Mark Redito, AKA Spazzkid calmly sits directly across from me and my iPad full of questions I can only hope are good, one sandaled foot propped up on his opposite knee. His appearance reminds me of a modern day, hip, monk.
“I apologize if I’m awkward…I never get used to interviews.” he nervously laughs. I immediately let him know, we’re on the same page.
We sit on two tired fold up chairs in the middle of a humble downtown warehouse building known as The LA Fort where artists comes from all walks of life to express themselves. Spazzkid had his first live show here just a year ago, hence his choosing of the spot that now holds a big place in his big heart. He’s come a long way since then, touring nationally to his predominantly US fan base, establishing himself and working with similar artists like Ryan Hemsworth.
Spazzkid may be new to playing live sets, but he certainly is no newbie to music creation. He played drums as a kid growing up (“that’s my main instrument”), and later on in high school, got into playing and “screaming” in punk bands. His obsession with punk led him to adopt half of his name from the hardcore punk band “Spazz”, (“kid” was added later and used across all of his social media platforms). “I was like ‘the Spazzkid’, whatever [laughs]. I didn’t give much thought about it. This was back when I was living in Manila…more than 10 years ago.” Manila, Phillipines was his home for most of his life. He just moved to LA about 5 years ago to take music classes in Hollywood at MI (Musicians Institute) and pursue a music career. He hasn’t been back since but dreams of doing an Asian tour so he can perform for his proud friends and family back home.
How does a hardcore punk lover transition into making electro pop? Mark gets noticeably more amped when I pose the question. “The two genres may be musically different, right, but I can also see a lot of influences and roots from punk. Especially when you think of punk and the musical progression into new wave where they use a lot of synths…its like, yea I feel like electronic and dance music are connected to punk. Even though I play electronic pop, to me it’s still punk…it’s still the same spirit.”
Spazzkid may be punk, but he is a romantic at heart. The themes that are in his songs are mostly based on love and romance in his own life and his friends. All phases of relationships: the fall, the struggle, the parting ways…”It’s something that everyone can relate to.”
Not until 2004, did he begin experimenting with early versions of Frooty Loops and Ableton, “it was very lo-fi, very amateur”. He had several phases within his DIY electronic music exploration that lead him to his current sound. Japenese pop, K-Pop and Asian pop in general are also very big influences of his. “I listen to that shit more than what’s going on here.” He tends to embed similar scales from those genres into his own music. Video Game and 8-bit noises are also sounds he became very comfortable with. “It’s me when I use these”.
Spazzkid is one of the artists at the forefront of this sub-genre movement of new electronic music. Bed squeaks, xylophones, video game sounds, and R&B influenced beat throbs. “I wouldn’t call it new” he corrects me. “It’s hard to describe it, I usually cop out and say ‘electronic pop’.” He thrives off of people questioning his genre as opposed to letting it freak him out. To him, genres can be limiting and at some point he wants to have the freedom to “make bangers”. Like most creatives, he listens to what he likes, then pulls bits and pieces into his own sound, for example 70’s and 80’s funk.
This yearning to not cease his exploration in sound is represented between his two released LP’s. “I was in my bedroom, I wasn’t playing a lot of shows. It was me kind of recording my thoughts and my feelings. At the time, that’s the kind of aesthetic I was really into. Very chill and relax.” That was how his first LP, Desire was conceived. After it released, he began receiving invitations to play live shows, and with this additional factor came the urge to create music that lent itself more to dance. Thus his next LP, Promise was born. It has an overall bouncier, more upbeat flavor to it.
As his music career began to form around having a physical audience, his relationship with a crowd began to have more meaning and depth. “I feel like when I make people move, I’m connected to them.” He likes to go into the crowd during sets to join the party and prepares his set in a way where he can change the vibe according to how the crowd is feeling. “I like looking people in the eye like, ‘do you like what you’re hearing? It’s important as an artist to read a crowd”. I mentioned his set at Echo Park Rising a few weekends ago that I attended and enjoyed. It makes him smile. “I remember thinking, ‘it’s 1am, should I still turn up or what’?” I assured him, that should never be the question.
Having an audience for some can also mean grasping the opportunity to shed light on something that you believe in. I asked if there was anything deeper he aspired to accomplish with his role in music beyond putting it out and touring. He nodded quietly and took a few beats to answer, his mood transitioning from thinking about making people dance. “Being a minority in this whole electronic scene kind of fuels me. You don’t really see a lot of Filipinos or Asian people doing this stuff. I’m happy to represent that. I’m for more minorities in the media..in the music.” He admitted that it isn’t something he is very outspoken about but that it definitely means a lot to him and that he feels it. “I want to primarily be known as a musician, not as an activist, but…dude, I grew up punk, I can’t help but be political. I can’t help but feel all these thing about certain issues.”
When Spazzkid is not making music and playing shows, he’s dreaming about collaborating with one of his favorite artists, Flying Lotus, cooking (and appreciating) asian cuisine, tweeting, taking portraits, and watching Anime. He hopes to possibly start a collective and work with more filmmakers with visuals and scoring.
If people are thinking of pursuing something creative, they should just go for it. As much as you can be real to yourself. It’s a hard thing to do.
Spazzkid goes on tour with Daedelus starting in October! Listen to some of his tracks and watch his new music video for Truly via THUMP here!