Andy Potash, better known throughout the Southeast as Archmage, has been an active musician for over 25 years and creating electronic music since 2012. His music has made it to top of the Beatport charts and been released on ShiftAxis Records and NoisyDrums. This year he will be playing at Imagine Festival alongside headliners like Zeds Ded, The Glitch Mob, and Bassanecter to name a few.
Let’s go back to the very beginning to when you first got into music...
Music started for me in ‘92 when I was six years old. So far, I’ve taken six years of piano lessons, one year of alto saxophone, and four years of clarinet. I picked up my first guitar and bass when I was fourteen and went on to study music theory, music education, and percussion at Georgia State University.
What brought you into EDM?
I grew up a punk rocker and a metal head listening to bands such as The Vandals, The Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Korn, Tool, A Perfect Circle, Symphony X, Dream Theater, and DragonForce. In 2010, when “My Name Is Skrillex” came out and Dubstep was rising in popularity, the metal head and punk inside me kept me far away from it because “fuck the mainstream and fuck conformity,” right? In late 2011, I had a bunch of friends convince me to listen to dubstep. They’d be like, “Dude, you love metal, right? I’m telling you, it’s just like metal, but with synths instead of strings!” I finally listened and was just amazed. Like the sub bass gave me that same warm feeling in my chest that I would get when hearing and feeling the double kicks in metal music. I remember listening to Skrillex’s Bangarang EP beginning to end, and my first thought was, “Okay. That was awesome... Now how does one make sounds like that?” I got started by downloading Ableton 8 and watching a bunch of YouTube tutorials, and the rest is history. I DJed my first live set in fall of 2012 at Quad in Atlanta, and a year later had 2 Beatport top 10 releases and a #54 Dubstep single. It was unreal seeing my name among so many other huge artists on those charts!
Reason #2: The name was tied to a lot of negativity in my life at the time. There were a lot of issues at the time with my ex-girlfriend and former manager that ended up costing me a lot of bookings and my livelihood. Although my former manager and I have come to terms with the past and have moved on to become really close friends; I owe so much to her for helping me get onto the scene.
Reason #3: When I started Symbiot, there was not a whole lot of thought put in to the name, the theme was based off of Marvel comics characters, which I didn’t want to get sued over, and I was also still searching for my “sound” which took me years to find because it’s hard to find your sound as a new artist in a new genre. Archmage was planned and calculated. It was a name that embodied my interests in fantasy and magic so now all of my music is fantasy themed. It all became a single brand that people loved and I was able to sell.
How did you go about breaking through the Atlanta EDM scene to gain the title, “Dark Lord of Bass”?
The transition to Archmage wasn’t easy. It was like starting from over from square one. To top it all off, after my debut EP release, I fell in to a debilitating eight-month depression. I couldn’t write music, I didn’t want to go out, nothing. Then in May of 2017, my good friend and fellow bass artist Zubah helped pull me out of it and got me back into writing and performing.
What have been some of your craziest moments on stage?
Oh man I have a few. The crowd at Iris New Year’s Eve 2017 was one of the best I’ve ever played for. I’ll never forget that night where I threw down this massive multi-genre set and the people just ate it all up! Another would be Build a Rave 2 which was earlier this year. The theme of the show was “Girl Power” and female superheroes. I showed up to my set in my Archmage robes, and right when the first drop of my set hit, I threw off my robes, revealing a bra, tutu, and fluffies underneath. The crowd went wild and people were talking about it for weeks! The other craziest moment I can think of is this one time when I was performing at Opera night club back in 2014. I had quite a few beers before hitting the stage and halfway through my set, I had to take a piss like nobody’s business. These are literally the thoughts that crossed my mind: “Okay Andy, what are we gonna do? I have these empty beer bottles next to me, maybe I can pee in them and nobody would notice? Nah, I have to pee way too much, a single bottle wouldn’t be able to hold it, and I won’t be able to stop this stream to switch bottles. I guess I could pee my pants, and nobody would notice... until later. Yeah no, I don’t want to be forever known as the DJ who pissed his pants at Opera. The only bathroom I know is on the other side of the venue. How do I do this? Do I have any six-minute dubstep tunes?” Well it turns out I did, and as soon as I mixed it in, I ran off the stage, made it to the restroom on the other side of the venue, and made it back with just enough time to smoothly transition into the next tune. Shit was wild!
What are you looking forward to for this year’s Imagine Festival?
Well last year at Imagine, I had only been playing on CD-Js for less than two months and now that I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to perform at Imagine 2018, it feels nice knowing that I’m coming back a seasoned veteran on that equipment which means I’ll have a lot more flexibility with my set. Also last year, since I was new to using CD-Js, I decided to keep it simple and stick to dubstep because I thought it would be easier for me and that the crowd would enjoy it more. This year, I’m super excited to be myself and give the festival goers the heavy, multi-genre sets that I’m best known for. There will be a lot of original music, a lot of new music, and of course I also love throwing a few classics and crowd favorites. I can’t wait!
A massive thank you to Archmage for taking the time to answer our questions! Be sure to follow him on social media for more updates on his performances and releases!
Chris W. Lao
DJ, Writer, and Student.
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