I recently got the chance to have a nice chat with Big Chocolate aka Cameron Argon. Cameron, who recently relocated to Seattle, is riding high off the success of his debut full length album, Red Headed Locc (check out our full review here). Keep reading to hear more about Cameron’s musical roots in heavy metal, his thoughts on his latest album and some insights into where he wants his music to go next!
I know you probably get asked this every interview but how did your name come to be?
“Well, it was a combination of things. I had a Chocolate cell phone. Remember those things? Verizon had this stupid Chocolate cell phone back in the day. I wanted it to be my Myspace name as a joke because back in the Myspace days people had names like Brutal Ben, Gory Sally, Slaughter Sally and so I wanted a cool name and I chose Big Chocolate. Then I started putting up my own music and really didn’t want to be taken too seriously when I was making this pretty angry sounding metal music. Then I started making more electronic music and that started getting more attention so I just kept the name to keep the recognition and now I’m stuck with it. *laughs* I usually don’t like the name but I think it works when people meet me and they think it’s hilarious that my name is Big Chocolate and I’m a 5 ’10 red head.”
Going through some of your press materials I noticed there is a strong emphasis on you being an American producer. Is there a specific reason for that?
“I remember when I first started looking at people who produced dance music, dance music being a such a big worldwide thing, and I noticed that there weren’t a whole lot of American people making a lot of the music I was listening to. All these other people were so proud of where they were from and so I want to be proud of my country when I make music. I don’t want to be over the top about it but people should know that hey, I’m an American.”
So you started out in metal and still make it correct? Was your progression into EDM a gradual or sudden thing?
“It was very very very gradual. When I was really into metal I was also making a lot of Moby-ish type of stuff. Very chill, just opening up a session and making whatever. I got really into hardstyle and drum n’ bass and then when I started to get more into electronic music production I looked to drum n’ bass and dubstep as influences. I really wanted to make the metal-dubstep crossover sound. I was doing that with this project I had called Commissioner where I started making dubstep and house. I couldn’t make drum n’ bass at the time but that’s what I wanted to make. That built up my skill set and then when I was making my solo stuff that ended up getting more attention than the crossover stuff and I’ve been doing that ever since. So yeah it was very unanticipated and I think that was probably beneficial as well because when I came in I was just making music for fun and making stuff that sounded cool. That’s actually the reason I have been taking so long to put my album out. I needed to learn to properly mix down my music and I pretty much spent the last six months just re-mix downing the entire album. I didn’t do that stuff at first. I was just making whatever I wanted so a lot of that earlier stuff has terrible squashed mixdowns but I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just having fun. I still have that mindset but now I just make sure I have a good mixdown!” *laughs*
Very cool. It’s awesome to see producers really take the time to do that!
“Yeah well it’s like you can make a bunch of cool stuff and people can really like it but like people will ask me why I’m not playing my old stuff live all the time and it’s because the mixdowns just will not cut it. I literally just cannot play it because it will not deliver. So I don’t. It is what it is.”
With your experience in the metal community, how does the EDM culture and community compare with that of metal?
“Well I’m not a fan of the metal community. The metal community is mostly online especially like the underground death metal community. Like when you get to like the Mayhem, Warped Tour kind of metal there are a lot more kids in it and supporting it. The kind of stuff I’m making people just talk about it on forums. There’s a common term, IMN, Internet Metal Nerds and they are really hard to please so I just don’t even care about them and do whatever I want to. You do have a lot of elitism in drum n bass and what not but for the most part the EDM crowds, the EDM experience, the EDM fan base is more supportive, more about the music, less about what says what and this is cool vs. this is not cool. It’s more about being creative and experimenting (or at least the way approach electronic music) than just trying to create this threshold of what’s correct and what’s out of line. You get that too in EDM obviously but I feel more free with electronic music. When your platform is a computer and you can make a song with whatever you want, it is very relieving as a creative producer. The electronic genre is hands down the most appealing in the game right now.”
So you would say that you take electronic music more seriously right now?
