Interview: Meet Tampa Bay's most promising young EDM DJ, Blunts & Blondes

Warning: You may be compelled to head bang.

click to enlarge Interview: Meet Tampa Bay's most promising young EDM DJ, Blunts & Blondes
Blunts and Blondes

When the Imagine Music Festival lineup dropped this past spring, most people's eyes lit up at the big name headliners and eye catching talent depth. Over at Creative Loafing, one name in particular caught our eye. Penciled in towards the bottom in his fun cursive style was the name Blunts & Blondes. It may strike you as familiar, as well it should.

If you saw him on the street, you may not think you were looking at one of the most promising young electronic acts in music today.

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Mike Guard, the man behind Blunts & Blondes, is tall, skinny, and dons long brown hair that droops down to his chest. He currently attends Saint Leo University, prefers to chill in Dade City with his homies and is probably off somewhere smoking a blunt (our interview was marred by mysterious coughing noises throughout.) When you get to talk to him, however, you begin to see a humble, reserved and mature kid who is just excited that bass music has taken him this far.

Behind the boards however, its a different story.

Blunts and Blondes began picking up a viral and live following over the last year after videos of his sets started trending online. At first glance you'd think you were watching a headlining set from Skrillex, who just happens to be one of his idols. His long hair bounces through the air, as he jumps up and down with animated hand gestures, seemingly channeling the bass through his finger tips like a wizard. His crowds have become notoriously raucous, whether he's playing a small club in our area or running a B2B performance with Ganja White Night at Okeechobee Music Festival. 

Getting to talk with him, you learn that while he thrives on this live energy, he's just as happy behind the scenes being himself. While he doesn't currently have any shows in the area, Tampa EDM fans should definitely put this guy at the top of their "people to see" list. 

Check out our full Q&A here, as well as a link to his latest single "Rewind" below:

So you’re originally from Orlando?

Yeah, I was born in Orlando. My dad was in the military, so I was born there, had to move over to Jacksonville, had to move over to Texas, live there for a little bit. I just kind of followed around wherever my dad was stationed. Then I moved back to Jacksonville to finish high school, but then I got kicked out of high school for marijuana. Then my parents sent me to my grandma’s house in Orlando, then I finished high school there. 

How’d you end up in Tampa?

I came to Tampa for college. I go to Saint Leo University. 

Do you like the electronic music scene out here?

Definitely. I think it’s really, really organic. I've been traveling around for a little bit now and a lot of the electronic music scene around where I’m playing, I play like smaller shows for bass kids. So it’s not like the bottle club, it's not like just people wanting to hear Avicii and jump to one-two-three. It’s kids that actually know what they are talking about. I really appreciate that with Tampa too, because I’m from here, I started my career here and the people here kinda molded what I was doing. The music here as well. One of the first people I listened to when I got here was Nerd Rage. Nerd Rage is ya know, fucking insane. He just played the craziest bass music. He was something that also molded me but It’s really the kids that come out, the energy Tampa has is like no other. It’s just so ratchet and raunchy and awesome.

We saw that you were playing down at Shepherd's recently, are you set to play in the area some time soon?

I’m not. The Clearwater show [at Shephard’s] was the last show I’m playing in Tampa for a minute, no one has reached out to book me yet. I’m playing in Jacksonville, but that’s probably the closest I’m playing any time soon.

I saw that. You have Jacksonville coming up, you have North Carolina, Minnesota, Colorado. How cool is it that you’re having people trying to book you from out of state?

Dude its crazy. I just never thought that bass music would bring me this far. When I go to these places, they treat me like I’m Zomboy or something, but like I still live in Dade City, like right now I’m just chilling with my homies and smoking.

Speaking of, the whole Blunts and Blondes name, when did that become a thing? Was that like when you first got into music you knew that’s what you wanted to go with or did it just come up organically?

I decided I wanted to be a DJ when I was younger in college, when I’d go out to where Amp was and was like, “This rave shit’s crazy.” So I said, "I think I could do it." I smoked a lot of blunts and had a blonde girlfriend at the time and it kinda just rolled off the tongue.

So I see you’re on the Imagine lineup, how cool is it that you’re booked for these big festivals? I got to see your set at Okeechobee, it was insane. Didn’t you have Ganja White Night come out with you?

Yeah Ganja White Night and Boogie T came out.

How cool was that?

It was awesome.

Are you good friends with them? How did that come up?

