Interview w/ Unlike Pluto: “I will probably go crazy if I only do EDM for the rest of my life”
Armond Arabshahi, also known as Unlike Pluto, took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to tell me more about some unconventional sources of inspiration, his Atlanta roots and more.
The Persian producer from the suburbs of Atlanta (my suburb actually) will be at The Mid on April 29th as part of his Everything Black tour.
An artist I first heard back in high school with his epic remix of Lorde’s “Glory & Gore“, Unlike Pluto has since released a slew of tracks like his emotional, evocative song “Palace” with KickRaux, and his remix of Diplo’s “Revolution” that went viral and now has more than 23 million plays on Soundcloud.
His most recent release, “Everything Black” with Mike Taylor via Monstercat, has already racked up more than 1 million plays.
With an electronic foundation inspired by everything from rap to emo, his tracks feature his own vocals and him on the piano and guitar.
Where are you right now?
I’m in Hollywood, Los Angeles, unfortunately.
It gets annoying after a couple of years. You miss the simplicity of Georgia, you know?
How did you get into producing EDM?
I was a junior at Emory doing frickin’ microbiology (it was horrible). During that time I was heavily producing EDM, and I remember Atlanta – there was only one club that really allowed EDM DJs to thrive.
The Quad! It was right next to the Varsity at Georgia Tech.
Where’d the name Unlike Pluto come from?
Pluto was my favorite planet when I was younger. It was demoted when I was a freshman in high school to a dwarf planet, or just not a planet. When I was 18, I was in my dorm room at Georgia State in Atlanta. I had this view of Atlanta, and electronic beats and guitar.
I just randomly came up with Unlike Pluto. It really had no meaning at first, but then it became like, unlike Pluto I exist, or unlike Pluto on Facebook, make it not a planet.
Growing up, who influenced your music style and taste?
I was in the whole emo band scene when I was 15-18. There were these local bands. They were using heavy delay guitar and it was super dope.
There are so many rappers handing out mixtapes in downtown Atlanta, and a few of those mixtapes were amazing. I kind of drew from those a little bit.
Do you follow other EDM acts from Atlanta?
Herobust and MUST DIE! were two of the dudes from Atlanta that killed it.
How does it feel, doing a complete 180 and pursuing music?
It’s like vacation everyday. Making music, getting to travel and meet new people every single day.
Any dream you pursue is going to be scary. But the rewards – if you’re persistent with your shit and you’re consistent with your hard work, there’s no reason why you won’t see success.
You were recently in Chicago at Concord opening for Pegboard Nerds and Seven Lions – what was that like?
I miss those dudes so much, that was like the best tour ever. It was like a family.
Who would you love to open for?
I would love to open for Gorillaz. Damon Albarn, he’s like my favorite person.
Where does the inspiration from your songs come from?
That song “Worst in Me“, I was watching 10 Things I Hate About You. I just went on my guitar and that song came out.
I kind of just turn my brain off, get a guitar or piano and just do my thing. I don’t even think.
The best thing to do is not think. Let it happen naturally. If a song doesn’t come out and you’re forcing it, the song just won’t be as good. “Everything Black” was so natural with me and Mike. It came out in two hours.
How has the electronic scene evolved over the past few years?
In 2011, the electronic music scene was still pretty new. You could just make a random beat and release it on Soundcloud by yourself, and just email a shit ton of blogs.
Now it’s not like that anymore. Now you need connections, you need to have a name for yourself before you even hit up these blogs.
Do you plan to continue producing EDM?
I will probably go crazy if I only do EDM for the rest of my life. That being said, there are lots of things to do in EDM. You can combine any genre you want. “Everything Black” is like a funk record, it’s like a soul record at heart. And then you have all of my other songs, which are a little more EDM-focused.
“Waiting For You” has more of a jazz, swing feel to it, ya know?
What advice do you have for aspiring producers?
Right now, the best thing I would say is to consistently put out really good music, work your ass off and stick to your guns.
Be yourself. Don’t just follow people.
Be smart. If your fans don’t like something you put out, be smart – listen to what they’re saying, change it up.
You shouldn’t be selfish with your art. You’re making art for people to enjoy and to connect with you, so make it palatable for an audience too.
What are your upcoming plans? What are you looking forward to?
I want to get to a point where I’m just releasing songs with my vocals.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
RSVP for free entry before 11:30 PM on Ticketfly
Unlike Pluto at The Mid, 4/29/17
306 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60661