The guitarist and DJ Sullivan King has been working hard inside the studio. In addition to gigs, film production and scoring, his wedding in three weeks, and pretty much “just everything music” his new single with Riot Ten “F*ck It” has been charting Beatport and reached the #1 track just a week ago. This metal dubstep mash up has been noted by many people, but the videos of his riffs and chops are what caught my eye, so I had the opportunity to ask Sullivan King a few questions on his background and some of his goals in the music industry, but first, check out this sweet video of Sullivan King playing at Avalon!
Why the name Sullivan King?
A: Sullivan King came about because when I first got in to producing it was more on the electro 128 kind of stuff, a little bit on the Nero side you know Wolfgang Gartner you know back in the day 2011/2012 Knife Party and there wasn’t really a lot of instrumentalization at the time. Not really a lot of rock was being implemented, there was Bloody Beetroots, stuff like that obviously, but for the most part it was kind of a dying art and I wanted to have something that was sort of an homage to my metal background so Sullivan came from Jimmy “The Rev“ Sullivan who was the drummer for Avenged Sevenfold who passed away in 2009 and King came from a band called Redlight King which was just another big rock inspiration for me growing up so that’s kind of where it came from was before I started doing the whole metal guitar aspect of producing.
Did you start playing guitar before you started producing electronic music, what came about first?
A: Guitar definitely came about first; guitar was when I was 11. I was sort of bored and at home a lot and my mom either wanted me to play a sport or do something and I wasn’t really interested in going outside. It just kind of came from that need to do something extracurricular and just kind of say “ahh I’ll play guitar” so that’s kind of how that started, and just fell in love with it. It was something I enjoyed doing and I thought I could get good at. I was pretty shit obviously at the beginning, but it was something I wanted to do first and then production came about when my brother had FL studio on a laptop you know messed around on that when I was 16, that wasn’t anything special to me, it was kind of hitting buttons and being like “hey what does this do?” and production really came about when I decided to go to Icon in 2012
When did you go to Icon? With Jauz, Kayzo?
A: When I went, Kayzo had just graduated as did Protohype and SNBRN, then Jauz came just after that. I did my second semester when Sam [Jauz] started his first, yeah that’s basically the alumni that went there. Icon was awesome, you know, it’s what jump started my production, I owe them a lot.
With guitar, are you self-taught or did you ever take any lessons?
A: I took some lessons back when I first started. My teacher was in a punk band called The Briggs. He was my guitar teacher at the very beginning. He was really great because the lessons I got from him were the very fundamental basics that I wanted to learn, it wasn’t all the theory and sh*t that I didn’t want to learn like the background noise and not how to play a Nervana song. After that it was kind of getting my chops in order and then I was able to go and pretty much teach myself after that. So everything after about 13 was self-taught, yeah.
What kind of guitar do you use?
A: I play a Shecter and I’m actually endorsed by them and they’re a f*cking awesome company. The other company is Livid Instruments that makes the little button controller thing, it is a little jerry rigged because when I play live it would fall off so I just took a bunch of screws and screwed it in to the body of all my guitars and so the buttons are a MIDI controller that controls my whole guitar rig. So instead of using the pedal on the floor that most guitar players have to change the sound of the guitar, I have it all right there at my fingertips while I’m playing or when I’m playing live I can be totally wireless and I don’t need any of that stuff or to DJ I don’t have to be like “Oh sh*t, I have to go run over and stomp my distortion."
What are three songs or bands that you remember from your childhood that you loved listening to or always had the song on repeat?
A: Songs on repeat, hmmm, Avenged Sevenfold’s entire self-titled album. That record is a masterpiece. Me “I loved 'Inside the fire'”- *facepalm* My confusion between Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed lol. Sully- “Oh same, that was my dad’s ringtone actually, and I still have down with the sickness actually as mine. But Disturbed actually, that song “Inside the fire” was a huge one and actually that whole record for me actually was a huge record for me and Dan Donegan, the guitarist from Disturbed, is one of the most underrated guitar players on the planet, that guy has riff chops that really don’t compete or at least very few people can compete with his skill and how he writes it and he’s just super groovy. I think that honestly Disturbed was really big, Avenged Sevenfold was massive for me as a gateway to metal kind of band. A lot of the earlier Escape the Fate stuff and this was when I was like 14 to 16 and thought “oh being a guitarist is cool, I want to do that.” If I had to go with three songs it would me Critical Acclaim- Avenged Sevenfold, Inside the fire- Disturbed, and probably Poundcake- Van Halen.
Have you broken any guitars? If so, how many?
A: Yep, I smashed a guitar in a music video for a friend of mine and it was an old guitar from an old band called Confide that I bought off the guitarist when they broke up. It was a really nice guitar, but I found this old TV on the side of the road and said “yo, let’s get drunk and smash the f*ck out of this TV with this guitar and they were like ‘down’. Actually I have it hung up on my wall right now in three pieces.
What was your initial reaction when Excision gave you props or when one of your mixes was noted in the top 7 of Metallica’s favorites of all time?