I know Brock, Boggie T. He’s a friend of mine. I asked him to come out for my set. He was touring with Ganja White Night, so he was just at Okeechobee chilling. I was like yo, do you want to come through for my set. You can definitely hop on. I really like your music and he was like oh sure. I didn’t really think he would, like he was just going blow me off or something. Then he showed up during my first song and he was like alright lets go.

So you didn’t even know until during the set?

Yeah like he just jumped on and then like five songs later he pulled me down and was like, “Ganja White Night wants to hop on, if you'd be cool with that.” I was like, “Fuck yes.” Thats how it came up, then he linked me with the Ganja White Night guys. They’re really awesome and really supportive of what I’m doing. I can reach out to them and it’s a really nice thing to have them.

I’m currently checked in on Facebook as “Going” for the "Blunts and Blondes Bass Convention at Imagine Music Festival". Could you tell me a little bit more about that?

I did the same thing at Okeechobee. Basically, for Okeechobee I did that because the only other dubstep artist that was playing that was really heavy was 12th planet, and then Snails. They had played really early in the day and I was playing in the middle of the night where everything’s just popping. So me and my manager created the bass convention thing to let people know like, “Hey, I’m going to play real bass music at this set. I’m not going to play some soft set for Okeechobee because its in the woods or something.” Like no, "I’m playing bass music. I’m trying to create kinda like a party, but not like a party inside the brand." So like every other festival I go to, I’ll make that page and be like, “Hey, this is going to be the convention for this festival.” So people going to Imagine can comment on there, I can see who’s coming, and what group of fans are coming too. It makes the connection for the people who want to see me a lot easier. 

When you go to these festivals do you get to hangout? I saw on your Twitter you were hanging out at EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) but you weren’t performing, right?

No, I was not performing. I got to kinda perform, but it was bullshit. But like it was on an art car but I played with my buddy Dack Janiels, and he’s a good guy. But yeah for EDC i got to the opportunity to go, I’d never been there before and I got to go see people I wanted to see, I got meet my real-life internet friends.

It looked like you were hanging out with people from Twitter, I saw this one guy post a status that you gave him a blunt. Also on Twitter. I saw you post something about iTunes there. You actually have a song up there now. Are you working on trying to get all your music on iTunes, or what’s going on with that? 

Well all of my music is put out on SoundCloud right now and its for free. Because I just kinda wanna get my brand out, my reach up. But a lot of people are using Spotify and iTunes, so I’m pushing all my music out on all platforms, but it's still for free. All of my tracks are on Spotify, but I’m just pushing my tracks because the most platforms I can put my music on the better. 

While you’re doing that, are you working on new music? Are you trying to get like an EP together, or you still playing around with singles?

New music is coming, I have a couple tracks mixed up. I’m not working on an EP because I feel like, I want my skills to get better. I want my music to be better before I put something out that embodies what I’m trying to do. So like I’m going to stay with singles for now. But you know hopefully an EP in the future, near future. But I definitely have more new music coming up, really soon.

I saw you post something about Bassnectar, you said he was your idol or someone you look up to. I don’t know if you saw, he just got added to the Hulaween lineup. Are you interested in going to that. 

I would like to go to Hulaween but I don’t know when I’m going to get booked for that weekend, so I don’t wanna like buy a ticket and then can’t go. 

I was hoping to see you on the lineup.

Me too, man. Me too.

So, tying off that, are you trying to book these festivals or are you searching for a residency? 

I had a residency at the Ritz, that was a really awesome and great opportunity there. I got to meet a lot of new people, a lot of new artists who were coming through. I got to open for a lot of them. Me playing every single week in a different environment, for different artists kinda helped me DJ, a lot. That was really good for me. The way the Ritz worked is that they keep the DJs really really involved with the business, so i got to see how the club business works, how money gets thrown around. Who does what, and a lot of the politics about how clubs and shows and how talent agencies and booking agencies work together. Which was really cool for me because its just learning more about the industry. Having a residency, that's your job,. that's your responsibility. So when I’m at a residency, I can’t play anywhere else another night. It wouldn’t be fair to the residency. I had to step away from the residency, I love the Ritz, I love the residency, I love what they’re doing. The whole team there, they’ve helped me out so much, but in order to bring my career to the next level I had to leave. 

I saw the Ritz is bringing Ganja White Night and Boogie T. to town in July, will you be at that show.

I will definitely be at that show.

Great man, hope to see you there! Thanks so much for your time.

His latest single, "Rewind" definitely brings the wubs — listen below.