In The Studio With VibeSquaD: Bangin’ the Bass
As American bass music continues to blow up, many EDM fans (and DJs) are just now getting introduced to some of its longtime practitioners. So, in that spirit, meet Aaron Holstein—aka VibeSquaD.
Before succumbing to the wobblier side of EDM, the Denver-based dubstep master was a touring jazz guitarist and a multi-instrumentalist for “livetronica” bands like Zilla and Sporque. But, since 2007, Holstein has released nine studio albums and two mix compilations in his VibeSquaD alter ego. His latest release on VibeSquaD Recordings, Orphan Alien Part 2, features his trademark blistering beats and sizzling bottom end. And it’s that expanding list of accomplishments that has made him a 2012 nominee for the America’s Best DJ title.
As he just began to hit the road, opening a summer-long slate of dates on Bassnectar’s “Vava Voom Tour,” we caught up with Holstein, 40, to discuss his latest doings—in the studio and in the DJ booth.
DJ Times: How’s it been touring with Bassnectar [aka Lorin Ashton]? Your style is certainly different from his. Do you feel the two musical styles come together well?
VibeSquaD: I feel great about it! I’ve been focusing on my mid-tempo, funk-based music and working on building a huge vibe, but not playing tracks that overlap with Lorin’s style. It is complimentary stylistically, and it works out well together.
DJ Times: Lorin described your sound as being in between a “full meltdown and deep, ultra-grinding groove.” How do you describe your music?
VibeSquaD: That is always so hard to do. It’s bass music. It’s melodic and harmonic. The tempo and style are diverse albeit original EDM. I would call it a made-up word—I’d call my music, “crunkstep-lazerwobble-bounceblappin-thunderfunk.” [laughs] I love dirty love songs. I mean, really, it gets goofy to try to describe it after a while.
DJ Times: How does your latest studio album, Orphan Alien Part 2, deviate from previous ones?
VibeSquaD: It’s diverse, but it all sounds like VibeSquaD. I’ve been pushing into new territories rhythmically and sonically, and I’ve been playing with some new gear. I am enjoying the growth and progression.
DJ Times: What’s your studio setup like?
VibeSquaD: My studio is a collection of 20-plus years of gear. I have a Fender Stratocaster I got when I was 12, in 1983. I have some hardware synths like a Moog Little Phatty, an Access Virus TI. I have some outboard gear like an Empirical Labs Distressor, a Vintech preamp, gear from Grace and Summit Audio. I have a bunch of mics like talk boxes, vocoders, vox effect devices, and so on.