A man of very few words, Seven Lions, née Jeff Montalvo, chooses to let his basslines do the talking for themselves. A brand-new producer coming in blazing hot thanks to an official endorsement from super-group Above & Beyond (currently number 5 on the world’s Top 100 DJs), Seven Lions embarked on his first-ever tour supporting his fellow young dub-superstars Gemini, Koan Sound, and Bassex.
‘Fast’ is an understatement for how things have been moving as Montalvo’s popularity skyrockets among fans of both trance, dubstep, and everything in between. The 24-year-old Lompoc, California native currently resides in Santa Barbara, California, and began making music when his father first brought him home a Macintosh and keyboard at age 7. After playing in metal and punk bands throughout middle school and high school, Montalvo turned to producing in his late teens.
“For me, it was the most accessible thing, to start picking up something like drums as opposed to something like electronic music. My transition out of playing with a band was because I got tired of waiting for my band all the time — I wanted to just start making music so I started composing electronic music by myself,” Montalvo explains.
After a friend gave Montalvo the digital audio program Fruityloops, he began messing around with industrial drum beats and playing with the idea of genres. After attending his first rave in 2007, Montalvo was inspired to produce trance — but slowly found that broken beat came more naturally to the drummer-at-heart. “It’s more like playing a real instrument, as opposed to doing the four-on-the-floor disco beat. It’s more natural for me,” he says.
As Seven Lions, Montlavo is a natural at spanning all genres. However, it is his remix of Above& Beyond and Zoe Johnston’s “You Got To Go” which served as his breakout hit and introduction to the EDM world.
“I won the official remix competition, which is how I got involved with [Above & Beyond]. I don’t know if they were expecting the track to do as well as it did. But it definitely got their attention, and now they’re wanting to work with me more."
That the remix “did well” is an understatement — typical of the soft-spoken Montalvo. The meteoric track sat at #2 on Beatport's Dubstep chart for over 6 weeks, second only to Skrillex's remix of Levels, with hundreds of thousands of listens across Youtube. And since winning the competition, several other artists from Above & Beyond's label, Anjunabeats, have begun talks in working with Seven Lions and his melodic take on dubstep.
“Just having Above & Beyond listen to the song was the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me,” says Montalvo. “They’re idols, and the fact that they liked it was awesome — but just the fact that they even listened to it was enough to get me excited.”
From metal band member, to solo industrial producer, to a trance-dub trailblazer — what’s next for Seven Lions? His first touring experience on a leg of the UKF tour with Gemini and Koan Sound starts at the end of March 2012, followed by an EP on Viper Recordings. The producer is also in talks with Armin Van Buuren's label Armada about releasing a dubstep track with them, and will surely work with Above & Beyond again after the success of the “You Got To Go” Remix.
What can fans expect from the upcoming EP? “Lots of dubstep, some melodic dubstep, breakbeats — Shaz Sparks is doing some vocals over it. We’re trying to finish it by the end of March,” he says. An innovative, fresh-thinking producer who isn’t afraid to bridge the gap between trance and dubstep, Seven Lions is the future sound about to take the world by storm.