“It’s become second nature to the point of not getting nervous anymore. I walk out in front of 20,000 people in Chicago, and it’s the same thing I was doing in my bedroom four years ago.”
University alum Logan Light balances the weekend triumphs of his EDM band, Mako, with a more traditional workday — finishing his last year of law school at New York University and working as a summer associate.
The confidence that sometimes evades him in his law school classes comes naturally in times of high demand for dance music, such as the summer of 2015. Light, along with partner Alex Seaver, performed at highly anticipated festivals such as New York’s Electric Zoo, Michigan’s Electric Forest and Chicago’s Lollapalooza. Of course, as with any performances, there will be ups and downs.
“Lollapalooza was quite an interesting experience,” Light said. “About three minutes in, someone comes yelling at us, ‘You gotta shut it down immediately, we’re evacuating the whole thing.’ ”
There was a storm coming in and the management was concerned about heavy winds potentially blowing down stages.
“It was a pretty big crowd for us and we were like, ‘You have gotta be kidding me.’ They put us in a car back to the hotel,” Light said. “Once we got back, they called us and said the storm missed the park, so as soon as we could get back (to Lollapalooza) we could go back on. We literally jumped back in the van.”
It’s times like these where the lightness and agility of DJing equipment outweighs that of a band. Mako was able to quickly plug in while bands had to sound check gear again.
“We literally plugged back in and played and the crowd ended up being 50 times bigger. They told us we had 25,000 people so it ended up working in our favor in a very bizarre, weird way,” Light said. “It went from being completely devastating to being one of the best shows we ever played, so it was pretty cool.”
Before his current life of shows at festivals and clubs around the country, Light’s experiments with EDM were closer to home. He attended the University, majored in communications and graduated in 2011.
“I guess I always grew up around (EDM). I have an older brother who was five years older than me who always kind of listened to it, and it was pretty common for me growing up.” Light said. “I ended up going my freshman year to Columbia in New York and I absolutely hated it. Michigan was the only school that would accept me for the winter semester, and that’s why I ended up going to Michigan. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
He moved to Ann Arbor in the fall of his freshman year, not attending classes until the winter.
“I convinced my parents to let me DJ and said, ‘Please can I borrow some money, I promise I’ll make some money doing this,’ and they said, ‘Yeah right.’ But they thankfully gave me some,” Light said. “I bought two turn tables and a buddy showed me how to do it. At that time it wasn’t common, it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t very cool like it is now, and I just taught myself how to do it in my brother’s living room.”
EDM did not gain very much widespread popularity until about 2010, in Light’s junior year of college.
“Until it changed, people would always request rap music. I just always remember people asking for T.I.’s ‘Whatever You Like.’ Just as the requests started to change in 2010, I realized (EDM) was picking up traction and it could be something real musical genre-wise.”
Light began to contribute to the EDM scene in Ann Arbor, focusing specifically on working with downtown nightclub, Necto.
“I ended up getting a call from the people at Necto, and in an effort to say ‘I want to play shows,’ I helped them book shows,” Light said. “My senior year to the year after I graduated, we brought in a bunch of artists like Avicii and Zedd and Above & Beyond. I think it was six of the now top ten DJs in the world, which was cool.”
After graduation, Light met his future partner, Seaver, in Los Angeles. They come from different musical backgrounds, as Light had performed mostly electronic music for clubs and parties, and Seaver had just graduated from Julliard with a scholarship for a studio orchestra. But together, they were able to create a blend of both the expertise of classical infused with the sensation of EDM. When Light speaks of Seaver, it is impossible to miss the affection and respect in his voice.
“Thankfully, Alex has the brain of a musical genius.” Light said. “He hates when I say this, but he probably is the most talented musical person I’ve ever met. And none of what we do would be possible without him. I mean he’s the brain of it all, and I’m lucky to be along for the ride. Musical composition is his world, and every once in a while I add my two cents and he says, ‘Oh that’s smart,’ but that’s his cup of tea, not mine.”
Despite his modesty, it is clear without Light’s knowledge of EDM and charisma Mako would have never made it to the level that it is now. His passion for his art, even when it was considered “uncool,” has always been a priority for him. When discussing future plans for himself and Mako, the same touch of humble pride in his work shines through.
“We’re planning to put an album out in January or February, and hopefully we can tour if people enjoy it. It will be more of a live band ordeal, so we can try and transition into that and get out of the DJ stigma and the DJ world,” Light said. “Because the way we write the music is more like a pop or a rock band … we want to give people a different show, something that’s a little more enjoyable and unique.”
The excitement for this anticipated album is tangible when speaking to Light. However, the technology that has helped them succeed in an industry is also what prevents them from profiting financially. Light is part of a generation that believes in the freedom of everything, from information to music. In this vein, Mako has almost 13 hours of free mixes on iTunes in podcasts and their songs can be found in every corner of the Internet.
“You’re looking at it from a purely monetary point of view, but there’s an emotional part. Since we like to share what we like to do, hopefully people are interested and want to come to the show,” Light said. “In this day and age, it kind of sucks to say, but music is free and for all the time and effort we put into one song there probably won’t be a financial return, but we’ll see it hopefully in shows. I don’t mind that the music is on there for free as long as people enjoy it and it gets to them. That’s all that really matters.”