Whethan Talks Collaborations And Whether Or Not He’s Still A Wallflower
Ethan Snoreck aka Whethan has had quite the year. This 19-year-old producer has already collaborated with internationally known artists and played Coachella, but he’s only been in the music industry for a couple years. Currently on his Life of a Wallflower tour, Whethan just had a 2-night run in his hometown of Chicago. The crowd was filled with those his own age, all dancing and singing to each track. The DJ style set included new versions of his own originals mixed in with his favorites and today’s hits. After the show, we sat down with Ethan to talk about his young career and whether or not he still feels like a wallflower.
Sensible Reason: As somebody who is so young, do you feel as though you’re more connected with your audience than someone who has been doing this for several years?
Whethan: I think so, yeah. I think it’s like a mixture of being young and being in a position where I can play songs that I just want to hear. I feel like a lot of younger people who come to my shows like the same vibe.
SR: This set was more like a DJ set.
W: Yeah, totally. A mixture of everything.
SR: Was it difficult playing two nights in a row? Did you struggle to figure out what to play for both nights?
W: Yeah, that was the thing, I couldn’t do the same thing twice, I had to switch it up. But it was more of a fun thing to go “What did I play last night, and how can I change it now?” I made a couple edits, added some unexpected moments that I tried out, it was a lot of fun.
SR: Did you have a lot of friends come out?
W: I had a lot of friends come yesterday, a lot of family come out yesterday. A lot of friends came out tonight as well, but I would say its interesting playing two nights because it was like everyone has things to do. Some people came out last night, some came tonight it was kind of nice.
SR: Do you feel like you have a true Chicago following? Is it bigger than other cities since this is your hometown?
W: I definitely feel something playing in Chicago that I don’t always feel. Other places have lots of energy, but I think it’s nostalgic for me to come back. [Laughs] Yeah, my high school nostalgia from 2 years ago.
SR: Being new to the industry and fresh out of high school, do you feel a pressure from your higher-ups, whether they be your manager or your label, to do certain things?
W: I think there’s definitely a little pressure, but I think that’s human nature always feeling pressure because you always want to do better and outdo yourself. You’re basically your own worst enemy, you’re constantly battling yourself. But I think my team knows I’m a young kid, they know I’m 19 and going to be a 19-year-old, but I’m so focused on [my career] too. I’m just so motivated that they’re just on board with me taking my time with certain things…they push, though, they push. But that’s good, it makes me healthy, too, because some days you just want to do nothing.
SR: Do you ever feel pressure to do things you don’t want to do or get pushed in a direction you don’t want to go?
W: I think I’ve gotten really good at reading myself in the past year or two and knowing an important thing, which is learning when to say No. Knowing your limits and not letting people just kind of just dictate everything for you, which I have found to just be better for me and more hands on. I think I’m getting better at knowing if I’m going to vibe with something or not. Know when to say No. If you don’t say no…
SR: You’d be a puppet.
SR: In the same vein of vibing with something/someone; you do a lot of collaborations and you often work with other artists. When you’re working with vocalists, is it you that writes the song and they sing it or the other way around?
W: It’s always pretty different. It depends on the other artist for sure. Some artists are very hands on with what they write and who sings it. I work with a lot of other writers, too, that won’t end up being the final vocalist in the song, but artists like Oh Wonder are very hands on about the process and love to write every word. In that example, I’m kind of there to cater it almost because they can write a lot of songs, like 5 songs a day or something. Not all of them are going to be the best thing ever, so we dial it down to the best and that’s how I approach my collaborations.
SR: Do you feel like you have more or less creative control in those kinds of situations? Or does it truly depend on the other artist?
W: It really depends. Some artists are really picky about certain things. I’m pretty picky, too, when it comes to my stuff so it’s nice to feel like I have creative control. I try to work with artists who are at least going to understand that I’m going to probably do something weird and try something a little different.
SR: What track has been your baby from start to finish?
W: It’s so hard to pick one.
SR: With so many collaborations, everyone has a hand in it. So, what song is yours?
W: I’m thinking between two songs right now…I’m thinking between “Good Nights” which is really special to me. The way that whole song came about in an interesting way with production. It started off as such a weird little beat that I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it, and I first sent it to Mascolo and he wrote a hook. I was like, “Yo, we gotta finish this.” I took it in and it took a bunch of left turns and crazy twists, but it’s crazy it was one of those where everything just felt right. It just feels good.
SR: What was the other one you were thinking of?
W: Either that one or…I’m stuck between “When I’m Down” with Oliver Tree. That was a crazy classic moment, we were working in his closet at the time, you know? Nowadays it’s cool, we have studios to go to whenever we want and it’s awesome, but back then we were just making music out of his closet in his dorm room, he was still in college at the time. It’s an awesome song, you can feel it every time. And I love “Radar” the new song is so good to me, it’s like my baby when it comes to the production on that.
SR: You dropped a couple Louis the Child songs during your set. You guys are contemporaries, you’re from the same city, you’re the same age (give or take a couple years). You guys know each other, do you plan on working together again in the future?
W: Totally! I mean, they live right down the street from me in LA. We’ve known each other for maybe 3 years or so, we’re from similar areas in Chicago. Those are my dudes, we are close in age so we can talk about things together and relate at that level because our jobs are just to make music every day and play shows.
SR: You’re smack dab in the middle of your tour. How’s it been? Is it tiring?
W: Yeah, we’re just over the hump. It’s been good! I definitely feel it now, I know I’ve been on the road. But I’m fine. You get to do a lot of shows and connect with really awesome people every night. It’s crazy, every night is such a different experience, but at the same time it’s tiring but it’s fun. It’s not too hard.
SR: Often what I’ve heard is the hardest part of working in the music industry is the travel and overall lack of sleep.
W: That’s true, it’s definitely one of the most taxing parts of it. The clock never stops, if you’re not working 24/7 someone else is.
SR: So you’re still releasing music while you’re traveling. Are you constantly on the clock or do you plan things out so that it’s released at the perfect time?
W: I’m pretty much always going when it comes to making music. We’ve got a studio on the back of the bus, I’m always making songs. Working as I go, collecting as many records as I can that I really like and trying to get them to that final place and sticking with what feels fresh still and maybe saving some stuff, shelving some things for later. Sadly, some stuff feels dated and you don’t want to put it out. The ones that stand the test of time are the ones that come out.
SR: What’s next?
W: Music wise, Life of a Wallflower Vol. 1 is an EP I have coming out, which is really exciting because I haven’t put out any EPs yet, just singles. So that’ll be the first time I’m putting out a 7 or 8 song EP project, and it is like a project. The vibe I have right now, which is how I would describe it, they feel like they’re a part of something cool. And then after that, I’m going right back into it, and album mode. Trying to create a serious project.
SR: Are there singles out that will be on the EP?
W: Yeah, “Radar” will be on there, “Be Like You,” “Good Nights.” So like 4 new songs.
SR: You’re on stage a lot, you meet new people every day. Do you still feel like a wallflower?
W: A lot of the time, yeah. But I don’t look at it as a negative thing too much. It’s just something you kind of have to accept and feel sometimes. You’re not always the life of the party.
SR: You headlined this show. You are the life of the party.
W: Isn’t that weird?
SR: Does it feel surreal?