Interview with Ballast + In the Sticks EP

in the sticks

Since 2012, Perfect Driver Music has assembled a tight crew of rising underground stars including Aaron Snapes, Wood Holly, Matthew Anthony, Mark Starr & more.  Today we’re featuring another one of their crew members on the rise, Trevor Osterman, aka Ballast.  Ballast’s fresh take on the House/Booty/Techno scene is a perfect fit for the gritty sounds of Perfect Driver Music.  We had a chance to chat with Ballast recently & here’s what he had to say…

GDD: Tell us about the music scene out in Phoenix right now.  How has the Bass music, House music & Techno scene progressed over the years and what are you doing to push things forward in the area?

BALLAST: The underground dance scene in Phoenix is where my head has been at for awhile, and it is definitely beginning to gain some traction. There are a lot of great people out here committed to carving out a real name for bass, house, and techno where there once wasn’t– and for the sake of the scene, not just a paycheck. I’ve been grateful to be a part of it, me and some like-minded buddies have been throwing some homegrown-type shows for free as a way to get good underground and local music into peoples’ ears. The response has been pretty good.

GDD: There’s a melodic hardcore band based out of Salem, NH who are also named Ballast.  Did you ever go through any hardcore/metal stages in your life?  Who were some of your early musical influences growing up and who are some current artists you admire today?

BALLAST: Oh man, I wasn’t even aware. I definitely went through a metal stage growing up. Most of my friends in high school were also musicians and every now and again at my buddies we would have a massive jam in a garage where we all take turns switching off instruments improvising nonsensical metalcore. We called it BloodKult, and it was great. Maybe me and the other Ballast can jam sometime.

I’d say a lot of my early dance influence was derived from the French music scene (Justice, Daft Punk, Danger, etc.). Something about the sound really caught my ear and inspired me to move from the psychedelic trip-hop stuff I had been making to a more danceable, club sound. A lot of early Dirtybird stuff then kinda molded my sound to be more bass-oriented, but what I’ve really been into lately is a lot of the stuff coming from Europe. Dark club vibes via Night Slugs and Her Records and related labels like Fade to Mind, but also a lot of Paris club music from Clek Clek and drum tracks stuff from Ultramajic. I’d say some current favs right now would be Neana, Aden, Matrixxman, Coni, and SPF666. Best new EP I’ve gotten recently is the new one from SPF666. I admire anything that pushes the boundaries of music rather than staying in a comfort zone.

GDD: Could you give us some insight into your production style & technique?  Do you generally approach a song the same way or is it different each time?

BALLAST: Realistically, it’s probably changing all the time as I learn new stuff. I learn new things and techniques with each song I create. Considering a lot of my music is drums, percussion and bass driven. I’ll typically try and create a unique drum pattern right off the bat to reel listeners in; I feel like often times for house music a typical 4/4 kick-snare intro with some perc loop you found is too easy to want to fast forward through. Once I got that down I kinda just let the song write itself and figure it out as I go, but I definitely hear more perc patterns and basslines in my head than I do lead parts and harmonies, and I think that is probably evident in my music.

GDD: Your style seems to fit perfectly with the Perfect Driver crew.  How did you hook up with them?  What can you tell us about your latest release “In The Sticks”?  And do you have any collaborations coming up with the crew?

BALLAST: What is funny about ‘In The Sticks’ is it is probably one of my oldest songs. It’s the last of 3 songs I’ve released with Perfect Driver, but it was the first written. I’m very excited about it, though, it’s one of my favorites and I’m honored to have awesome remixes from Wuki and Matthew Anthony to accompany it. They both crushed it. As far as Perfect Driver goes, I had had my eye on the label for awhile because I was loving the stuff artists like Wood Holly and Kirin Rider were doing so decided to send in 3 songs I had just finished, but funny enough before I even could the label owner reached out to me. It was kinda coincidental. The rest has been history, it’s great to be part of a family of sorts with such talented musicians. As for collaborations with the crew, I know me and Mark Starr have been talking for awhile about cutting a track together so I think we’re gonna try and maybe squeeze in some studio time when I see him next month.

GDD: What’s your reaction when you hear about (or see it first hand) when someone like Claude VonStroke or AMTRAC drops one of your tracks in their sets?

BALLAST: It’s absolutely unreal, I am so appreciative. I sometimes find it bizarre that anyone really enjoys my music enough to play it, let alone the people who are my inspiration. I remember the first time I heard that Justin Martin was playing my ‘Dem Hoes’ remix I felt like I was going to have a stroke. I couldn’t hold still, I really fan-girled on that one because it was my first major support. The support from Vonstroke and AMTRAC is no different; these guys are my heroes, I don’t think they realize how much it means to me. Very gratifying to see hard work pay off.

GDD: If you could do a b2b DJ set with anyone, who would it be?

BALLAST: That’s a real tough one, I’m not good at these kinds of questions. My knee-jerk answer is L-Vis 1990. Got to see him for the first time just recently and couldn’t stop moving. For an hour straight there wasn’t a dull moment. Best DJ I’ve seen in some time, I’d love to clobber a club set with him.

GDD: Favorite social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or other?  Or none?

BALLAST: Twitter. It’s my unfiltered, foul-mouthed stream of consciousness and outlet. Someone should probably slap a filter on me, however, there’s a lot of sass going on there.

GDD: Drink of choice?

BALLAST: Bloody Mary. It’s always the right time for a Bloody Mary. Except if I’m performing, then it’s just a Jameson neat.

GDD: Favorite restaurant in Phoenix?

BALLAST: Hula’s Modern Tiki in uptown. Cajun burger is so good it shouldn’t even exist.

GDD: What two actors do you want to see replace Matthew McConaughey & Woody Harrelson in the next season of True Detective?

BALLAST: Jake Gyllenhaal and Toby Mcguire and all of the other characters on the show are constantly getting them mixed up.


Thank you to Ballast + Perfect Driver Music!  The “In The Sticks” EP is out NOW on Beatport.