May 24, 2021

An Exclusive Interview with Amitė

Amitė are an EDM duo formed by Seattle, WA based producers Jorgen Baertsch and Chris Gerber. They always seem to deliver hot records with a great blend of dance floor oomph and enough pop appeal to match. We sat down with the Amite boys to learn more about their background, creative process, families and more.

NS: You both grew up in the same town in Minnesota - were you guys always close?

Chris: This is an answer that often perplexes people, but actually, no. Duluth, Minnesota is a fairly small town, less than 100,000 people, and even though we have known each other since we were fairly young (we rode the same bus to school in the through middle school and into high school), our friendship didn’t even begin until late high school, early college [at CU Boulder]. It was very much a “diamond in the rough situation”, because once the kindling started between us, absolutely everything about my life changed.

Jorgen: Pretty much what Chris said, we were always acquaintances and road the same bus in middle and high school but it wasn’t until the end of junior year of high school that we were brought together by a mutual friend and became fast friends. During that time I made a move farther out into the countryside where Chris and we spent those summers together almost everyday.

NS: Growing up, who were some of your favorite bands and artists?

Jorgen: My musical tastes have varied so much throughout my time growing up.  I had a lot of influence from my parents who listened to Counting Crows, Sister Hazel, Jack Johnson, Jimmy Buffet, etc. I’ve always been a fan of pop music in general, but in middle school I got super into hip hop and dubstep, and then in high school I got much more into classic rock, singer-songwriter, and guitar based pop music. Some of my biggest influences now such as Ben Howard, John Mayer, and Jimi Hendrix are from that time. After getting into music production I got very inspired by pop EDM producers like The Chainsmokers, Flume, and Louis The Child, but my all time favorites still land on those blues and singer-songwriter artists.

Chris: My musical influences largely stem from my British and South African background, but I can’t say that the music that I was raised on was very unique in any way. My dad raised me listening to bands like Coldplay, Keane, Snow Patrol, and U2, while my mom was strictly interested in 70-80’s pop such as Cyndi Lauper, ABBA and others. I was around 12 years old when I started forming my own musical interests, largely surrounding hard rock and metal. Some of these artists are still some of my favorites today, including Audioslave, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, System of a Down, and various others. Quite a stark contrast from the music that I make today.

NS: When did you guys decide to form a band? Were you releasing solo music at the time or was this the first project for both of you?

Chris: My musical background largely stems from my interests in music based video games as a kid, such as Guitar Hero and Rockband. I went seriously hard on these games, and I probably spent more time than I should’ve trying to completely master them all. This fascination later morphed into reality by joining the high school band, ultimately playing the alto saxophone for around six years. In retrospect, music production wasn’t really one of those things that I had even considered to be a possibility until I was around 18 years old. Music was always one of those things that I was incredibly passionate about, but I never had the tools to actually make the music that I wanted to hear. That all changed when I discovered Ableton, and of course I immediately had to show Jorgen.

Jorgen: I had been writing and playing music for a long time with my guitar and viola but I never really knew that I could produce songs myself. One day Chris came over and introduced me to this cool new software called Ableton and I was immediately hooked. We both were super passionate about it from the get go and since we were learning at the same time together it kind of made sense to just bounce stuff back and forth and get feedback from each other on everything we made. We had a super similar and complementary taste in music and got really inspired by other production duos like the Chainsmokers and Odesza, so us starting a group together just happened really naturally.

NS: Are people in your families musically talented?

Jorgen: My mom’s side of the family is pretty stacked with musical talent.  My grandma is a fantastic singer and pianist and is still teaching lessons well into her 90’s.  My aunt is a talented violinist and my mom used to be a great flute player but gave it up a long time ago.

Chris: Honestly, no. My two brothers and I are the first generation in my family to take an interest in playing and making music.

NS: Talk a bit about your collaborative process in general. Gear, techniques, times you like to work, what gets you inspired, remote vs in person, etc.

Chris: Our creative process has definitely changed over the years, as Jorgen elaborated earlier. Initially, we both lived in the same city so sharing projects and bouncing ideas off each other was really easy and accessible. Nowadays, things aren’t so simple, and we’ve really had to put some systems in place that ensure a quality release each time and nothing slips through the cracks. In terms of the actual gear we use, every track is different. Although we often find inspiration through a guitar melody written by Jorgen, it really depends on the feeling that we are trying to pull off through our music. Typically, we use a combination of synthesizers, acoustic instruments, samples, and live vocals to achieve our unique sound.

Jorgen: We’ve kind of evolved a lot throughout the years as far as the collaborative process goes. In the beginning we always produced in the same room together for tracks we were going to release under Amite, but after Chris moved to Washington we were working together long distance for two years. During that time one of us would build out the skeleton of a track and then we’d send it back and forth and have each other work on it or at the very least get a checklist of things that should be added, removed, adjusted, etc. We’ve essentially been each others back up pair of ears on tracks since the beginning and a song only gets released when both of us are totally happy with it. Now we’re in the same State, but a couple hours away and extra busy - so we still follow that process a lot but love the days when we do get in the studio together.

