The depths and channels of the world wide web are staggering, many of its areas have yet to even be truly dredged. For some, the internet is an inherent instinct. Born in the late '90s or early millennial years, the internet is not a gift, but a part of our DNA as humans. A backbone in society that some have never lived without. For countless others, the internet is a blessing. Something that has yet to depreciate in value, and because we were not born into it, we have learned to not only accept it, but appreciate it.
Curt Cameruci and Josh Young have not only accepted the internets presence, but have embraced it fully with open arms. Like countless others, both were introduced to the internet at a young age, when the territories were still yet uncharted in the newly formed era of social networking sites like Xanga, Myspace, and many others.
It was through these channels that ultimately Flosstradamus was born, the Chicago-based trap brainchild of Cameruci and Young that would many years later ultimately take many of the boundaries and ideas of social networking and break them. “For me personally, ever since we got the internet in my house when I was 16, I’ve been online.” Says Young, “Anywhere from LiveJournal, to Friendster, to Myspace, to everything that kind of came in procession after that. I’ve always been plugged in, and same with Curt, we’ve been super into it, and consistently plugged in ever since the internet started to have a social element to it. For me, it’s just part of the day to day life.”
Forming in 2005, Flosstradamus had their first taste of success through the many social media channels of Myspace, picking up steam with early tracks such as 'Big Bills', which was released via Green Label Sound. It was through these earlier years that Flosstradamus also began to pick up their status as hometown heroes.
In addition to Kid Sister, Young’s actual sister, Flosstradamus became a regular staple amongst the Chicago scene, and were ultimately included in URB Magazine’s Top 100 for 2006. While their career initially began to take off, ultimately things stalled. It wasn’t until their partnerships with the Diplo-helmed Mad Decent label in 2011 that the upwards path of Flosstradamus truly jettisoned.
It is through their identification as “internet artists” rather than musicians that has helped to set Flosstradamus apart. “We are one of the only artists that feel like we engage with our fans on an honest level.
We’re musicians definitely, it’s one of the big parts of our success, but we think of ourselves as internet artists, and artists that like to use the net and technology to get our word out to as many people as possible, and we like to do lots of fun and tricky things.” Says Young, “We shut Twitter down for a day when we released our EP, we sent DMs out to specific people, did projects where you had to send a specific code in.
We like to find fun and interesting ways to engage our fans and engage other people, in ways other people don’t think about.”
The pair's approach to almost every singular aspect of their career has been beyond the norm. Flosstradamus consistently seeks for new ways to include their fans via social media. During the release of their EP 'Wake & Bake' last year, the response was so vast that it led to a complete shutdown on Twitter. At the 2014 installation of SXSW, a guerrilla WiFi network under the name of PLURNTLIFE was created, distributing a new single to fans who logged in with the correct password.
The duo has amassed an online presence and following that is unlike many other artists, and have given their fans unique identifications to associate with - the HDYBYZ and the HDYGRLZ. These two identities make up the larger association of the HDYNATION, a term that has become much more than a simple label for Young, it’s become part of their brand.
“We don’t want this to be this tiny, little, insular island that we live on. We’d like to grow this to be something that’s an international brand, that’s recognized worldwide, and would even get to [become] a household name.”
“A lot of underground artists and producers in our world aren't really after that, they're not really trying to become pop stars, or succeed at that level of popularity, and for us its a matter of taking this message and putting it where it needs to be. Putting it where it’s going to be heard by the most people, and recruiting people for HDYNATION.
Finding new people and converting new potential fans on every corner of the Earth, that’s really where were at.” Young contines, “We’re just trying to globalize this brand and this fanbase, and at this point in music it's really cool because you don’t have to sell out, you don’t have to change your sound, or try and do something to cater to the masses.
You can just use the internet and put yourself out to as many people as possible, and the people that are genuinely going to like you, that are going to be fans of your music, or your brand or whatever you stand for, they’ll follow you.
