While observing my surroundings, grooving to the feel-good tunes from Carneyval, I couldn’t help but feel like I was at a really fun (and really big) house party. This particular Carneyval show I speak of was at the Back Alley stage at Buku Music & Art Project. William Carney, aka Carneyval, should know how to throw a good house party, as he is currently a junior at Tulane University. William sat down with me at Buku so we could discuss his party vibes a little further.
Where Y’at: You’re a Junior at Tulane. What's your major?
Carneyval: Entrepreneurial management
WYAT: So what's your plan for after college?
Carneyval: After college, you know I graduate in 2016, I’d like to be carrying on with music and hopefully playing enough shows that I can be supporting myself. So we’ll see.
WYAT: You grew up with a musical background and even taught yourself piano via YouTube videos. How much of your music is actually recorded instruments versus sounds using a program? Can you tell us about your production workflow?
Carneyval: So in the studio, my main focus is keys, but I also used to play drums. So when I’m in the studio, you know I make my own drums, sometimes I’ll sample in some vocals, but I do bring in people to sing, and record guitar or saxophone. It’s a full functioning studio at my house. Right next to my bedroom. So in the studio, everything is pretty much my own, unless it’s a remix, and I’m sampling from that. When it’s a song, I also like making the bass, all the elements, but predominantly it’s done through the keyboard.
WYAT: Do you always perform with other instrumentalists?
Carneyval: I’d like to as much as possible. It’s obviously hard to travel and do so, but when I’m down here, I love to have a brass section or someone on guitar. People singing, rappers, whatever I can get my hands on. But today it’s a little different, because they booked me for a DJ set, but of course I snuck my brother in, so he’ll be playing guitar and singing. We’ve made a few songs on my past few albums together. And I’ll be playing keys, as always.
WYAT: I hear a lot of saxophone in your most recent album, Carneyval. Is that a fellow artist, you or synth?
Carneyval: It’s both. Sometimes I’ll do it on my keys, and then sometimes I’ll bring in a friend of mine, Charlie McMillan, who goes to Loyola University, and he plays sax with me live.
WYAT: The saxophone has found a home in a couple electronic genres. Most recently, it has been a key element in tropical house around the world. What are your thoughts on that genre, and is it something you see yourself dabbling in or are you planning to stick to a funkier groove?
Carneyval: These are awesome questions. I do like it. Stuff like Kygo, can get really repetitive. The structure of it all. He like structures; all of his songs are the same. I don’t haven’t really downloaded any of his stuff, but I listen to his stuff when he puts it out because I like to be on top of all of the new music that’s coming out. I do like it, like deep house. Thomas Jack last night was sick, and I met some French guys who are playing tonight, and they were sound checking and doing some dope house stuff. So I love that and it’s good stuff for sure. It’s popular for a reason.
WYAT: Well, what is the genre you want to stick to?
Carneyval: I don’t want to stick to anything, to be honest. I want to stick to…not sticking. I’d like to make, maybe slow down-tempo songs, or songs that are four on the floor, housey. Or stuff that might be a little heavier. I just love changing it up. It also makes it perfect for live sets, so it’s not just 4 on the floor, house all the time. It’s all over the place.
WYAT: In your bio online, you said going to Tulane and living in New Orleans impacted the evolution of your production style and now you lean more towards electronic funk. What is it that you like about that style?
Carneyval: I love the instruments in the live aspect of it. Especially down here you see Prytania Bar, and little holes in the wall, and people are just killing it on sax, guitar, trumpet, tuba, whatever they got going on, and I just been hearing that a lot, especially with the kids that go to Loyola, I have my disposal all the time. I love bringing them over and just jamming, and if we like something we’ll record it. I wouldn’t say it’s like a permanent change that New Orleans has influenced my music, but definitely for some songs, every once and a while. It’s hard to exactly say what influences it.
WYAT: So you like the way the crowd dances during an electronic funk song versus that of another genre? Do you like that type flow of a show versus something harder?
Carneyval: I do kind of like a more laid back style. I do love heavy, not necessarily what Porter Robinson does now, but his old stuff. Crazy electro-house. I used to listen to a ton of that, and do still like it, but the last song I play tonight, it’s a remix of “Some Chords,” a song by DeadMau5. That’s probably the heaviest thing I’ll be playing. I like to play some heavy stuff, but then also bringing it back down to grooving vibes and everyone’s just chilling.
