The first CRSSD Festival happened only 2 years ago here on the sunny beach-side park in San Diego California. It was here that I saw Amtrac perform for my first time. At the time, the City Steps stage had no shade so any daytime acts there would be blazing hot, but I could perfectly remember Amtrac cooling the crowd off with The Chemical Brothers’ 2010 track ‘Another World’. It was a pretty risky move in my opinion, this kid obviously knew his stuff in terms of deep cuts within electronic music and he wasn’t shy of playing them live in between a set of club music.
Amtrac’s music always hit me in a personal way that revealed a music nerd seeking a career in dance music. For example, his full length 2011 record Came Along fell into the world of indie electronica with obscure song structures and deeply rooted lyrics sung by himself. It was not any wonder that we soon found out that this Kentucky-raised DJ was actually a musician coming from a background of playing in bands at an early age.
Since the time of his 2010 debut and 2015 performance at the first CRSSD Fest Amtrac has indeed came a long way as an artist, more recently diving into chilled out, subtle, and texturally minimal styles of house music. His progression reminds me of Calvin Harris if he had chosen a tech-house direction rather than the big-room festival house path. With all of the changes he has made to his sound the one thing that has stayed consistent is his abilities as a melodic innovator. The attention to chord voicing, harmonically contrasting melodies, and precise progression in each track makes it clear that this man has a strong musical foundation and he will always have a signature sound no matter what genre he is pulling from.
This year his performance at CRSSD Fest moved at a calmer pace and was filled with melodically dense house tracks that felt just right to vibe out before the heavier acts of the day came. Whereas we were used to his banging club sets, this performance felt like that of a gentle opener. We eventually met up with him as the sun began to set near the Ocean View main stage, after some press shots we sat down in Moon Boots’ tent and began talking on the future of Amtrac.
My name is Caleb Cornett, I am 29 and soon to be dirty 30 in May.
Right off the bat we could tell this was not his first rodeo. He went from having an amazing performance at the festival to hanging around the party and grabbing a drink before joining me for the interview. Later in the night he had a sold out afterparty to DJ at, a performance at El Camino. He seemed like he was ready to enjoy the time he had at CRSSD as opposed to stressing over finding out the details to his performance later. Luckily we had him for a short amount of time where he dropped knowledge on us about his latest EP and the recent debut of his new record label.
The 1987 EP is a reference to the year Caleb was born. On the cover you’ll find a polaroid picture that his dad took in his hometown of Morehead, Kentucky. The inspiration behind the four-track release stems from memories in his life, and the band days of his childhood. He wanted to take the things that influenced him back then and apply it to the new sound of club-music that he is playing out now. Aside from the heart-warming songwriting that is present on 1987, what we were most interested in was how it launched Amtrac’s new record label Openers.
Openers is label that pays homage to the opening DJs being that I feel they are always the best sets of the night.
Now that his label is out in the world Caleb plans on putting out a few more EPs of his own work through the outlet. This is in fact to grow his knowledge of releasing though his own label; he sees it more suitable to build a strong foundation before focusing on building the brands and styles of other artists. As a producer, Amtrac has signed records with labels that overlook critical things, therefore his goal is to learn the inner workings of a label before reaching out to help other artists.
From his old style of indie dance music to his new refined club sounds, Amtrac has always put out an impressive amount of quality music and we look forward to where his sound will wander next as he begins his journey as a label-head and greater influencer in the dance music community.