Eli Tart, known along the East Coast as "The Gawdfatha," is a DJ and producer from North Carolina. He's worked his way up the scene and is heading his own collective called "The MOBB" which brings together talented producers and vocalists. In this very in-depth interview, he'll talk about breaking on to the scene, certain challenges he had to face along the way, and how to deal with a power outage during a live performance. A special thank you to Cassie for arranging this amazing interview!
Let's start at the beginning with how you got into music in the first place. What sort of background do you have outside of EDM if any, and how did you get into the scene and start producing?
I have a pretty diverse background before coming into EDM which included lots of singing, a few years of music theory and piano, and learning guitar and the drums. Straight out of high school I started throwing some pretty decent scale house parties with a close friend of mine. I did these events and similar other private events leading up to my first big show at a legitimate music venue. The event was called BassBoom hosted by the Carolina Committee which is run by an amazing guy that goes by the name of DJ Moodswing. As for a more visceral outlook on my first performance: it was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. There were hundreds of people looking up at me and the lights caused the stage to get extremely toasty. I was shaking for at least the first half of my set just from the nerves alone! I was the baby on the Carolina Committee roster, so I had a lot to prove that night. I poured my heart out to the audience for a solid hour and to see people reacting so positively to the music and transitions I was putting out there was the best feeling in the world. There was truly this feeling of mutual understanding and togetherness that night which just can’t be replicated anywhere else. From my own personal stand perspective as an artist, that is what it's all about.
Could you give us a few anecdotes about your collaborations or conversations with other producers?
I have a song coming out on my freshman album, "Shadow of a Man," that was done with my good friend, Kure. I learned a lot working on this track by seeing the differences in our production styles and applying different techniques to my music. I have to say my favorite experience was when I was twenty-one and got to be on stage with Buku shortly after the release of his "Janky" and "Fooled" EP's. Seeing him do his thing live was an amazing learning experience and then afterward, I got to speak with him and bond over production jokes and music theory. It was a very chill time and he was extremely humble which I really respected.
Let's move on to your moments on stage. How do you prepare, and could you give some specific stories, good or bad, about performing live?
It’s important to have a stable mindset when you’re getting ready to perform because where you’re at mentally will be reflected in your set. I always find the green room or a quiet place to get me where I need to be to perform. Any problems I’ve ever had during a set has always resulted from my mind not being where it needed to be. Your average listener won’t notice things like starting a transition a measure too early, chopping off time, or properly fading EQ's but this is what makes the difference between a good artist and a great artist striving for the best. As for when performing goes wrong, I’ve had the power go out temporarily at a couple different smaller venues. Whenever that happens, you just need to stay calm and keep the people engaged.
You mentioned industry standards in your last response. Could you talk more about current trends and how you plan to get ahead?
Well you certainly don’t want to copy what established are currently doing. Rather you want to make sure that your sound and visuals are on par with them while staying unique. You’ve got to create your own sound, story, and concept for people to get behind. At the end of the day, we’re all doing this to bring people together and if that isn’t your goal, you won’t make it far. People like Bassnectar have names for their fans like Bassheads so what I’ve done is taken the name, “GawdFatha” and started up an artist collective called “The MOBB.” In due time, these projects will grow and speak for themselves. Under my personal alias, "The GawdFatha," I am currently finishing up my freshman album and I will continue handling my current residency, playing out of town shows, and potentially go on tour in the near future. For "The MOBB," the main focus is bringing together talented producers and vocal artists. I can't give all the details out, but definitely stick around because it's going to be a crazy ride.
What are some of the challenges you've faced progressing your career while still trying to make ends meet?
I feel that marketing is a big struggle as an artist. I had no financial backing starting up my music career and I was working a full-time job. I would play shows every weekend that I could, building my name and learning all I could along the way. Now, I have a four-night residency at a local club in Fayetteville, North Carolina called the "House of Sin" and make enough to live off of. As an artist, creating has always been my strong suit but I’m slowly growing in the marketing aspect. If I were to say anything regarding marketing to other up and coming artists: make sure your content fits industry standards, then learn to run and fund your marketing campaigns. Maintain working relationships with promoters, publicists, venue owners, and other artists. In all of these interactions, always try to stay on the good side of people and do things that will work out best for both parties and not just yourself. All of your goals are obtainable as long as you are willing to work hard for them.
What are some other things that you're passionate about or enjoy doing or talking about?
I love artful things in general. For instance, I enjoy cooking, drawing, writing, and painting. I also love to explore, go longboarding, play paintball, and go for hikes. In the future, I hope to get involved with storytelling and movies or television because I feel like I’ve got a lot of stories to tell. At the moment I won’t say more because I’ve got to leave room for the sequel.
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