Jesse Kardon, better known as Subtronics, is admittedly a workhorse who will do anything to get his audience involved.
Expect that when he plays Decadence 2022 at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale.
“Normally, the way my set works is I’m trying to do the absolute craziest thing I can do for every single set,” Kardon said.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do until we’re almost there. I do my absolute best and I try my absolute hardest to have as much new stuff as possible; the craziest new routines and edits as possible. For me, it’s important to give it 1,000% effort and go absolutely full force, which is my usual modus operandi. Hopefully it totally shreds and I rip these kids’ faces off for sure.”
Kardon has a “big announcement” coming soon, but for now he’s touring in support of his debut album “Fractals,” which landed at No. 4 on Billboard Dance Charts.
Streamed more than 50 million times, “Fractals” features collaborations with artists such as Zeds Dead, GRiZ, Boogie T and Sullivan King.
Music is in his blood. His father was a rock music tour manager in the 1970s and 1980s. When Kardon was 5 his dad asked him which instrument he was going to learn.
“My ADHD ass said I want to hit stuff,” he said with a laugh.
“I played drums my entire adolescence. I got bored of it and wanted to make full songs.”
While in high school, he discovered electronic music and became enamored with the scene. Fusing his unique blend of cutting-edge sound design with hard-hitting bass, Subtronics seeks to push the envelope with sound engineering. On the live front, he has built a rabid following with his high-energy sets and advanced mixing skills.
“When I was a teenager, I was obsessed. I was making entire songs electronically. I’m obsessed with making sounds that have never been heard before, never been discovered, completely new audio that’s never graced human ears.
“It’s like a painter trying to invent a new color. That pursuit of that became a total obsession. The better you get at producing music entirely from scratch, the more fun it gets.”
He said he was 19 when it really kicked in. He’ll be 30 on Dec. 23. Three to four years ago he started being satisfied with the art he was making.
Importance of Arizona
Arizona has been a strong market for Kardon. He opened for Zeds Dead at Rawhide and had an “absolutely crazy crowd response.”
He was supposed to headline Rawhide after that, but due to “political stuff going on,” the show was moved to what was then Gila River Arena. He admits he was a bit nervous.
He hoped for as many people as he would have at Rawhide. Instead, 10,000 to 11,000 fans showed up.
“It was the biggest headline show I’ve ever done, literally in my entire career,” he said. “That’s when I realized Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and the whole desert area is incredibly strong for bass music. They’re so intensely passionate.
“Everyone is super involved on the internet. It’s a luxury, an honor and a privilege to play for fans who are that dedicated and that knowledgeable. They’re cognizant of the effort I’m making. In the desert, they go really hard and get their aggression out. They love to mosh there. It’s such a fun activity. You see what a crazy, wild culture it is. It really reels you in. It’s a lifestyle.”
When his sellout Cyclops Invasion Tour was cut short due to the global pandemic in 2020, Kardon seized the opportunity to continue reaching new audiences. He became an official partner on Twitch; produced 3D XR/VR livestream sets; dropped a Splice Sample Pack; pioneered socially distanced drive-in and pod events with Monster Energy as a sponsor; and launched the label, Cyclops Recordings, in December 2020. Subtronics’ label is home to his last four EPs, as well as multiple releases featuring the next generation of bass music producers.
“Fractals” yielded a 50-plus-date sold-out national headline tour, which featured state-of-the-art production and groundbreaking visuals.
The tour traveled with a custom-built stage, featuring a floating DJ table within a reflective black hole, dubbed “The Wormhole.”
Now for 2023, he’ll release “Antifractals,” his follow-up album featuring VIP versions from himself as well as remixes from the likes of Virtual Riot, Peekaboo, Wooli, A Hundred Drums and more of the songs from “Fractals.”
He’ll hit the road in 2023, as a 35-date run co-produced by Live Nation and Insomniac’s Bassrush, kicking off Jan. 13 at Downtown Las Vegas Events Center in Las Vegas.
“The most validating, most powerful serotonin rush isn’t getting a big response from people — as untouchable as a feeling that is,” he said.
“The No. 1 absolute best feeling is when I’m by myself, I have three days straight of writer’s block and I crack open an idea. I run around the house saying, ‘How did I do that?’ I personally feel validated.
“It becomes an addiction. If I’m not writing, I’m anxiously procrastinating. It’s painful, stressful and intimidating. As soon as I have a good idea, I’m over the moon and there are two days of total euphoria. As soon as I’m done, I’m like, ‘What now? What do I do?’ and the cycle repeats itself.”
If You Go...
WHAT: Decadence 2022
WHEN: 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday, Dec. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 31
WHERE: Phoenix Raceway, 7602 Jimmie Johnson Drive, Avondale
COST: Tickets start at $99; 18 and older
Friday, December 30
Black V Neck • Brett Ortiz • Chuwe • Deathpact • DJ Pauly D • Fisher • Flume • Kayzo • Liquid Stranger • Malaa • Midnight Tyrannosaurus • Moon Boots • Wooli
Saturday, December 31
Dr. Fresch • Duke Dumont • Cosmic Gate • Ekonovah • Hannah Wants • Louis The Child • Nicole Moudaber • Porter Robinson (DJ Set) • Space Wizard • Subtronics • Tinlicker • Walker & Royce • Yookie • Zeds Dead