Feral on Changing His Name, New York’s Influence on His Music, and “Haymaker”

Image via Feral on Facebook
Image via Feral on Facebook

Recently, we got introduced to Feral via “Haymaker,” a track from his debut EP. While we were initially blown away, we were confused: Feral’s one of those names who’s received a grip of buzz (and plays), but even in his previous incarnation as In Transit, we weren’t that versed with his output, or his story (aside from being based in New York, and being influenced by the sounds of drum & bass and hip-hop). You know what we have to do, then, right? Get down to brass tacks and figure out Feral’s story, especially because he’s an artist we have a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more from in 2014.

We don’t have much info on you, Feral. We heard via FACT that you used to be known as “In Transit.” When did you first get into producing?
I first started when I was about 14 with the demo version of Fruity Loops on my parents PC in the dining room. You can’t save in the demo version so I basically would work on something for like six hours and pray it didn’t crash. I’ve produced on and off since then but I’ve only really been dedicated over the last year or so.

You live in New York City – would you say living in NYC has influenced the music you produce?
I’m definitely inspired by living here. New York feels like a place where things happen first. I’m a pretty impatient person, so this is the only place I’ve ever been that feels like it moves at the same pace I do.

What was it about your new sounds that made you consider a shift in direction, thus birthing Feral?
It largely had to do with how uncomfortable it was to say or be called “In Transit” out loud. I got back into making music while I was in the process of moving to New York from Ohio, so at the time “In Transit” made sense. My name means “tenacious like a fighting dog,” and I think this EP has a bit of a fighting dog sensibility to it, so Feral felt closer to me on both levels.

You’ve spoken on your collection of CDs growing up, featuring everything from Photek to DMX, and it’s been noted that your music draws influences from all of those sounds. Was that a conscious effort, or was it something that you noticed after the fact?
As a teenager I was split between listening to early 2000s drum & bass and hip-hop. I still have a hard time describing what kind of music I make, but just looking back on what I was listening to during those formative years, I think helps contextualize my music a bit more knowing I was raised between Teebee and Bangladesh.

We’ve seen your name on a Brodinski tracklist, and hear everyone from Lunice to Plastician has kept your beats in rotation. How did these DJs get in contact with your material – were you pushing your new beats to everyone or did a word-of-mouth chain occur?
It was a bit of a mixture of both. I’ve only really started floating things out tracks over the last year or so. I think what’s been the most motivating is send stuff out at first and not hearing anything back. It’s pushed me to go back to the drawing board and completely reshape tracks that were just sketches when I was first sending them out. Recently I’ve gotten some positive feedback from a lot of my heroes (like Brodinksi) which has been super rewarding.

Talk to us about Haymaker. Are there any set themes throughout this EP?
About a year ago I found myself trying to make things that sounded like something else, but with this EP I think the theme is just me letting every track go exactly where I want it to go. Haymaker felt like the perfect title because a haymaker is an imperfect punch, but you’re putting all of your weight behind it.

Do you feel that Haymaker is a definitive statement on where your music is heading?
Absolutely. I’m still discovering my own sound, but I feel like this EP is the first effort I’ve made that feels honest to who I am. That said, it touches on a few directions that I think affords me the flexibility to try some new things moving forward.

With so many names already into your music, how did this EP end up on The Big Hurt, an imprint out of LA?
The Big Hurt is actually a small team (in both NY and LA) that I’ve pulled together. We all found ourselves at a similar place of wanting to make our own statement in the music world. I’ve been working on this EP for a few months so everything just ended up timing out right for this to be our first release.

What’s next for FERAL? Any releases already signed?
I have a few tracks and collaborations in the works, but up next is hopefully playing some shows and road-testing Haymaker a bit. Also adding to The Big Hurt’s roster and getting ready for a few things we have cooking for 2014.

Do androids dance?
After they figure out how to get up some stairs we can talk.