Photo: Jimmy Fontaine
Ethan Snoreck, more popularly known by his creative brainchild Whethan, first tasted major success at the young age of 15, following a remix of MSSINGO's "XE3" he uploaded to SoundCloud going viral on the site overnight. Now 19, Whethan is a staple in the world of electronic music, having played festivals and shows across the world, including a recent Coachella performance that saw the producing wunderkind nearly break the internet with a special guest appearance from Mason Ramsey aka Yodel Boy.
Despite achieving so much at such a young age and in such a short time frame, Whethan certainly shows no sign of slowing down, as his recent stunning collaboration with British electronic duo HONNE clearly demonstrates.
Beyond just releasing phenomenal track after track of electronic bliss, Whethan is currently in the midst of his third headlining tour before the age of 20. The "Life of a Wallflower" tour, which is in support and celebration of his hopefully soon-to-come, highly-anticipated debut project Life Of A Wallflower Volume 1, is poised to be Whethan's largest and most creatively adventurous tour to date.
Yet, what inspires an artist, especially one so young, to constantly strive towards greater and greater heights? Well, upon speaking to the producer who stands at the forefront of electronic music's future about his earliest inspirations and hopes for the potential of Whethan, an answer came readily to mind: the desire to create something new solely for the love of it all.
OTW: The first track I ever heard of yours was your turn of MSSINGO's "XE3," which Flume was an early proponent of.
Whethan: You know that's funny, I was looking that up recently. Diplo actually put up a video on Instagram the other day playing it, and I remember thinking about the song again, and I was like… When it first came out, I don't think Flume put it on a mix or anything, but his label, Future Classic, had reposted it.
OTW: What's been the craziest thing from that track blowing up to doing your third headlining tour before the age of 20?
Whethan: At that point, when I was putting out that song, I didn't really know what I was doing. But I think now, I'm really excited because I finally feel like I know what I want to do. So now, it's just a matter of executing and making all the songs I want to make and working with all the artists I want to work with. That's kind of the most surreal part; I get to wake up every day and it's like, "What do I want to do next?"
OTW: Was having a hit song at the age 15 ever intimidating?
Whethan: Yeah, it was like… I did not expect that to happen, I didn't see it coming. I would've never thought that anyone would've played it, or that people like Zeds Dead would put it on their set at Hard Summer. That was a huge moment.
OTW: Following "XE3″ rapidly taking off, was there ever a sense of urgency to sign to a label?
Whethan: I wanted to take it kind of slow. I wasn't in any rush to be like, "Oh, I need to sign right now and do all this right now." Because, I wasn't necessarily even confident in myself yet, you know? I was still kind of finding myself.
OTW: Your style certainly has evolved a lot from a SoundCloud page with just trap edits.
Whethan: Yeah, that was literally all I had on there. I was just doing little trap edits of popular songs, and then I decided to do something a little more artistic and it worked. I never turned back.
OTW: Speaking of evolution, your early, like very early days, saw a short-lived rap stint. Did you ever have a rap name?
Whethan: Smooth-E *laughs* Just kidding. I had a little band I started with my friends in junior high called "ETA." Ethan, Trevor, Alex. I was the rapper and producer. Someone played the guitar, someone played the bass. But it never worked, and it was really bad, and we never made any songs.
OTW: Still waiting for the day you'll rap over one of your beats.
Whethan: *laughs* I know, it'll probably never happen. I've kind of let that side of me go.
Photo: Angie Bambii
OTW: Your most recent releases venture into the realm of pop, although you still retain a fair amount of electronic influence, and your live set shows how diverse your taste really is. With that in mind, are there any artists you would want to work with outside of your realm?
Whethan: Oh, tons of people outside of my realm. I think one of my biggest goals is to work with people who don't do electronic music, and then bring them to my world and make electronic music with them. One person in electronic music would be Calvin Harris. But for anyone outside, someone like Mac DeMarco or Tame Impala. I would love to bring those dudes into my style and sound. That would be nuts.
OTW: As far as production goes, do you ever hit roadblocks?
Whethan: It comes in waves. Definitely times where you're working more on so many songs, but yeah, blocks happen all the time. I think the way around it is to take a break for a second. It's easy to make music all day, every day and then get into the pattern of working on the same stuff. Switching it up is the big thing. I love going and making all types of genres. So, if I'm kind of having a roadblock on one side, I might just mess around and make a different type of song, like a hip-hop song or something. Take your brain away from it, so when you come back to it, you're ready for it.
OTW: Your parents were and are both involved in education, with your dad being both a math teacher and dean. Were they ever a bit hesitant of you getting into music?
Whethan: A tiny bit. I mean, my parents were always super amazing at letting me follow my passion and dreams. I would always go through phases of wanting to be an actor or a skateboarder, and they never really had anything negative to say about it. They kind of just let me do whatever I wanted to do. So, when it was music, they were very supportive of it. At first, they were a little cautious to make sure I was not this super young kid getting into this crazy lifestyle, but it's worked out so far. They trust it.
OTW: Do you have any advice for young kids getting into music? It feels like every next artist is this 13-year-old blowing up.
Whethan: My best advice for people nowadays is that we live in an era where you're not able to just do music. You have to do the videos, you have to do the clothes, you have to do the shows. You have to do everything other than the music. People like Kanye West who do all that type of stuff. Once you kind of find your style or whatever it is, start branching out into all the other sides of creative things.
OTW: I read that one of your earliest inspirations to make music was skate videos.
Whethan: Hell yeah. That was some of the first music I would say I really found. It wasn't Spotify, looking for new music or anything. It was pretty much just on YouTube. I was watching skateboard videos when I was a kid, along with all the songs that people would pick. That's how I found "Stronger," the Daft Punk song. And I was like, "What is this?" I heard the Kanye West version on the radio, and I was like "Huh…" And all because I found Daft Punk through skateboard videos, which is weird… but sick. *laughs*
Photo: Jimmy Fontaine
OTW: Looking into the future, the Life Of A Wallflower Volume 1 is an upcoming project you've slowly been hinting at. What is it about this point in time that inspired you to release something more cohesive?
Whethan: I mean, just being ready for it. I'm always evolving. The sound is always evolving. And I think I got to a point recently where a big handful of the songs I made in the past year all work really well together. So now, I want to put them together, put it out, and give it to the people. I've only done singles up to this point. So, I'm really excited to be able to get into the making of a cohesive project and showing people what a Whethan project will sound like.
OTW: What can fans expect from the "Life of a Wallflower" Tour?
Whethan: They can definitely expect very crazy, energetic shows. I want to bring super trippy visuals and floating things. I want to bring people to this world that I'm trying to bring through the music. But, you'll be able to actually feel it, instead of just listening to the music by itself. You'll be able to see the visuals I thought of when I was putting the songs together. As well as a lot of new merch that I'm excited to see people wear. It's stuff that I would actually wear, which is sick, so I'll probably be wearing all of it.
OTW: As someone who started blowing up in high school, were things ever different around school?
Whethan: Near the end of my high school career, it definitely got a little interesting. A lot of my teachers started to know what was going on, and you know, people were able to go listen to my music. I remember there was one time, I was in line for lunch, and this kid was listening to "XE3." He was in front of me. He had his earbuds on, so he didn't know I was behind him, and he turned around, and it was just like… this is so strange! Honestly, wouldn't expect that. I will say, I wasn't Justin Bieber or anything, so it didn't stop people from doing anything. But, it was cool to see people kind of recognize what I was doing. I was also really quiet about it, y'know? I was a psycho, really quiet kid in the back of the class who just had some songs out.
OTW: A wallflower.
Whethan: Exactly. That's exactly what it is.
OTW: For someone who has achieved success at such a young age, do you have an ultimate idea of success for yourself?
Whethan: The goal… success is to keep putting out music. Cool projects, and evolve. You're going to see a lot of evolution, I've never stuck to one formula or one type of song, or even one genre. Wherever my brain wants to go. But I'll be happy if I can just be in LA making music when I want and playing shows for people.
OTW: As a fan of electronic music, what's your favorite drop?
Whethan: I'm so indecisive about favorite things, that I can never come up with anything. But, I think all the Skrillex stuff. Back in the day, that was like the most game-changing thing to me. When everyone was like, "This is robot music," and all the older people didn't get it, and I was just loving it.
OTW: Any parting words you want to say to your fans?
Whethan: Look out for the Life of a Wallflower Volume 1, of course. I'm so excited for that, I can't even say it enough. I've been trying to put it out… I would drop it all *laughs*. I would drop every song. I think that's what I would tell my fans right now. I'm letting you know I have like 500 songs, and I would drop them all right now if I could, but you wouldn't want that. No one would want to hear all of that, too much stuff.
Catch Whethan on "The Life of a Wallflower" tour now: