Starting in the city of Chicago, Whethan has been producing since his early teen years. When he was 16 years old, he had to leave a tour with The Chainsmokers to graduate from high school, and he has been climbing the ladder of success since. You may know him as the DJ who brought our internet sensation, Mason Ramsey, onto his stage at Coachella, nearly breaking the internet. His love for waffles and music are almost equal, and his relaxed personality calmed my nerves. Some of his top singles include, “Savage” and “Be Like You,” and his live sound will change the way you view electronic shows.
Okay, Coachella. How does it feel to be the ultimate meme dad?
It’s pretty crazy. It was a crazy idea that started on the internet. I saw what Mason did and just wanted to bring him on the stage at Coachella. The reaction from the crowd was nothing like I’ve ever seen before.
From an outsider’s point of view, the electronic DJ world can seem a bit glamorous and wild. I mean, look at someone’s profile like Borgore. This isn’t to shame anyone because to each their own. But being so young and in the scene, how do you stay true to yourself and live the life of an 18 year old?
It’s interesting, but I think it comes down to how I was raised and the people I surround myself with. I think I am surrounding myself with people who are older than me, but they have my best interests in mind and want to look out for me. I know doing all that can be fun, but if you aren’t getting your work and music done, you can’t play. As long as you stay motivated and keep your head in the music, the reason you’re here in the first place, you’re good.
Have you ever not been allowed in a venue because of your age?
Definitely. Vegas, they are all about that. I’ve never been kicked out of a show I had to play. If I’m set to play, I’m good. If I’m just trying to get into a show, it’s a little tougher.
This all happened so quickly for you. Were you thinking about other career paths before you blew up? If so, what were you thinking about pursuing?
I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything else, but I didn’t think I would be where I am at right now as fast as I made it. But it’s cool to be so inspired and be part of everything life and the music has to offer.
What were your parents reactions when you were like, “Hey, sorry, I’m going to be a touring DJ now.” Were they super protective over you?
They are super supportive parents. They always let me pursue what I wanted and never had any judgement. They would see me in my room all the time making music, but it’s hard to see if it’s going to work out because there’s so many kids making music. They saw me surrounding myself with the right people and said, “You gotta do it.”
Your Wikipedia may be all wrong but what was it like being that guy at your high school graduation, showing up after being with The Chainsmokers? Did people treat you differently?
It was funny because I was able to finish early; I was done the first semester of my senior year. I then left with them to play a stadium tour and played a ton of huge arenas. Then I had to leave and go do the graduation ceremony, and it was the first time in a while I had seen my classmates in a while. People were definitely looking at me differently. It was good, everyone seemed to enjoy I was there. It was great to be there with all my friends and graduate like a normal kid.
How did you and Oliver Tree find each other, and what are you all’s writing process when together?
We linked through the internet, like most collaborations I do. My manager found him on SoundCloud. We were looking for vocalists and writers, and we connected as soon as we met. We got in the studio and made so much music. We have albums worth.
Brag on yourself for a second. What’s one thing you bring to the table that many others don’t?
I bring a young, fresh ear. I have a very sound-design ear. I love sounds that are way out there and you’ve never heard of before. I cherish real songs over, like, the biggest drop ever. I like well-written songs people can feel and connect to.
Let’s discuss waffles. Where did that attraction first start, what’s your favorite kind of waffle? Let’s just have waffle talk for a bit.
That attraction was from day 1. In middle and high school, I would eat waffles for breakfast every day. I love the original or even something like blueberry. I’m not a huge chocolate chip person, but I also really like the cinnamon.
Lastly, what’s on your playlist right now? What should I go home and listen to?
It’s crazy because it changes so much. I’ve been listening to a ton of Clairo, Mac DeMarco, and Tame Impala. Another artist I love is Still Woozy. I also listen to a lot of rap.
STORY & COVER PHOTO ELIZABETH STAFFORD
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