NS: You’re both branching out a bit and working on solo projects - Chris Gerber and Jorgen Paul - and the vibes are totally different on each of them. What’s your outlook for the future of Amite? does this impact your duo? 

Jorgen: We both have such a wide range of musical influences and music that we make that it makes sense we have solo projects as well otherwise there’s a lot of music not getting out into the world.  I’m a singer-songwriter at heart so my solo project is a blend of your classic acoustic vocal music, mixed with more modern bedroom pop styles like Chelsea Cutler and Jeremy Zucker. Chris cranks out amazing lofi tracks and hiphop beats so it makes sense for him to be putting that out the the world as well.  Our main goal is to kind of bring Amite back to its main roots of having fun and collaborations. That might mean less output than previous years where we dropped a song every two weeks but we’re really hoping to play lots of shows and collaborate with a lot of different artists and vocalists in the future.

Chris: One of the main reasons that Amite has such a unique sound is due to the differences in our personal music creative processes. As Jorgen stated, we have such different flares on our musical production that set us apart, but a true Amite track can only be achieved by the combination of both of our styles together. In regards to our personal brands impacting Amite, personally, I have always seen our branching out as an asset for the Amite brand in general. This is largely due to the fact that we have struggled to find a sense of individuality while sharing music as a duo and the sheer amount of music that we produce. We both have hundreds of tracks waiting to be released, and it just simply wouldn't be realistic to expect all of those songs to pass the tests required of an Amite track.

NS: Dream collab for Amite?

Chris: I really couldn’t name all of the vocalists that I want to work with even if I tried. There is so much talent in the music industry nowadays that you don’t have to look far to end up on a rising musicians Instagram page. If I had to choose my dream vocalists to work with, it’d definitely include Ayelle, K.Flay and Olivia Rodrigo.

Jorgen: There’re too many to count. I’d love to work with a long list of incredible vocalists like Rihanna, Chelsea Cutler, Alina Baraz, Camilla Cabella, Etc. I’m sure Chris would lose his mind if we did what The Chainsmokers did and collaborated with Coldplay. There’s plenty of hiphop artists that would be awesome to collab with like Felly or 6lack. And then it’d be so cool to make some absolute bangers with other producers like Illenium, Flume, or San holo. Also I don’t know why but I feel like a collaboration with M83 would be absolutely insane. But really we just want to work with anyone with a good vibe and makes good music.

Chris Gerber (right) and Jorgen Baertsch of Amite. Walnut Room, 2019. Photographer: Connor Flynn

NS: You guys are located up near Seattle now - do you find the Pacific Northwest influences your style of music? 

Jorgen:  It for sure does and Chris warned me before I came that it would because I know it did for him a lot too.  I think environment plays a huge role.  There’s so much nature and vibes and inspiration around it’s definitely affected my songwriting both in mood and actual content.  I find myself using forest and fog metaphors a lot more often.  It’s also rainy and gloomy 6+ months out of the year so that plays a lot into the music we make.  We’ve both always loved melancholic music so it’s pretty perfect for both of our individual styles.

Chris: 100%. In fact my surroundings take an unbelievably large toll on my creative process in general. Since I’ve moved out to the Pacific Northwest, I’ve found a more organic sound, shifting towards “earthier” instruments such as marimbas and vintage guitars rather than harsh synthesizers and VST’s. Keep in mind, it rains every day for half of the year in Washington State, so to say that the weather will not influence your creative process is just being naive.

NS: Tell us a little bit about the process of making your latest single “Lost Cause”

Chris: When I initially heard the stripped version of “Lost Cause” I was immediately hooked. Originally, there wasn’t a drop section at all, but I knew that the structure of the project pretty much begged for one to be added. After shifting some things around and adding some additional drums and instruments, she was good to go. 

Jorgen: Most songs we release that have guitar as the main instrument start outside of the computer and on my guitar instead, which is when I find a lot of my best songwriting takes place. I had just taken the big leap of moving, quitting my job, and pursuing the dream of music and was feeling a lot of uncertainty - which is what the song is about. So I wrote the song and produced a minimal skeleton of it and sent it Chris’s way. At that time it was more stripped back and singer-songwriter but I wanted to see if he thought there was potential to add some Amite flair to it which he did so we linked up at his place in Bellingham and added the big drops to it, got some of Chris’ drum sauce on it and flushed out the production and here she is.

NS: What’s next for Amite? 

Jorgen:  Hopefully putting out a few more awesome tracks over the course of this year and starting to play some shows in the Seattle area now that things are finally opening back up.  Big goals are to work with more talented vocalists and get back into producing for other people - and hopefully owning our own studio in the distant horizon.

Chris: Exactly what Jorgen said, expanding our reach and playing bigger shows in the Seattle area over time. We have taken a step back from consistently releasing music every month to focus on the quality of our music long term, with the goal of working with some of the biggest vocalists in the State of Washington. We can’t wait to show you what we have in store. For the time being, enjoy “Lost Cause,” out now!

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