We recently sat down with Native, winners of the North Coast DJ Contest. Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, they\’ll bring their g-house/bass house music to the Coast Stage at 1:30 on Sunday.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what music means to you.

Alec: My name is Alec Smith, im from Berkeley, IL, im 19 years old. I have grown up always involved with music in some form, I started playing my first instrument, trombone, when I was 5th grade and frankly I hated it. Shortly after that I started messing around on my uncles drum kit, since them I played drums in the symphonic band, jazz band, Pit orchestra, drum line, etc. throughout middle school and high school. Shortly after I graduated I bought my first DJ controller and just started mashing up whatever songs I thought might sounded good together. Once I got confident enough to tell someone I had started mixing I linked up with teddy and we just started mixing about once a week in his mom’s garage, the rest followed.

To me, music is way more than just sounds compiled into a group called a song. A song is an expression of what the artist was feeling when they wrote it. When I put together my sets, I like to pick songs that perfectly flow from one to another. I try to make it seem as if it was one long song that has different feels throughout but with overall the same vibe. No matter how much I or someone wants to hear a specific song if I don\’t think it fits in that moment I won\’t play it.

Teddy: My name is Teddy Ford. I\’m 22 years old and I\’m from Mt. Prospect, IL. I come from a big, creative family, so naturally, music has always been a huge part of my life.  I started making hip-hop beats in high school with my buddy Vito, and eventually turned to electronic music after my sister took me to my first fest, EDC Chicago in 2013. Less than a year later, my buddy Nick and I started DJing parties and shows together and created the Native movement with our close friends. When I heard Alec was first getting into DJing, it only made sense for us to link up, and welcome him into the native crew. I appreciate music so much because it brings people together through the power of expression.

 

You guys both have solo projects along with Native. What’s the name of those projects, and what type of music do they focus on?

A: My solo project is named Oswald. I focus on playing deep house, G house, and UK garage. I also like to sprinkle in some solid trap and hip hop breaks in my mixes. If I had to put it all into one category/genre I would call it ‘ghetto bass’

T: For my solo project, teddycomeup, I produce and DJ bass music with an emphasis on house and breakbeats. I also like to add elements of techno, trap, dubstep and hip-hop to my sets and tracks. I like to describe my sound as ‘dark heavy house’. I will be releasing an EP on my soundcloud by the end of October. It will include original tracks as well as a couple reworks/edits.

 

How did you guys start working together? Was it hard at first? What’s your chemistry like behind the decks?

T: Seeing that Alec and I are cousins, it only made sense for us to link up when I heard was getting into djing. It wasn\’t too difficult for us to mesh our styles because we are into very similar types of music. Our chemistry is natural! There is nothing quite like creating and performing alongside your family.

A: We feed off each other\’s energy while playing together, its crazy how sometimes we will be mixing and I\’ll look over at teddys decks and see that he was about to cue up the same song I was about drop. The more we play together the better our chemistry gets.

 

How did you guys decide to enter the North Coast DJ Contest?

T: I saw the competition on Facebook when voting began and next thing I know, I get a text from Alec saying we should enter. We already were mixing together at least once a week for almost a year, so we figured we could enter in as Native and possibly have a shot at winning.

Were you surprised when you won?

Honestly, we weren\’t sure whether we would even be able to get enough votes to make it the show at Chop Shop, so that was surprise to us. But also once we entered the contest we started putting in more hours behind the decks together and solo just working on really tightening up our sound and our flow together, so we were feeling pretty confident going into chop shop. Chuck Diesel played before us and he did pretty well, but when we went on, the energy in the room was at a 10 and it stayed there for the remainder of our set. With the crowd support of our fans, friends and family, we were confident we could pull through and win.

 

What are some other shows that you guys have played before?

We’ve both played at Medusa\’s a handful of times. We\’ve also held a lot of parties and small events for our native crew.

 

Is North Coast your biggest show yet? What’s it like playing a hometown festival like this one?

Yes, North Coast is the biggest show we’ve had, also being our first festival slot. It\’s amazing to play NCMF because it is a well known and respected festival. Also, north coast 2015 was the first fest we attended together, so that\’s kind of a trippy coincidence!

 

What are some of your other favorite festivals that you’d like to play at?

Some really awesome festivals that we would love to play at are Mamby on the Beach, Dirtybird Campout, Movement, Lollapalooza, Bass Center, or any Night Bass Event.

 

Who are some of your influences?

AC Slater, Claude Vonstroke, Destructo, Chris Lorenzo, Bassnectar, Boyz Noise, Gessaflestien, Pharrell, Kanye West, and Kid Cudi.

 

Are there any local Chicago DJs that you look up to?

KTRL, Green Velvet, Intermodal

 

What is some advice that you have for young up and coming producers?

Every time you start working on a track, complete it. Going through the process of creating a track will help you gain more and more perspective on making music. Also learn as much as you can from reading books, watching tutorials on youtube, and listening to many genres other than what you produce. Set specific goals and work your hardest to reach them.

 

What can we expect from Native in the future?

Expect more local shows from both Oswald and Teddycomeup. Also keep your eyes peeled for a special event we are curating as we speak. We can\’t give it too many details until after North Coast, but it will be something that our fans, friends, and family can attend and see what Native is really about.

About The Author

Michael M

NIU class of 2015