Get ready, minions. The newest electronic duo to become S.K.A.M. artists is Made Monster. Comprised of Ryan McKay and Chris Roberts—known to some previously as DJs Red and Spryte, respectively—Made Monster’s big room sound with a twist has been rising on the Beatport charts and their live shows are high-energy sets rocking the dancefloor across two setups. DJOYbeat caught up with the DJ/producers in advance of the announcement that they’ve officially signed with S.K.A.M.
You guys are now officially the newest addition to the S.K.A.M. roster. What was your first thought?
I’m going to quote you on that. I’ll figure out how to spell it.
McKay: I think there’s three “Os.”
So after that initial excitement from Ryan, how did the deal come about?
Roberts: The thing that I liked about S.K.A.M. is they’ve got some new personnel over there and they’re really pushing/revamping their EDM department. If we joined up with them they’d really push us and have that whole approach to it, whereas some of the other rosters may be a little bit more focused to electronic music, but they have, like, 500 artists. We were worried about falling into the shuffle and we had a lot of momentum on our side with the music, so wanted someone to focus on us and that’s what they brought.
Ryan is in Houston, Chris is in L.A. How did you meet and begin collaborating?
Roberts: It was at WMC [Winter Music Conference in Miami].
McKay: We would always tap-out at the same time during the parties; people would keep going and Chris and I would be the ones to go to the diner first.
Roberts: We weren’t as big into all the crazy after parties. We decided we’d duck out and figured out we were really similar goals-wise. At first we started doing 2×4 sets as Red and Spryte.
You two have been spinning for a long time before joining up. Are you influenced at all by what you did as solo artists?
McKay: We definitely wanted to keep Red and Spryte as much as possible outside of Made Monster. We both wanted a fresh start. We needed one. Another reason why we created Made Monster is we were both being forced to play more commercial sets. We wanted a break from that to be like, “If you book Made Monster, it’s like you’re booking another major act.” Dada Life doesn’t get asked to play specific remixes when a certain bottle table shows up. We wanted to get into the realm of artistry where we were never asked to do that again. We do have a lot of backing as far as our careers and that definitely helped kick-start us off. But as far as being Red and Spryte in our bios, we definitely kept that off of it.
Roberts: It was the same thing where I made a career under the name “DJ Spryte.” I grew up in Chicago playing hard house and electronic music, but I was definitely chasing the money as well with one foot in the electronic realm and one foot kind of in this club realm, which did the same thing and forced me to play a lot of these multi-format sets, which really wasn’t my thing. … We wanted to brand ourselves as artists and just do what we do, take it or leave it, it’s what we believe in, this is what we play.
On the production side, you’ve already been doing well with those. How many have charted now?
McKay: We are at three in a row that have charted on the Beatport Top 100. We got the hat trick, we got three in a row! We’ve had very good success as far as the charting is concerned, especially without major mega label support. … The tricky part about not bringing on the Red and Spryte ammunition is starting from scratch; all your numbers start at zero [laughs]. Our Facebook page, Twitter handle? Everything has generated quite naturally on its own. You see the kids that all of a sudden have 100,000 followers? We didn’t go that route.
For those that haven’t heard your music yet, what might appeal to people about your music and maybe even your podcast?
Roberts: The one good thing that we pride ourselves on is even with our music and the stuff we play on the podcast, we really stay true to what we like, as opposed to jumping on the trend. With all of our tracks we try to take risks and be a little bit outside of the box of what’s currently happening.
McKay: We’re not going to make a song that sounds like “Animals.” And you’re not going to hear “Summertime Sadness” on our podcast.
What are your respective roles in the studio and the booth?
Roberts: We’re pretty much equal. With production, we pass of the tracks back and forth—Ryan lives in Houston and I live in Los Angeles. Ryan has the main studio in his house in Houston. Then, as far as live shows, we’re equal. A lot of guys will have multiple DJs setup on one set of CDJs and a mixer. We use a full setup each so we can go back and forth where one guy mixes while the other guy does live performance stuff over them like a capellas, fills or machine stuff. Then we switch.
How did you come up with the Made Monster persona as far as the characters?
Roberts: That kind of started in San Diego. We did a Spryte and Red show down there at Block 16 when we first decided that this goes together. We sat down at this Mexican restaurant in Old Town and were brainstorming, “What would we be called? What would we do?” We wanted to have a theme or some kind of show to go with it—not like helmets or masks—but we wanted something that we could build on. Ryan and I are both comic book nerds at heart. So we came up with this whole monster theme. “Oh, it’d be cool if we have these little avatars” and stuff like that. At the beginning, we didn’t want to show ourselves in marketing and use these characters instead.
McKay: We always like the idea of having like a Made Monster Halloween every night where everyone’s dressing up and getting crazy. We love Halloween, monsters and that whole idea of it. But we also want to maintain our artistry and technicality with what we do on stage, so we’d let everyone else be the fun goofy stuff while we perform our hardest while there’s crazy madness going on around us. That was always our dream.
Who is the zombie and who is the robot?
Roberts: My guy’s the zombie and Ryan is the cyborg. I think it was along the time we were super into The Walking Dead and everything. So that was kind of the thing behind it.
McKay: There was a little more behind it! Both the android and the zombie are use to being humans and then they were both remade and reborn into something crazy and fucked up and—
Roberts: This was all you! That was all in your head. I think you had too many margaritas that day. “Made Man! Like in the mafia! But it’s Made Monster. Yeah!” [Laughs.]
Could there be an accompanying comic book series?
McKay: Fuck, yes. That’d be awesome! I would love that.
Roberts: That would be great! Actually, one of our original ideas with these characters was to have them animated as visuals for our shows, but we’re still working on that one.
McKay: We’re shooting for what we want this to be at the end game, now we’re walking the road to get there.