook up my guitar to play, so I’m stoked about that too. I’ll be playing there Friday night (6/22) from 10:30 p.m. to 12 a.m., so come by if you’d like to hear plenty of new music and a wide range of emotions. This one will be special. Electric Forest’s Silent Disco has historically been in a very cool setting within Sherwood Forest, so that makes it all the more exciting.
HWID: Who is the artist you are most looking most looking forward to seeing at Electric Forest?
SF: This is always such a hard question…but I have to say that ZHU is at the top of my list. I’ve been trying to get to a show of his for years. Since he’ll be headlining and the Forest is such a great setting with really high-end production, I’m really making his show a priority. I’m always a fan of Bassnectar at Forest too. Others on my need-to-see list are Jade Cicada, Herobust, Medasin, Tsuruda, Thundercat, Sam Gellaitry, Fisher, Droeloe, Party Pupils and Matrix & Futurebound. It’s so hard to pick, but I’ll be running around like a kid in a candy store all weekend.
HWID: Any words of wisdom to pass on to those going to EF for their first time?
SF: There are things you just need to experience in the Forest and anyone who has been there will tell you the same thing. Even with enough good music to make your head spin off, I try to really urge people to pick one day to just experience everything that’s not music. There are HUNDREDS of talented artists creating several forms of media and art there and you really should go and take away the good it has to offer you. If you go in with a healthy approach and an explorative attitude, you will come out an enriched individual. And if you see me, stop and say “Hey!” I’m there to get the same experience you are and I’d love to share it with you.