Squealing “I love you guys! Do you remember me?” GTA’s Matt and Julio paused for a second before they uncomfortably said “No”—that was until I whipped out a ratchet iPhone 6 photo from three years ago; it was taken in the dingy basement at the late Chicago’s The MID (RIP). At the time, GTA’s Matt Toth and Julio Mejia had just released nothing short of a “Beyoncé flawless” self-titled LP. We chatted like old friends, and I even got to partake in GTA’s pre-show ritual: a shot of their main man Don Julio.
This reunion meant more than you’ll ever know, more than they’ll ever know. Their 2013 team effort with Diplo, “Boy Oh Boy,” oozed moxie, uninhibited energy which filled my cup. Toth and Mejia were my first in-person interview, a career milestone that led Sydney back to her purpose on earth—writing.
Before the boys’ Spring Awakening Music Festival performance, we laughed about shitty “FK IT” bootlegs, their bromance with Chris Lake, and I made fun of Julio’s basic drink of choice—sugar-free Red Bull—when Colombian coffee just isn’t an option.
Dish on the “FK IT” cover art.
M: I wanted something really fucked up, as you can imagine. I thought about hyperrealism and face stretching. Our tour manager, Blaise, took the photo. Then, I had my cousin Matt photoshop it and make it super crazy.
Why make “FK IT” available on streaming services now?
M: Mad Decent’s Paul Devro has been wanting to release it for a while. We just had some other music, like our other EP, that we’re trying to push. We thought it’s about time. We’ve been playing it long enough. We have certain songs that we hold on to for a while or just give to a few DJs.
What juice does “FK IT” bring to the party?
J: We were imagining the craziest energy possible while making it. Performing at a hometown show, like Ultra, is always crazy for us. We needed to come up with something fresh, and Matt came up with this idea to make a giant horn trap banger.
M: We wanted to make something inspired by Crookers’ blog house—but trap—where’s there’s a lot of really random noises but also a cool beat. There are a vacuum sound and a bird call. It’s really ridiculous, but it was so much fun making it because you’re trying to find the most random sounds and then incorporate them into the song, in a way that makes sense.
J: We just love starting mosh pits with it.
Chris Lake is also throwing down on the Solstice Stage—immediately after your set; was that a deciding factor when choosing to play GTA’s Purple set (house and techno)?
M: That’s part of it for sure.
J: Chris is a good friend of ours. We are really inspired by him, so we wanted to set it up for him properly.
M: Last year, we started doing the 3 Night Stand tour where we divide up our sets. The person who booked us for the festival requested our Purple set. We’re going back to doing full-on normal sets and play to our crowd or whatever we feel at the time.
J: It gives us a bit of direction and helps us plan the set. Just thinking about the set right now, we have a good, solid half of it with all new stuff. For the most part, we still keep it spontaneous.
Destructo’s Gary Richards is LiveStyle’s North American president, the same company that owns SAMF. GTA’s remix of Richards’ 2014 anthem “Party Up” (feat. YG) was a tune that put Good Times Ahead on the map, even Wuki reworked your rework. How dooes it feel to come full circle?
J: Big shout out to Gary. I hope he’s around.
M: I hope we get to run into him. We haven’t seen him in a bit, but we love supporting him, playing his shows and attending them too. He’s done so much for both music in general and his family.
J: We’ve only done Lollapalooza here. That’s the only festival we’ve done in Chicago, but we’ve heard great things.
M: It’s one of the only festivals we haven’t played from our checklist.
Where’s the best spot to get Colombian coffee in Chicago?
M: We’ve never had it here. I thought with you saying that you were going to offer us some.
Then, how are you going to possibly play a set?
We might just do a few jumping jacks, slap each other around a little bit and drink some sugar-free Red Bull.
Will Chris Lake bust out his “True Romance” flip mid-set?
J: I already told him he can’t. We’re fighting if he does. I hope he does. I was thinking of playing it, no joke.
M: We should. I’m down.
J: It was crazy because that was one of the songs I didn’t think anybody would want to remix.
M: Yeah. Of all the tracks, he picked that one.
What would 2011’s U&I / Next To Us Matt and Julio tell 2018’s La Nueva Clásica Matt and Julio?
J: During that time, we were influenced by everything that was going on with electronic music as a whole. We weren’t even thinking about being producers. We just wanted to make music DJs would play.
At the time, we were listening to a lot of Avicii and progressive house. Our whole mindset was like “Let’s make a banger that will have the crowd going crazy.” ‘La Nueva Clásica’ is us exploring the influences that we loved listening to growing up in Miami and applying that to our production.
M: I feel like that EP specifically would have pertained to us from when we first started, more than anything. That’s the same Latin-inspired sound that got us into dance music: tribal house and moombahton.