An Interview With Amtrac And His Album “Came Along”
Amtrac, a.k.a. Caleb Cornett, is so loving his life right now, and why wouldn’t he? Just a few years ago, he was a kid in Kentucky trying to make it in a post-rock band headed for nowhere in particular. Fast forward to now, and he’s living in Miami (no offense to Kentucky but I’m guessing that’s an upgrade), playing shows with his idols, backed by Super Music Group and pushing a kick-ass new album, Came Along.
We were stoked when we got the chance to talk to him at his album release party hosted by Grand Central, in Miami.
“I’m pretty excited,” Cornett said to us out on the porch. “I’ve worked a long time toward this album. I’m really stoked to put it out.”
It all started about a year ago, when he completed the album’s title track, which he said really shaped the entire thing. Since then, he’s been working diligently to complete what has come to be, for him, a total summation of his musical background, from start to finish.
“How I’ve came along is kind of, from where I started to where I am now,” he said. “I’ve been into hip-hop, experimental electronic music, the house scene with Miami. Everything kind of comes full circle. Putting this album together is kind of all that defined; how I came along I guess.”
Came Along is a truly great album for fans of chill EDM, post-rock vibes and clean production. It’s got highs, lows, beautiful melodic progressions and just enough strange, spaced-out noises to get your robotic rocks off. Amtrac’s style possesses a unique musicality not often found in the world of EDM, which he attributes to his background as a musician in bands along the lines of Do Make Say Think, Radiohead and Mogwai.
“I try to incorporate (acoustic instrumentation) because when it sounds a little too didgital it’s a little too much for me. It sounds too processed,” he said. “Anything to make it feel not so synthetic, because I was influenced by bands, and that’s probably my biggest influence.”
Those influences shine through during his live performances as well. Unlike most DJs, Amtrac’s sets flow more like a band concert than a 2-hour mix fest, even though he is still mixing the whole time. Maybe it’s because he actually sings along to his tracks, or because he plays them for more than a minute at a time, or maybe it’s because you can take the man out of the band, but you can’t take the band out of the man.
“When I do a live set, it’s kind of like an album in a sense,” Cornett said. “I want to hit a lot of different spots, a lot of different tempos, not really just go straight up and down. I kind of take the crowd on a journey for like an hour.”
His set at Grand Central was no exception.
He hit the stage around midnight and started us off with some original material from Came Along, just the thing to get everyone dancing and totally fixated on the man of the hour. It was cool to see a DJ sing, instead of just grab the mic and yell something like “y’all still with me out there?”
He worked his way up, into some chill dubstep vibes, keeping the flow solid even when switching up the beat or tempo. Eventually, the crowd was wiled into a hip-hop frenzy, dropping sweet versions of everything from Wu-Tang’s C.R.E.A.M., to a totally sick mash up of Justice’s We Are Your Friends and the Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic.
He was followed by an energetic and more traditional set by Derek Walin, Cornett’s partner in crime and arguably the man he has everything to thank for.
A few years back, when Cornett was still just that boy in Kentucky, Walin heard his Amtrac stuff on soundcloud and saw something worth grabbing. After reaching out to Cornett and eventually signing him to Super Music Group, Walin had the Kentucky boy moved to Miami and opening for acts like Steve Aoki.
“He was really just inspired by my music, really felt like he could do something with it,” Cornett said of the chance-encounter. “I have so umch respect for Super Music Group. They’ve put me onto a lot of things I never could have done living in Kentucky, that’s for sure.”
Cornett said some of the best parts have just been sharing the stage with his idols, producers like Mr. Oizo and Alex Metric. He said his set with metric just a few weeks ago was “a pinnacle of my career.”
“I’m really a stickler for production,” he said of his admiration for these men. “I admire them as engineers … Ive seen (Metric) come up, and I like seeing artists progress, just keep going and doing different things. Those people have always pushed the limit for me and really inspired me to do more things and not just stay in one zone.”
So what’s next for Cornett as he keeps pushing on? Well, he’s returning to Miami this Thursday for a set with Treasure Fingers at the Florida Room which really can’t be missed. I mean, seriously, if you’re around, be there.
Oh, and he told us he just signed with an international booking agent, so stay tuned cause sometime next year, he’s hoping to hit it hard all over this country and the world in support of his new album. Which, by the way, you should totally get.
Amtrac – Came Along
Amtrac – Heart’s Not Made Of Gold
This interview brought to you by a joint effort. Let’s give it up to GPS and Kat, y’all.