GorillaT on His Sudden Life Pivot and What it Takes to Create a Brand from Scratch


From being a college athlete to producing his own music, GorillaT made lots of noise—literally—in the dubstep scene in 2023. The 22-year-old artist, whose real name is Tate Warner, started making electronic music just about three years ago and now finds himself performing on headlining tours, festival lineups and popular stages like Excision’s “The Thunderdome.”

For many in the electronic dance music community—or any community for that matter—there is often a show, moment or song that sparks a deeper passion for it. Warner found this to be true when he went to a Subtronics show around three years ago. GorillaT tells EDM.com that his origin story goes like this: “I went to that Subtronics concert, my friends kind of dragged me there, I remember not really wanting to be there too bad, and then the next day I went home and sold my PS4 and like, half of my belongings so that I could buy Ableton.”

After downloading the music production software, the next step was figuring out his sound and means of promotion. Discussing his initial sound, Warner highlights that because Subtronics was his first show, he spent a long time trying to emulate his music.

“When an artist finds an artist that just changes their lives like that, you spend the next year or two trying to make songs exactly like them,” he explains. “A lot of my early songs around those times were more me trying to figure out how to make full songs in the style that I wanted.”

This imitation game didn’t last for long, though. “I understand production now to a level where I give online classes, one-on-ones, I mix down people’s songs, I have a Patreon,” says Warner, who now describes his sound first and foremost as “wonky,” the word appearing in the titles of multiple songs. “Once I figured out what style I liked I could just do it by myself in terms of my own sound design and the way that I like melodies to kind of sit together.”

Despite his success, Warner didn’t always want to be a musician. In fact, he has been a student athlete at Loyola University of New Orleans for the past four years and just recently dropped out to pursue his music career. Now, the only thing that lives on from his past swimming dreams are “a few state records,” he says.

Growing up in the sublime city of Golden, Colorado, a city near Denver and the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the swimmer-turned-musician was given access to a lively EDM scene that would ultimately cultivate a foundation for the dubstep music he wanted to create. “It’s been in the culture of where I’m from,” says Warner, whose experiences at shows by SVDDEN DEATH, Wooli, Virtual Riot and Infekt would eventually influence his own future sound.

About halfway into this three-year journey is when Warner found his music garnering more listeners, recognition and fans. His first single “Stoned Ape Theory” was released just about two years ago in 2022, and after releasing 17 other singles on streaming platforms, his first full album came out in late 2023, marrying many of those tracks under one name: Tales Of A Stoned Ape. GorillaT had his first-ever headline show in July in Minneapolis and in 2023 alone has performed at Forbidden Kingdom, Apocalypse and Lost Lands.

GorillaT performing at Excision’s “The Thunderdome” in Tacoma on February 3rd, 2024.

c/o Gridlock Management

So how does someone make this much wonky noise in the span of just a few years? We all have an inkling of the answer to this question: social media. Warner attributes much of his success to the various platforms that fall under the umbrella term.

“I just don’t see a better way to promote myself as an artist,” he says. “To do what a record label would’ve done for $10,000 I can just get on my phone and spend a few days posting videos.”

With this strategy, Warner finds himself quickly gaining velocity in the industry. “The people that truly understand that are the people that are going to have a way easier time breaking into this,” he says.

Warner values social media not only as a marketing tool, but also as a way to show transparency and gratitude to fans, collaborators and the venues who book him.

“These people make a living for me!” says Warner. “I wouldn’t be able to do this without all the fans.”

As a result, he finds that he is easily approachable at shows when he ventures into the crowd. He also finds that a perfect concoction of social connection with fans and being a perceptive DJ results in an explosion of positive feedback.

“I feel like half the reason they come out to these shows is because they want to see you onstage—of course they love your music. The baseline of all of this is perfecting your craft, and from there you can use social media to do whatever you want really.”

To supplement people seeing him onstage, Warner tries to read each room thoroughly so the crowd likes what they hear. “It seems like every place I go, they vibe with just slightly different things that I’m dropping and that’s why it’s good to be a good DJ and be able to switch stuff up.”

GorillaT.

c/o Gridlock Management

With the new attention his music and DJing is receiving comes new collaborations and knowledge. Warner says that these collaborations aided in the creation and evolution of GorillaT’s sound and brand. “It’s so awesome to collab with people because I always learn so much about their work flow and what works for them,” he says.

Upcoming collaborations Warner hints at include work with ProbCause, Hostage Situation, Ahee and Steller. New visuals and merchandise are also in the works that feel happy, trippy and welcoming, he says.

With a growing platform, though, comes growing scrutiny and a greater chance for burnout. Warner highlights that a career contingent on a computer and internet can easily blur the line between work and play.

“It always feels like play until there are deadlines,” Warner says with a laugh while stressing the importance of self-care. “I’m able to make the best music when everything surrounding the music is on the right path.”

It looks to Warner like this momentum is not going to slow anytime soon—and it also hasn’t quite sunk in. “I don’t think I believe it yet,” he says in disbelief. “I don’t think it’ll ever change, that aspect of how grateful I feel for all of this.”

Fans of GorillaT can catch him at upcoming performances at Ottawa’s Escapade Music Festival and Excision’s Paradise Blue in Cancún, among other tour stops in 2024.

Follow GorillaT:

X: x.com/GorillaT_
Instagram: instagram.com/gorillatofficial
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GorillaTMusic
Spotify: tinyurl.com/bddemzha




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