Vancouver-bred Vanic is a dropout with no regrets

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      Future bass and trap artist Vanic is an all-or-nothing kind of guy.

      Despite having no training in production beyond experimenting with low-end recording software in high school—on a program that was, incidentally, given to him on a bootleg CD—the performer, known then as Jesse Hughes, dropped out of SFU business studies on a hunch that he could make it big in the music industry.

      And he was right.

      “There were a couple of factors that went into my decision,” the New Westminster native tells the Straight on the line from his home. “Some family things came up, and it made me question how much I was enjoying doing the typical business-studies thing.

      “Often when people graduate, they’re not quite sure what to do with their lives after they get their degree. So I thought, ‘Maybe I just give music a shot once, with all my energy.’ I figured that if I put everything on the line one time, it would either work or wouldn’t. And here we are.”

      Hughes’s decision wasn’t entirely a blind leap of faith. An accomplished piano player since his fourth birthday, the burgeoning artist notes that music has always been an important part of his life. When it comes to transferring his keyboard skills into the world of production, the 27-year-old is very aware of how to best deploy his talents.

      “I began my career by making remixes,” he recalls. “My strength is building music around a song that I like, whether it’s a top line or some kind of vocal. I can’t write lyrics to save my life. When I was starting out, talented singers and songwriters didn’t want to spend the time with me, because I didn’t have any kind of repertoire.

      “Remixing is the easiest way to go. You can take something minimal—hopefully, it only has some guitar or piano in the background—and do your best to filter it out and build something around that.”

      First catapulted into the public eye for reworking tracks by Taylor Swift, the Chainsmokers, and Major Lazer, Hughes has since reached out to collaborators for his own original work. Following up the release of “Samurai” in late 2016—a track that currently boasts over five million plays on Spotify—the producer dropped “Too Soon” in January, a playful and poppy single with wonky synth melodies and summery percussion.

      Returning to Vancouver to promote the track after touring with Adventure Club, the hometown boy is excited to be filling his favourite Vancouver venue.

      “I’m really happy because it’s sold out really quick, and it’s great to see a lot of local support. I’ve got a ton of friends coming out, so it will be interesting to pack everyone into Celebrities and see how my parents react to a bunch of people just going crazy in the crowd. I don’t really know what to expect, but I imagine it’s going to be a super fun time.”

      Vanic plays Celebrities on Friday (February 24).