Diving into the master’s mind: Herobust talks tour life, sound design and new music
Hayden Kramer, better known by his stage name, “Herobust,” is no stranger to the bass community. The burgeoning talent has made several leaps toward the top over the past year, making himself into somewhat of a household name among low-end lovers. From headlining festivals like, Bass Canyon, Electric Forest and Lollapalooza, to creating another vertebra-breaker single, “WTF,” proves that his journey has only just begun — and he’s got a bountiful future ahead.
Entering into phase 2 of his “WTF” tour, Dancing Astronaut was able to sit down and get inside the “Trap God’s” head dig deep into the fundamentals of a heavily touring artist that’s just reaching his peak. Herobust expressed how the adrenaline of playing each show is what drives him to continuously strive for greatness. Watching from the sidelines, it’s easy to tell that he gets lost in the music, completely surrendering to the moment. He’s an artist driven by love and passion for what he does, indeed.
The conversation centered around sound design extraordinaire’s creative process, where he offered some insight into where he gains inspiration from, and how he finds originality.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us tonight. It’s an honor! Are you excited? You are pretty used to this already, right?
Yeah! I think you can get used to the whole pre-show thing. You get used to the before the show nerves, but the adrenaline of actually playing the show never goes away.
Let’s start with how you came up with your artist name. How did you go about choosing “Herobust.” What’s the story behind it?
It was important to me that the name was total nonsense and that it wasn’t a real word. I didn’t like the idea that someone could hear a name and come up with a judgment before they heard the music. I think a lot of artists can relate to this. When you choose your name, you’re in the beginning of your career and it’s not the easiest decision. You put yourself in a situation where you’re up against a wall and you’re either going to make this work or fail. Herobust is the duality of making decisions you’re either the hero or you’re going to be a bust. A lot of people see the HeRo-bust aspect of it and I guess to some extent the word play was intended but it’s really about the duality and the commitment. It’s been really prevalent throughout my whole life actually.
How did you learn to produce?
I learned how to produce via rap music. I grew up in Atlanta and everyone raps. So yes, I’ve rapped, but you won’t find it anywhere. I was producing for myself, my friends and eventually everyone in my high school. Then I started to hear older electronic music artists like Amon Tobin and Aphex Twin, and as a producer, I saw that there was much more creativity to be had in other genres.
What are some methods you use especially with sound designing tracks like Giant Squiddim?
If I make a sound that sounds like anything recognizable, like for example, I made something that sounds like power tools, then I think “Can I make more tracks that sound like this? Can I sample power tools and maybe make the vocal about dirty work?” All of a sudden, you have a song where the theme has been reversed engineered. I didn’t set out to make a song about a giant squid, I made a bass patch that sounded to me like a deep-sea monster, which inspired me to create an intro with all these bubbles and submarines and call it Giant Squiddim. My strength is sound design so it makes sense for me to start there and have that be the foundation for all my other decisions.
I’m aware that you are taking on “phase 2” of your “WTF” world tour, I can only imagine that it takes a huge toll on the body/mind. How do you manage to stay mentally, physically and emotionally healthy while on the road
Physically, I work out a lot. I don’t party too much but also it’s something you get used too. It’s very common for a guy or girl to get on the road for the first month of touring and get so excited where you just party every night, but then you realize you can’t do that. You pick your spots though. You choose when the vibe is right. As far as it being downright exhausting, I can’t deny that it is, but every night you have this adrenaline of playing the actual show. Sometimes I feel like I’m not awake until after the show. Some people drink coffee every day at 9am, but for me, I get this cocktail of emotions and endorphins every night at midnight. Sometimes, it’s like the worst time to get that because usually everyone is like, “Alright it’s time to go to sleep now” and I’m like, “But, I’m finally awake!”
Who are some of your influences? Do you have any specific artists you admire?
I admire any artist that’s willing to commit to their vision and put it out on the line, that’s awesome! I think most of the older artists have influenced me in my early stages like when I mentioned Amon Tobin, Aphex Twins and Chris Clark. They sent me on this path and once I got on, I decided to really be original and ignore what everybody else was doing and dove into my own thing. I’m not trying to get tempted in what other people are doing because they’re all doing such great work, all of my peers are killing it! I just don’t want them to rub off on me. Staying original and doing my own thing is very important to me. I feel like I have something to put into my music and I want to find out what that is.
What advice do you have for young musicians/producers?
Advice that I would offer young musicians is to not get caught up in trying to promote your art. You don’t need to waste any time with that. If you focus on your art, your art will get to a point where people will come and do that part for you. It’s their job to know how to do that. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you’re perfecting how to promote art that is not ready. If you just focus on your craft and make your music as good as it can be, eventually one day, someone will be like, “Hey, people need to hear this and I can make that happen” and it will happen overnight. If you look at the guys who blow up, it is usually overnight. Like Mastadon. People blow up so fast now. It’s very binary.
What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Honestly, I like everything exactly the way it is. Anything I didn’t know, I’m glad I didn’t because maybe I would have done things differently and the way things have gone so far is awesome. It’s my journey.
Do you think you’re still growing as an artist?
Oh yeah – your life is always changing because you have new obstacles and new emotions. It’s self-expression if you do it right. Rather than focusing on the product, I’m chasing that feeling. When I finish a track and I’m like, “Wow that felt really good creating that” then that’s when a good song comes out and will resonate with people because I was able to translate that emotion.
Tell us about some updates in the studio! Are we going to get a new Herobust EP/album soon?
I moved back to Atlanta so I’m back in rap world and a lot of my new stuff reflects that. Everything I make has elements of hip-hop but I hope in the next EP or album you’ll hear a full-on rap song, no drops. Herobust will still have plenty of songs where you can head bang to, but I want the next body of work to showcase a better representation of where I come from. Plus, I think that’s where things are heading. You see so many EDM artists that are merging with pop now. Artists like, Diplo and Marshmello can easily have rappers or vocalists come in and out of their sets. I think Herobust can be a hip-hop version of that.
That’s exciting! I’m stoked to hear the transition. I admire producers who can create different genres and are very versatile. Definitely – especially when they can bring their own sound to it. Because a lot of people can create many genres, but it’s really special when they bring their sauce to it.
Check out Herobust in his Phase 2 “WTF” tour here
Photo credit: @nickgallozzi