Thirty push-ups and a shot of tequila each: that’s all the preparation Julio Mejia and Matt Toth need to throw down a killer set, to turn from laid-back, unassuming 24-year-olds into the scene-stealing DJ and production duo GTA. While their warm-ups are routine, Mejia and Toth’s performances are anything but. GTA sets are musical joyrides with the guys at the wheel, as they speed from trap and hip-hop into booming electro, take unexpected detours with rock and R&B, and screech to a halt for massive bass drops. Despite GTA’s wild, unpredictable sets, everything the duo does – both on stage and in the studio – is unified by a simple mission statement: death to genres.
Can you guys talk a little bit how you became GTA?
Matt: Yea so, we first met from Facebook actually. We had a mutual friend, a local DJ friend in Miami that knew both of us, and we were both making music individually and he was just like, “hey this guy (Julio) is making music check him out,” and vice versa. And, then we kind of just started talking on Facebook, met up one day, hung out for a bit and listened to a bunch of music, kind of just bonded through a bunch of music we both had a mutual interest in, and met up the next day and just started making music. It has kind of just been pretty much that since then, you know, grown as friends, and as business partners, as creative minds. It’s been like that ever since and it’s been about 5 or 6 years now.
Even before producing as GTA who were some of your influences, past or present?
Matt: I’d say N.E.R.D, Pharrel, Neptunes, those guys are a huge influences on us, even just for me as well.
Julio: I feel like it’s a little bit everywhere. Not even just that, but growing up we both listened to a lot of different kinds of music. Like, my first album I ever bought was N’Sync Pop, but it’s from anywhere really. We listen to System of a Down, we listen to lots of metal and rock, also rap and pop, and everything. Growing up I feel like it has just accumulated to a point now where it’s hard to say were fans of one thing. We’re just fans of music.
Thirdly, you guys have so many diverse interests in music. You’re constantly talking about hip-hop, alt-rock, all these different things…. So we just wanna know, what artist or genre that you guys listen to would we be surprised to learn about?
Wow…. there’s honestly been so many different artists that we’ve been inspired by together. I guess for ME (Matthew) someone that’s really inspired me, Manchester Orchestra! I just saw them play like, a few days ago and…. woah, they’re incredible. [How bout you Julio?] Oooh, I’d have to say BADBADNOTGOOD, it’s like this Jazz, super-cool, funky music…. that’s a terrible description of them, but they’re amazing. [Great answer Julio!]
Do you guys have a pre-show ritual you do to amp each other up and get excited for the show?
Matt: Yea, so we usually do a shot of tequila and then 30 push-ups. But, we have actually moved on from tequila more recently. It’s just Jack Daniels now…
Julio: We like gin too.
Listening to your music you can get a different vibe from each song. Can you talk about the creative process you go through when you’re producing? Do you go in with a mindset of “this is the type of track we want to produce,” or do you just go in and vibe with each other?
Julio: I think it’s more so like our DJ sets where we just vibe off each other. Sometimes he’ll (Matt) come up with a whole track, a buildup and a drop, and I’ll be like, “this is what I like about this, etc.,” and then we’ll take certain elements out and put certain elements in, and we’ll just keep doing that until we pretty much have one cohesive thing. I mean, it really varies though too because, honestly, it’s not a formula for us. It’s kind of just whatever we’re feeling that day that’s what works and, you know, probably like 9 times out of 10 we’ll come up with something dope. So we just roll with it. We have a bunch of ideas where it’s like, there not all perfected yet, but it’s an equal amount of ideas and flow from both of us. And, that’s one reason why I love working with Matt. We’re both super open-minded about it and were both willing to try anything. I feel like creating in general, now, is way easier. When you’re on the same wave length with someone you can create a bunch of dope, different, stuff.
Who are some artists in electronic music who are doing some shit where you’re like “Wow, this is so cool”?
Some artists that we really fuck with right now, Party Favor, for sure. Wuki, also! [Julio grabs mic] Dombresky is super dope…. umm, Sophie, from the UK, SUPER FIRE. [Matthew speaking] Born Dirty, they have some really… weird shit… which I love. And of course…. Chris Lake, the legend. Tisoki! Some dubstep stuff…. killing the game right now! Oh an GTA! They do some pretty cool stuff I guess…. I wish we could be them….
One thing that we’ve noticed about you guys…. With everything so “sanitized” these days, you two seem to remain very raw and real about politics and your stances on social issues. Could you just speak on why it’s important to you guys to give a voice to these things?
As far as politics and stuff goes, to each their own… it’s kind of what politics are about. [Matthew speaking] Personally, I know both of us like to voice our opinions, and I feel like that’s part of your personality… it’s part of you and what you believe in should be a part of what you talk about. I don’t know… it’s better to say something than be quiet and standby doing nothing.
[Julio speaking] I mean honestly though, we’re Hispanic and I think one thing we all naturally gravitate towards is rights and our people. We want to represent properly and at the end of the day, we just want people to be happy and enjoy life… enjoy good times. [Matthew] YES! Good Times Ahead!
So what is your hope for your music? With your new album you just released, what are you trying to convey to your listeners and the world when they listen?
When we produce music, we really have just one goal: to put a smile on people’s faces. Just like it does for us when we make it…. When we’re in the studio, we really just make things that we are super excited about. It’s a regular occurrence for Julio and myself to just dance around the studio when we make music because we love it so much. If we can bring that feeling to you guys, then we’ll be happy.