[Interview] Elephante Talks Fashion, and Being an Asian in EDM

With the mainstage at Electric Zoo this year being shaped as an elephant, we couldn’t find a more fitting person to interview than Elephante. We discussed upcoming tracks, his sense of fashion, attending Harvard University and much more. Check out the full interview below.

You have a very unique sense of fashion, almost like a 1980’s Hip-Hop look with the headband and everything. Where do you draw inspiration from in terms of style?

Growing up, I loved classic rock, Jimmy Hendricks was my idol so that sort of “larger than life, second-dog thing” and all that punk stuff inspired me. Basically, I wanted to be EDM’s A$AP Rocky. That’s sort of the vibe I’m going for. Luckily I live in L.A. and the styles are just so amazing and you always see people wearing weird stuff and they always have the best streetwear.

You recently started playing at Hakkasaan in Las Vegas. What is it like for you to play at a club like Hakkasaan opposed to a festival like Electric Zoo?

They are definitely different beasts. Vegas is fun and the production there is so incredible and the rooms there are so manicured and controlled. There are a lot of tourists there adn want to hear songs they know where as at a festival you can play more different stuff. Festival crowds are so much bigger and everyone is here to hear new music and they want to hear something different and unique. At the end of the day, you’re still here trying to entertain the crowd so it’s a similar philosophy.

I read online that you studied economics at Harvard University, is this true? If this is true, being that you went to such a prestigious school, were your parents supportive of your career as a DJ when it seemed like you had such a prosperous future as a successful business man? 

I did, once upon a time ago. It was weird, my mom knew how unhappy I was and she knew that I couldn’t go on living the life that I had and that I needed to go for it as a try and she was just hoping that I wouldn’t get into heroin and she still tells me to not do drugs. But part of it is just, as a young Asian boy, I was classically trained, I was in a band, I was playing guitar for like forever so becoming a musician isn’t an option. It doesn’t enter the realm of possibilty of something that you can do and this is true because the music industry is so hard to make it in and even trying is not somethign you do. So for me, it’s just coming around to the idea of knowing this is what I love doing and I just have to give it a shot against all odds. If I don’t then I would never forgive myself. I would be 40 and I don’t care how rich I am, and I would look back and still regret it forever. My parents were definitely worried but to a certain extent, there was nothing really that they can do. I got to bring them out to a show I had in San Francisco last week and I brought them on stage so that was pretty cool.

There aren’t too many Asians in the EDM industry, what’s it like being an Asian American in the world of EDM?

I think there are some coming up. There’s always the OG, big dog, Steve Aoki, I think the EDM community is very accepting and there’s a few of us doing it now. To me, I try not to think too much about it because it is not something I can change. There are always people that say “Oh you’re Asian so you can’t be a DJ or you can’t be cool” but you just have to do you and know that there are people out there that will hold that against you but what are you going to do about it? You just have to do you and stay focused on yourself.

As 2017 slowly winds down, what can we expect from you in terms of production?

Well, I am just on tour right now, the Animals Wanted Tour, and I am working on music right now with a couple of singles that are hopefully coming out soon to try to finish off an EP. Hopefully the EP will come out early next year or sooner. I have learned to not put deadlines on myself, creativity can’t be rushed and will take place over time. I can say I have more songs with Nevve coming but I think that is all I can say.

What is your dream collaboration?

Frank Ocean, just cause he does what he wants and he’s so weird and the song “Slide” to me is just like, why couldn’t I have made that?

What is your flavor of Ice Cream?

Salted Caramel Praline. Salted Caramel is just fire.

What is your spirit animal? We are expecting an elephant but can you elaborate on it?

Well, it’s going to be the elephant of course. Elephants are dope, they are super wise, emotional, very protective, strong, handsome and good at stuff. They are just the best. I am actually sponsoring an elephant in an elephant orphanage in Africa. His name is Jhoto and I get monthly updates on how he’s doing and photos and such.