A: Yeah so Billboard put the remix in the 7 best of all time of Metallica remixes, and I can’t imagine there’s all that many, but it’s definitely a f*ckin awesome accolade. So my reaction was..; I don’t know I was kind of dumbfounded, not only that, but it was the first on the list, and it was there with Glitch Mob, and Pendulum, and Bassnectar and so it was just a humbling acknowledgment of the work that I’ve been putting in in order to give metal what it truly deserves and I feel like is warranted and maybe doesn’t always get, so that’s really what it was, it was kind of just a great accomplishment to what I know Whyel and I, the other guys on the track, wanted. What we tried to do with that was to take something that deserved to be pushed in to that audience, the EDM realm, because it’s Metallica you know? We are in the world of Marshmello and that’s totally cool and that’s what people like right now, but really as die hard metal fans we wanted to see that this community got to experience what we experience and what we love. It was really a great acknowledgment for that.
You want to see that Excision Video right?
“F*ck It” is #1 on Beatport dubstep, obviously that is very cool, can you tell me a little bit more about it?
A: That tune is so special to me, because not only is it doing as well as it’s doing, it’s getting the support that it’s getting, and it was something that Chris [Riot Ten] sent to me and said “I had this drop idea” and I said “Okay, I’m just going to riff around it and kind of play around with the drop a little bit”, and we did that tune in probably about 8 hours and it was done. So I didn’t go back and do any remastering or anything, and it was done. So we sent it around to a bunch of people and everyone just really f*cked with it and they were like “okay sick” and sent it over to some guys at Rotten and the Excision team and they put it out. You know it’s just a very simple track and straight forward to the point, and it does what I feel like we really wanted to set out and do and it was really easy to make because of that.
In the second verse you say “What a time to be alive," I think this to be true, Why do you say that?
A: First off I didn’t think that was a Drake album because I don’t f*cking listen to Drake hahaha. But the reason I say “what a time to be alive” is because as I’m writing this track and putting it around this dubstep sh*t and was putting this metal in and just thought “what a f*cking time to be alive that we are making this dubstep tune and putting this metal and throwing this breakdown in the middle of something that people are either gonna love or their going to f*cking hate. I just felt like it was a satirical kind of funny thing to say of something that was just like (a cheery) “Hey! What a time to be alive dubstep and metal f*ck you purists." The videos when I post them I’ll see comments like “Yo, f*ck that metal shit, but the dubstep is tight as f*ck” or “I love the metal breakdown, but when it goes to that techno sh*t it loses me." It’s kind of just this funny little thing that’s occurring right now in music that no one knows what the f*cks happening and either you’re just going to try whatever happens happens, just do what you want or wait for something cool to happen and jump on it, So I think it’s just a fun f*ckin time man.
What would be an ideal collab for you?
A: I really like working with bands, I think it’s really fun working with multiple people and when two people that are in totally different worlds work together. So I would love to work with Issues, which is a band that is really incredible and a talented group of dudes and I think it would be really cool to work with. As far as a track I would be working on with someone, I feel like me and Snails would make some really disgusting grimy punk as f*ck babies. That would be a big one, I would love to work with Fred [Snails]. He would be dope to work with.
What do you have looking forward to in the future?
A: 2017, a lot of collabs, some really really tight ones. I still have a lot of sh*t with Riot Ten that is going to be coming out, I’ve got this Dirty Phonics collab we just started that is already just rouuuuugghhh f*ckin weed wacker f*ckin slice your face off kind of tune so that’s really dope. And then a couple other ones I can’t fully disclose yet cause they’re just not super top secret, but when the time is right to unleash them.
What advice do you have on exploiting your passions, and striving for excellence in “your category”?
A: For doing what you love and following that, It’s funny, I’m actually going through that right now with a really good friend of mine. She lives in Iowa and she’s been trying to move out here to LA to get in to the music industry, and she’s kind of going through that right now, (she says) “I don’t know what to do” and it’s really just you have to figure out what you want to have in life and you have to figure out what you’re going to do to get there and who you have to be. So it’s a lot of knowing what your goals are because it’s the not knowing that puts fear there and makes you not want to do what you know is going to make you happy. So just figure out what it is, and know what you want to have, and know what you want to do, and from there it’s just putting the stepping stones there and figuring out what those steps are going to be. In my case it was me saying, for Sullivan King, I didn’t know what my music career was going to take to get to where I am and I didn’t know what sort of genre I wanted to do, but I knew what I wanted to hear, and I knew what I wanted to aim for and have an impact on people. I knew I wanted to hear metal and dubstep and bass music come together and I knew that I couldn’t just go on SoundCloud and hear that because it wasn’t apparent, it wasn’t a thing, it wasn’t just this obvious thing that existed, so I made it. I just made what I wanted to hear, so I like to sit and listen to my own music because I don’t hear it anywhere else. I mean now I do, you’ve got people like PhaseOne and Riot Ten and people that are putting it all together and stuff. You really just gotta figure out what you want and if it’s not there, put it there.
If you haven’t heard Sullivan King's new track “F*ck It”, be sure to check it out on SoundCloud (link) and also check out this video I made of Black Tiger Sex Machine featuring the track because it's such a cool song. Additionally, Sullivan King and Riot Ten’s new track “Hit The Floor” is out on SoundCloud and Facebook now, check it out here.
BTSM featuring "F*ck It"
*Honestly hit the recommended "video stabilization settings" on YouTube and it jacked with the vid*