Are you tired of DJs mixing with their eyes glued to a laptop instead of using their ears? Sick of everyone playing the same pre-made mashup/bootleg? Always a fan of any excuse to dress up in a costume? Then Made Monster is for you! The duo of Ryan McKay and Chris Roberts—known to some already in the scene as DJs Red and Spryte—are artists to know for 2014. As they rise higher on the Beatport charts with each release and bring technical prowess to the booth, I’ve admittedly been pushing them hard to anyone who’ll listen; they’ll finally debut in Las Vegas at Marquee on March 31 for the S.K.A.M. 10-year anniversary party. So read up on why you should stay out late on a school night and become a Made Monster minion.
What about your productions do you think appeals to music buyers and subsequently helps you do well on the Beatport charts?
McKay: There are definitely some major labels that have been taking over the charts lately, especially in the higher positions. But we have people who are willing to buy the music; it doesn’t matter what label we’re on.
Roberts: We’ve been lucky to develop a really strong fan base that is pretty religious about buying the stuff, so it’s been good. We try to keep the current sound in mind, but we always do our own thing regardless. That’s why a lot of our tracks fluctuate between genres. We just produce what we feel, and it runs the gamut and people respond pretty well to it.
McKay: We’re not using a template. When “Animals” came out, our inbox was flooded with hundreds and hundreds of tracks that were copies using the formula and trying to repeat the same thing. We deviate from that completely.
It’s rare to see a 2×4 setup in Las Vegas. Even if there’s more than one DJ, they’re still working off a pair of CDJs and one mixer.
Roberts: We do a full 2×4, so that means two turntables, two CDJs, two mixers. It’s two full DJ setups back-to-back, and we play literally over each other. So we switch off playing music about every 15 minutes or so, where one of us will be playing that chunk and then the other person goes over it with a capellas, tricks, live remixing, live bootlegging, stuff like that. A lot of people’s edits are premade; we’re doing stuff live on the fly.
McKay: We’re getting fans who ask us, “Hey, do you have that track that sampled Suzanne Vega’s ‘Tom’s Diner’?” But it’s something we did live, and that track doesn’t really exist. With our dual setup, it’s definitely possible to have one person actively being able to mix on top of the other person—and that means you have to beat-match without visually looking at anything. That’s another part of it: We actually have to bring our ears back into the mix.
Since Las Vegas is unfamiliar with you, how would you describe the Made Monster sound and concept to newbies?
Roberts: Nowadays with all these festivals, it’s becoming more of a production—we still want the core to be our music and the way we play, so we don’t want to get goofy with costumes—but we definitely want to have a themed production. We have these two animated [zombie and robot] characters that are going to be a whole visual project for us. Currently we’ve been handing out LED horns to all the people who want to become monsters and other fun stuff. Like an “every night it’s Halloween!” kinda thing. But now since we’ve been developing this fan base, people are showing up [in costumes], like this group of girls that sewed their own monster costumes.
McKay: We don’t just stick to one thing. It’s not like we just play heavy electro or epic sounds. If you haven’t seen us before you will hear something that you like. The showmanship and the 2×4 aspect of it and the fact we actually play live on top of each other, that’s probably the main thing. We actually do DJ. We go up there with four hands and they’re all actively engaged, not for cheerleading purposes.