TWERL’s calling in from Perth, Australia while he’s visiting family. A week, and more than 9,000 miles later, I see him IRL in his new homebase of Los Angeles. He’s jetlagged, but lovely as always. “I calculated it, and I think I’ve been on 45 hours of flights in the past three weeks,” he says with a tired laugh. He’s gone from Los Angeles to Bali, Bali to Perth, Perth to Melbourne, and back to Los Angeles where we run into each other at the Dreams Never Die x True Ventures dinner. “I just signed a lease on a new apartment,” he says. “A few years ago, I never thought I'd have my own place in LA.”
TWERL and I have now spoken a few times. First for his EP Distance, a collaboration with his partner and musician, Pauline Herr, and again in January when he launched the web3 electronic collective ASTRO. He is consistently humble, kind, and seems to take nothing for granted. When interviewing msft for HIGH FREQUENCY Volume 1, msft made a point to bring up TWERL’s influence, driving home TWERL’s growing reputation. “TWERL is one of a kind,” says msft pointing out both TWERL’s character and talent.
Talking to TWERL over Zoom during his time in Perth, the roots of his maturity and grace come into focus. The talent, skill, leadership, and grounded demeanor that TWERL embodies, of course, isn’t happenstance. “I grew up in Perth. Lived here my whole life up until last year when I moved to Bali. And then I moved to the States,” says TWERL. “My oldest brother got me into DJing when I was 15–he was a trance DJ. I was messing around with FruityLoops at the time and snuck into a festival where Deadmau5, Skrillex, and a few others were playing. I was like, ‘Yeah, this is it. This is definitely what I want to do.’”
Inspired to pursue music, TWERL struggled at first to balance the endeavor with his other responsibilities. He was playing ice hockey for the Australian national team, practicing six times a week and had left school to pursue an electrical apprenticeship–a common path in Australia. “I was miserable. I hated every day of it,” says TWERL candidly. “I wasn't good at music, but I knew I wanted to give it a go. I eventually dropped the trade, and went to study sound engineering.”
Starting to gain confidence in his craft, he launched the TWERL project in 2015. That same year, his world changed dramatically. “I got sick when I was 19. I had cancer. And that was right as I launched the project, so it was quite a weird thing. I didn't really know what to do.”
His shock soon turned to resolve as he fought for a future any teenager would have previously thought was supposed to be guaranteed. “I had an epiphany. Life is clearly quite delicate and short. It definitely puts things into perspective. It gave me a different outlook on life,” says TWERL. “That's when I really went for it and put everything into it. That was in 2015 and I haven't looked back.”
Cancer-free for the past seven years having finished chemo the day before his 20th birthday, TWERL has since toured the world playing major festival stages while becoming a pioneer at the forefront of electronic music in web3. His gratitude for all of it is palpable, and underpins everything he does.
His first break came after his bootleg remixes on Soundcloud started getting noticed by trap and EDM artists like RL Grime, Ekali, and Alison Wonderland. Ekali played TWERL’s remix during Coachella, and shortly after, TWERL booked his first major tour. “All those guys were playing my shit. I started to get some recognition and that led to going on tour with Alison Wonderland in Japan,” says TWERL. “I remember being in Kyoto after the first show sitting there like, ‘This is actually fucking insane. I just uploaded my music to SoundCloud, and now I'm in my favorite place in the world with an artist that I've looked up to for a long time.’”
Years of grinding later, his attitude remains the same. “When I moved to LA and could support myself, that was another moment,” says TWERL. “It's hard to see as you're creating, because it's such a slow rise, but when you can be present, that's when you realize this shit’s actually wild. It’s these little things along the way that just make you realize you are doing the right thing.”
There’s no doubt TWERL is on the right path. His music captures his purpose and has dazzled the web3 community with his delicious melodic soundscapes. Now he takes us on a new journey with “WTF,” ushering in a heavier dose of TWERL. “I'm starting to care less about opinions and just doing what feels natural to me,” he says. “The last couple of years, I've done mostly melodic stuff, but I really enjoy the heavier stuff. It's fun to play at shows. My sets are heavier trap music.” Creating with confidence and abandon, TWERL is right at home with “WTF.” His sound—whether melodic or heavy—is unmistakably measured, tight, and addictive.
Exercising restraint, TWERL pulls back in the beginning of the track to create a minimal soundscape, setting the groove and priming his listener for the bass to build. Introducing a trap beat accompanied by a melodic sound effect that dances on the topline, heavier tones emerge complimented by a previously established airy subtlety. As the song approaches the drop, the sole lyrics and title hook “What The Fuck,” shouted abruptly by a low register voice as if reacting to what the listener is about to experience, is a clear signal providing a satisfying halt before plummeting into the lush, effectively choppy, supercharged drop.
Begging for the festival mainstage, “WTF” is a sure sign that heavy TWERL is here to stay. “The reason I've never really done heavier music in web3 is because we’re early and there's not much of a pocket for that kind of music. But I want to try and change that with my music and with ASTRO.”
With “WTF,” TWERL demonstrates in spades his ability to strike an exquisite balance. Catchy rhythms create enough ear candy to entice even the most novice heavy listener, while the fine-tuned details offer seasoned listeners plenty to sink their teeth into.
Incorporating his web2 live show mentality into his web3 releases, TWERL says “WTF” is only a taste of what’s to come. “This song is one of six that I'm going to be rolling out over the next six months.”
In addition to spearheading ASTRO and making new music, TWERL is also the founder of The Forbidden Society, an online school for producers with over 3,000 students. “Something I've always enjoyed doing is teaching,” he says. “I wanted to make something that people will actually find useful. For a price that isn't outrageous.”
Starting with an Ableton fundamentals course, the program features online master class courses and live feedback sessions from artists including TWERL, Phaseone, Nitepunk, and Odd Mob. Having experienced first-hand the inefficiencies of most college courses like the one he took in Australia for sound engineering, TWERL has tailored-made his online school to empower students to learn efficiently. “When I was learning there was nothing like this, and that's why I created it. Schools don’t teach production in an order that you need to learn. Mine starts from scratch from opening Ableton for the first time, and takes you from there.”
Whether through his music, his work in web3, or his leadership in the field of electronic production as a teacher and mentor, TWERL’s resilience, determination, and graciousness is endlessly inspiring. Working towards his goals of expanding his live presence in North America while onboarding artists to web3 and building ASTRO, TWERL always brings it back to gratitude for a life of pursuing his dreams and making great music. “What web3 has done for me has been incredible. Being able to help support myself has given me the freedom to write good music again.” I’d argue it’s almost always been good. But TWERL is destined to be great. And it’s only the beginning.
HIGH FREQUENCY Volume 1 is a compilation album curated by NOISE, with 16 tracks released over the course of 16 weeks on Sound. The album features new songs from artists we believe represent the values of web3 and whose work will be essential to every music NFT collector’s set in the future.
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