They’ll hit that follow button on Soundcloud or Facebook or whatever it may be, and you’ll make genuine fans that way, which I think is amazing.”
Perhaps a large portion of what makes the HDYNATION so successful is Cameruci and Young’s sense of transparency with their fans. The official Instagram account for Flosstradamus consists of 222,000-some fans, while their hosts almost the same. Young and Cameruci’s individual accounts together boast another 50,000 followers.
The access the duo gives to their fans doesn’t end at their music, rather the pair have created a sense of relatability, giving fans a peak at their everyday lives which, in today’s voyueristic generation, makes all the difference. “For the most part though, we do live in the public, and we really do put everything out there the way that it is because I think that that’s a big part of this generation. Especially with music, there’s just that honesty.
” Says Young, “A lot of musicians are pretty curated, but even on a pop level, you can have someone like Rihanna or someone like Kanye, and you see how open they are and how they genuinely feel about things, and what they choose to share on social media, and its 100-percent heartfelt. I think it's cool to see that on a pop level, and we definitely are doing it on an underground level.”
The relationship between artist and fan is always a delicate balance, and since the birth of his son, Lex, Young has had to find new ways to adapt. “It’s interesting, it's been a transition. The amount of shows and the pace that our career has picked up in the last couple years, it only adds another layer of commitment and obligation and stress, so initially it has been a little bit difficult to manage the two.
I’ve started to sort of settle in to parenthood, and get on my wife and my son’s schedule. I’ve been home for a little bit now, and it’s inspiring to me. It’s something that I look at and it’s been good for me on a musical level, for me personally.”
“I put a lot of pressure of myself to perform at a level because for a long time, Floss has been my baby and has been everything to me, and for me to fail at that or have anything go wrong with that has been a really sort of monumental failure in my life.”
Young continues, “I feel like having a kid and a place to put this additional love and devotion has helped me to put into perspective what Flosstradamus and what music is as a career, versus what love and what life and that kind of devotion is, and it’s been really helpful.
It’s helped me take some of the pressure off myself to always be perfect, and as a result, I’ve been more productive.”
Through their productivity, the duo have stacked the decks to make 2015 what may perhaps be Flosstradamus’ most important year yet. The duo are set to premiere their latest EP, 'Soundclash', a diverse and definitive project, which plans to showcase their range and skill as artists. The EP features a wide array of musical collaborations - from Run The Jewels, to GTA and Lil Jon, to TroyBoi - each twisting and ultimately reinterpreting the ways fans identify with their signature trap sound.
With 'Soundclash' promising to be harder and heavier than its predecssor releases, Flosstradamus isn’t looking to back down. The manifesto of their HDYNATION is one the duo live by and would die for, a call to arms beckoning for other producers to step up to the plate.
“The HDYNATION Tour, we literally tried to make it the Yeezus Tour of EDM. We’ve seen so many people have just LED screens and really basic setups, it’s almost the exact same setup you see at the festivals.
It’s kind of lazy and just whatever, just their name in lights behind them, something like that.” Says Young, “We wanted to bring something creative to that. So while we were on our tour - we’re already going, we’ve already designed it and it’s already built - we had already started designing our next tour.
So we’re already working on our 2015 end of the year tour, which we guarantee you is going to outshine and outdo the HDYNATION Tour. Every year we’re trying to set the bar up in some creative way, and do something that’s never been done before in live music.”
“We have a message, which is that we want to take the dull, sort of watered down and commercial aspect of electronic music and make it a thing of the past. There’s a lot of artists that, I’m not going to mention any names, but are making multiple millions of dollars a year by literally doing the most minimal thing.
To call it a live set or a live performance is a joke.” Says Young, “I respect DJing and I respect that level of artistry, but I’m just saying that at this point, the production level has to step up, and people have to step up to the plate. People need to do something that’s actually noteworthy, because the artistry doesn't end in the studio. If it does for you, so be it. That’s fine, but there’s a lot of people out there who are making a ton of money and should step their live shows up. We’ve really been focusing on that.”
Words: Alex John