WYAT: So let's talk a little about your hit track "Use Me" with Jackson Breit. Did he write his lyrics and you did the music, or did he also help with the music production?
Carneyval: He wrote the lyrics. He actually went to Tulane and used to live in my bedroom. He’s from Virginia Beach. I took over my brother’s house when he graduated, and he was roommates with Jackson so we’ve always been good friends. He was here for a few weeks over the summer and we played a show together. I was headlining at The Willow. We made the song, “The Weekend” which is an original, and we actually made a few more that are unreleased. Then “Use Me” is Bill Withers, so it’s kind of a remix or rework. Whatever you want to call it. We sampled it.
WYAT: How did y’all choose the classic hit from Bill Withers?
Carneyval: Jackson actually was like, “Yo, this song could be sick if we looped it. You did your thing to it. Put some dope drums on it and some good key lines on it.” I remember I was in the studio, I’d be working on it, looping, building it from the ground up, and he was just behind me singing some riffs and getting the melodies going, and started writing lyrics. Next thing I know, we have a pretty dope song.
WYAT: Seeing the success of that track, do you plan on creating more remixes similar to that?
Carneyval: Yeah, I mean I love taking old songs, or songs that people recognize. Do you know the song “Stolen Dance” by Milky Chance? My brother and I are going to be doing a cover of that tonight. So I love songs that people still recognize, songs that I love, and get the crowd’s attention. Have a little fun. I think Jackson and I are doing some stuff in the future.
We’re playing a show at UVA next week and a show at South Carolina a few weeks after that. I think we’re going to play in Jackson, Mississippi, but he’s going to be in New Orleans for a few days, and we’re definitely going to try and crank out some new stuff. I don’t know if it’s going to sample an old classic, like Bill Withers. Jackson has that kind of pop, singer/song writer voice, so I’ll definitely use that element to my advantage and work something up with him.
WYAT: Many of your songs on your self-titled album, Carneyval, are part remixes utilizing vocals from other tracks. Do you plan on moving into originals with collaborations with vocalists?
Carneyval: Yeah. I’ve done a few in the past, like on the newest album, Let It Go. That’s all original vocals. “You Dropped A Bomb On Me,” my brother is singing on that. That’s a cover of The Gap Band. I love doing little retakes on songs like that. Definitley down the road, as I get bigger, I’ll be able to have more artists at my disposal. It’s hard to predict what I’ll be doing in the future with music. I know I sample a lot, like Pretty Lights, he samples a lot. I have a similar sampling style creating a brand new song. I definitley want to create an album that’s just 100% original. No samples. No one’s questioning whether or not that acapella is Ellie Goulding singing or something like that. I really do want to do something original. I can’t really sing myself, but I’d love to get into the lyric writing process.
WYAT: Who is your dream collaborator?
Carneyval: Dream collaboration. I’ve never heard that question, but I feel like it would come up. I like it. Porter would be sick, but only because he’s playing tonight. He’s on my mind. I would love to collaborate with Deadmau5 because he’s the first guy who got me into electronic music, but being from Virginia Beach, Pharrell Williams. I think that’d be sick. I’d love to collaborate with as many people as possible really. Kind of like a Calvin Harris approach, on his album, he brings in people to do vocals.
WYAT: What word can be best used to describe a typical Carneyval show?
Carneyval: I kind of want to say “energetic.” Alright, I’m going to do two: awesome atmosphere. I just love the community aspect, and everyone’s there listening to great music and it’s cool to be the one to provide the music. I love meeting people afterwards who enjoyed the show. It’s good for the soul, just feel-good music.
WYAT: What do you have in the works for the rest of this year? Where else can fans catch the next live shows?
Carneyval: I think I will be playing at The Willow again for a Jazz Fest after party in April. I’ll be dropping a few unreleased tracks, but definitely one that I’ll be trying to release in the next few weeks. You know that song “Retrograde” by James Blake? This girl, Celeste Stoney, did a cover of it and she sent me the acapella and it’s super down tempo. This remix is classic Carneyval, upbeat. It kind of sounds like a '80s vibe.
WYAT: Last thing. Your logo, the face, utilizes the mustache. Is the mustache now a permanent thing for you?
Carneyval: Oooh, good question. I hope not, honestly. Not that I don’t like it. I hate being put in boxes. So I’m definitely going to find a way, down the road in a few years, to not completely change the image, but create the second generation, if you will.