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What So Not grows their tour one gig at a time

Australian duo started the year as opening act, now they're selling out on their own



Emoh Instead and Flume, the Sydney DJ-producer duo who make up What So Not, are having a good year.

They started 2014 opening for different EDM acts, now they're playing sold-out shows with their names at the top of the bill.

"It's a constantly evolving situation. It's really exciting," Emoh says. "To be honest there's been so much demand, we keep getting more shows at bigger and bigger venues. We were the support act for (house duo) GTA and then we came back on our own. Last night it was a 2,800-person venue and it sold out. It's escalating quite quickly considering we only first came here in January this year.

"I'm very surprised. Especially compared to Australia, where we were playing for years without the same growth spurt. I guess there is such a population difference here."

But busting your butt helps. What So Not has been working nonstop, a different U.S. venue each day. Yesterday. Houston. Today. North Carolina.

"We had seven days off in six weeks... I don't know if you ever get used to it, but you anticipate the intense period," Emoh says.

"People are really happy to see you, so it's energizing," he adds, describing the long drives and car sleeps when performing at festivals miles from airports.

"Often the events that are the hardest to get to are the best events. That's the whole idea behind them: The chance for people to go there and camp in the middle of the desert," he says.

"Last night was our first show in America; we went back home for a few shows there, but this is part of a big, long tour that we're doing. And in a couple of days it will be my first time in Canada! We were just looking at pictures of Whistler, and it kind of looks like Disneyland. With real bears!"

Despite having never been to Canada before, he knows about that Australian-Whistler vibe thing.

"Heaps of my friends have gone over to do snowboarding teaching and work in the bars," he says.

One of those bars might be Maxx Fish, where What So Not plays on Tuesday, Aug. 5 at 9:30 p.m.

Their musical influences are broad, from garage to house.

Founded in 2010, What So Not's EP, The Quack, came out in November 2013. But things really picked up when they did a remix of Major Lazer's Get Free.

"It was what first got us noticed and international exposure. We didn't realize when we did our first EP (in 2012) and we got great reaction from some big DJs, but it didn't really take off. We didn't play any shows until we remixed someone quite established," Emoh says.

But it doesn't leave him frustrated.

"Oh, I really like that idea," he says. "That we have our own thing going makes it harder at first, but it's better in the long run... copying what everyone else is doing, you tend to burn out really quick."

Their most recent release is a collaboration with E.L. Grime, Tell Me, which is currently featured in Adidas commercials.

Emoh and Flume are definitely not twins; each brings a different element and that makes it work. They work apart on their solo careers as well.

"We would still write together and send each other things online. Every decision made would be run across myself and Harley (Flume's non-stage name)," Emoh says. "Now What For Not is having quite a spike, especially in America.

"We both have very different musical tastes and when we combine them that's our sound. We're definitely polar opposite. Personalities, too, which comes out in the music and in performance. Harley's just reserved. He's a nice young kid, essentially (Flume is 22). When we first started working together he was 18 and there's a three-year gap (between us)," Emoh says.

"I'm the one who gets to talk. I do like talking about our project."