Hayden Kramer (AKA heRobust) has rocketed to prominence in the world of bass music since the release of "Sheknowshebad" in October. The Atlanta native has made a career of producing hip-hop influenced beat music (think Low End Theory) before he transitioned his focus towards genre-busting, bass-heavy dancefloor bangers in 2013. The results were immediate. A joint EP with Two Fresh followed, as did acknowledgment from many of the game's heaviest hitters. There's a certain headiness and deft touch to heRobust's music that sets him apart from his peers. His pacy ascent corroborates that notion. He's currently on tour with Datsik until he joins Smog boss 12th Planet at the tail end of the Smog City tour. We caught up with Hayden on a rare day off from performing:
"Sheknowshebad" kind of blew up. Have things changed in the short time since then?
Nothing changed to me. I'm still doing everything the same way. It did kind of get us some recognition with more of the elite artists that I really have a lot of respect for. Guys like Flux, Datsik, y'know, larger artists that started supporting our tracks. It was kind of our breakout track to a lot of them.
You keep referring to 'us'...
Sorry, ha! I get in the habit of referring to me and my team as 'us' because truth be told, they work just as hard as I do and I want to recognize that.
What's it like being on the Firepower Tour?
It's awesome. Everybody is super cool - it's very casual. It doesn't seem like work at all. Some tours have this 'work' feel to them, but the Firepower guys, they're not over it. They love every show just as much as the first one they ever played and they're all here to have fun. We had GZA on for the first three and that really meant a lot to all of us. 'Liquid Swords' is one of my favorite albums of all time. We were all really stoked.
Being from Atlanta, what's your perspective on Trap?
Trap music is not something you can remove from me. I can try to make this, I can try to make that, but there's always going to be a nod to Southern hip-hop because that's mother's milk - that's what I was raised on. When it first popped off, I was really excited. As time went on, there was a period where I saw it getting played out. I care about it though. It isn't just like a DJ tool I'm using right now because it works. I'm gonna continue to play trap when it's, y'know, passé or whatever.
I will say this: trap is one of the easiest genres to get started on with production. It's easier, sample-based, you don't have to learn a lot of synthesis. It's 808s…you can download Lex Luger's drum pack and you can make a fairly decent trap song right out of the gate. And while that did create a very diluted genre, it was like a gateway into production for a lot of kids who then went on to become very talented producers. In the name of music, I think that's great. We have tons more artists now because they were able to get their foot in the door via trap. That's awesome!
How did you hook up with Smog?
I really like Smog's output; I was supporting a lot of their tunes already. When we finished that body of work, Smog seemed to fit the aesthetic of the material the best. They're a great label to work with. Everything was great. Sometimes when you contact a label you have to conform to the way that they do things, or they'll push your release back 16 months or something. There was none of that with Smog, no bullshit. They were forward and things just happened. It was clearly about the music.
Your tunes are all over the place in terms of genre. What would you say holds it all together?
I wish I could say that any of it was done with intent but it's really just a product of what I'm around. For example, I'm working on a tune right now. I live in Miami…I was taking this tune. It was kinda trappy but I was trying to give it this big room vibe, y'know, detuned saws and reverb...that's what I was gonna try to do. Three days in on the Firepower tour and it's totally become this grimy ode to older, dubby, filthy sound design. It just happened. I'm out here seeing Troy (Datsik) crush it, and I don't really get to play on bills that are primarily based on dubstep very often. For me to see it in its element…it's awesome, man. It's fun stuff.
Check out the brand, spankin' new video for "Get Busted" below: