Features Music

Q&A with DJ Black Summer

5 minutes to read

DJ Black Summer is back in the music scene with the release of his latest single “Sadness” featuring Chloe Campbell. Black Summer (AKA Rhys) was just 11 when he was first discovered on triple j Unearthed, making him the youngest EDM producer in Australia. He made his live music debut at none other than Canberra’s Groovin’ the Moo festival alongside triple j’s Zan Rowe. Now at 14, he is back with a killer single and a theatrical video to go with it.

I had a chat with Rhys about his new single, collaborating with Chloe and what’s changed since he was first discovered three years ago.

LJ: Three years is a long time for someone your age. What have you been up to since we last heard from you?

BS: Well, over the last three years I have been learning about music theory, making loads of new tracks and learning new things through that process. I have also been working with other artists in the studio and travelling. I have done remixes for other artists as well as releasing my first single last year “Young Like Me”. I have done lots of different kinds of gigs from small ones, to big festivals and some underground club gigs. I have basically been writing and learning as much as I can.

LJ: Tell me about the making of “Sadness”, the song itself and the video.

BS: The process of making “Sadness” was really fun because I got to travel to LA and work in the studio with Tek and the singer Chloe. It was a great learning experience. I learnt a lot from that process, about vocal production by watching what Tek would do in the studio. While we were in LA to record the vocals with Chloe, we were also able to film the video. It was cool to have input into that side of the development of the video.

LJ: How did you know you wanted Chloe for the track?

BS: I met Chloe through Tek and loved her voice. I thought she was unique and had a great sound. I thought that she would put a cool spin on the track.

LJ: You’ve said that you’re inspired by artists like Flume and Peking Duk, and you can definitely hear those influences in “Sadness” whilst it’s still very unique. What kind of sound were you hoping for with this song?

BS: I was going for a chilled vibe, but also keeping it energetic like my last single. I wanted to mess around with vocal chops and find a good melody. I wasn’t really going for a particular kind of sound; I was just making what I thought sounded right and then built off that.

LJ: What was it like shooting the video?

BS: It was so fun shooting the video because I love going to LA and we got to shoot in some really cool places, like the original ‘Bat Cave’ in Bronson Canyon. It was cool to hang out with Chloe and get to know her through that process.

DJ Black Summer with Chloe Campbell. Source.

LJ: Now, you’re playing at Canberra Groovin’ the Moo again. How does that feel?

BS: It feels great to play at Canberra Groovin’ and have a set as last time I just played one song. I’m really looking forward to playing my set and showing everyone what I can do.

LJ: What’s changed since the last time you played there? Both in your production style and performance?

BS: I have a lot more of my original songs which I feel are a higher quality. I feel like I have learnt to have fun when I am doing my gigs and hope that shows. I feel that my performance has matured as I have matured. When I did my first Groovin’ I was only 11 and had never done a gig before so I have learnt a lot since that first time.

LJ: How do you find balancing high school and producing?

BS: It can be hard work and a bit stressful trying to balance high school and my music, but I have a very understanding school who are incredibly supportive.

LJ: Now that you’ve released the video for “Sadness”, can we expect to hear a lot more from Black Summer? An EP maybe?

BS: For sure! I am already working on the next single and have a possible EP coming. I’m writing lots of tracks and doing lots of collaborations and remixes, so have a lot coming up.

“Sadness” is available for stream on Spotify, and you can catch Black Summer at the Canberra leg of Groovin’ the Moo on Sunday May 29 at the University of Canberra.