Meet the LA-hailed producer at the forefront of a new wave of music.
20-year-old electronic producer Surf Mesa is a superstar in the making. At 19-years-old, Surf Mesa was navigating the success of his first major it “ily” (i love you baby) featuring Emilee. With number one hits on Spotify and a Top 10 spot on Billboard’s Dance/ Electronic Songs chart, the LA producer could hardly believe his success. Starting out writing original songs on Soundcloud and tirelessly remixing song after song, Surf Mesa channelled his vibrant energy and solidified his own path for long-term success.
Releasing his remix of Marshmello & Halsey’s hit “Be Kind” today, we caught up with the rising star talking influences, new music and what’s next.
Check out the interview below…
“Ily ( I love you baby)” feat. Emilee garnered over 200 million streams, it’s currently in the top 15 of Spotify’s Global Top 50, broke into Shazam’s Top Global chart at #12, and has 1 billion views on TikTok, first off congratulations! Did you expect it to be such a hit?
Wow, when it’s all written out like that it’s a little overwhelming. Thank you, I’m really really blessed and grateful. These stats on the track come in so fast it’s hard to process – and I think it will be a while before I fully do. When I was working on this song I literally just wanted to make something fun and dreamy that sounded like it came out of a bedroom (which it did)… and now to see so many people vibing with it in a dark time for the world means so much to me. I seriously hope it can bring people a little comfort. I think people still need good music.
Do you remember where you were when you heard the original Frankie Valli’s “Can’t The My Eyes Off You” or was your first time hearing it Emilee Flood’s cover?
I was definitely familiar with the classic. My parents have played me all the greats from their era since I was a baby. My dad is a musician as well and would jam on his saxophone almost every night for us. I’m super lucky that I grew up with a family that educated me musically. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” definitely wasn’t in my normal rotation of songs until I heard Emilee’s version, her voice is unreal and her take on it is so fresh.
What made you choose to make your own version?
I actually had some hesitation about making my own version. I thought people wouldn’t appreciate it or mess with it. It’s scary to take on a classic song and put a new spin to it. But, when I was actually producing it, everything came super naturally and easy. I finished the whole thing in one sitting…it took a full night. I uploaded the track to SoundCloud at 5 in the morning right after exporting it and now we’re here, which is crazy.
Tell us about the recent video you released for “ily (i love you baby).” Where was the video shot?
I’m originally from Seattle but I’ve been living in Marina Del Rey in California. The video was shot around there and in Venice. I wanted this video to be pretty raw and just show me around the neighbourhood, nothing too crazy – we’re working on something much cooler for the actual music video, but I can’t talk about that yet. I’m excited for everyone to see the official music video for the song.
We hear you have been making music since 3rd grade, and you come from a family of musicians too, when did you decide you wanted to be a musician yourself and how did that come about at such a young age?
Shout out again to my parents for instilling music in me. I think it started out just as anyone starts out any hobby, but for me it began super young. You kind of mess around with it, try and emulate your idols, and then depending on how things go, develop your own thing. My older brother actually helped download FL Studio (production software) onto our computer…I used to just watch production tutorials on YouTube forever and try and copy sounds and songs, and that was in the 3rd grade. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I really started dedicating myself to this full time.
How did growing up in Seattle influence you as an artist? Were you a fan of the iconic grunge rockers who hail from your city? How did that movement impact you?
Seattle is a special place where it rains 9 months out of the year and we get about 3 months of decent weather. In the summers, I’d go to the skatepark and make friends, but for the rest of the year, I’d be inside gaming, which obviously isn’t the most productive thing to do unless you’re a pro. During the rainy seasons I started focusing more on music. It was also inspirational learning about Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and local Seattle bands that had the same passion.
You’re with the iconic Capitol Music Group now, officially signed with Astralwerks, how did you come about being signing to them? What advice do you have for other artists who want to get signed?