“Oh yeah. I take it a lot more seriously. I still take it pretty goofy just because at the end of the day I’m just having fun, screwing around making music. I love doing the metal stuff. I love certain metal bands. I don’t listen to it all the time anymore but I really enjoy making it. When I make it I do know that the audience is so big and there’s not a whole to do in that so I just make it for fun. I’d be doing that regardless. Honestly I didn’t expect to go into music as a career path until like the last two years. Basically when I got that Warped Tour 2011 offer, that was when I was like whoa I better start taking this stuff seriously. Before then I just wanted to be a cop. ” *laughs*
So let’s talk a little bit about your new album Red Headed Locc. It’s done really well…
“Yeah it has! It’s an independent album. I’m unsigned for a reason. I like to keep myself independent. The label I released it on is called Flabslab. Which is just a fake name I made up awhile ago just solely to release stuff on. I’m a big believer that if you have the right fan base and you treat them well and respect them they will respect you and support you. If you have a label that’s not always the case. This was the first album as far as the new Big Chocolate stuff goes. I’ve never had anything on Beatport and when I put it out it got like three overall. Which is huge because the album is not typical Beatport charting material. I remember my team was like we’ve got to go for Beatport because it’s huge in the EDM community. At first I was like yeah I know that but I don’t want to go out there and make a fool out of myself. I’d rather just distribute it to my fans and my friends. Then I was like whatever. It went up and started charting and they turned out to be right. I was really happy with that because before then I thought that with Beatport you had to meet a certain requirement to chart well but I feel like that’s no longer the case. You can make whatever. “Blue Milk” is still #1 on the hip-hop charts which is cool. It was an unexpected single. I remember making it like five months ago, before trap started really blowing up, and showing it to my managers and they weren’t too sure about it but I was like trust me this is gonna blow up. I didn’t know it would do that well though. So yeah that’s been cool. Dillon Francis has been playing it out.”
Yeah I actually saw Flosstradamus last week and they dropped it.
“Oh yeah? That’s bad ass. I’m gonna be dropping a fair amount of their stuff tonight. But yeah with the album I just want it to be the staple of what I like to do. Before this I’ve had dubstep EPs and what not but I kinda wanted to make something versatile enough that I couldn’t be pigeonholed to any specific genre. I could play trap nights, I could play dubstep, I could play drum n bass nights and I also have some rock n roll on there. So if I don’t want want to make dubstep in a year, I don’t have to. I’m actually putting out an EP in November and it’s gonna have two trap tracks, one drum n bass track and a rock track just to keep things flavorful. I know for fact that the trap tracks are going to blow up but I want to have the other stuff to keep the window open.”
Do you see yourself adding other artists to your label?
“I don’t know. I’ve always liked helping out my buddies. A lot of the music I play is just my friend’s stuff. I think if I ever got to a point where I could efficiently run a label I would do it but I think that right now it would just go over my head. I do want to do it with metal because I think it would be a bit easier but with electronic music I might hold off for a while.”
Now I heard not too long ago that your live sets were exclusively your own music. I’m guessing that’s no longer true?
“It is not true anymore. I did that starting on the Warped Tour and I did that for about a year. The last show I played that was exclusively my own stuff was Ultra. Ultra was a big thing and I think playing only my own stuff was a cool staple to do. Like I was saying, a lot of my old stuff has terrible mixdowns so that was probably not the greatest choice to do for Ultra but I felt strongly that this was the music I like to make and this is the music I like to play live.”
That’s very cool. There are really only a hand full of artists that do that.
“Yeah and my set is still 70%-80% my own stuff but now I do drop a lot of my buddy’s stuff. Which I think is good because I support them and then they support me. I remember when I first started transitioning out of playing only my own stuff it became really clear to me that I needed to get my mixdowns on point. I told my team I don’t want to do any remixes, I don’t want to do any shows. I just want to make my mixdowns good and wait until Red Headed Locc is out so I have that as a staple. I am thinking about bringing a guitar into my live set. A lot of my newer stuff has a lot of guitar and think it would be cool to play other people’s track and do a guitar line over it. I think doing that would make playing stuff like “Hella Tight” a little more acceptable because then I have a hint of live action in addition to a DJ set.”
So you’ve got a new EP on the way for November. What else is on the horizon for you as far as touring and production?
“Well right now I’m trying to get my plans set for the summer. I don’t know what’s going on late winter or spring but for the rest of the year I have Snowglow in Lake Tahoe with Wiz Khalifa, deadmau5 and Chromeo. That’s also where my family is from so they will get to come out. I’m also playing Unsilent Night in Dallas. It’s kind of just a huge party. It’s going to be Steve Aoki, me, Crizzly a few other acts and then another stage with Every Time I Die and Casey’s Train. So that’s gonna be a blast. I’m also playing in Seattle for the first time living there at this event called FreakNight. It’s me, Noisia, Armin Van Buuren, Flux Pavilion and Bogore. That’s going to be ridiculous. It’s one of those things that sells out before they even release the lineup. So yeah that’s the rest of my year basically. I just wanna consistently put music out. I wouldn’t be surprised if I put something else out in January. I’ll only have a few festivals so I’m just gonna be in that grind. If I’m at home I wanna be making and putting out music. Especially since I’m self released. I’m my own boss, I don’t really need to time anything right. I can just put out whatever I want.”
Awesome. Well thanks again for your time and answers Cameron!
“No problem man!”