Gari Safari went off at a secret location in downtown LA last Friday. The event featured a range of artists including TÂCHES, Mont Blvck, Anabel Englund, Matt Ossentjuk, Human Life and more. Bumping bass until 5:30 in the morning, Gari Safari offered a more intimate experience for attendees by holding performances from the floor rather than a stage. One performance that proved to stand out from the others was that of Mont Blvck, utilizing the sounds of voice, guitars, CDJ’s, and keyboard synths. After their set, I was able to catch up with Jackson Englund of Mont Blvck and ask him about his background, the underground music scene, and his future endeavors.
Where are you from?
I’m from Los Angeles. Born in New York City, raised in LA.
How did you and Diego Cuevas (Mont Blvcks second member) meet and what made you want to work together?
We met in high school through mutual friends, we both knew we did music but we just kind of met at parties a couple of times. At one party me and him caught up for a little bit and we said we should jam some time, so I went over to his studio and the rest is history really. I played drums and he played bass that day and we just rocked out for like four hours.
What genre do you think best describes Mont Blvck?
I’d say like, a bit of milk chocolate with peanut butter…like if a Nestle chocolate kiss was dropped in peanut butter and dripped out and plopped in your mouth…that would be the genre.
What do you like the most about this particular music scene?
Well right now we are in a very interesting scene which is very underground. We did Miami Music Week and we consider ourselves a band, but we’re hanging with a lot of DJ’s and making it work somehow. I mean, we’re DJing while doing a live act which has been crazy because we’ve really had to morph two different things into one. That’s why something like Gari Safari is so cool because we’re in LA and we can really bring our whole shibang out. But on the road we’ve just been bringing everything we think is right, then using the CDJ’s to add to our set. We’re really just trying to keep people moving, keep people dancing, and you know its been a great ride everyone is really supportive and I’m really excited to see where it takes us.
Who are some established artists that you are inspired by or look up to?
Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Bowie, the Stones. I’ve been really into weird and crazy music like Mac Demarco and modern stuff like Tame Impala or MGMT. I grew up listening to that, its more my era. I’ve been influenced by all genres really.
Has your sister and songwriter Anabel Englund influenced your taste in techno?
My sister Anabel brought me into this world. We started going out when we were both really young and were always exposed to this scene from a young age. Its crazy because when you first hear this kind of music it’s cool to dance to and everything, but after a while you really start to grow a maturing respect for it. I love house music and the way it really brings all groups of people together, everyone can just drop their ego for a while and forget about everything else.
You’ve performed in several cities across the country, ending 2016 in Tokyo. What is performing in LA like compared to these places?
Performing in LA is always magical for me because LA in my home. Im playing and I’m seeing my best friends in the crowd dancing right there with me. It’s great going other cities all over the world too because you meet all these foreigners who aren’t too different from your best friends.
What was it like playing in Tokyo?
Really interesting, the first place we played was called Collision and my girlfriend actually threw the event. The goal was to collide New York, LA, and Tokyo together. From there we played this event on new years right after midnight somewhere more in the financial district. It was a totally different crowd, the vibe was great but it just wasn’t as personal. Those kind of shows are great too though because you can see all of the people who you aren’t as familiar with vibing to your music.
As EDM and techno are usually performed solely through a DJ and his turntables, why do you feel it is important to keep the live aspect of your shows with instruments?
I just think you’re a little more connected with everybody in the room when you start going live with it. Obviously there are a lot of DJ’s who can be super connected with everybody on that same ride but when you’re singing or paying an instrument that makes it a little bit more special for me. Sometimes people forget the extra effort that goes into making that one little quirky noise or other weird sound that goes into songs that get taken for granted. Doing live shows reminds people that this isn’t just some robot making these sounds, like this is really us.
Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
I just see myself touring and helping people, just doing big things. Hopefully winning Grammy’s and just setting a high overall standard for music. Music is just something that I’ve always been passionate about so I look forward to growing as a writer and collaborating more with other artists.
Who would you like to work with in the near future?
I’d love to work with Hans Zimmer because of his work of syncing music into films, that’s something I’d like to get into. Also would love to work with some of the legends like Keith Richards, Paul McCartney, and Elton John. Elton actually played a song that me and Diego helped write and produce with Anabel on his radio show, it’s called London Headache. Other than that I’d want to work with people that like to make abstract music. I just want to work with people who just know how to have fun with making music without having to force anything.
What can we expect from Mont Blvck in 2017?
Listeners can expect a very interesting EP that is very inspired by our Tokyo trip, it’s a little bit funk, a little bit disco, a little bit soulful, and its got a lot of heart. We get a little bit more serious than usual on some songs but the whole EP is kind of a love story. I think it will be interesting to see it transcend and I’m excited to release it. We want to make people dance, but this EP has a lot of thought behind it.
Follow Gari Safari on Twitter: https://twitter.com/gari_safari?lang=en
Check out Mont Blvck’s single, Gimme below.