I’ve always known music would play a large part in my life. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities that Astralwerks presents me with. They approached me directly once “ily (i love you baby)” started taking off on TikTok and Spotify and I started getting to know the people on their team. I noticed immediately that not only were they interested in “ily (i love you baby)” but also my other demos and music I’ve been working on. I also just got along with the team well and was super impressed with other projects they’ve built. It’s a big step for an artist to sign to a label…and labels can do a lot, but also any producer from their bedroom can do a lot too. Don’t underestimate what can be built from a bedroom and the internet.
Who are your biggest music influences from childhood vs today? Which would you like to collaborate with?
When I started DJing I definitely started appreciating dance music more and more. You might not think it based on just hearing “ily (i love you baby)” but I actually love a lot of electronic music, especially artists who can infuse a sense of happiness or lightness into their tracks, so there’s a ton of electronic producers I’d love to collab with but also a lot of singers too. I am really vibing with Chelsea Cutler lately she’s definitely someone I’d love to have on a track.
Marshmello, ARTY, Topic, Medasin, Laxcity, and Treovr have all become fans of yours, does this surprise you? Were you a fan of their work too? How did you guys connect?
It’s wild. I’ve actually never been to a music festival, but having artists who rock massive main stages support my music means so much to me. I think having these guys support the project is mind-blowing and hopefully, I’ll be able to play shows with some of them sooner than later. I’ve gotten connected really rapidly with a bunch of amazing people – a lot of times I’ll just DM people on IG and start a conversation. The team behind me are also rock stars and have given me a bunch of opportunities.
How have people found your music mostly to date? With so many platforms and such a variety of content available, getting noticed on the scale you have is not easy or common. Tell us about that process?
To be completely honest I don’t think I’m the “best” on social media platforms like TikTok or Twitter, and I don’t really think of myself as an influencer, but TikTok is what helped “ily (i love you baby)” start blowing up and start getting people’s attention. I think the song has over a million videos created with it on TikTok right now and something like a billion views. It’s kind of crazy what that app can do and I’m really grateful it exists as a music discovery platform right now. I also realize how lucky I am to be on this ride and to be getting this kind of attention and I’m grateful for every single thing that happens. I wake up every day excited to produce and excited to put more music out.
What is your process when you are making music? Do you have a specific way you work or is it more randomly when it inspires you? What technology do you use to make your beats?
I’m on FL Studio and have been since I started… I basically just start with melodies. I try and create warm melodies or guitar chords and work off that. I think a lot of it is also just the amount of time I put in. It’s literally all I do…most nights I’ll be up until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning working on music until I’m literally falling asleep in my chair. I usually hear melodies in my head first.
Social media has become a daily thing for most people, how do you find balance with it and what are is your favourite and least favourite thing about it?
Balance is key…it’s easy to get sucked into broadcasting every single thing you’re doing every single day. I really don’t like doing that, to be honest. If people want to know about me or my life I’d rather do something like this where you get to answer questions and have a dialogue. If people care, that’s great, I’m happy. My hope is that through things like this and some of the stuff I do on socials, that people get to know me as a human and not just the guy that made “ily (i love you baby).”
Wonderland has been known as an art and fashion publication for the last 15 years since inception, what kind of art and fashion are your favourites? Who would you want to collaborate within those worlds?
Not a lot of people know this but I’m actually really into architecture and interior design. I love the concept of art and space. One of the things I’m looking forward to the most is getting to visit new countries and checking out architecture in different parts of the world. I think, like fashion, architecture has this cool combination of having to be functional but also including an aesthetic role. It’s art you can walk through, exist in, and live in. I think down the line being able to do unique shows in some of these places would be insane. I spend a lot of time re-designing my own living space to get inspired creatively.
How are you staying sane during these uncertain times? What advice do you have for others?
I think trying to keep some sort of routine is important and staying active. I’ll play tennis or go on hikes just about every day. It’s easy to sit on your couch and do nothing but I’m not sure that’s the healthiest. I don’t think I have it all nailed – I’m going through this just like anyone else and I have ups and downs too. Good days and bad days, which is normal and okay.
Anything you’d like your fans or those yet to become fans to know that you have not shared otherwise yet?
I want people to know how thankful I am that they’re listening to my music. I know this is just the beginning. I wish we could put out all of this music right away but I know we have to let things build up and grow. For everything else, people will just have to follow along the journey.