What So Not is one of Australia’s leading electronic artists. Playing festivals like Coachella, Ultra, and Lollapalooza all over the world and releasing his debut album Not All The Beautiful Things featuring the likes of Daniel Johns, Toto and Skrillex, it’s safe to say that What So Not has been one busy bee; and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
In the lead up to the holidays, we had a chat to What So Not, aka Emoh Instead, aka Chris Emerson about his 2018, his 2019 and the upcoming Christmas season.
BYO: You’ve had an exciting 2018, with a massive tour and the launch of your debut album. Looking back, what are some of your favourite moments from the past year?
CHRIS: Oh wow, there were so many! This year was probably the biggest year of my life. So many things happened. I did 150 shows in 47 countries, and despite having toured around the world for a few years before, I met so many people and went to so many places that I hadn’t been or seen before. South America was a big highlight; it was in South America about six or seven years ago, when I was backpacking, that I decided to quit my desk job and pursue music full time. So, to go back and play Lollapalooza there and tour around the continent doing all those shows and after parties was just madness. The crowds were insane. I have this video that I took in Chile that was just mental. This whole arena was just filled front to back; it was my first ever show there and I was blown away by it.
I think other highlights were coming back to Australia, and having such an insanely huge tour that sold out at huge venues that I’d never thought of playing in my whole life. I’m so excited to come back here next year to Laneway and to deliver a bunch of stuff that I’ve been meaning to finish while I’ve been on the road.
BYO: South America would have been breathtaking. What was your favourite country to visit?
CHRIS: I really liked Chile, I liked the energy there. It’s on the west coast and the ocean is really raw. I went surfing while I was there which was crazy. We hijacked the Anderson.Paak guys’ van at like 4 in the morning while they were all still partying, and took it down to the beach that was 2 and a half hours away, and then brought it back to them by the time they were all waking up. It was kind of hilarious.
BYO: Who are some artists that inspire what you do?
CHRIS: I really get inspired by a lot of my friends that I have around; and they might not be musicians, they might be actors or artists or filmmakers. I find that stuff the most inspiring, because it’s almost like a canvas. I see something that is not necessarily involving music and then I imagine music to it. Or, you see something that is really outside the box of your own creative realm and you work out what that feels like and what that sounds like. That to me is exciting and inspiring.
Also the people who I worked with on the album. Daniel Johns was one where we got into the studio and he had an incredible skills set in so many areas, and we really clicked in a bit of a ying and yang way. He was so excited by the electronic production in general, and the sort of sounds you can get in the modern age of computers and things. So, we had so much fun with that. I had a similar experience with the Toto guys; they had never worked with anyone in dance music before, and they were as impressed with me as I was with them. But I think that’s a credit much more to the development of technology than myself.
You can look around and anything in your day can inspire you to be creative.
BYO: You’ll be playing Laneway in February; what is your favourite thing about Laneway as a festival?
CHRIS: This is a funny one. The first time I ever went to America, for South by Southwest, one of the owners of Laneway is an old friend and he was doing this presentation on a panel there. And the booker for Lollapalooza said, “When I’m deciding who to book for Lollapalooza, I look at Laneway Festival in Australia, and see what they’re booking, and I know that’s what’s going to be cool in a year’s time”. That’s one of the greatest compliments I’ve heard for the festival, I think, and I see it in a similar light.
BYO: Favourite Christmas memory?
CHRIS: My favourite Christmas memory is maybe a bit of a mean one. We were up the coast with my family, and I freshly had my licence. We convinced my parents that we were going to go home back to Sydney from the central coast, to go chill out there while they were away, and we threw a massive, massive party. 300 people rocked up to it, and so did the police, and our neighbours hated us from then on; it was one of the greatest parties I’d ever had. We had all our friends in the neighbourhood and a DJ come round. All the girls that were wearing heels left holes in our wooden floors, and it was absolute madness.
I love my parents and we have a great relationship, don’t get me wrong. We laugh about it now. But it was mean at the time haha. We were teenagers; we were meant to be like that.
BYO: Gingerbread or pudding person?
CHRIS: Oh interesting; don’t really do sweets! But I do remember as a kid my cousins used to hide $50 notes in Christmas pudding, but then they would know where it was, and so they made sure they got the piece with the money in it and pull it out. So that was always an exciting little adventure, the Christmas pudding.
BYO: Wow that’s interesting! Is that hygienic to put $50 notes in food?
CHRIS: Probably not, but we weren’t picky about things like that.
BYO: What are your plans for 2019; what’s next for you!
CHRIS: Well writing this first album was a very therapeutic experience and it meant that the album was a bit sadder and slower that some of the stuff I’ve done. I’m really feeling happy and strong and exciting about life this year, and I’m writing in that fashion, so I’m kind of excited to get music out that has a bit more grunt to it again and a bit more rhythm as opposed to moods and cinematic ideas. So I’m really hyped about writing those songs and planning shows to amp up things again!
You can catch What So Not at Laneway Festival in Sydney on February 3. Info available here: https://lanewayfestival.com/.