GRAMMY U Texas Members Hunter Markussen & Justin Johnson In Action

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  • Courtesy Of Hunter Markussen & Justin Johnson
  • Courtesy Of Hunter Markussen & Justin Johnson

Young, intelligent, and dangerously attractive, DA$ is a production duo running the UT Austin electronic music scene. Influenced by everything from Disclosure to Pat Metheny, DA$ originals are laced with captivating grooves and addictive melodies. Displaying a passionate understanding of cutting-edge beats, DA$ gives high-energy performances that are guaranteed to get any crowd on their feet. With upcoming singles, remixes, and a debut EP in the works, this breakthrough act is just getting started on their inevitable success.

How did you two meet and decide that becoming a duo was the best route versus going solo?
We met back in beginner percussion in 6th grade. From there, we joined multiple bands together and eventually picked up DJing as our interests expanded to electronic music. Once we were both at UT, we naturally decided to combine our complimentary abilities as a drummer and a keyboardist to begin producing collaboratively. Our workflow as a duo has lead to the development of a unique sound we would not have arrived at individually.

Describe your creative workflow and how both of your skills are combined to deliver your music.
Hunter, a keyboardist with heavy jazz influence, writes most of the melodic and harmonic content while Justin, using his percussion and sound design proficiency, molds the raw ideas into a compelling and cohesive production. A combination of hip-hop influence and deep house vibes creates the DA$ aesthetic: expressive chord progressions backed by slappin’ beats. Our long-term friendship allows for a fluid and organic workflow, making our studio process efficient and effective.

From a music perspective, what’s the best part of being an undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin
Our bass-centric performances are perfect for the energetic college audiences we encounter in Austin, and the thriving nightlife outside of the university offers tons of opportunities for us to showcase our sound. Being the “live music capitol of the world”, Austin also provides the chance to see and meet some of our biggest inspirations, motivating us to continue innovating and pushing boundaries as we create. With a wide range of potential collaborators in our student body, we’ve been lucky to work with singers, instrumentalists, and even visual artists to establish the DA$ brand.

Why did you both choose to join GRAMMY U and how has it helped you thus far?
We’re both fairly new members of the association, but even in our short time we’ve been able to make strong connections with other local creatives. In an industry so dominated by networking, nothing is more powerful than building relationships with people aspiring to achieve similar goals in entertainment. The artistic passion we see our peers put into their music inspires us to keep on pursuing our vision, and we hope to provide the same encouragement to others in the GRAMMY U community.

What’s the one thing you would like to see change in the music business and how will you help that movement?
As artists continue to find new ways to survive in an ever increasing sea of competition, the barriers to entry of the music industry loom greater and greater over those aspiring to make careers in what they love. Rather than focusing on systematic faults in the business itself, we focus our efforts on innovating new strategies to reach fans and promote our music. Technological advancements have made music creation more accessible than ever, and DA$ constantly looks to use this to our advantage.

 

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The Recording Academy is the preeminent organization for musicians, producers, engineers and other music professionals. Our mission is to advance artistic and technical excellence, work to ensure a vital and free creative environment, and act as an advocate on behalf of music and its makers.

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