Words + Photos by Antonio Hernandez.
HI$TO is an astronaut-in-training. He’s not an actual cosmonaut, but his mixes and production work is closer to Neil Armstrong than Neil Young.
For the past couple of years, HI$TO has generated a massive catalogue of remixes, guest mixes, collaborations with other producers, and has even started rapping as Yung EBT, his spaced-out alter-ego. Boasting tracks with Matic808, Tek.Lun, 2 Deep, and Gianni Lee (with whom he’s joined forces to create Jah Guardian), mixes for Juke Underground, DoAndroidsDance, CLUBJERSEY.FM, and production from T.T. the Artist, Black Zheep, Chrissy Vasquez and more, he has created his own signature sound – an intergalatic mix of house, electro, footwork, hip-hop and just about any form of electronic music within reach.
The mastermind behind the PSYCH’D parties in Baltimore and Houston, HI$TO has also united different artists, of very different backgrounds, having brought artists such as Oso Blanco, NO SIR E, T.T. the Artist, Blaqstarr, and fellow compatriot Shawn Smallwood, to crowds hungry for the best electronic music being made today.
HI$TO discusses the origins of his out-of-this-world production style, how he and Gianni Lee formed Jah Gaurdian, and the origin of his PSYCH’D parties. Stream his debut EP “Yung Spvce Cadet,” which premiered on Thump here. The hood-ass alien will also be playing at D.C.’s biggest hip-hop/electroc festival Trillectro on August 29th!
Q: Describe your style.
HI$TO: There’s really no description. I don’t put myself in a box, but I love making all types of music, like Baltimore Club, juke, trap, chill, chopped-and-screwed and straight-up gutter, east coast hip-hop. I’m all over the place.
Q: You’re actually kind of all over the place, but you’re originally from Houston right?
HI$TO: I was born in Baltimore, I lived in Illinois when I was a little kid, and then I moved to Houston when I was about 11. I was in Baltimore every summer visiting my pops, because I lived with my mom when I was living in Illinois and Houston. Once I graduated high school in Houston, I moved to Baltimore, because I wanted to pursue my music career on the east coast, and be around D.C., Philly, Jersey and New York, where there’s easy access, versus Texas where there’s not much to do out there.
“I wanted to pursue my music career on the east coast… where there’s easy access, versus Texas where there’s not much to do out there”
Q: Talk about some of the projects you’ve done so far. You’ve done a track with TT with Artist, and some remixes have gotten some love on Noisey. What is really a description of your sound?
HI$TO: On the T.T, project, I had one track “Pum Pum” which was a mix of house, Baltimore club, vogue and dancehall. It was a weird mashup, but it really came together. That came out in Februrary and I’m working on two other projects. I’m wrapping my solo joint, Yung Spvce Cadet, that’s a mix of grime, Baltimore club, and trap and I’m working on a collaboration project with Gianni Lee at the moment.
^ HI$TO playing at “Queerology,” hosted by TT the Artist at The Crown Lounge, Baltimore.
I’m also working on another project, where I want a lot of collaborations, where I want people singing and rapping over my beats. For example, Hi-Tek or Alchemist came out with albums with all their productions; you might hear them rap over a couple tracks, but it’s mostly an all-star lineup. That’s my approach to my that. That’s going to come out super late, even 2016.
“Our first joint called ‘Shake.’ I literally made it a day before he hit me up, and he added his stuff on it, and the rest is history”
Q: How did you link up with Gianni Lee?
HI$TO: Actually, we linked up on the internet. Right when I was about to send him a message, he sent me the message first, and it was like a weird, organic thing that just happened. He’s like “I’m a really big fan of your stuff and we should collab.” I told him I had one joint that you should just hop on right now, and that was our first joint called “Shake.” I literally made it a day before he hit me up, and he added his stuff on it, and the rest is history.
We did the Chris Brown joint after that. We made so many remixes together, we decided why not make an EP? That was the difficult part. We’re trying to come up with original material, versus just remixes that we’ve done, but it’s coming together. We’re four tracks deep right now, and I’m really liking what we’re building right now.
Q: Who is Yung EBT? What was the inspiration for that alter-ego?
HI$TO: I don’t really classify myself as a rapper. It’s something silly that I came up with and I’m always saying that I’m changing my rap name every week on Twitter, but Yung EBT just stuck.
^ HI$TO and fellow #MeltMix alumnus Shawn Smallwood link up at “Double Trouble” at the Crown Lounge, Baltimore.
Q: What is Sector-Zero and what do you see that as being?
HI$TO: Sector-Zero is a mixture of a media site and a label. I had some artists on there, but we weren’t on the same page. Now, it’s basically me and that’s why it’s mainly a media joint, because I also do video and graphic design. In the future, I just see it being a poppin’ label. We already throw the PSYCH’D parties on lock.
“I want to take Sector-Zero to Japan eventually… You know how Diddy came out with Revolt? It’s going to be like that”
When I first graduated high school, I went to the second Mad Decent Block Party ever, when it was just a block party. I want to have to those kind of block parties. I want to take Sector-Zero to Japan eventually, and I want to have a TV show and a Sector-Zero TV station. You know how Diddy came out with Revolt? It’s going to be like that with music and cool animated shows.
Q: How did the PSYCH’D parties come together?
HI$TO: I had an idea where I wanted to combine all these different types of electronic and dance music. You got Baltimore club, then you got straight-up EDM, juke, and then you got experimental music. I wanted to fuse all that together, and have DJs and have one or two performers and then feature a graphic artist each and every time.
I had Blaqstarr as my first headliner, and that was really cool to me. My first-ever event, and Blaqstarr was one of the first people that I was listening to as far as club music. Then the second and third ones were in Houston, and those really came together too. I wasn’t throwing events in Houston at all and the turn ups were really cool.
“The fourth PYSCH’D here in Baltimore, was the most packed one ever. I was so surprised, I almost shed a thug tear that night”
The fourth PYSCH’D here in Baltimore, was the most packed one ever. I was so surprised, I almost shed a thug tear that night. I was in the middle of my DJ set and was like damn look at all these people! If you look at the recap video, that shit was packed. And I’m not one of those people who’s like, “we had all this money, but I’ll give you ten dollars.” I paid everybody a reasonable amount of money and everyone was really satisfied, I felt really happy that night.
Q: Where will you be in 5 days, 5 months and 5 years?
HI$TO: In the next five days, I’ll still be finishing my EP. In five months, I’ll be curating two big events – the next two PSYCH’Ds will be crazy! I also expect myself to be playing in more cities outside of Baltimore and Houston. In the next five years, I see myself DJing on the moon or in the International Space Station and all around the world. But I’m not going to Mars, unless they come up with lightspeed.
Thanks HI$TO for the interview! Be sure to check out the “Yung Spvce Cadet” EP streaming on Thump! Follow HI$TO on Soundcloud to hear his latest sounds, as well as on Twitter, and Facebook to stay up on when he’s playing next!